Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

Around the World

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


Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Aviatrix – photo by Tony Hicks, model/costume/editing by Diana Vick

I’d like to remind you that it is incredibly irresponsible to repost pictures of art that you love without crediting the artist? What do you do for a living? Do you do it for free or would you like it to be valued? Well, artists work hard and need recognition. Every time you post without attribution, that piece of art is going to be reposted again and again without credit. You can be the hero that helps that artist get a following. It’s really the least you can do.  You can help. If you like their work, take a few moments to find their name and maybe their website. They might have lots more great art to show you.

It didn’t have credit when you found it, so that’s okay right? Wrong. Just because you don’t know who created it does not mean it’s free to use. The internet is full of theft. Don’t be complicit in that theft.

Here’ one way you can help. Right click on the image. Copy url. Go to Tineye.com. It’s a reverse image search. Put in the address. It may take a little time to find the artists name and website, but with a little persistence it can usually be done. If you can, go back to your uncredited source and give them the name of the artist. It can be your random act of kindness for the day!  If you can’t find the artist’s name, then either ask for help when you post it, or maybe just refrain from posting.

As an artist, I can’t tell you how much this means to me.  Artists?  Please put your watermark or name and web address on everything so we don’t have this problem?  It isn’t always enough but it’s a start.

Thanks for reading.  Feel free to pass this info on.


Emerald City Comic Con 2013

So ECCC was good.  I am so tired today.  Bone weary.  Dry air, hard chairs and concrete floors for three days are hard on the old bones.  My ankle hurts where a moron ran into me with a cart when we got to the car after packing up the table.  Luckily I managed to not fall on my face into the glass display case I was carrying, but my ankle is still complaining.

We made many children and adults happy with the bin o’ cheap toys and the bin o’ stuffies.  Met a lot of pin and action figure collectors.  Overall we did pretty good.

My art got some notice, but not as much as I would have hoped.  It can be so disheartening to watch thousands of fans pass you by for all the big name artists, but every now and then someone would stop and look appreciatively.  I did get to meet a few of my very enthusiastic fans.  I even signed a Magic card, which I don’t think I have done in years.  I only painted three ever and one was cut from the deck.  One person had an odd moment when he realized that I was also the person responsible for Steamcon.  We did manage to promote Steamcon a bit and it’s amazing and worrisome how many folks still have just not heard of it.  Short of wandering the streets in costume, handing out flyers, I am just not sure how else to reach them.

I wore three different purple steampunk ensembles and they were well received, but as usual we only managed to get pictures of Saturday’s outfit.    I know that my picture was taken on other days, but I doubt I’ll ever find the photos.  Overall I think there was less costuming this year, but it could just be that they never got back to our table.  The show floor doubled this year and it was very difficult to get through the bottleneck on the Skybridge.  There were lots of attendees but there was even more stuff to buy so it’s hard to say if that works in our favor.

I bought a few cool things, like Brian Kesinger’s Tea Girl Calender, a pair of gorgeous goggles from Blonde Swan, and a couple steampunk appropriate necklaces.  I managed to resist the urge to shop like mad, which at ECCC is a superhuman feat.

I reserved my table for next year, so I need to make notes about what works and what doesn’t.  I am glad that I don’t do this too often, like many others do. It is fun, sometimes rewarding, but so much work.

The rest of my photos are here.

Quick Update

Sorry for my prolonged absence.  Another Steamcon has come and gone and I needed a break after all the work of putting it on.  I think it was successful.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  You can get a glimpse at the fun in our Flickr group pool.  We will begin work on the next one in January and I’ll be putting up the details as soon as we have them sorted.

I am also trying to work on some of the projects that I have neglected in the past year, so hopefully I’ll be linking to many new things in the next few months.

As many of you are getting ready for the holidays, I thought I might mention a few of my creations that would make good gifts.


This is a small book filled with pictures using the idea of archetypes to figure out some interesting and different steampunk costume ideas for the ladies.





This is a full color book of many of my whimsical animals in colorful costumes.



This is a design I made in response to some of the comments about  my quote “Steampunk needs historical accuracy like a dirigible needs a goldfish”.  You can get a mousepad, or several other things with this design.




And lastly a steampunk themed Christmas card with an old fashioned feeling for your favorite steampunk.


I was asked to be on a few panels at Dragoncon in Atlanta this year, so I am busy planning outfits and packing like a madwoman.   Dragoncon is a very costume heavy event, so it’s a lot of fun to wander and people watch.  They have an Alternate History Track that has a lot of steampunk content like the Mechanical Masquerade.

Panels that I am on at Dragoncon. If you happen to be going, please drop in:

  • Everyone’s a Captain: Finding a Fresh Persona in an Alt. History World – Fri. 2:30p in Intl BC (Main Room)
  • Tesla and Edison: The Men, The Myths – Sun. 5:30 pm in Intl A (Roundtable Room)
  • Organizing Your Steampunks: Airships, Clubs, and Others – Mon. 2:30 pm in Intl A (Roundtable Room)

Go check out some of the past Dragoncon Steam pics.






Whatever Shall I Wear?

RedAs I said in my last post, it’s that time of year.  So many events to attend and the big question is “What to wear?”   Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy figuring out new outfits for steampunk events.  I may enjoy it a little too much, but that’s a different topic.  It’s just that I don’t really want to wear the same thing over and over.  Or at least not in exactly the same way.  Many of my steampunk clothes can be mixed and matched to make new outfits. I have been wanting to have a large gallery of all my outfits that I can view on one page.  Unfortunately my computer doesn’t seem inclined to help, so I played around with some photo storage sites.  I finally found one that would let me do it.  Photobucket’s albums lets you view an entire album on one page.  Go and see my daunting 61 outfits all on a page!  That isn’t even all my outfits, but I don’t have full length photos of all of them.  It gives me a good overview to make decisions from.

Marshall & Bear

Marshal Hunter & the Bear - photo by D. Vick

The other huge question is what will work for the particular environment?  Will it be all indoors?  Outdoors?  Will it be too warm?  Too cold?  Steampunk clothing is generally layered and so fairly warm, often too warm.  Hats, gloves, corsets, tights, boots and such will all add to the warmth.  It’s great for fall, but summer can be tricky.  So each event poses it’s own problems.   I am working up a few outfits that are a bit cooler, with lighter fabrics for the outdoor events, but I am never quite as happy with them.

As they say at the Adventurers’ Club “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you, but always dress for the hunt!

And then there’s what to take to a convention.  Travels a curse!  But that’s a post for next time.

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.  ——

Steampunk Exhibition Ball

On Saturday, the hubby and I attended the Steampunk Exhibition Ball, put on as a fund raiser for the Center for Sex Positive Culture.  It’s an event we look forward to each year.  Most people dress to the nines and tens, so it’s a very fun people watching event.  It’s held at the Museum of History and Industry which is quite a fascinating place.  There is a room for dancing, a small merchant area, a photo area, several bars and the main auditorium held the music and burlesque this year, but it was always packed and the low lighting made it almost impossible to make your way to a seat safely.  My main focus is talking to folks, so I tend to mingle all night.

This year, I was asked to be one of the judges for the costume competition.  There are three categories per their website:

  • Most Impressive Beard and/or Moustache: Judging criteria includes size, styling, originality and incorporating steampunk themes,such as how facial hair complements the overall outfit. Preference will be given to naturally grown facial hair, but an amazing prosthetic moustache can still win.
  • Fabulous Hat: Our judges are looking for not only the most fetching hats, but also most original, marvels of engineering and hats that compliment the overall theme of the outfit. Preference will be given to milliners sporting their own haberdashery (hats you made yourself).
  • Enticing Ensemble: New this year is the Most Enticing Ensemble competition. We want you to show off your steamiest attire for our viewing pleasure. Judges will choose finalists based on the overall look of the ensemble, not just a sexy corset, flattering trousers or appearance of the wearer themselves. This isn’t about if you got it, it’s about how you flaunt it.

I was asked to choose a few finalists for the last two categories and I found some wonderful contestants.  Winners were chosen by audience vocalization, which I find to be an incredibly unfair and inconsistent method of judging, but there you go.  The first two competitions went well and suitable winners were chosen.  In the last category however, the announcer failed to make it clear that you had to be given a finalist chit to enter and the stage was flooded with people, mostly women in skimpy outfits.  Having been instructed to look for sexy, but well thought out ensembles and ask about whether they had a hand in the construction, I was a bit disconcerted.  I went to the contest official and voiced my concerns, but when the MC was apprised, he blew it off entirely.  So what?  As long as the audience is having fun, who cares, right?  Well, I didn’t appreciate putting work into something that was then completely ignored, so I departed.  I had better things to do than watch a competition that was now so obviously going to be the steampunk equivalent of a night at Hooters.  I am told that despite the chaos, the winner was one of the other judges picks and her costume was quite good and showed almost no flesh.  I am glad to hear it but surprised at it.  I guess one never knows the mind of a mob.

Aside from that, the evening was very pleasant.  I met a lot of wonderful people and had some great conversations.  The outfits were grand, people were convivial and the absinthe was flowing.  All the ingredients that steampunks appreciate most.

My husband only took a few photos but you can view them here.

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.

Lost Trunk!

Me with the Suffragette for the last time.

Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I attended The World Steampunk Expo in Dearborn MI.  It was very nice.  I gave four talks about various topics, so I had a good amount of my gear with me, including some of my gun mods.  We shipped a box and two trunks back to Seattle at the end of the convention, but somehow Fed Ex managed to lose one of the trunks.  As luck or Murphy would have it, this trunk contained two of my gun mods, including the one I am the most proud of.  I have worked with them to try and find the trunk, but to no avail.  I would ask that if you see this gun, the Suffragette, please let me know.  I would really like to get it back.  I know this is an enormous long shot, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.  The rest of the contents of this trunk are in this  Flickr gallery.  I am trying to replace as much as I can, but most of it will be impossible.  I am devastated by this loss.  What’s worse, I am having a hard time planning our trip to Dragoncon now that I don’t trust shipping methods and I have never trusted the airlines.  Boots, hats, and props are all difficult things to transport.    There just isn’t any way we can take enough time to drive from Seattle to Atlanta.  These are the woes of a traveling steampunk.  I am sure at least some of you can relate.

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.