Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

Upcoming Summer Steampunk Events

For those of you that have been interested in joining in some of the steampunkery in our area, here is a list of upcoming events.  If you are on Facebook, one of the best ways to keep apprised of upcoming events is to join the NorthWest SteamPunk Events Group.

Now – March 7th – Explorers Club at the Taproot Theater – Seattle WA

March 6th – 29th –  Around the World in 80 Days – Everett WA

April 11th – Georgetown Steam Plant Outing –  Georgetown Steam Plant – Seattle WA

May 3rd – Steamrats in the GardenSeattle Japanese Garden – Seattle WA

May 17th – Annual Train ExcursionNorthwest Railway Museum – Snoqualmie WA

May 29th – 31st – The Brass Screw Confederacy – Port Townsend WA

July 3rd – 5th – G.E.A.R.con – Portland OR

July 18th – The Time Travelers’ Rummage Sale – All Pilgrims’ Church – Seattle WA

 

 

Gasworks Park

Me without editing

On February 22nd, the Seattle Steamrats had their annual photo shoot at Gasworks Park.  It was a fun shoot.  We are so lucky to have such an amazing place to take photos right in the middle of town.  Part of the works are now fenced off for safety and much of it is spray painted vibrant colors to defeat the graffiti artists, but it is a wonderful spot for taking pictures, picnicking and such.  We had a good turn out and the weather was brisk but not wet.  You can see the rest of my husbands photos here.  Also, if you are interested in joining in for any of these events, I keep a group on Facebook to let people know in advance.  It’s called NorthWest SteamPunk Events.  Please feel free to join it here.

Our group shot in sepia tone. I did a quick bit of editing to remove graffiti in the background.

As an artist, I enjoy doing a bit of PhotoShop editing after the fact, so changing the colors is fun for me.  Below is a good example of the original photo and the result of my efforts.

 

Steamathon 2015

This past weekend, my husband and I and two friends went to a small, first time convention in Las Vegas. It was supposedly held in the very Victorianesque Main Street Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas, although the bulk of it actually occurred across the way in the California Hotel (which confusingly had a very Hawaiian theme to it).  The Main Street Hotel has tons of very lovely Victorian era antiques and brass everywhere.  If it didn’t have a casino in it, it would be the perfect place for a steampunk convention.  Unfortunately, Vegas still allows smoking, so many of my smoke intolerant friends wisely decided to stay home and avoid the issue.  Even if a restaurant does not allow smoking, the doors are always wide open and the smoke is everywhere.  Some of the larger casinos have better tech to whisk it away, but old Vegas is sadly lacking in this tech.  I am still uncertain why the Social Club at the Main Street was not used.  It looks to be a very large room and it is away from the smoke and noise of the casino entirely.

As with most first time conventions, it was disorganized and not as smooth as it could be, but it made a valiant effort.  We were surprised to read that they were not planning on selling memberships at the door, as this is where a good 50% of the sales usually happen.  It turns out that they had limited space and could only accommodate about 150 people.  While it is good to know your limitations, it might have been useful information for merchants and others to determine their involvement.  (Edited to add: It seems that not selling at the door was due to some state licensing issue.  Quite inconvenient I would suspect.)

There were only two event rooms used most of the weekend and one other that was used primarily Friday night, the Pullman Room.  The Pullman Room was very lovely and Victorian and even had a Pullman car attached to it.  It was also away from the smoke.  It is unfortunate that it was not used the rest of the weekend, except for one group photo op that most of us did not know about.  The other two rooms were in the California, a hotel across the sky bridge from the main hotel.  The first room, the Maile Room was 1,428 sq feet and housed the tiny primary merchant room.  The second room, the O’Hana Room was about twice as big, but housed not only another six or seven merchants on the periphery but also the stage and chairs for all the programming throughout the weekend.  I have seen other small conventions do this, but it is quite awkward for the merchants trying to do business.  The programming participants did have a microphone, which helps a bit.  These rooms are right off the casino and so of course the smoke is invasive.

 

The programming that we saw was on par with that of most small first time cons.  The concert on Saturday night was headlined by the Velveteen Band, an okay ensemble including a rabbit headed lead and some puppets.  Unwoman and Poplock Holmes were awesome as always and our favorite part of the weekend’s entertainment. 

We had a great time sitting and chatting with various folks at the bar outside the programming rooms, although we were dismayed that they closed at 11:00 PM on Saturday night.  I invited anyone we knew who was staying on Sunday night to join us at the bar in our hotel and we had a great turnout.  These sorts of impromptu gatherings are often the best times of a con, and this was no exception.

Mr. Kastler is a very gracious host, and as an intimate gathering for his birthday, this was successful, but it hardly lifted “the standard of a steampunk con” as he has boasted.  As always, the attendees were the best part of the event and we had a fabulous time chatting and making new friends.  There were so many wonderfully outfitted steampunk enthusiasts.  I personally despise the word “garb” when referring to steampunk enthusiasts.   I think “gear” might be more appropriate.  The environment, at least in places was simply magical for photos and we took full advantage.

So, despite still coughing the smoke out of my lungs, I have quite a few lovely photos and had a nice weekend at Steamathon.  I know personally how difficult it is to make everything run smoothly, especially the first time, so I applaud the effort of Kastler and his staff.

Some of our photo galleries can be seen here and here.

Join Us!

If you are intrigued by steampunk and you live in the Pacific Northwest, you should join the Facebook group: NorthWest SteamPunk events.  I moderate it and try to include any relevant event in the area.  It’s a great place to keep your steampunk calendar up to date.

Click here!

Kurios by Cirque du Soleil

Yesterday we attended Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities by Cirque du Soleil.  Our friend had suggested Superbowl Sunday as a good day to go since attendance would be light.  It was and aside from the weather it was perfect.  It rained on the way in, which made me quip is this Cirque du Soleil or Cirque du Pluie?  (Circus of the Sun or Circus of the Rain, although my French is probably wrong.)  Due to the cold, it was 48 degrees and the rain, it was hard to decide what to wear that would work for standing in line and being in a crowded auditorium. We brought an umbrella which then became a nuisance to lug about, but it was better than being cold and wet.

My outfit, although fairly subdued got a great deal of appreciative comments.  One poor woman came up to let me know she had asked the sales staff if she could buy my boots and goggles.  She was quite disappointed that she could not.  I told her the goggles were from A Masquerade and the boots were from Steamtropolis.  Hopefully that garners some sales.  I guess I need to carry around promotional materials.  I did give out my business card a few times, so my blog might be helpful.

We decided to get our photo taken at the “Photo Lab”.  It was a green screen with five different digital scenes.  The photographer was good at getting folks posed.  Since we were dressed up, our photo helped encourage more folks to try it out.  They did have a few props you could borrow as well as hats.  We decided on getting a copy of the last shot, although I was disappointed that they did not offer a digital copy of the whole set.  The details around the “Photo Lab” were very well done.

After we found our seats I went to confirm that photography was okay.  I was told yes as long as it wasn’t flash.  My little point and shoot hates low light, so I didn’t get any great shots, but it’s nice to have some reminders of what went on.  While I was making my inquiry, I saw regular people on the bridge above the stage.  I thought they might be from the VIP or Backstage package, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I asked.  The usher handed me over to a man named Luke.  I put my things down at our seats and on Luke’s advice, I brought my husband along to take a photo.  I was lead to the back of the stage and handed off twice more to people who lead me to the bridge.  They each ensured my heels were not too high, and I was told to not let go of the hand rails.  It was quite thrilling to be up so high.  As I walked a heard a few people cheer, and someone shouted out my name.  It was my friend Kevin.  I wanted to wave, but I also didn’t want to get yelled at.  My husband got a few very blurry shots of me on the bridge.  The front end of the bridge becomes very steep and the railings end leaving you on a small set of steps.  There was a woman there to help me down and the excitement was over.

We chatted with Kevin for a moment.  He had managed to snag a front row seat.  I was jealous.

The set design for the show is very steampunk, utilizing various recycled bits and bobs and lots of mechanical bracings.  Many of the larger props are quite nice including a giant mechanical hand that serves as a platform for some of the performers.  The main characters were done up in very steampunk attire.  One character had accordion pants and my favorite was a woman with a spring for a skirt.  The musicians and singer were done up wonderfully.  I especially loved the “Diva” with a gramophone horn incorporated into her hair.  There are mad scientists, and less mad scientists, and some mechanical creations.  There is a man with a huge stove for a midsection in which lives a tiny little woman.  I really want to see more of these characters throughout the show, but they are background elements.  There is one performer that is an aviator, and several in Victorian attire but quite often the performers are fish.  Fish?

Sadly, I would say that not all of the acts could be called steampunk.  I was a bit disappointed in not only the lack of imagination in some of them, but the level of entertainment.  Overall, I had a wonderful time, but with a theme like steampunk, there is just so much more that could have been done.  It’s a pity that it was not more fully realized.

That said, it is a wonderfully fun show.  I am glad we went.  I hope that it is a rousing success.

My gallery can be seen here.  (click)

 

 

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.