Be careful of Jo Ball. She’s just as likely to challenge you to a tea duel as to shoot foam bullets at you.
The 18-year-old isn’t going quietly bonkers living in Fleet, but putting together a way of life that mixes some of her greatest interests with rural living.
Jo and friend Emma Shortland are unleashing steampunk on South Holland.
They are launching Fenland Steampunk Revolution at Holbeach Reading Rooms on March 11 (7pm until 8.30pm).
Jo describes steampunk as “a way of dressing up, escapism and the arts of the Victorian and Wild West eras”.
An online resource describes it as something that began as a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy literature, but which has developed to become a craft and lifestyle movement.
Some of the steampunk activities Jo has come across – and participated in – include tea dueling, the graceful art of biscuit dunking, and larping, or live action role-playing.
It may sound strange to learn that Jo first came across steampunk on the Great British Sewing Bee television programme.
But that’s not so odd when you learn that most people involved in steampunk make their own clothes, many of them Victorian inspired.
Jo has always been creative, helping mum Kim turn wool from the alpacas they keep into all kinds of craft items.
After deciding steampunk would be “a fun idea” Jo began going about her daily life in military or Victorian inspired gear, mixing second-hand clothing with pieces she already had.
As a self-confessed tomboy, Jo also had a collection of nerf guns – a child’s plastic toy that shoots foam bullets – and was thrilled to discover these too were popular in steampunk. Sprayed and made to look interesting, there is a market for them and Jo has sold ten already.
She also began doing leather work, making bracelets and phone cases as well as the more unusual shoulder armour originally worn for protection.
As the craft work grew, so did the number of visits to Tomwood Hardware at Holbeach for supplies, and it was there that a member of staff – Emma – finally asked what project Jo was working on.
So a shared love of steampunk was discovered and the pair are now hoping to invite others to share the fun. The first session is free and is an introduction to steampunk – it’s not necessary to dress up. More meet ups will be held every second Wednesday of the month when people will start making things and make plans to attend Steam Punk Asylum at Lincoln, one of the biggest steampunk get-togethers in the whole of Europe.