Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

The Traveling Life

For all of you that are going to be traveling to Steamcon, I thought I’d write up some thoughts about packing and such, especially in regards to steampunk gear.  A small aside, “garb” is the term used by the SCA, so I tend to call my steampunk costumery “gear” to differentiate it.  Hat, props, goggles, boots, corsets  and more!  Steampunk gear is complicated and fussy.   Here are some things that have worked and not worked for me in the past.

The biggest hurdle of course is props.  Weapons are especially difficult.  The more realistic, the harder they are to get to your destination safely.  TSA is a very suspicious organization, and probably with good reason.  I recommend not trying to transport anything that was ever an actual weapon.  They have no sense of humor and you may lose it.  So shell casings, even as decoration are a bad idea these days.

When I need to get large props to a show, I often will ship a box or two to my hotel.  This can be costly, and you are risking shipping damage, but sometimes it’s the only way to ensure things get to your destination.  Be aware, finding a FedEx office outside the hotel will save you quite a lot of money.  Hotels add on a lot of fees.

It worked very well for many years and then I had disaster strike.  One of my three boxes didn’t show up after a show in Detroit.  The identical one that did arrive, was quit damaged and it lead me to wonder if the other one had been even more damaged or destroyed.  I made a huge effort to track it down, but to no avail.  Long story short, about a year and a half later I got it back, mostly unharmed.  It does make me very wary these days.

One idea that I have found works well is to have a sturdy hatbox with a handle as a carry-on.  I put two hats nestled into each other and another tiny hat in them.  I add compasses, widgets and jewelry to the center if there is room.  Then I wrap the interior of the box with belts, goggles and such and then add a layer of squishable clothing.  TSA is likely to want to inspect anything that looks suspicious, but at least you can be there to supervise.  The last time my hatbox went through security I got a big grin from the handsome TSA agent, who then told me it was the “most interesting” assortment of things he had ever seen go through his scanner.  I wish I had had a Steamcon flyer to give him.

If you have a hat that won’t fit, simply wear it.  You will be able to store it overhead once you get settled and they never count it as a carryon.

Parasols and corsets are a bit problematic.  They can potentially read as dangerous metal or knives, so having them in a carry may not be the best idea.  It can be a risk to put them in checked luggage, but it will generally work better.  Putting a parasol in a large mailing tube and carrying it on can work as well.  You may need to pull it out for inspection.   Art supply stores have tubes with handles already attached or you can fashion one yourself.

For most clothing, my husband and I have nice hanging bag that folds up.  It is very handy to just pull everything out and hang it up when we reach the hotel.

I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, but Steamcon is about a week away, so my brain is well pummeled mush at this point.  I am so looking forward to seeing all the fabulous costumes that you all have created and sharing my own new creations.  It should be a marvelous time.  See you there!


Stay with Us at Steamcon V!

Steamcon, the Northwest’s premier steampunk convention is coming up October 25th – 27th.  The theme this year is “Around the World” which lends itself to explorer costumes and exotic apparel.  As a costumer, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t stay in the hotel.  I hate to limit myself to one ensemble so having a room means I can take a small break and change clothes when I feel like it.  And of course being Halloween weekend means costumes are a must!

The Hyatt Regency Bellevue is a gorgeous hotel with lots of amenities.  Did you know there is a fridge in every hotel room?  Eques, the hotel’s breakfast restaurant has some of the most amazingly decadent breakfasts.  Nearby there is just about everything imaginable, from restaurants, grocery stores, shops, movie theaters and even a bowling alley.

Steamcon has a special rate for the weekend, but this opportunity ends on September 23rd, so don’t delay.  Get your reservation to stay in the heart of the adventure!


Steamcon in the Solstice Parade!

Widget before the parade

In a parade that is famous for naked (except for body paint) cyclists, it can be hard to stand out.  I think that the members of Steamcon, quite clothed thank you very much, managed to garner a good deal of attention.  We made the decision to march in the 25th annual Fremont Solstice Parade, a celebration of creativity and freedom of expression to get some attention for Steamcon V and steampunk in Seattle.  As previously stated one of the traditions of the parade are the naked cyclists and some of them do a great job of painting their bodies in very creative ways.  Several of us did use paint as well but much more selectively on our faces.

Steampunks at the parade - photo by randwolf

Our group, all dressed in fun and festive steampunk ensembles made the one and half mile trek.  The Seattle Times reporter called us “a fetchingly attired group of steampunk fans…”

Our entourage included three bicyclists (entirely clothed), a skateboarder, two people on stilts and a man in a reclining bike.  We ended up with almost twenty folks by the end of the parade.  It was a long, hot and sunny walk, but the crowd’s enthusiasm and shouts of “Steampunk!”  were very encouraging.  At one point near the end a woman turned her daughter to our group and loudly proclaimed “That.  That is what steampunk is!”

There is no official gallery for our parade group, but some of the shots can be found here.

If you are interested in joining us, we are going to march in the Pride Parade next weekend.  Details can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/470753979667718/


Express Yourself!

Yesterday I gathered a group of friends at the Woodland Park Zoo to take some photos to promote Steamcon V.  Amber Clark of Stopped Motion Photography graciously offered to donate her time and energy to the project.  I am eagerly awaiting the results.  I’ll make sure to post some when we get them done.

It was a very fun adventure and I think we will have some fabulous photos.  We really have to do that more often.  It got me thinking about photography these days.  Digital photography has made things so much more fluid.  It’s so nice not to feel that you have to control every aspect of what gets into the shot.  PhotoShop is my best friend for so many reasons.

I showed my book, Steampunk Archetypes to a young woman the other day and she politely said it was “nice but too over processed” in her opinion.

A little history about the book; I wanted to create a book that addressed some of the main archetypes of steampunk as a way to think about dressing for the genre.  It is to encourage people to think beyond the standard uniform looks that we had begun to see.  It is not very big or detailed, but it’s kind of a starting point.  I’d love to have the chance to write a larger tome some day.

All the photos in the book are of me, for a few different reasons.  The first is because I have lots of pictures of myself in various costumes so that was handy.  The second is because I really can’t afford to hire models, rent or buy clothes, pay photographers and all the other myriad costs associated with doing a more professional operation.  The third is that I am quite frankly proud of my efforts to step beyond the ubiquitous and create new and different looks.  These are looks that I engineered and I am proud of them.

As for “over processed”, yes I concede that my photos are reworked in Photoshop to a large degree, but it is entirely intentional.  I thought about her comment for a while, but I keep coming to the same conclusion which is that I make up for what I lack by using my artistic skills.  The woman in question is a young model and still enjoying notoriety and attention.  I am no longer young and thin.  I freely admit that I “shop” out blemishes, unflattering bits or double chins once in awhile.  I also do not have a makeup artist, stylist or lighting assistant to help make the photos better from the start.  I do not even have a professional photographer usually.  It’s just my husband shooting quick shots during this or that event that half the time, we are also running.  So I make do with whatever photos we happen to get.  Often I have to compensate for poor light levels or bad backgrounds.

I did a little modeling when I was younger, but the difference is that now I am creating the entire image.  I am choosing the clothes, props, and accessories.  I pick out the wigs.  I do the makeup.  Then I take the photograph and Photoshop out or in a background.  I decide on what effects to add.  This is my artwork.  I am working toward showcasing the look, not the photo itself.

It’s pride perhaps but not vanity. I am not dressed up because I think I am “all that.”  I dress up because I created this look to express myself.  I am proud of my costuming, and my makeup work.   I found a way to express myself and it makes me feel good.  I want to encourage others to do so as well.  Five years old or fifty or seventy five, I want people to feel free to express themselves.    So what if we are not supermodels?  Dress up!  Have fun.

My Busy Spring

I hope that you have been enjoying this crazy season.  I feel like I have either been prepping for events or attending them non-stop for a while.  Still a few more to go too.

First there was the Steampunk Exhibition Ball run by the Center for Sex Positive Culture.  It was held in the new location for the Museum of History and Industry. People were so very well dressed.  It was quite a treat.  I do miss the old location for it’s multiple spaces.  The new space is nice and very open.   The prohibition on flash photography was also a bit annoying but we found light where we could.


We went to a dress up event at the Raygun Lounge called Shindig.  I am not really a game person so it won’t be a standard haunt for me, but several of my friends were moving away soon, so it was a great excuse to hang out with them.  They had tasty food and beverages for sale as well, so it was a nice night.

Lastly, there was Steampunk University last Saturday.  We had classes and a store full of great merchants.  Attendance was decent, despite the many scattered showers.  I got a lot of good feedback from people who came to find out what this steampunk thing was really all about. They seemed very enthused.  We sold a lot of memberships to the convention!

Although I am steadfastly saving every penny for my birthday trip to Paris, I did buy a gorgeous mini pith helmet from my friend Amanda Forbes.  It was too cute to resist and it will go well with Steamcon V’s “Around the World” theme.

Next weekend, the Abney Park and Steam Powered Giraffe show!

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.

Steamcon IV: Victorian Monsters!

July 16th 2012


Contact: Diana Vick, Steamcon Vice chair, info@steamcon.org


Each year Steamcon draws several thousand fans to its Steampunk convention, one of the longest running in the world. This year’s theme is “Victorian Monsters,” a weekend long Halloween party featuring all the classic monsters of the Victorian era. Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Spring Heeled Jack, the Invisible Man, Jack the Ripper and many more were born in the foggy streets of Victorian London. With participants dressing as monsters and monster-hunters, this year’s event is the perfect setting for Steampunk intrigue, ghoulish frights and ghastly delights.

Kim Newman, the man who penned the thrilling alternate history tale Anno Dracula, will be the Author Guest of Honor. Joe Benitez, illustrator and creator of the gorgeous comic book Lady Mechanika is this year’s Artist Guest of Honor. The Monster Hunters of Honor will be the ever popular and outrageous League of S.T.E.A.M.

Headlining the Saturday Night Concert will be Musical Guests of Honor the cello ensemble Rasputina. The concert will also feature a performance by the fabulous Nathaniel Johnstone Band and the theatrical Eric Stern of Vagabond Opera.

Taking place indoors at the lovely Hyatt Regency hotel in Bellevue on October 26th -28th, Steamcon IV will feature three days of lively panel discussions, demonstrations, and talks about the literary genre/music genre/fashion/do-it-yourselfers dream that is Steampunk. The Convention will host an art exhibition, a huge merchant’s room, several games rooms, a high tea, dances, a concert and much, much more. Speakers, fans and Steampunk aficionados from around the world will attend this international renowned event.

Special events:

Friday night will be the third annual Airship Awards Banquet, an evening to honor the most outstanding creators in the steampunk community. On Saturday there will be the Sanatorium Tea featuring a best monster costume competition, and on Sunday there will be the “Wayfarer’s Brunch,” an event to honor multiculturalism in steampunk.

Who: Steampunk Conventions Inc.

What: Steamcon IV: Victorian Monsters

Where: Bellevue Hyatt Regency Hotel, 900 Bellevue Way Northeast, Bellevue, (425) 462-1234

When: October 26-28, 2012

How Much: Adults $45.00 and youths $40 if bought in advance.  Higher at the door.  Tickets available online or at the door.  http://registration.steamcon.org/

For more information, go to www.steamcon.org or drop us an email at info@steamcon.org.

Other articles on Steamcon IV: Steampunk Chronicles



Steamcon Hard Rock Pin

Steamcon, Seattle’s own steampunk convention and the Hard Rock Cafe Seattle have teamed up to produce an awesome pin.  Part of the proceeds go to help the Historic Seattle Preservation Foundation!  It is limited to 300 pins and available now, only at the Hard Rock Cafe Seattle. Retails for $14.00.

The story:  I have been a pin collector for quite some time.  It’s one of my obsessions really.  I adore Hard Rock Cafe pins and so I always visit any store that I can.  My very first one was Paris, but since then I have been to Yokahama, Cancun, and many more.  About a year ago, I was making a visit to the Hard Rock in Seattle, having dinner and doing a little pin trading.  I got to talking to Shawn, a wonderful woman who manages the retail store there.  I knew that a few other conventions had done pins with the HRC before so I thought I’d ask.  She said it was possible and a year later, we have a gorgeous pin.

I can’t begin to say how exciting it is for me, as a designer to see my work on the wall of one of my favorite places. I have produced and designed a few pins before but nothing this prestigious.  I am quite proud of our endeavor.


Jeter to be Author Guest of Honor at Steamcon III!

Have you ever wondered what the man who coined the term “steampunk” thinks steampunk is?   We definitely have, so we’ve asked him to join in the conversation. Steamcon is extremely proud to announce that K.W. Jeter will be our author guest of honor for our fabulous third year!

K. W. Jeter is widely credited as having coined in 1987 the term “steampunk,” and is the author of Morlock Night and Infernal Devices, two of the earliest novels in the genre. In addition, he has written many other science fiction and thriller novels, including Dr. Adder, Farewell Horizontal, Soul Eater, and In the Land of the Dead. In addition to his writing career, he has worked as a researcher for the University of California Medical Center on AIDS-related bereavement issues with heroin addicts, and as a creative writing instructor for Portland State University in Oregon. After residences in England and Spain, he currently lives with his wife Geri in San Francisco, California – though that might change.

Morlock Night and Infernal Devices have been recently reprinted, with additional material, by Angry Robot; more details can be found at Mr. Jeter’s steampunk-related blog, or at the K. W. Jeter Information Site. His long-awaited sequel to Infernal Devices, titled Fiendish Schemes, will be available soon from Tor Books.

Norwescon: Eggs, Tentacles and Steampunk

As I try to recuperate and unpack from Norwescon, I will take a quick break to write up a review.  As usual, it all went by much too quickly.  The main goal for the weekend was to promote Steamcon III, so the Steamcon lobby table was our main focus.  A scant couple of weeks before the con, I came up with a crazy idea to draw more folks to the table, the Golden Egg-stravaganza!  Essentially a bunch of candy, badge ribbons and mystery prizes in gold colored eggs.  Each egg was a one dollar donation.  I didn’t have much time to find the prizes, but I used some Steamcon stickers, buttons and such as well as a few little compasses, dirigibles, hot air balloons and little octopi.  We also gave away four full Steamcon III memberships, which really delighted their recipients.  The eggs were very popular.  Too popular!  I realized that we would sell out completely on Friday morning, so I put half of them aside for Saturday.  We still sold out before noon each day.  Live and learn.  I am already plotting for next year.

Nemo's Daughter

As another ploy to draw attention to Steamcon III, I dressed in somewhat 20,000 Leagues regalia.  My Saturday outfit was Nemo’s daughter as an admiral with a little bit of the sea in her blood as it were.  It was quite well received.  I participated in the Under the Sea fashion show, which was very creative.

On Saturday night, I did a second version of Widget the automaton.  The lightning goggles and makeup were a huge hit.

I had about five panels, almost all on steampunk or related themes.  Despite having done this for so long, I am always learning more about steampunk.  I want to say thanks to Lou Anders of Pyr for some great insights and stating that Sherlock Holmes is not steampunk.  One of my favorite people, Claire Hummel was on many of my panels as well and she is always a fount of new information and good insights.

Social anthropologist, James Carrott followed me around to my panels to record the discourse in preparation for a dinner at the Dahlia Lounge on Sunday hosted by Brian David Johnson, the futurist at Intel.  Brian’s goal was to gather steampunk “luminaries” to discuss steampunk with an eye toward what we could add to future technology.  The dinner was lovely and the discussions quite lively.  The Foglios, Paul Guinan, Anina Bennett, Kevin Steil, Claire Hummel, Thomas Becker, Jordan Bodewell, Marshal Hunter, R. “Martin” Armstrong and myself along with James and Brian discussed steampunk past, present and future while the cameras rolled.  I confess to being quite intrigued by what may come of this.  If nothing else, hanging out with James and Brian during the convention, was very entertaining and thought provoking.  Thanks to both of you!

It was a marvelous but exhausting weekend.  You can see the photos my darling husband took on Flickr.com.

Widget the automaton and Steam Wench

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.