Steampunk inspiration and resources

Conventions and Special Events

Join me for the Edwardian Ball Mar. 25 in New Orleans

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As an Editor for Steampunk Journal, I’ve been offered the chance to report on the Edwardian Ball charity event in New Orleans. The Edward Gorey Trust has been holding a fantastic Steampunk event in California for years, but for the first time they’ve expanded into a brand new city.

I am desperate to go and report on the event and bring you exclusive photos and stories, but New Orleans is a long way away. The Steampunk Journal is driven by passion, not money, so I have to pay my own way, and with the short notice cheap plane tickets are out of the question. I need the support of my fellow Steampunks if I’m going to make it, so I’ve created a small Kickstarter campaign to help me pay for the transportation (room and board will still be paid out of my own pocket). Visit the campaign page.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come!

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I am offering early content, extra content, postcards, prints, and discounted advertising on Steampunk Journal to support the campaign. If we reach my stretch goal of $1000, I’ll be able to upgrade my hardware and LIVESTREAM FROM THE EVENT!

Find out more


Off to the Teapot Races

My last event during Tesla Con last weekend was the teapot races. Twenty-seven cars and racers were there for the event, not to mention a large and appreciative crowd. I talked to a few racers who said they’d seen the event at the International Steampunk Symposium earlier this year and it inspired them to give it a try. I bet we’ll see a lot of these same cars at ISS 2017!

img_0161Most of the cars had a lot of trouble with the ramps, but this powerful silver racer made it through the entire track in under a minute. Definitely one to keep an eye on!

I told my brother-in-law about both the dirigible races and the teapots and he is now gung-ho about building some to race at next year’s Tesla Con. I can’t wait!


Greetings From TeslaCon!

img_0120I’m enjoying the great state of Wisconsin this weekend as an attendee at the 7th annual TeslaCon. The theme this year is Paris, and by extension all things French during the steam era. I’ve attended some great lectures on things like the catacombs and theaters of Paris, tips on upcycling thrift store items to create Steampunk fashion, and an overview of the Romantic movement in arts and literature in France compared to other places. The organizers have done a wonderful job of hiding speakers around the space to create atmosphere, plus all those awesome French advertisements they put up all over the hotel.

Here’s a few pics from the weekend so far ūüôā


I Had a Blast at the First of Motor City Steam Con’s ‘Victorian Salons’

When you’re a vagabond like me, it can be really hard to meet new people and make friends.¬†Being a Steampunk, I’ve already got a tribe, it’s just a matter of finding them!

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Luckily for me, the Midwest seems to be a hotbed of Steampunk activity. This past summer, the first Motor City Steam Convention was held in Detroit and the active and friendly community in Michigan decided to take it one step farther this weekend. Folks gathered together Saturday night to enjoy a Victorian style salon, an event that organizer Salathiel Palland told me should become a regular event if all goes well.

nr1My partner in crime for the evening was my sister-in-law, and we arrived a little late for the festivities so we didn’t get in on the initial mingle. Good thing there was plenty of time between activities and at the end to schmooze. The first talk by Shetan Noir¬†about a bit of local folklore was already going when we arrived, but we still got to learn about¬†a creature called The Nain Rouge¬†(Red Dwarf) that is either an early warning system, or¬†actually responsible for any number of disasters in Detroit’s storied past.

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Next up, we enjoyed a musical interlude by Richard Harper. He chose a few songs that people at a salon really would have heard during the steam era, and did a great job of giving us background behind the composers and the individual pieces. Not to mention the performance itself, which was awesome and perfectly suited to the occasion.

And the night just got better as Chris Gregurich and his lovely assistant (a mustachioed cowboy whose spurs jingled delightfully as he was being gently twisted and knocked around for our benefit) gave us a little lesson in bartitsu. For the uninitiated, this was a pretty vicious fighting style developed in an era when guns and swords were outlawed in the city, but every gentleman had a cane. But don’t take it from me! I took some videos (sorry about the quality…). You can¬†also find out more about the many different kinds of trainings they offer at¬†the Capital City Martial Arts website.

img_0064Ted and Kate Jauw finished out the evening with one of my favorite things, a lecture about booze! I’d had the Sazerac cocktail on my to do list for Booze Glorious Booze for a while, and I got the skinny on every ingredient in the drink. Glad I didn’t bother with boring old internet research! You can count on seeing a post dedicated to this lovely drink later this month. Thanks Ted!

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One of the ingredients in a Sazerac is absinthe, and Kate’s family actually makes their own. Both Ted and Kate discussed the role of alcohol in remedies by herbalists, and the anti-pagan pathos that led to the well-known assertion that the wormwood in absinthe would drive you mad. Everyone got a chance to sip their own little glass of extract of absinthe and it was a delectable anise-y treat to cap off the evening.

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I can’t wait for the next one!

 


My Interview with Jeff Mach, Creator of the Steampunk World’s Fair

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Jeff Mach started the Steampunk Worlds Fair in 2010, and continues to oversee this amazingly successful event as well as other special interest conventions. I interviewed him as part of the Steamfest Gazette, and now that my backers have had their copy for a while I thought I’d share my conversation with you all as well. Steampunk World’s Fair 2016 was amazing and I’ve already got my room booked for SPWF 2017. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Now, on with the interview!

PD: Which came first, your love of Steampunk or your knowledge of large-scale event planning?

JM: The events definitely came first, and I’m glad I had that experience.¬†¬†We’ve always created events with a focus on tremendous entertainment.¬†They say that every word in a poem should matter; we feel that every minute in an event should matter.¬†¬†This meant that we wanted to have lots of stages and lots of opportunities available to our attendees, which really helped change the way people saw Steampunk events.¬†¬†It was very rare to see that much music or entertainment at Steampunk events when we got started; you’d usually see a lot of panels.¬†Panels are wonderful, but Steampunk culture is so much more broad than what you’ll find through conversation alone!

Just one of the many talented performers at SPWF 2016

Just one of the many talented performers at SPWF 2016

PD: Tell us a little about your event and the inspiration behind it.

We had a simple idea: We wanted to try to give people an opportunity to experience EVERY aspect of Steampunk creativity we could find, and we wanted to be accepting of ANYONE who wanted to attend, regardless of how they dressed, or how involved they were in the Steampunk community.  We wanted a place where anyone who enjoyed Steampunk could feel at home.

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PD:¬†What was your biggest mistake, er, ‚Äúgrowth experience‚ÄĚ when you first started holding SPWF?

JM: I took time off from managing the event in year two, when I was busy getting married.¬†¬†I don’t regret getting married! ¬†But I should have run that event, no ifs, ands, or buts.

img_9343PD: What are some strategies for people to use, or avoid, when it comes to increasing attendance at special interest events?

JM: Have a clear harassment and consent policy! ¬†It will help increase your attendance with people who want to see a safer fandom, and decrease attendance from people who don‚Äôt.¬†It’s a win-win.

PD: What is your favorite thing about Steampunk in general, or your Steampunk event in particular?

One of our mottoes is “”We don’t make imaginary worlds. We make real worlds that come from imagination.” ¬†Steampunk is based on literally endless whimsy and creativity. ¬†You’ll rarely find any two Steampunks whose Imaginary 19th Centuries are the same – and yet we ALL respect each other and we all respect each other’s views of that universe. ¬†It makes me happier than I describe.

It’s also what inspired me to create Glimmerdark. ¬†I wanted to make a Faerie universe, but not one which obeyed or imposed any single set of rules for how it came about. ¬†I wanted to see if I could take Steampunks freewheeling acceptance and apply it to a fantasy event. ¬†(Of course, Glimmerdark is multi-genre – so we do expect and hope to have quite a lot of Steampunks there, too. ¬†It all works together!)

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¬†PD:¬†You also got a chance to bring Absinthe Heroes to life at this year’s fair.¬†What was your inspiration for writing¬†this Steampunk opera, and who is your favorite character?

Part of it was simple: There was¬†almost no other Steampunk musical theatre at the time, and I felt that Steampunk culture could use a theatrical tradition. ¬†I figured I’d do my part to help prime the pump! ¬†I was a playwright long before I started doing events, and I felt that, with the resources of a festival behind me, I could really produce a show worth seeing.

Favorite character? ¬†Ah, c’mon, that’s like asking about a favorite child! ¬†But I will say that I can’t imagine not falling in love with an Evil Chocolatier.

¬†PD:¬†I know Absinthe Heroes was funded¬†through a Kickstarter campaign because I contributed to it ūüôā¬†Do you have any advice for other people who are developing their own crowdfunding campaigns?

JM: Always, ALWAYS have a plan BEFORE you start. ¬†Always have an idea of how you’ll get your ideas out to people, and have a clear vision of what would make it worthwhile for other people to contribute. ¬†YOU know why your project’s going to be fantastic and why, once it’s funded, it will succeed. ¬†But other people don’t! ¬†You have to explain it to people who don’t live in your own head. ¬†Too often, people run a crowdfunding campaign on the basis of, “Trust me, this will be THE BEST” – and that’s just not going to help unless the people reading it already know who you are. ¬†And even then, having a clear vision and a structure to what you’re doing will really help people decide that backing you makes sense.


My Interview with Al Fox, The Brains Behind the International Steampunk Symposium

Al FoxI got a chance to ask Al Fox, the creator of the International Steampunk Symposium and ThePandoraSociety.com, a few questions about the con and his background during this year’s Symposium.

PD: Which came first, your love of Steampunk or your knowledge of large-scale event planning?

AF: The love of Steampunk came first and then evolved from putting together small social gatherings to planning full-scale weekend conventions.

PD: What is your favorite thing about Steampunk in general, or your Steampunk event in particular?

AF: Without a doubt my favorite thing about Steampunk is the people. The Steampunk Community is amazingly creative and not afraid to spill their imaginations everywhere! With some other fandom conventions, attendees come in with the attitude of “show me what you’ve got,” whereas Steampunk attendees bring so much with them and approach the con with the attitude of “let me show you what I’ve got.” There is such a positive energy that is shared by most Steampunks.

PD: Tell us a little about your event and the inspiration behind it.

AF: The International Steampunk Symposium is an annual gathering of Steampunks from all over the country and some from other countries. Our signature event is probably the Symposium Games, which is basically a Steampunk Olympics involving various light-hearted sports and challenges such as Nerf Dueling, remote-control Dirigible Races, and the ever so dangerous Umbrella Fencing. The whole convention is very participatory and inclusive of the attendees; the Symposium ranks highly on being a most socially engaging experience. As with Pandoracon, our sci-fi & fantasy convention, the inspiration for the Symposium is “verb;” we want to fill the weekend with so many things to do . . . our most consistent criticism is that there’s too much to do!

IMG_8656PD: Where did the Symposium Games comes from?

AF: The Symposium Games were at the core of the show’s planning from the very beginning. Inspired by the Olympics, I had the vision of different Airships and Steampunk groups from various cities coming together to compete in Victorian style games, but with a whimsical twist. One of the key games is the RC Dirigible Races; the Symposium was the first to start this sport and now our rules are being used at other conventions around the world. While we may have started a couple of Steampunk sports, we are more than happy to host contests that were started elsewhere, such as Tea Dueling and Teapot Racing.

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PD: What was your biggest mistake, er, ‚Äúgrowth experience‚ÄĚ when you first started holding The International Steampunk Symposium?

AF: The Symposium has been blessed with good luck, despite several attempts to tempt fate and disaster. The biggest mistake was actually during the first year in 2012 and the Umbrella Fencing event’s lack of safety steps. The concept of the special event was supposed to be a light-hearted folly, but several of the combatants were out to win and left mercy at the door. Pretty much as soon as the bouts began we realized how much of a bad idea this was, and swore that we would never have this event again, but then for the 2015 Symposium we actually brought it back, partly due to popular demand, but this time we brought the armor with it.

PD: You also run The Pandora Society website, would you tell us a little about that? Are you taking submissions?

AF: The Pandora Society runs in collaboration with the International Steampunk Symposium and also Pandoracon, but has also become its own entity by providing fandom communities with consistent and fresh daily content. Most of the site’s articles are focused on various forms of retro-futurism, but we do also publish articles on pop culture, science, history, and most things nerdy. We are always on the lookout for new writers to add to our spectrum of geeky voices; if interested, writers should visit http://thepandorasociety.com/callforpandorawriters/

Thanks so much to Al Fox for taking the time to answer my questions!

 

 


TTFN

TIgger

“Ta ta for now,” as Tigger would say.

I am off once again to a Steampunk event, thanks to my awesome Kickstarter backers! I haven’t finished the newsletter they get for the International Steampunk Symposium yet, but I should be getting close this week. Eventually, both of the issues of The SteamFest Gazette will become available for free download, but I am treating my backers to a few months of exclusivity first.

But don’t fret! This trip will be FAR shorter. I’ll be in New Jersey from May 12-15, and The Mister graduates May 16. I’ll be back after that and with you all the way until my annual birthday break ūüėČ

I have been doing a lot of planning for ForWhomTheGearTurns over the past few weeks, so here are a few things you can look forward to this summer!

Řě Lots more of the Spotlight on Trader series to help you navigate a Steampunk marketplace

Řě Short-story-palooza! Between ISS, backing Kickstarter campaigns, and being a part of Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Inc, I have gotten my hands on a TON of Steampunk short stories. I’ll be showcasing these stories and their authors all summer long. Got a story to tell? E-mail it to me! Maybe you will see your name on the blog.

Řě More news about Riftmaker, including sneak peeks at cover artwork in progress and more!

Řě Keeping my fingers crossed for a BIG announcement, but it is too early to tell you yet…

Have a whimsical weekend, and see you soon!

 


Spotlight on Traders: War Pony Candy Forge

If you see War Pony at an event, make sure to stop by for a free sample if nothing else. Plus, when I was owed $.50 in change, I was offered some caramel instead. What a “sweet” deal, eh? <wink wink, nudge nudge>