Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

2013 Steampunk Events

There are a lot of fun steampunk events coming up.  Here is a list of the ones I know that I am going to do so far.  More may be added to this list in time.  I hope to see you at some of these events.  Feel free to drop by and say hello!

Emerald City Comic Con – WA State Convention Center – March 1-3

While this isn’t technically a steampunk event, there will definitely be steampunk art, merchandise and costuming.  I will be at table L- 20 in the Artists Alley with my Steamporium merchandise as well as my other art.

Steampunk Exhibition Ball – MOHAI – March 9th

A good excuse for steampunks to dress to the nines.

Norwescon – Seatac Doubletree – March 29 – 31

This is a general science fiction convention, but there will be some steampunk content.  Steamcon will have a promotional table in the main hallway and we will be doing raffles and selling Steamcon memberships.

Steampunk University and Store – All Pilgrims’ Church – April 6th

This is an excellent opportunity for anyone curious about steampunk to find out what it’s all about.  Even if you don’t want to attend classes, the store is a wonderful shopping opportunity.  Admission is Free.

Abney Park/Steam Powered Giraffe Show – Historic Everett Theater – April 13th

This should be a fabulous concert.

Brass Screw Confederacy – Port Townsend – June 7-9

The second annual steampunk festival held in picturesque Port Townsend.

Time Travelers’ Rummage Sale – All Pilgrims’ Church – June 15th

A wondrous market filled with art and wares from many of the merchants that will be at Steamcon.  It is a great opportunity to get your ensembles and props for the next steampunk events.

G.E.A.R.con – Portland Doubletree – August 5-7

Portland’s annual steampunk convention.

Time Travelers’ Rummage Sale – All Pilgrims’ Church – August 17th

One more shot at the great shopping opportunities before Steamcon.

Steamcon V – Bellevue Hyatt Regency – October 25th – 27th

Once again we present the Northwest’s premiere steampunk convention.  This year’s theme is Around the World and we plan on bringing you steampunk from many lands, exploration of the Victorian world as it never was and much more.  Professor Elemental has kindly offered to drop by and join in the fun as well as artist Brian Kesinger and author S.M. Stirling.  It will be a grand show!

Born Too Soon

I was born in the wrong time.  You are thinking “the Victorian era, right?” No, I actually think I was born thirty years too soon.  Let me explain.  I have been going to science fiction/fantasy conventions since the early 1980’s.  One of the things that really interested me about them was the costuming.  When I put on a costume, I felt empowered.  I had confidence.  I didn’t even do much costuming back then.  What little I did was pretty simplistic, but I was shapely, young and vivacious.  I had my picture taken a lot.  At Chicago Worldcon, I modeled chainmail and I have three grainy Polaroid’s of me in the outfit.  As the years went by, I got a bit braver and one year a friend who later went on to make props in Hollywood, made me a Valkyrie costume.  I donned a curly red wig, and my new costume and I entered the masquerade.  Long story short, I had fun and had my picture taken a lot.  I have about five pictures of that outfit.

From 1982 until about 2003, I attended hundreds of conventions, wore dozens of outfits and have a very pathetic amount of photos to show for it, most taken in front of a hotel room door before we headed out.  Somewhere in photo albums, my past is captured, but I rarely got to see the results.

In 2004, I got into doing more costuming.  My costumes got more and more elaborate.  I usually had a friend to take photos, so I at least have one or two photos to show for each new costume.  Still, each time I’d have my picture taken by strangers knowing full well, I’d never get to see the results.  Digital photography helped a bit, but most people were still putting them in random personal online albums and exhaustive searches might yield one or two if I was very lucky.  Tagging would have helped, but the photographer rarely knew your name and for the most part it is just too much work.  I get that.  Then I found Flickr.com.  Someone finally did photo sharing right.  You could not only tag, but you could allow others to tag your photos.  You could make groups and sets and galleries.  There are still some flaws, but overall it’s fantastic.  I have been encouraging people to scan their old photos and upload them.  The quality isn’t great but those of us who never saw them would be thrilled.

I still have a very hard time finding my photos, but now it’s often due to the sheer volume of photos uploaded, or improper bulk tagging of every possible tag for a set, which just obfuscates the information.  So, if I had been born later, then I would have a better chance of seeing photos of some of my earlier costumes.

So, here I am in my costuming prime so to speak, more elaborate than ever, with the miracle of digital photography and good sharing sites, but no longer being young and svelte, I am just not the photographic subject of choice anymore.  Costuming as a hobby is more popular than ever before, but it’s still the girls in the least amount of “costuming” that get the most attention.  It’s their time.  I get that.  Well, at least they will have a chance to find their photos.

——Please do not use this post as a platform to rant on weight, youth, beauty or feminism.  Take it for what it is, a lament about timing, on the lack of a technology and the hole in my past that can never be mended to my satisfaction.  ——

Photographic Evidence Sought

Me at Norwescon 1986

Since the early 1980’s, I’ve been attending science fiction/fantasy conventions.  I began doing some costuming and really enjoyed it.  I didn’t own a camera, so I almost never got shots of my outfits.  Once in a while a friend would take a picture and give me a copy, but for the most part those images are lost in time.  This is not to say there were no pictures taken of me.  Many people would take my picture, but back in those dark days, there was very little chance I would ever get to see them.  As time went on, I would be a bit more diligent and try to get contact info, but it was still film and there was processing and a lot more hassle and expense.

Eventually we had the internet.  After a convention, I might do a few searches to see if people had put up their pictures and maybe, just maybe, there might be an image of me or my friends  that I would get to see.  It was very tedious.  I’d usually have to wade through a million pics of them having breakfast with friends and other things that were of no interest to me.  I really only wanted to see the costume shots.  Few people did any sorting and filing in the beginning.   A few places began to do galleries of costume pics from their convention, which was great.  They usually only focused on the masquerade entrants, but it was a start.

Once digital pictures were more prevalent, the photos online really took off.  No scanning required!  There were so many photo album sites that it was a hassle to search for them and then go through them.  When I first found Flickr.com, I was ecstatic.  A searchable online group of galleries!  Huzzah!  It was truly useful.  You could set up your own galleries and share your photos.  You could also set up groups and invite others to add theirs to the group pool.  I made a group called “Science fiction/fantasy convention costumes” to try and encourage participation.  I was thrilled when one person did actually go and scan in some old masquerade photos from the 80’s.  That was exactly the sort of thing I had dreamt of seeing.

I handed out cards to photographers suggesting they add their photos to the group so others could find their pictures too.  Unfortunately, most of the hard core photographers already had their own sites and didn’t want to take the time to put them up elsewhere.   I can understand that, but I still encouraged them to at least put a link to their sites in the appropriate group.  A lot of the younger folks did join in the fun and we had quite a boom.

Now the trouble is that convention groups like Dragoncon have way too many pictures for anyone to sort through.  In fact, you cannot look at the beginning of the group for long because Flickr limits how many pages you can search back through.

Me at Chicon 1983

Tagging photos with the type of costume or name of the character would help this immensely, but most people can’t be bothered to take the time to put more than the name of the convention on theirs.  In some cases the sheer amount of work it would require is daunting.  Even worse are the people who tag an entire group of photos with multiple tags, so the word “zombie” will bring up every photo they took in the batch that contains the zombie pic.  Frankly this practice is less than useless.  Sometimes, the photographer allows others to tag his work, but not always.  Recently, Flickr added the “add a person” function which allows you to tag the person if they are one of your contacts.  It’s great but only if you already know them and have them in your contacts.

I just tried to wade through photos from Emerald City Comic Con, but I found it has become a herculean chore.  Due to the ease of digital photography almost no one even bothers to edit out bad photos, leading to a sea of similar images.  Or they just add every photo; A hundred pics from the same panel of James Marsters speaking.   I know that my picture was taken many times, but the only one I saw was my husband’s.

So, we’ve gone from one lone photo we might really want to see being hidden in someone’s photo album in their basement to it being like a proverbial needle in a haystack.  I am not sure which is worse.  Famine or feast.

I make this plea to you dear reader, if you have some photos from days gone by of science fiction/fantasy convention costumes, consider scanning them and adding them to my Flickr.com group. I am sure someone would truly love to see them.  And if you are one of the many happy Flickr users already, please consider tagging your photos thoroughly and correctly so that the person who so nicely posed for you, might someday get to enjoy them.

May is steampunk month…well for me anyway

Oh my, May is looking very busy indeed. I have a steampunk event almost every weekend. And I am speaking at all of them. And then of course there is the costuming…! My favorite part!  Now my husband is muttering something about brier patches. Heh. Yes, it’s going to be a very long and fun month.   Click on the links to find out more about any of the events.  I hope to see some of you there!

• May 2nd – May Steamcon Organizational Meeting
• May 8th – Steampunk University and Film Festival
• May 22-23 – Victoria Steam Expo
• May 28-31 – World Steam Expo

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.