Meet your Maker: Lachlan 'Skav' MacPherson

Lachlan 'Skav' MacPherson

aka "Skav" / William Branwell (Skav's Steampunk Workshop, The Crew of the Airship Sirius)

Our relationship with Skav has largely been based around our annual trips to Ironfest in Lithgow, NSW.  Skav and the other members of the Airship Sirius are a regular feature at the festival.

While never formally introduced, we visit their display and stall each year for a chat, to peruse Skav's wares, and often to buy.

In recent times our interaction with Skav has increased through his support of the endeavours of the Unorthodox Society.

So, it is with great pleasure that I present to you Lachlan "Skav" MacPherson, Steampunk maker....

1. Please introduce yourself… who are you, where do you live, and what do you make?
Good Day Ladies and Gentlemen my name is Lachlan ‘Skav’ MacPherson, or Skav for short. I am the owner of Skav’s Steampunk Workshop, and along with my fiancĂ© Cassandra McGonigle (Beibhinn O’Donnell – character name), we manufacture and sell handmade steampunk jewellery, prop weapons, gadgets, and costume accessories. We also stock and sell a range of steampunk goggles, sunglasses, mechanical pocket watches, and variable stock such as canes, parasols, pith helmets and more.

For the last few years we have been located in Wagga Wagga, NSW, and have been travelling to markets, and steampunk and alternative culture events all over the state to show off and sell our wares. However we are currently in the process of moving, personally and the business, to Newcastle. Once settled in Newcastle we aim to greatly expand the business and the number of events and markets we attend. So keep an eye on us to see what we are doing next with this exciting new expansion.

Any photos not credited were taken by Skav or the Crew.

Photo by Micheal Graham Photo by Christian Warta
Photo Lee Doyle

Photo J Semenyna PhotographyPhoto Etienne Reynaud
Photo Etienne Reynaud
Photo Etienne ReynaudPhoto Etienne Reynaud
Photo Etienne ReynaudPhoto Etienne Reynaud
Photo Etienne Reynaud

2. When / where did the love of your craft begin?
Well this question and the next question kind of go together. Quite a few years ago now I was planning my 21st Birthday party. I decided that I wanted to do something a little different and have a themed birthday party and the theme I chose was Steampunk.

I didn’t really know much about the steampunk genre or the community at the time, just what I had seen on facebook and online, or in movies such as Wild Wild West or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But I did some research into it for the party and the more I found out about steampunk the more I fell in love with the whole genre. The history, the style and aesthetics, the design and creativity, and the scope and variety, everything, it was like nothing else I had ever been involved with. I was hooked.

That answers “When / where did my Steampunk journey begin” but this brings me to “where my love of my craft began”;

I’ve always been interested in art and making things. As a child I always loved to draw. I also loved to know how things worked, and would pull apart and put back together anything I could get my hands on, old electronics to toys etc. I liked to tinker with stuff and fix things and make things out of old stuff. I remember as a child making jewellery for my mother out of shells and rocks and bits of junk in the backyard. Also my ability to fix things and put stuff together even earned me the nickname of “Macgyver” by friends and family, that and the fact I was always sure to have a knife, screwdriver, or multi-tool on my person or nearby.

I have had a keen interest in hobby models and miniatures and have been making and painting then for as long as I can remember. I think this is where I learnt most of my painting skills, my attention to detail, and knack for dealing with small fiddly pieces.

I have never had any formal training in jewellery making, or wood, leather, or metal work. I kind of just made things up as I went along, or picked them up along the way from books, online, or other makers.

But this brings me back to my 21st Birthday party. For the party my friends, family and I all came up with some, albeit, very basic steampunk costumes. For these costumes I made a few props, and some jewellery and stuff, for myself, my partner, and my family. They were largely based on things we had seen online, but also ideas we came up with ourselves and thought would fit the genre. The stuff I made came up really well and we got lots of compliments on it. So I thought I would make some more, and at the following Easter I had a very small stall at the Mudgee Vintage markets and almost sold out of the New Steampunk/Industrial jewellery I had made. It was a success and Skav’s Steampunk Workshop came into being.

This brings us full circle, and to link it all together it was also this Birthday party that led to the birth of The Crew of the Airship Sirius Steampunk Group. A few of my friends and I who had all put together costumes for the party wanted an excuse to wear them again. So we decided to attend Ironfest the next year together wearing our steampunk costumes. Again our costumes were still very basic by our standards today, but I think because we were a group with matching costumes it made us stand out, also there was only a fraction of the steampunk presence at Ironfest that there is today, so we were something different and new. Everyone at Ironfest loved us and I had never posed for so many photos in my life. We loved Ironfest and the community. So one of my best friends Jacob Semenyna (Now Captain Alek Semenov of the Airship Sirius Crew) suggested that we form a private Steampunk Group and improve our costumes and attend the next year in a more formal way. We all thought that was a great idea, and The Crew of the Airship Sirius was born.

3. When / where did your Steampunk journey begin?
See above. 

4. Do you have a Steampunk persona? Who are they, and what is their back story?
I do, in fact I actually have two. ‘Skav’ who I use my own name for and ‘William Branwell’. Their backstories are pretty extensive and can be found on the Airship Sirius Facebook page along with the rest of the Crew’s character profiles. But I will write them on here as well.

Lachlan ‘Skav’ MacPherson
Inventor, Engineer, Salesman 

Lachlan MacPherson was born in 1851 in Edinburgh Scotland. His family wasn’t a rich one with his father being a sailor in the Royal Navy and his mother being a full time house wife looking after Lachlan and his younger siblings. Life was hard but the family lived comfortably enough, at least up until when Lachlan was 5yrs old and his father was ‘lost at sea’. With this tragedy the family had little or no source of income and was forced to move into the slums around the Royal Mile. Here Lachlan’s mother became a seamstress and washer woman making any money she could.

Being so poor Lachlan received no real schooling and grew up living in the slums and doing anything he could for an extra buck. Despite this Lachlan still found time to follow his passion, he spent every minute he could at the Clock Yards, the industrial area where engineers, inventors, watchmakers and clocksmiths worked designing and making the many amazing clockwork and steam-powered machines and gadgets of the time. Here he did odd jobs and ran errands for the many professionals and spent many hours just watching the masters work their magic with cogs, gears, springs and steam. Also at the Clock Yard the young Lachlan constantly collected discarded and broken items and parts and discovered he had quite an aptitude for building things, repairing and making clockwork toys, and gadgets to make his mother's work easier from the things he found. It was this scavenging of gears, springs and anything else of use that led to him first being given the nickname of ‘Skav’ by the Clock Yard workers.

He dreamed of being granted an apprenticeship or even just permanent work at the Clock Yards but despite his knack for making and repairing things his lack of formal education made the professionals pass him by.  Though his love for the Clock Yards hadn’t diminished, by the age of 16 Skav had all but given up on the hope getting work there, and the need of a proper job was ever increasing. Skav decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Navy.

Despite his lack of formal education, Skav’s aptitude for understanding machines for once payed off and he was drafted into the Engineering Corps of the Royal Navy. He served as a ship's engineer for many years on board many of the Navy’s steamships and even a couple of the military’s new airships, now sailing through the skies. In his training and aboard these ships Skav learned more about the machines he had always loved, clockwork and steam and even the new unpredictable electric motors and gadgets. He also continued to live up to his name, scavenging and salvaging all types of parts and making many gadgets to entertain and improve the life of the crews he served with.

By the age of 30 Skav left the Navy, having had many an adventure and well and truly done his service.  He moved back to Edinburgh and set up a small workshop in the Clock Yards, thus fulfilling his childhood dream. Here he designs and makes all manner of gadgets and machines. From time to time travels aboard his old military friend, Captain Alek Semenov’s airship “The Exploration Ship: The Sirius”, travelling the world selling his wonderful inventions and filling the much needed roll of ship's engineer aboard the Airship Sirius.

William Branwell
Head of Security, Gunhand, 1st Mate

William Branwell was born to a Scottish Mother and English Father and raised in upper middle class London. His parents worked hard to get him the best education they could afford but once educated had very little left to give the adventurous young Gentlemen. William’s imagination and sense of adventure had been sparked by his education in history and literature and he wished to travel and seek adventure of his own. The only solution he saw was to join the military.

William joined the Royal Navy and though he lacked the capital to train as an officer, quickly drew attention to himself through his sharp thinking, loyalty and discipline. He was soon granted a position as a Non-commissioned Officer and began to slowly climb the ranks.

After a few years his adventurous nature got the better of him again and he decided to transfer to the newly founded Royal Airship Corps, a combined effort of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. He took a position as a low ranking NCO on one of the new airships and served for some time under the renowned Captain Alek Semenov. The pair formed a strong friendship and had many an adventure together.

Soon after Semenov left the RAC, William transferred to another air ship, where serving under a brutal captain he witnessed the massacre of a whole native settlement as ordered by RAC superiors. William was sickened by this and decided to follow Semenov’s lead and leave Her Majesty’s service.

William returned to his home in London and found though educated, he knew little but fighting, tactics, adventure, and the military life. He soon found it difficult to find work on the ‘right side of the law’. But luckily for William his old friend Alek Semenov hearing of his friends plight, offered him a way out of his less than desirable new life. A job that would fit William’s specific skills and knowledge, and his sense of adventure; Gun Hand and Head of Security on Semenov’s new air ship, The Exploration Ship - The Sirius. William Proved himself time and time again to the Captain and after a time was awarded the rand of 1st mate or 2IC aboard the Airship.

5. What does Steampunk mean to you?
That is sure a question; Lots of things. That is the beauty of Steampunk. At the core of steampunk I feel is the five part definition by the Crew of the Airship Sirius that we use and I helped write.

Steampunk is:
  1. Victorian Science Fiction, related or similar in fashion to the works of Jules Verne, H. G Wells, H.P Lovecraft and other authors of the time. etc.
  2.  An alternative Victorian era (1800s- early 1900s) where the level of technology was greater than it actually was, though still retained the aesthetics of the time, the industrial revolution may have occurred earlier, etc,
  3. An alternative timeline, present, or future, in which technology continued to advance largely as it has, but instead of the world as we see it today, with the aesthetics, style and technology of the Victorian era; clockwork and steam power in place of electricity and gasoline, top hats and corsets, and copper and brass in place of denim, Nikes and plastic. This is what many people in the Victorian era thought the future would hold. 
  4. Where Victorian-esque fashion and technology mix with modern thinking to create an idealistic and more positive, past, present or future,
  5. Neo-Victorian, modern cross Victorian era technology and style, set in a utopian, realistic or post-apocalyptic, etc, world.
This definition I think helps show what steampunk is to me; it’s the variety, that massive scope, it’s a whole new world to discover and invent. It’s a genre, a movement, and community. That’s what I love about steampunk and what it means to me, it’s not just one thing it’s so many things, it’s what you make it, held loosely together by the overarching definition above.

6. Where do find inspiration?
I find inspiration from many places. Movies, TV, history, the internet, but most of all from within the steampunk community itself. There are so many amazing steampunk artists out there making a wide variety of artwork, music, props, and more. The international steampunk community is so giving and sharing. The artisans feed off each other and this is where I draw most of my inspiration from.

7. What’s your most treasured Steampunk possession? Why?
Now that’s a hard one, I have so many cool props, gadgets and outfits, many of them that I have made myself…  Out of the ones I have made myself I am a big fan of my Steampunk Rifle, “The Negotiator” Marksman’s Rifle. I am really happy with the way the build came together and it really looked great in the photos from the Ironfest 2017 “Lost World” photo shoot. I’m also quite a fan of my “Deck Mounted Tesla Gun” that I made, it’s always popular, particularly after dark, as it is wired up with a plasma globe and plasma plate.

Photo John Duragraph
Photo John Duragraph
Photo Etienne ReynaudPhoto Etienne Reynaud

Out of all my other steampunk possessions my favourite would have to be my First World War Brass Trench Lighter. It is small and simple, but I just love the design and beauty of it. To me it epitomises steampunk; a practical design, yet elegant and beautiful, with an industrial skeletonised look to it. And yes it does function and I use it regularly.  

8. Do you have favourite Steampunk musicians / groups / artists? Tell us about some of them?
I have many favourite steampunk musicians/groups/artists and have a very sizeable collection of steampunk music which I listen to very regularly. The list of artists is far too long to list here.  Bands such as Abney Bark, Steam Powered Giraffe, The Cog is Dead, This Way to the Egress, and Unwoman, would have to be some of my favourites.

If I had to pick one I couldn’t go past Abney Park. Abney Park is a steampunk band based in Seattle, USA, that mixes elements of industrial dance, world music, and steampunk-influenced lyrics in their work. Their name comes from Abney Park Cemetery in London (UK). They were formally a goth band, but their sound is now highly varied from rock, to folk, to electro swing, to industrial dance, and influences from music from all over the world.

I think that this variety is part of the reason I like them so much, it’s not just the same sound the whole time, yet somehow it still has a steampunk/retro future/vintage feel to it. The rest of the reason that I like them so much it that they are just great artists, their music is high quality and they put on a very good show.  

9. Do you have favourite Steampunk festivals / events / gatherings? Which ones? When and where?
I have enjoyed every Steampunk event that I have been to so far, big and small, all over the state. But If I had to pick favourites I would have to say Ironfest in Lithgow, as my favourite event over all, and Goulburn Waterworks Steampunk and Victoriana Fair as favourite strictly steampunk event.

I love Ironfest because it is where I feel at home. It the festival that got us started as a steampunk group (with the Airship Sirius), and it’s the biggest festival of the year for us. I love the variety that Ironfest has, it’s just everything alternative culture; cosplay, steampunk, re-enactment from all periods of time, street performers, music, food, market stalls, it has everything! The community for re-enactors and stall holders after hours is wonderful as well, the festival transforms after the public leaves, and it’s such a fun and friendly place where you can meet all types of wonderful and interesting people and become firm friends. Ironfest is held in April each year over a 2 and half day weekend, in the town of Lithgow in the Blue Mountains, NSW. If you haven’t been to Ironfest before it’s an experience not to be missed.

If more strictly steampunk is more your thing then you can’t go past Goulburn Waterworks Steampunk and Victoriana Fair. It held in October each year at the Historic 1800s Waterworks in Goulburn NSW. The event is only fairly new having run for about 3 years now, but it has rapidly grown to be what is probably the biggest Steampunk and Victoriana event in the state. It’s a great day out for any steampunk or anyone who is interested in what steampunk is all about.

10. Where can people see / buy your work? (Yes, some blatant self promotion please!)
The main place to check out and purchase my work at the moment is still at the variety of events that I attend. I did have an Etsy shop but is not currently operational. To keep up to date with what I am making and what events I will be attending next, my Facebook page,, is the best option.

I also post up most of the stock I have and things I have made on that page. I am happy to sell stuff from that Facebook page and post it out to you as well if you see something you like or are after a custom piece made. Feel free to private message the page if there is anything you are interested in.

Another thing Skav’s Steampunk Workshop has to offer is steampunk event hire and consulting. We have helped with decorations and the running of a couple of events now. We offer advice on steampunk event design and aesthetics and offer an array of steampunk props, decorations, tables, etc. available for hire for your private steampunk functions. The most notable events we have been involved with are; The Wagga Demonstration Gardens Steampunk Ball, where we provided all decorations, consulting, music, and entertainment from The Airship Sirius Crew; and a steampunk wedding at the lovely historic Maitland Waterworks. For the wedding we provided consulting, extensive decorations, many custom props, jewellery, and accessories for the wedding party, and MCing for the ceremony and reception. More information and photos from the wedding can be found in a lovely article from Gallery Serpentine at the link below. If you have any interest in these services please contact us through our Skav’s Steampunk Workshop Facebook page.

With the move to Newcastle and the expansion of the business I hope to soon have a proper website with an online store attached, so that will be exciting when I get it up and running within the next 12 months.  I also hope to expand the lists of events I attend throughout the state and the markets in the hunter region, so you should be seeing more of us. I am also looking into having some of my wares available for retail in a few exclusive locations such as The Dog & Monocle, a Steampunk Supper Club & Artisan Bar in Nowra. So if you have a shop and are interested in stocking some of my products please feel free to contact me.

Be sure to like our Facebook page to keep up to date with these new developments.


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