Those of you who are a bit older may be wondering what on earth "Steampunk" is, exactly. Admittedly, as a thirty-something, I have only the most basic familiarity with it. I guess one way to put it would be that, as the punk music movement of the late 70s and early 80s was a response to the all-pervasive disco that preceded it, steampunk began as a direct contrast against the cyber punk themes that became so widespread during the 90s within the realm of speculative fiction. Where cyber punk concentrated on cutting-edge technologies and how they influence human interactions and social power structures, the steampunk genre turns things back to a sort of re-imagined 19th century where steam power, clockwork, and mechanical computing are pushed to their limits in worlds that are a mixture of Victorian fashion and etiquette, and heavy doses of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne influences. Like cyperpunk before it, the genre has spread its influence into fashion, music, and various other fields, now including even pipes.
Suffice to say, this is a subculture that tends to involve a lot of brass in its aesthetics - and as you can see, so do the steampunk/gearpunk pipe designs of Nate King. Rather fitting to this deliberately anachronistic style, Nate's designed this complex creation around a basic lay-out reminiscent of the old Tyrolean sitters - the pipes once commonly sipped from in Bavarian beer-gardens. (The idea behind the extra-long, vertical stem was that you could sit the pipe down on a table, and lean over to take the occasional puff, keeping your hands free.) Even the chain that secures the threaded brass draft-hole plug to the brass plate of the rim is reminiscent of the chains and cords commonly found on Tyroleans to keep the parts of their often multi-section stems from being lost. The aircraft-grade aluminum making up most of the stem's length is a bit unusual, but then, it would have been pretty striking in a circa-1800s context as well, when aluminum was as precious a material as silver or gold. Of course, it likely also does a fine job of helping keep any smoke drawn through it that much cooler as well.
- Eric N. Squires