Flo Svensson

Steampunk is a genre built on a mash-up. Makers have to dream of the past as they envision the future, and while the results have a distinctive flavor, the genre itself is incredibly hard to describe to newcomers.

One of the ways Steampunk is most recognized, however, is when someone inventive decides to ‘Steampunk’ a pop culture icon. Dozens of talented makers, crafters, and cosplayers have built props and costumes showcasing this concept. I’m sure you can think of a few.

But every now and again, somebody makes something really exceptional.

Flo Svensson 5Meet Flo Svensson, a Steampunk crafter from Germany. His original Steampunk work dazzles with lights, cogs, and steam (no, I’m serious – there’s steam), and the props he designed and built for his favorite mash-up universe are incredible. That universe, ladies, gentlemen, and creatures of the aether, is what some call… ‘Steam Trek,’ where Star Trek’s noble vision of the future tangles with Steampunk antiquities.

Me: Steam Trek. Vintage futurism and traditional science fiction. How did you know they would go so well together, and what drew you to this mix?

Svensson: “Since my childhood, I was an enthusiastic Trekkie. As I got more and more into Steampunk a few years ago, I immediately thought about a fusion of those two worlds. I imagined what it would be like if the USS Enterprise was powered by steam and imagined an entire Star Trek universe in Steampunk style. I found similarities between Star Trek and Steampunk in the omnipresent presence of technology. In both universes I am very fascinated by technology, which gets its aesthetics from its complexity and continuous design. A Steampunk themed episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation would have been awesome – and also realistic because of the holodeck. On Deviantart there is a group called “24th Century Steam” who implement this mixture of styles, especially with uniforms and costumes.”

Me: Your gadgets are all extremely intricate, and the craftsmanship behind them really shows. Did you already have a background in electronics/woodworking/sculpting before starting these projects?

Svensson: “Thanks a lot. My dad is an engineer and introduced me quite early to electrical engineering, and my mother, on the other hand, has an artistic disposition. So I guess they both were very influential on me. I have my professional roots in the IT sector. Although it gives the impression there is much more complicated technology in my work than you might think.”

Me: What’s the most difficult project you’ve made so far?

Svensson: “Small but very challenging: a Steampunk phaser. Due to the many tilted surfaces it was quite difficult to stick to the original shape while using wood.”

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Me: What have you learned as a maker since you first started building these elaborate pieces?

Flo Svensson 1Svensson: “After a few projects my motto is now: As easy as possible. You easily can lose track, especially with too much technology and complex constructions. Therefore I try to plan and design in a way that the works look good but are also constructed pretty simply. Let’s take the light conductors from my Steampunk gun or from my backpack as an example. It took a long time to find a decent light-conducting material and lots of experimenting. Eventually I took hot glue sticks from a hot glue gun, put them into acrylic tubes and illuminated them with LEDs. Easy, cheap and nice-looking. That is why I like the simple and straightforward approach in my designs. There are a lot more detailed and decorated works from other Steampunk artists which are more capable in that area than me.”

Me: What made you want to build props? How did you get started doing this?

Svensson: “It’s just a lot of fun to implement the ideas from my fantasy and be able to touch the finished work. My inherited interest in gadgets and electronics is not entirely innocent of this. My first project was the Steampunk tricorder. Originally, I was active in medieval reenactment because we have many medieval conventions and festivals. This area, however, was set in too narrow historical limits for me. So I found Steampunk because I think that you can implement a lot more ideas here.”

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Me: Any projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to tell people about?

Svensson: “On the one hand, I am trying to improve on my “Steam Trek” equipment. I still need an appropriate uniform. My girlfriend is currently working on that project. On the other hand, we are now new members of “Wupperdampflaboratorium,” a German group of Steampunks. There are some projects in the making for coming events with those people which can be exhibited (a Steampunk lab for example). For this purpose I already garnered some ideas. In any case, there will be a lot of lights, flashes and, needless to say, steam.”

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