Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

Sad News

Steamcon III Program Book

Those of you that went to Steamcon may have marveled at our wondrous program “book”.  It was in the style of an old fashioned newspaper and was a point of great pride for us.  I am sad to report that the talented woman responsible for the design of that book year after year has passed on.  Our dear friend Katherine “Pel” Schroeder lost her battle with cancer last night.

Pel was soft spoken but had a very mischievous personality if you got to know her.  She loved anime, arm warmers and socks.  She had a passion for fonts and did amazing design work with them.  I often saw her at the Wayward Coffee shop for the weekly Seattle Steamrat meetups.  We would sit and share ideas about steampunk or costuming.  She adored steampunk and often found new things before I did, or introduced me to new music.  Her support of Steamcon was very appreciated and she was one of our hardest working volunteers.

She was very stylish but extremely camera shy.  She hated to have her picture taken and so sadly, there are very few pictures of her.  I have pulled together a few.

Pel had a great laugh and a quick wit.  She inspired me.  She will be missed.

If you would like to honor Pel, her parents have set up this website.  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/katiepelianthschroeder

Steampunk Travel Talk

On July 5th I will be at GEARcon in Portland giving a talk about my Steampunk travel adventures around the world and some that I have yet to take.  I will be giving a visual presentation about all the places I’ve been and the steampunk destinations that I want to go to.  So if you have ever wanted to get some inspiration on where in the world to go, I hope you can join us.

Steampunk Travel

The Brass Screw Confederacy

I am quite happy to have been invited to be the Guest of Honor at this year’s Brass Screw ConfederacyBSC is a very different kind of steampunk event.  It’s held in the city of Port Townsend just fifty six miles from Seattle, although the trip does include a couple of ferry rides as well.  The carefree feeling of the trip by ferry insures that by the time you arrive in the tranquil waterfront town, you will be ready for the more leisurely pace of the past that never was.  The event takes place along the historic main street of Port Townsend, in its Victorian era buildings and also out at the old army base, Fort Worden built in 1897.  Drawing on its rich heritage, BSC utilizes the backdrop of authentic architecture to give us a wonderful setting for our steampukery.  And of course the local steampunks bring that in spades.  Our host Nathan Barnett, innkeeper and dapper gentleman is always ready with a smile and a tale.

Festivities begin Friday at 1:00 and include a lecture entitled Our Octopus is Smarter Than Your Labradoodle, a photo shoot, larping with the Rise of Aester crew, the Bazaar of the Bizarre (4-7) and various drinking opportunities.

Saturday’s events entails many talks, including a State of the Steampunk Address by yours truly, games including some very unorthodox croquet, the Bazaar, and much more.  A Grand Promenade will be held at 3 PM to show of all the amazing fashions.  Myself and several other judges will be pronouncing the best thus and such and so forth, so be sure and make us proud.  And if you’ve any strength left, there are more shenanigans on Sunday as well!  You may see the full schedule here.

The BSC looks to be a grand excuse to dress up in your best finery, and have fun in a very immersive atmosphere.  I am quite looking forward to seeing all the creativity and octopi.  Did I mention that their theme is “Octopi Port Townsend” and I for one am rising to the challenge!  You will just have to join us and see.  It should be a unique experience.  I am even staying in a B & B for the very first time!

 

Return of the Time Travelers’ Rummage Sale!

With several northwest steampunk events coming up, including the Brass Screw Confederacy where yours truly has been invited to be Guest of Honor, our next TTRS is perfectly timed!  It is the ideal place to acquire new and gently used items to prepare for all the upcoming steampunkery!  Past TTRSales have been treasure troves of steampunkishness and this one will be no exception!  Clothing, jewelry, gears, parasols and so much more will be on offer for your shopping enjoyment.  Merchants include Mac McGowan whose wonderful handmade goggles have appeared on television as well as the hats of many esteemed steampunk enthusiasts and the amazing Tony Hicks aka Shamus Tinplate. Check out all our wonderful artisans and merchants:

Ann Wendell – Wonderful old jewelry and other bits and bobs

Clint Harris – GEARS!  Clock parts and more!

Clockwork Beetle – Steampunk medals and brooches

Designs by Victoria – Jewelry and parasols

Diana’s Closet/Steamporium – Clothing, jewelry and Steampunk art

Larsen Geekery – Clothing, art, and much more

Sepiachord – Music!

SewCherie – Clothing and assorted accessories

Steam Baby- Goggles and handmade leather accessories

Tinplate Studios – Brass weaponry and oddiments

Tormented Artifacts – Custom leatherwork and steampunk obscura

Twisted Root Studios – Handmade books

Velvet Mechanism – Hand-crafted, steampunk jewelry from an era that never was.

 

Northwest Steampunk Events

In the wake of Steamcon’s departure, people have been asking what else they can do.  I have created a Facebook group for announcements, but here is a list of some of them as well.  Do follow the links for more information.  I hope to see you at many of these wonderful events.

Upcoming Steampunk Events

March 28-30Emerald City Comic Con –WA State Convention Center  Okay, the event itself is not steampunk but I will have my steampunk art and gifts for sale at table N- 12 in Artists Alley, and Brian Kesinger and several other steampunk artists will be there.

May 17thTime Travelers’ Rummage Sale –Noon – 6:00 PM – Lower level of the All Pilgrims’ Church (500 Broadway, Seattle WA) A great place to acquire accessories for all the other steampunk events.

May 18thMay Train OutingNorthwest Railway Museum – Gather for photos at 11:00 AM, train ride at 12:01.

May 24th PNW BJD Expo – Kitsap Conference Center- A doll show with a steampunk theme.  I will have a table at this event as well.

June 6th – 8thBrass Screw Confederacy – Port Townsend – The lovely seaside town of Port Townsend turns steampunk for a weekend.

July 4th-6thGEARcon – Doubletree Portland WA- Portland’s steampunk convention.

 

Steamcon is no more

On Sunday we got word that the new board had decided to close up shop.  Martin and I completely understand the reasoning.  You can read a more detailed explanation here. As you can well imagine, I am deeply saddened.  I have been trying to write down my thoughts, but having little luck.  I will try again in a bit.

Please don’t think that Steamcon was the only steampunk in the northwest.  If you are on Facebook, I have been working on an announcement group for events.  You can see it here. I will make a post about events here soon.

Thank you for all your support throughout the five wonderful years we ran.

Steampunk Hands Around the World

(Apologies.  I began this over a week ago, but my computer died and it’s taken me a while to get back to it.  Onwards!)

Some of you may have heard of the project beginning this month; an international celebration of steampunk connections from all corners of the globe called Steampunk Hands Around the World.  While this has caught me at a very low ebb in my steampunk career, I thought I would at least make an entry to make sure my readers are aware of this project and take a moment to highlight some of the wonderful connections that I have made throughout the years.

I suspect that six and a half years of planning events, giving talks and running Steamcon might serve to excuse me from the Bobbins Initiative.  I’ve done my bit and I am taking a break.  Seriously though, I am so honored when people tell me that I had even the smallest part in bringing them to the steampunk family.  Sharing my passion with others has been the sweetest experience of my life.

Over the years I have made so many friends, in so many countries and steampunk has made it all possible.  Steampunk seems to be able to touch us all so deeply and inspire us so mightily.  It inspires us to dream, to make, to write, to sing and to connect.

At Dragoncon in 2008, when we discovered that the room for the steampunk panel was going to be much too small for all the eager fans, some friends and I took over an empty room and created the “Guerilla Steampunk Panel”. We had great fun entertaining and educating a full house.  Since then I’ve had the pleasure of doing so at many conventions and it’s always well received.  I’ve attended Dragoncon, World Steam Expo, Gaslight Gathering, Victoria Steam Expo, H.R.M., GEARcon and of course many local events as well.  I was even fan guest of honor at Clockwork Alchemy.  Everywhere I have been fans have been interested and passionate.  It is so wonderful to see.

Dr. Grymm’s book One Thousand Steampunk Creations has been instrumental in letting the world see what steampunks have created.  I was honored to be included.  At Brass Screw Confederacy, I was approached by a woman who asked if I was Diana Vick.  I told her yes and she said that her two young daughters were huge fans of mine.  When I asked her how they knew my work, she said it was that book.

One of my greatest passions is costuming. Some of the costumers that I’ve met are so amazing.  Paige Gardener is a total inspiration to me.  Her ensembles are a miracle of ingenuity.  Aleta Pardalis does simply stunning costumes, from Poison Ivy to Rowena Ravenclaw all with an amazing steampunk flare.  Thomas Willeford remains one of the most iconic makers in the scene.   Credit where credit is due.

I am proud to have met and chatted with all three of the steampunk fathers; Tim Powers, Jim Blaylock and K.W. Jeter.  Not only are they all very talented writers but they are some of the nicest guys you will ever meet.   Cherie Priest, another talented writer and total babe is also a fabulous lady.

There are so many amazing artists doing steampunk work.  Brian Kesinger’s characters are so fascinating and he is a very dear man.  Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika is wonderful and the fact he takes inspiration right from the fandom makes her even more amazing.  Gary Gianni is fabulous and fabulously talented. Paul Guinan and his character Boilerplate are sneaking history lessons into comic art.

Jaimie Goh and I may not have had an auspicious start, but after some discussion, I feel we have bonded.  Magpie Killjoy is a completely stealth phenomenon.

When I was researching my trip to France, French steampunk enthusiast Utelo connected with me and was a great resource.  At Steamcon V I got to meet Barbara Nolasco from Puerto Rico, a charming and beautiful young fan.  Many of the people that I know in other countries I have not yet met in person, but I hope to do so in time.

I am pleased to call the members of the band Abney Park, my friends, and they have always inspired me with their energy and fun attitude towards steampunk.  Captain Robert and I may not always agree completely but we have deep mutual respect for one another.  Nathaniel Johnstone and his new wife Tempest are a couple of the most beautiful and creative people I’ve ever met.  Erica “Unwoman” Mulkey and her mother are a joy to know and hang out with, and of course Erica is an extremely talented musician.

Closer to home, I want to say that Jordan Block of Sepiachord is probably the most knowledgeable person on the planet when it comes to steampunk music.  Nathan Barnett, innkeeper and all round dapper man is so gracious.  Marshall Hunter and his Rise of Aester crew impress me with their creativity and skills.

As I write this I realize that I am not going to be able to mention all of the fabulous people that I have met.  I apologize for my inadequacies, but please know I treasure you all.  There are simply too many wonderful and talented people in the steampunk community and I feel blessed to have met so many of them.  So many of you.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Reader’s Choice Awards

The Steampunk Chronicles have just opened up their Reader’s Choice Award nominations for this year.  This is an excellent opportunity for us as steampunk enthusiasts to let them know what we like best.  I’d especially like to see more of our local steampunk activities and entities represented.  Seattle has often won “Best City for Steampunk”.  It would be great to see Steamcon get the nod for “Best Overall Convention”.  And we should show Abney Park or Vagabond Opera the love, right?

I’m going to even suggest that perhaps you might know someone who would qualify for “Best Dressed Female” ?

Anyway, please consider making some nominations and letting them know the Pacific Northwest is proud of our steam folk!

Nominate here!

 

Vintage Christmas Cards : Part One

For Christmas, I have found some wonderful vintage cards featuring Santa with some unusual modes of transportation.  Often it appears that he is just dumping toys out to fall down to the good and unsuspecting girls and boys.  In one, he appears to have gotten a bit too far from the earth, but hopefully he knows what he’s doing.

The Traveling Life

For all of you that are going to be traveling to Steamcon, I thought I’d write up some thoughts about packing and such, especially in regards to steampunk gear.  A small aside, “garb” is the term used by the SCA, so I tend to call my steampunk costumery “gear” to differentiate it.  Hat, props, goggles, boots, corsets  and more!  Steampunk gear is complicated and fussy.   Here are some things that have worked and not worked for me in the past.

The biggest hurdle of course is props.  Weapons are especially difficult.  The more realistic, the harder they are to get to your destination safely.  TSA is a very suspicious organization, and probably with good reason.  I recommend not trying to transport anything that was ever an actual weapon.  They have no sense of humor and you may lose it.  So shell casings, even as decoration are a bad idea these days.

When I need to get large props to a show, I often will ship a box or two to my hotel.  This can be costly, and you are risking shipping damage, but sometimes it’s the only way to ensure things get to your destination.  Be aware, finding a FedEx office outside the hotel will save you quite a lot of money.  Hotels add on a lot of fees.

It worked very well for many years and then I had disaster strike.  One of my three boxes didn’t show up after a show in Detroit.  The identical one that did arrive, was quit damaged and it lead me to wonder if the other one had been even more damaged or destroyed.  I made a huge effort to track it down, but to no avail.  Long story short, about a year and a half later I got it back, mostly unharmed.  It does make me very wary these days.

One idea that I have found works well is to have a sturdy hatbox with a handle as a carry-on.  I put two hats nestled into each other and another tiny hat in them.  I add compasses, widgets and jewelry to the center if there is room.  Then I wrap the interior of the box with belts, goggles and such and then add a layer of squishable clothing.  TSA is likely to want to inspect anything that looks suspicious, but at least you can be there to supervise.  The last time my hatbox went through security I got a big grin from the handsome TSA agent, who then told me it was the “most interesting” assortment of things he had ever seen go through his scanner.  I wish I had had a Steamcon flyer to give him.

If you have a hat that won’t fit, simply wear it.  You will be able to store it overhead once you get settled and they never count it as a carryon.

Parasols and corsets are a bit problematic.  They can potentially read as dangerous metal or knives, so having them in a carry may not be the best idea.  It can be a risk to put them in checked luggage, but it will generally work better.  Putting a parasol in a large mailing tube and carrying it on can work as well.  You may need to pull it out for inspection.   Art supply stores have tubes with handles already attached or you can fashion one yourself.

For most clothing, my husband and I have nice hanging bag that folds up.  It is very handy to just pull everything out and hang it up when we reach the hotel.

I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, but Steamcon is about a week away, so my brain is well pummeled mush at this point.  I am so looking forward to seeing all the fabulous costumes that you all have created and sharing my own new creations.  It should be a marvelous time.  See you there!

 

About The Author

Diana Vick

I am an illustrator, writer, costumer and steampunk enthusiast.
I have done illustration for comic books, animation and collectible card games such as Magic the Gathering and Legend of the Five Rings. Currently, I do art for my own line of cards and gifts in my Zazzle shop.