Many of us in the Steampunk community have pets that we love and cherish, myself included, and we want those pets to share our joy of Steampunk. In reality, they couldn't care less, but for some reason we still love to dress them up. Their reactions usually range from bemused acceptance to temper tantrums, but the awwwws we get from onlookers usually makes it worthwhile.
I've collected pictures of some of the best Steampunk pets on the Web, and I'm going to use them to make suggestions for how you could Steampunk your pet!
Blitzen the Steampunk Dog takes to the air with the aid of his water-bottle jetpack and protective goggles. The "jetpack animal" is something of an archetype when it comes to futuristic or retrofuturistic animal costumes, but it's still a classic. Goggles are a popular pet addition because you can actually buy goggles for your dog, called "Doggles". I swear I didn't make that up.
The jetpack in this picture is pretty obviously made of two spray-painted water bottles screwed onto what looks like a wooden or leather harness. This is a pretty easy thing to make, but the hard part is making something that will actually stay on your pet and not either A) fall off or B) twist around and end up on their stomach.
The solution is a combination of two different techniques. First, make sure that whatever you make for your animal's back is very lightweight, because otherwise it will slide around. Next, you need at least four straps.
- Goes around their middle, vertically from top to bottom.
- Goes from the back forward up to the neck, and then around the neck like a loose collar.
- and 4. Go along the sides and across the front, between the front legs and the neck.
These four points of contact should provide a sturdy base for back-worn props.
Who doesn't want to take their dog with them in their motorcycle sidecar, or on the back seat of their biplane, or on the deck of their airship? Especially one as gentlemanly as this Air Dog below.
The outfit this dog is wearing seems to be handmade and not bought in a store. The dog's owner probably cut the goggles out of sheet brass and leather, which isn't really that hard provided that you have a Dremel tool.
The hard part is getting it to actually stay on your dog's head, which can range from difficult to impossible, depending on the dog. Obviously a strap going under the dog's jaw is a must, but it's hard to strike a good balance between tight enough to stay on, and tight enough to be uncomfortable for the animal. I highly recommend an elastic material for this strap, as that way it will more easily adjust to your animal's movements.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of the clothes the dog is wearing, but since they're blurry in the photo, I can't really comment on them. I can say, however, that most pet clothes you can buy end up looking really cheap, unless you're willing to make them yourself or pay someone a lot of money. But just look at that face! Isn't he worth it?
If cutting brass and leather are too hard for your delicate tastes, you can always do what Hundchen did and knit your dog an aviator cap, complete with little woolen goggles!
Note how this isn't constructed like an aviator cap for a person, but is instead made like a hood, so that it will stay on. This is probably pretty snug, and is almost certainly more comfortable for the dog than the aviator dog above. It's also pretty darn cute!
The lesson to be learned from this one, though, is that you should always remember that people-shaped clothes just don't fit dogs! You can adjust them to look like people clothes, but never forget that you're making clothes that need to properly fit an animal.
While the hat doesn't really fit, and the goggles are swim goggles, the rest of this dog's clothes are amazing. His name is Krusher, and his owner Mariah made his outfit.
These are not people clothes; you can tell by how well they fit. These clothes were custom-made to fit this dog. As it says in the article about it (which is worth a read), Krusher's owner made the vest and tie from scratch, but altered a real men's button-down shirt for the collar and sleeves. This is exactly how a dog's Steampunk outfit should look, with great attention to detail and craftsmanship. In the article, Mariah even lists the specific pattern numbers she used, so if you sew, check it out!
This little guy is sporting a hat and bow tie by Hundchen, and he looks especially proud to be doing so. In my personal experience, dogs don't like hats very much. However, some will tolerate them quite well!
If you're interested in buying or making a hat for your dog, I recommend testing something ugly on their head first before committing to anything. It's important to see whether they'll actually allow it. I don't think I've ever seen headwear that would stay on a dog who didn't want it there.
If you're one of those lucky people who has a dog who doesn't mind wearing things on its head, you may want to start with one of these doll hats which you can get at your local craft store, and decorate it. I believe that's what the crafter did in the above picture. It seems like they attached an elastic cord to the hat to make it stay on, which is a wise idea. As I said above, elastic straps for headwear are really the best way to go.
Sometimes there's just not much you can do that your pet will tolerate. I worked for a while in an animal hospital when I was younger, and I've seen animals escape or chew through nearly anything if they didn't want to be wearing it.
Lady Aethereal's Shinto, pictured below, may not be quite as fancy as some of the above animals, but he's at least got something. Shinto doesn't seem especially thrilled about it, but I've yet to ever see a reptile get excited about anything.
Bows are an easy way to jazz up an animal of any species, and are much easier to attach than goggles. Bows can be either masculine or feminine, depending on where on the pet's body they're placed, which gives you a good degree of versatility. They're also really, really easy to make, which means that you can make a lot of them from different fabrics and swap them out to match whatever you're wearing! There's nothing cuter than a pet who matches its owner!
Seriously, this cat is so well-behaved. If you can put any type of clothing on a cat, especially headgear, I salute you.
No, really, I have no tips for this at all. Cats can totally flip out when you put something on them.
You're on your own, and if you try, I'll probably see you next in the afterlife.
Elephants deserve to be able to wear costumes, too! Elephants don't have many role models, and I think they're probably sick of dressing up as Dumbo. You owe it to your elephant to make it a cool costume, right?
Let's see some love for elephants!
On that slightly irreverent note, if you have any other tips for pet costumes, let us know in the comments section below!