It’s not a dive suit per se. It is by what many on both sides of the authenticity issue consider an abomination.
On the Brass Goggles Forums earlier this year someone joked about something called the "Steamkini". A steampunk bikini. Granted that comment was made with salacious intent, and I being a salacious person with an over active imagination ran with it.
I talked much bravado of being able to produce a steamkini that blended the garb of ancient coverings with that of the minimal we know of today. I got called on it. I protested that even if I made said article I had no one to wear it! Well suddenly I had volunteers. My fate was sealed.
So I started doing research on bathing costumes of the Victorian Era, and I have to tell you back then with the rules of propriety and what not going to the beach was no picnic.
Heavy ankle and wrist length wool garments that tripled in weight when wet! Black to boot making an already hot day miserable! Then the bathing machines! A contraption that would trolley the ladies into the water so they could step out into the ocean and then bring them back into shore free of the gaze of men? I shant go in to the etiquette involved!
In the end there were a quite a few compromises made. Indeed it looks like a bikini, but there nautical skirts and flaps that give it just enough Victorian flair.
I made three. The first two went to Ohio and the Netherlands and I did get pictures back. But the third one is my masterpiece. I have been tweaking this one for months now and for me is an art piece unto itself. I am seriously considering getting a shadowbox and framing it. This one I made to fit into the theme that runs though my head quite often.
In my steampunk world I have a submarine. A steam-powered submarine. Steam-powered submarines were wrought with issues in the beginning, and very few were produced. What they did do in the beginning of modern submarine design was proving the concept, and urged designers to come up with new power sources.
In steampunk world though steam is king, so naturally the steam-powered submersible is a full realized and functional craft. One thing you are not going to get away from is steam-powered submarines are hot. Very, very hot. So in costuming to support this imaginary vision in my head, I have a dress uniform for events outside my hidden submarine base, and a dive suit when leaving my submarine for the murky depths below, but what were my crew and I to wear when sweating bullets when at sea? Well my seawomen get to sport steamkinis. That is my justification for the concept.
For myself I made the Steamo. Yep. I have a Steampunk Speedo. Now that you have winced…It is the long legged bicycle styled swimsuit instead of the tiny kind most associated with the style.
When I first started getting into steampunk I asked myself what I truly want to be. I wanted to be a submarine captain. I wanted to be an undersea explorer. I wanted to make discoveries, and rise up to challenges! I made a complete wardrobe to support this vision. Someday I am going to a Steampunk convention and eat drink, breathe, and wear nothing but my nauticals! Instead by necessity to preserve the character I wound up being the Mayor of my group, and had to produce a completely different persona.
In my heart I am Vice-Admiral Rudolph Begley, a name the Steampunk Name Generator at Brass Goggles gave me. I am an oceanic explorer. I am a brother to my own characters. I am the Father of the Steamkini.