Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

Vintage New Years Cards

To close out the year, I give you one last set of vintage cards celebrating the new year.

Happy Turkey Day!

Sorry for my prolonged absence.  I promise I’ll make some updates soon.  Meanwhile I give you, Thanksgiving from some alternate universe where the turkeys got smart and are far from the tables on this holiday.  Remember all the things we have to be thankful for on this day.


Victorian Easter Cards – Part Three

To conclude the series of Victorian Easter cards, here are four Easter cards in the Up in Air theme.  Enjoy!


















St Patrick’s Day Cards

I am working on a few blog posts but since it’s a holiday, here are two fun vintage Saint Patrick’s Day cards with the up in the air theme.


Steampunk Needs…

My ensemble from 2008

Back in 2008, on the way to a steampunk costumed gathering I was musing on how to phrase a concept that seemed to be misunderstood. Steampunk has a varying degree of anachronism if it is successful. A very basic tenant of science fiction is the introduction of things that are ahead of their time and it is even more important to steampunk as I see it.

It can be a delicate line to find. The anachronistic elements should be from the future not the past, rayguns not flintlocks, but also need to look integral to the time period. The gorgeous computer mods that Datamancer makes are a great example, essentially a computer from the future built to look like it was designed by someone in the Victorian era. Iphone skins seem to me, to miss the mark entirely as they just don’t look like something that a Victorian would have created. Steampunk inspired but not strictly steampunk per se, so I would classify them as steampunk; the subculture, not the genre.

My design for Steamporium, my little shop

Part of my musing that day was brought up by a friend’s rant about the length of a particular gentleman’s coat. “It’s the WRONG length” he moaned and I asked him what it was the wrong length for. If we are talking about steampunk, and we are altering history, then it makes perfect sense that fashion might also be altered. A great example is flight helmets. They have been used commonly since the invention of flight, but if we introduce flight via airships and ornithopters to our Victorian era stories, then a flight helmet would be a handy accessory for any aviator or aviatrix. So paying careful attention to what we bring back to the past and how we re-design it can make all the difference in the world.

Another design I did in fairness to goldfish

I finally settled on “Steampunk needs historical accuracy like a dirigible needs a goldfish” riffing off of Gloria Steinem’s famous quote “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” While a dirigible can certainly have a goldfish or even be a goldfish, no one expects it have a goldfish. It does not need one to run.  In the same respect a steampunk story can be very historically accurate, with just a tiny bit of anachronism and be perfectly wonderful, Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett’s Boilerplate for example. Or it can be completely made up of things that never happened or at least hadn’t yet happened and be equally as engrossing. Steampunk is a genre of fiction and should be treated as such. The fashion, weaponry, technology and events are entirely at the whims and devices of the author/creator. I don’t mean that we must be lazy or lax, but if accurate history isn’t your cup of tea, that is quite acceptable.

I guess my quote must resonate with folks, at least somewhat as I was asked if they could quote me in Locus magazine’s Steampunk issue.  I have had it quoted back to me on occasion and I can’t tell you how much it tickles me.

Having said that, I still define steampunk (just my personal definition mind you) as being in roughly the Victorian/Edwardian era. I have occasionally had my quote thrown back at me as an excuse for many unfortunate things to be labeled steampunk. All I can say is that accuracy is meant as a measure of how close not how wildly far you are off the mark. The fact that people seem to think a gown can be both Renaissance AND Victorian is proof that we need to learn more about history, but that is a rant for another time.

If you like my quote, I have done my artistic duty and added it to my steampunk store; Steamporium. It makes a cute t-shirt, so go and have a look.  I don’t make huge amount on the royalties so it’s mostly for fun.

My Hard Rock Cafe Pins

For longer than I can remember I’ve been fascinated with cloisonné pins.  There is just something about them that makes me smile.  I’ve been collecting them for a long time, from Disney parks, zoos and aquariums and many other sources.  Eventually I had to make rules to limit my collecting.  Like most hobbies it can begin to take over after a while.

As an artist I thought that designing pins would be fun.  I designed and helped produce a few pins back when I worked for MU Press and even thought about starting a pin company.  There were too many aspects of running a business that just did not appeal to me so I let it drop.

One of the places I like to get pins is the Hard Rock Café.  I got my first HRC guitar pin in Paris in 1992.  Since then I have been to HRCs in Yokohama, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and many US cities as well.  When one opened up in Seattle, I was thrilled.  I am by no means a completist, but I go in every other month and buy a pin and trade with the staff.  The trading is very fun and I always look forward to it.

Steamcon III HRC Pin

One day when we were in, I mentioned to the retail manager that I thought it would be great to have an HRC pin commemorating our steampunk convention, Steamcon.   I knew that Dragoncon and Wondercon had done HRC pins and even the local Emerald City Comic Con had one.  She said it would take some doing and a lot of lead time, but it was possible.  I submitted a design, found a charity to benefit; the Historic Seattle Preservation Foundation and by Steamcon III we had an HRC pin.  As a pin aficionado I was quite proud.

By this point they had begun a Seattle HRC pin collector’s meetup every quarter or so.  I met some great folks and we traded and chatted.  They were extremely supportive of my Steamcon pin designs and commented on how different they were.  It was encouraging.  The retail manager decided to ask us fans what sort of pins we would like to see.  You could just write out a description or you could add a sketch.  There was no compensation or credit offered, but it was still pretty cool.  I submitted a set of six steampunk girls that I had been working on and a couple other sets as well.

When I was in Orlando, a manager there told me that corporate had decided all pins now had to have a musical component.  This complicated things a bit, but in the case of the Steamcon III pin, they added musical notes to the tail of the submarine.  On Steamcon IV’s mechanical bat, I didn’t see any changes at all.  When I submitted the steampunk girls I did not add any music, so I didn’t know if that meant they wouldn’t take them at all.  We weren’t told it was a requirement.  I did also do a set that is an anthropomorphic animal band, so I am hopeful that it will be produced.

Yesterday one of the pin collectors said that he heard that a set of three steampunk girls were coming out soon, but he didn’t know if they were my designs.  I then got an email from HRC asking if I had a preference about when they got released.  I said right away was good for me.  So, yes, they were mine!  Yay!  I still did not know which ones or what changes had been made.

My husband and I went to HRC Seattle the next night and sure enough, there they were.  They did add musical instruments and changed things, but for the most part I am pretty happy.  The staff was enthusiastic and supportive.  It feels great to be able to say “I designed those!”  A dream come true in a way.  Now to figure out how to design a Disney pin.  I am really not expecting that one to happen, but a girl can dream.

For anyone interested, the pins are currently available at the Hard Rock Café Seattle.  They are $12.00 each and are limited editions of 300.

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.