Forgive my prolonged absence. I haven’t felt much like writing for a while and I have not had much to say, but the past week does need to be shared. It’s been pretty sweet.
It began at Furlandia, a furry convention in Portland. Their theme was the Age of Industry, so they invited me as a Guest of Honor. I happily accepted. I dressed to the nines and gave five steampunk talks. It was wonderful to be able to educate so many eager folks about steampunk and hear their questions. I have to admit that I have missed that. I had a table in the Dealers’ Den where I sold my Steamporium items. My brand new Steampunk coloring book was a huge hit. I even hosted a Tea on Sunday morning for the patron level members. My husband ran his first Tea Dueling event. We had a great time.
On Saturday night, we went out to celebrate my birthday with K.W. and Geri Jeter. K.W. is the man who coined the term “steampunk”, in case you were unaware. We had a nice dinner at a German restaurant that is sadly about to be demolished in the name of progress.
After the convention, we took a few days to recuperate out in rural Oregon and then drove back to the city in time for a showing of Vintage Tomorrows, a documentary about steampunk at the Seattle International Film Festival. This meant a lot to my husband and I as we are both in the film and were there for the very beginning of this project back in 2011. We were joined by my protege Carrie and dressed to the nines once again. We were the first ones in line. The SIFF staff loved our outfits and made us feel very special. Many other folks that were in the movie and many local Seattle Steamrats showed up as well. I was quite pleased with the way the movie turned out. It is a good way to introduce steampunk to people and makes a few good observations. I highly recommend it, but then I may be a wee bit biased. I never in a million years thought that I would actually appear on IMDB. Lol! If you didn’t get a chance to see it, or want to see it again it will be available on iTunes on July 19th.
Afterwards I suggested to the director, Byrd that we should get a drink and chat, and that turned into a sizable after party at T.S. McHugh’s. It was wonderful catching up with everyone. Truly a great crowd.
I was glad to be a part of all this steampunk excitement. It’s been very inspiring to me in so many ways and it’s still going.
I am terrible at self promotion, but at this time of year I really do need to let my fans know that I have things for sale. Lots of great gift ideas and every sale helps me continue doing what I love.
You can find my stickers here: Redbubble
Steampunk T-shirts, greeting cards and lots more: Steamporium
My whimsical menagerie wares are here: Artvixn
And you can get my books here: Blurb
This weekend is the Jet City Comic Show in Tacoma. I will have a table in the Artists Alley, #65. I will be selling my wares and signing things, so please drop by if you can! If you can’t be there in person you can always support me by visiting one of my online shops: Steamporium or Art by Artvixn. Thanks!
Last year a group of friends and I went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World as steampunk Disney villains. It was a blast. I thought it would be fun to do it again at Disneyland. After a bit of research and dithering I picked October 9th for the outing. It was not too close to Halloween, but not too early. Unfortunately the weather had nasty plans for us. It was a record breaking 105 degrees that day, and very humid. All the locals were telling this was not their usual weather. Great. I don’t handle heat well and being in costume just made things worse. I don’t believe in doing costuming halfway. In addition to the six of us sweltering, I had talked my husband into doing the party again on Monday in different costumes; steampunk Monterey Jack and Gadget from Rescue Rangers. While it was not quite as hot and we had some very welcome cloud cover, it was still pretty miserable. Sigh. We had a good time anyway and did manage to get some great photos.
I have a few highlights and lowlights of the party to share.
- The Villains Meet & Greet was wonderful! Cruella, the Evil Queen and Maleficent were very fun to interact with and we got some wonderful photos. We did not meet with the group of male Villains, but they were all full heads and therefore unable to talk, so I doubt it would have been as fun.
- The Castmembers wrangling the lines were helpful in keeping us informed about characters.
- We had great success getting help from castmembers and Photopass photographers when we were in our Rescue Rangers outfits. I really love some of those photos!
- The line for characters photos in Toontown was ridiculous and you could end up with any of three different sets of characters, while Goofy’s line was just for Goofy. It was a bit frustrating. And after waiting all that time, there was no Photopass photographer!
- I had heard of a character meet & greet called Pirate Palooza, but it was not on the map. It was very difficult to find and terribly disorganized once we did. We managed to get photos with pirate Chip & Dale, so it was worth it in the end.
- Castmembers should not wear buttons saying “Ask me about characters” if they know nothing about characters! The answer “Look around. I’m sure you’ll find some” is not acceptable.
- It is disappointing that there is no Halloween parade or show at Disneyland like there is at WDW.
- I’m not there for the candy. I can’t eat or won’t eat most of it, even the so called “healthy” options, so for me there are far too many “treat trails”. I know some people feel that their success at the party is based on the amount of candy they score. I just feel that my time is better spent doing things that I can only do at Disneyland, not my local grocery store. Happily, I had some amazing macarons back in my room as a reward for all our hard work.
- I was very unhappy to discover that most of the restaurants are closed prior to the party to make extra “treat trails”. My research had not uncovered this fact and being on a GF diet I ended up eating the worst pizza ever. GF? Yes. Tasty? No.
- The fog is a lovely effect, but both my throat and my camera had a lot of problems with it. It was used all over the park. I could barely talk by the end of the night and had to flee early the second night to avoid the problem.
- Apparently they no longer just put out the Halloween Party pins during the party, so they sell out before we even get to see them. Rather disappointing.
I am happy we did it. Our outfits were a huge hit both nights! We enjoyed ourselves despite the weather and various issues. I like the party despite a few things that I’d like to see changed. You can see the full albums here and here.
One quick note, while I call our costumes “steampunk” they don’t really qualify to my standards, but park restrictions, and limited luggage space complicates things. Consider them base outfits. We’ll expand on them someday.
During a talk I did recently I was asked if I had any advice on how best to do a Steampunk mashup costume. For those who don’t know, a mashup is two different genres in the same costume, say steampunk and super hero. If you don’t do enough of both it can often be confusing to the viewer. Ask yourself what would “your character” look like if they were in a Steampunk story. The thing to remember is that costuming is a visual medium. You are storytelling visually and while you may have a great reason for everything you did, it needs to clearly read to the viewer. You are generally not going to get a chance to explain yourself. I feel there are three steps to doing a great Steampunk mashup costume.
- Victorianizing it.
- Characterizing it.
- Steampunking it.
First you should add elements of clothing that clearly look Victorian/Edwardian. Hair styles, hats, corsets, bustle skirts, gloves, parasols, laceup boots, etc. Having this silhouette will create a great base for your costume.
Secondly, take a good look at the original character you are planning on creating. What are their primary unique visual cues? Choose at least three to ensure a clear interpretation; the three visual things that most convey that character to an audience. I did a Poison Ivy costume once and for her I feel that you need ivy and or plants in abundance, her clothing should be shades of green and she should always have red hair.
For the third step, you need to add elements of Steampunk. This is where you can get creative. Have some fun. Steampunk is essentially a science fiction genre, so add some science fiction or even fantasy. Some people feel that simply adding a corset makes it Steampunk, but it really isn’t quite enough in my opinion. While some feel they are cliché, adding goggles is a good start if it makes sense for you character to wear them. Again, just adding goggles to a costume is not going far enough either. You should try and incorporate two or three elements of steampunk if possible. Gadgets are generally the best visual cue for a Steampunk costume, so try to incorporate a few. Full disclosure, I often feel that I am weak in adding steampunk gadgets, and gizmos. It can truly be the most important and most difficult part. My favorite creation so far was the robotic Zipper on Monty’s shoulder that I created for our Rescue Rangers at ECCC. He is pretty fragile though.
I try to add only one hand held prop per costume so you don’t have to constantly put things down and potentially lose or break them. The next great place for a prop is on a belt. I often will have a brass compass or cosmolabe hanging from my belt. Also, belts don’t just have to be at your waist. You can use them across your chest, around your hat or as a collar.
So there is my two cents about what you can do to make a great Steampunk Mashup costume. I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing your endeavors.
I have created a Flickr group for Steampunk Mashup Costumes. If you need inspiration go and take a look HERE!
A few things coming up that you might enjoy. The Wonderland Tea is always fun. I will be giving talks and selling my creations at GEARcon in Portland. And be sure to mark your calendar for the very LAST Time Travelers’ Rummage Sale. It will be full of great bargains! Then you will be all kitted out to see the Abney Park show that night.
June 27th - Alice In Wonderland Tea Party and Croquet Game – Gasworks Park
July 3-5 - GEARcon – Portland OR
July 18th – The LAST Time Travelers’ Rummage Sale- All Pilgrims’ Church, Seattle
July 18th – Abney Park – Studio Seven
Yes, I am fully aware of the new steampunk competition show. I am not going to name it here as I am not feeling generous, but you can go google it if you want. I wish everyone involved all the best. I hope that they have a better experience than I did. Here’s my account if you are interested.
A Steampunk competition show? The concept seemed fun and when I was first approached over a year ago, I was happy to help. At the time all the woman wanted was to find contestants for the show. She felt that my extensive experience in steampunk would make me a better fit as a judge, and frankly I did not want to be a contestant. I put out some feelers and posted about it. That was the end of my involvement. I have seen so many things like this begin and then never continue that I simply forgot about this one.
Out of the blue two months ago I got a phone call late on a Friday night. The woman was talking so fast that I missed 90% off what she said. Essentially she was calling to set up a Skype interview for a position as a judge on the show. She told me they already knew I was “awesome”, but this was to see about my “fit”. Mind you, I was given no information about how this would work. In fact I was never even asked if I wanted to do this.
Two days later, after a quick text to confirm, I was getting interviewed. As it turns out I should have dressed up steampunk for the interview, but like everything else that information was not ever conveyed to me. My interviewer seemed very distracted the entire time. At the end she finally looked at me and asked if I was wearing steampunk. She gave me five minutes to throw on something. Yeesh. She told me she would be editing the interview, but I would probably not hear from her again. She worked on many things. I should however, hear back from someone in a week.
She did text me one more time to get a few photos of me “doing steampunk things”.
A week went by with no communication, then I got a phone call from another woman. She identified herself and said she had two quick questions. Where did I currently live and how old was I? I told her Seattle and 51. She said thanks and hung up. That was the very last communication I ever had from them.
I heard through the grapevine that the show was underway, so I figured I had not been chosen. It would have been nice to have been told. It would have been nice to have been asked. It would have been nice to have a lot more communication. I suppose I am expecting far too much from Hollywood.
I was a bit excited at the prospect of doing the show. I have such a love for the genre and it would have been fun to do. Having thought about it however, I realize that I was being delusional. Why would they would want a fat, old woman on the show, no matter how qualified she might be? A part of me is also reticent to go to California during this drought. It seems irresponsible. And then my health took a turn for the bizarre, so I guess I should thank my lucky stars that I wasn’t away from home for these past few months of havoc. That would not have been fun.
So, yes these grapes might be a little sour. I was not deemed worthy and that hurts a bit, but I am probably better off not having to deal with tinsel town and it’s soul crushing machinery. I am content to return to my relative obscurity.
By the way, I have been on television more than anyone else I know. but it was a long time ago and well, that’s a story for another day.
Edited to add: By all accounts this show is a true example of “reality” television in that it is mostly scripted and you should watch it with a grain… no make that an entire salt lick. The producers don’t know nor care what we think steampunk is and are often quite far off the mark. I will watch because I have several good friends competing, but mostly just to get a good laugh at the absurdness of the main stream interpretations of our genre.
Last Saturday we did a little outing to the Georgetown Steam Plant here in Seattle. My husband and I have been to this place several times over the years and it is the perfect backdrop for steampunk photography. It was closed for a couple of years, but it is once again open to the public on the second Saturday of each month. You can even take a tour and learn about the place at 11:00 and 1:00.
I went all out and did my character Widget the automaton. I thought she would fit right in with all the machinery.
In an effort to keep everyone safe, they have cordoned off many areas that we used to be able to access, but there are still a lot of great spaces to photograph. One small annoyance is the addition of red dots to some of the equipment. I spent quite a while photoshopping out tiny red dots and yellow safety tape. It is what it is and it is still a marvelous resource.
You can see the results of our trip in the albums linked below as well as the ones from past years.
If you’d like to join in on the fun, you can find out about all the steampunk events in the Northwest by going to NorthWest SteamPunk Events on Facebook.
Last Saturday my husband and I attended a wonderful performance of Around the World in 80 Days, based on the book by Jules Verne at the Village Theater in Everett. It was amazing. With only five performers portraying 39 characters, we were transported to exotic locales and entertained by fabulous stunts. It is a must see for any steampunk enthusiast.
After the show we were invited back to meet the actors and take a few pictures. The female lead, Aneesh Sheth (Aouda & others) is as lovely up close as she was on stage. Jared Michael Brown (Philleas Fog) is much more approachable than his character and mugged for the camera. Unfortunately, my camera was not up to the task, but you can see the rest of the blurry evidence here.
The show runs through March 29th and I highly encourage you all to see it if you can. Show the world that we want more of this type of Victorian adventure!
For show times and tickets go here: http://villagetheatre.org/everett/Around-The-World.php
About The Author
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.