The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s March 2010 climate change exhibit, “Hot Pink Flamingos: Stories of Hope in a Changing Sea” features green sea turtles, Magellanic penguins, a coral reef, spotted jellies, scarlet and white ibises, roseate spoonbills and cattle egrets – current or potential casualties of the global climate crisis, as well as our own creation: A life size cow statue wearing one of our steampunk gas masks!
As always, special interests had a problem with a public message that hurts their profits, and so the local dairy and cattle industry started a campaign to take down the cow-in-a-gas mask portion of the exhibit, which included a facebook group dedicated to fighting the cow-in-a-gasmask exhibit and a visit from two of California’s largest cattle lobbying groups: California Milk Advisory Board and the California Beef Counci. The pressure campaign was ultimately successful, as described by the Monterey Herald.
"The Monterey Bay Aquarium has altered an exhibit about climate change after some California farmers were offended...
...representatives of the California Milk Advisory
Board and the California Beef Council, met at the aquarium last week to discuss the farmers' concerns, and as of Thursday the cow was stripped of the mask."
The World’s First Museum Exhibition of Steampunk Art
Oxford University's History of Science Museum
In 2009-2010 the University of Oxford’s History of Science Museum held the first ever Steampunk museum exhibition, curated by Art Donovon, featuring an unbelievable lineup of Steampunk artists, each a master in their respective mediums. This was at a time when most people had never heard the term “Steampunk”.
"Between 13 October 2009 and 21 February 2010, we held the world’s first museum exhibition of Steampunk art. This extraordinarily successful exhibition showcased the work of 18 Steampunk artists from across the globe, and drew over 70,000 visitors to the Museum. Find out more about the exhibition by following links below – watch a documentary about the exhibition, take a virtual tour, see photographs of the costumed visitors on the Museum’s Steampunk Catwalk and watch some Steampunk machines in action."
Click below to see all of the amazing documentation including photos, videos, a virtual tour, exhibit programme, and more!
This 5 minute film is an introduction to the Steampunk exhibition at the Museum, including interviews with Art Donovan, curator and Jim Bennett, Museum Director as well as other Steampunk artists featured in the exhibition. Film by Suzy Prior
Make Volume 27, from June 2011 features Tom’s work in it’s section, “Made On Earth: Face to Face”
"Tom Banwell is a self-taught man of many talents. He’s a leatherworker, a caster/sculptor, and a tireless inventor of a vast selection of imaginative facemasks, many of which have been featured in films, television, and major magazines.
His most complex and extraordinary works are his “steampunk” gas masks, but he’s also known for his delicate, laser-cut leather party masks and other uniquely shaped costume masks. Just to keep things interesting, he also makes rayguns.
His fantastic blog is a must-read for any costume designer or lover of steampunk. It’s filled with well-written, step-by-step explanations and interesting tips and tricks. (Be sure to search for “A Steamier Raygun Holster,” “Elevated Shoes,” and “Modifying a Straw Hat.”)
When asked why he gravitated to gas masks, Banwell says, “A gas mask, though functional, dramatically alters the appearance of the wearer. This can be perceived by the viewer as terrifying — as one resembles a monster — or humorous — as one becomes a silly clown.”
Banwell manages to combine these two feelings to create unforgettable masks that embody both fear and curiosity. The formal, antiqued leatherwork feels classic and foreboding, but he says the form of the masks — which can resemble a rhinoceros or an elephant — is “pure fantasy.”
Banwell is constantly looking at the world around him and re-creating it in the most mad and pleasing manner possible. Looking through his fan photos, it’s clear that when seemingly ordinary people don his masks, they unleash the more fantastic selves that lay dormant.
"Plague doctors, or at least images of plague doctors, are having a bit of a cultural moment again, roughly 300 years after their actual heyday. They’ve become popular motifs for stickers, pins, masks, t-shirts, and even stuffed animals during the Covid-19 pandemic."
Nissan released a 4 part film entitled “Blackbird” starring Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, The Mandolorian), Renata Gonzalez, and featuring our Krankheit Plague Doctor Mask. Filmed in Chile, Peru, and various locales around South America, and starring some relatively well known talent, the film feels like a Hollywood feature film. It’s broken into 4 chapters for web release.
"More than 600 years ago, one mask was the symbol of the fight against a plague that nearly destroyed mankind.
LA Opera: Verdi's Two Foscari
Custom Costume Design
In 2016, Tom designed custom leather masks for the performers of Verdi’s Two Foscari by the LA Opera including the Aardvark and the Fire breather masks.
"Appropriately dark and restrained visuals for the work were provided by director Thaddeus Strassberger, set designer Kevin Knight and costume designer Mattie Ulrich. In contrast to Lucrezia’s and the Doge’s gleaming robes, the red cassocked “Dieci” and black clad chorus spoke of evil men and secret powers. Verdi’s interpolated Festa — complete with dancers, gondolieri and a fire eater was both a musical and visual respite and delight."
Acclaimed rock band Chevelle used our Krankheit Plague Doctor Mask on the cover of their 2014 album La Gárgola.
“I had a friend come over late one night and shoot the cover art. It’s me in the creepy classic plague mask. We were just goofing around and we didn’t know at the time that we we’re stumbling on such a strong image. Weird things can happen when one wears a mask. It forces you to be someone else for a second.”
La Gárgola (Spanish for “The Gargoyle”) is the seventh studio album by American rock band Chevelle. Chevelle is a Billboard Music Awards nominated act with platinum and double platinum albums, and has sold more than 6 million records worldwide.
La Gargola The Beer
In August 2019, and with the collaboration of Revolution Brewing, Chevelle announced the release of their Helles Lager beer, named, “La Gargola ” after the album and featuring the Krankeit Plague Doctor mask photo.
Notably, this is the second beer with one of our plague doctor masks on the label (see Black Plague Brewing).
Revolution Brewing is Illinois’ largest independent craft brewery. Located in the heart of Chicago.
Muzeo Exhibit: Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination
"Opening Oct. 14, 2011 at Muzeo in Anaheim, CA, Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination will explore the origins, personalities, and lasting effects of an imaginative aesthetic born in “The Age of Steam”, through a collection of artifacts, replicas and informational displays."
In 2011, Muzeo museum in Anahiem, hosted a steampunk exhibit featuring Tom’s work.
Black Plague Brewing is a brewery and taproom out of Oceanside, CA that uses Tom’s original photo of the Schnabel plague doctor mask as its logo, with the image posted on every beer. Skateboarding legend and “best skateboarder in the history of the world” Tony Hawk is closely associated with the brewery with his signature Plague Doctor themed brew called, “Tony Hawps” (a birdhouse brew). They also own a Schnabel mask and a Banwell Designs Plague Doctor Top Hat that makes appearances at events, often along side Tony Hawk himself, most notably in a competition between Tony Hawk and the Schnabel plague doctor playing the Tony Hawk video game, with Tony Hawk playing as himself.
Mosh has worked with leading photographers,models and designers, has been featured multiple times on Playboy.com and Vogue Italia as well as being the cover girl on magazines such as Maxim, Bizarre, Marquis and appeared on the front cover of Girls and Corpses magazine alongside American film director, producer, screenwriter Lloyd Kaufman.
Mosh has also ventured in to fashion having designed latex clothing for Collective Chaos and worked with Pin up lingerie enthusiasts Dottie’s Delights on 2 exclusive name sake playsuits and continues to work on her own brand when she can.
2013 saw Mosh take a step in to mainstream media, starring in music videos for artists such as Pink, Korn and Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo’s new music group TV Mania. More recently, she appears in the Smashing Pumpkins video “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)”.
Ghost BC video featuring our Stiltzkin plague doctor mask
Ghost, also formerly known as Ghost B.C. in the United States, is a Swedish rock band that has been awarded multiple Grammies for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album in 2013 and for Best Metal Performance in 2016.
Ghost uses our Stiltzkin mask extensively in their videos and live performances.
Ghost live performance featuring the Stiltzkin plague doctor mask by Banwell Designs.
Unboxing of the Banwell Designs Stiltzkin plague doctor mask and Plague Doctor Hat, as used by Ghost BC.