Steamcon II--A Brass-Hued Memory

The past is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. After three days of corsets and bustles, jeans and sneakers felt pretty good when I boarded the plane that would return me to the year 2010. 

Still, those three days in Seattle attending Steamcon II were a magical respite from the annoying realities of modern life. I am still basking in the brassed-hued afterglow. 

So much entertainment was available--over 200 hours, in fact--that it was hard to choose among the many offerings. An interview with Jake Von Slatt, of the Steampunk Workshop, whose modding artistry I have mentioned in an earlier post, was one of the best.

He described the emotional impetus that led him to create his first Victorian computer, which he calls an intersection of romance and technology. (I got the chance to tell him that his creation changed my life--that I was a dedicated Steampunk from the moment I saw it.) 

The musical highlight of the weekend, for this chrononaut, was catching a set by Unwoman in the Sepiachord Cabaret. Unwoman, who is also know as Erica Mulkey, is a talented cellist with a hypnotic, otherworldly voice and a flair for dramatic songwriting.  

She is based in San Francisco and, in addition to her solo work, frequently performs with Steampunk staples like Vernian Process and Abney Park. My first exposure to her ethereal music was at last year's Steamcon.

Another musical highlight for me at this year's Steamcon was the discovery of Bakelite '78.  They opened for Abney Park at the Saturday night "Outlaw Night Concert." Their mix of jazz, blues, early rock n' roll, and American folk left me wanting more. Robert J. Rial is their frontman. He started out in Chicago, but now calls Seattle home. To learn more, check out the Bakelite '78 Myspace page. (Their name derives from the early form of plastic called Bakelite, used to press the original 78 rpm records.)

The 2,000 attendees at Steamcon literally outdid themselves this year on their convention attire. The phenomenal creativity on display made simple people-watching as entertaining as anything the many talented writers, artists, and historians could offer in their panels. 

Examining Castle's mechanical arm.

I don't intend any slight to the vast array of talented presenters, but the artistry displayed by the attendees alone was well worth the modest admission fee for the weekend. 

Mechanical wings and arms were a favorite this year. I even got to see the mechanical arm worn by Nathan Fillion in the the Steampunk episode of Castle. Its creator was offering his wares for sale in the vendors room. The gentleman in question had the privilege of  appearing as an extra in that episode. He said the filming of the scenes at the steampunk club, which probably occupied less than ten minutes of airtime, took sixteen hours to film.

A young miss whose wings fluttered gracefully.
A very attractive zeppelin crew

The brightest moment of the weekend for this dog-loving steampunk enthusiast had to be meeting M.U.T. His owner said his name was an acronym  for Mechanical Universal Tracker. His little spoon ears flapped and his recorded voice barked and panted as he rolled down the halls of the convention center posing for countless eager lenses.

Check out an ever-growing number of photos on Flickr 

Steamcon III is less than a year away. I will miss the Old West theme, though, as 2011 will focus on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and be held October 14-16 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. I can't wait though. How often does a girl get an opportunity to dress in a ruffled ball gown?


Steamcon II--Personal Reflections

Shamelessly showing off my new leather corset
The best part about attending Steamcon II, in Seattle last weekend, was learning that at least 2,000 others share my madness. This affliction, however, is so euphoric, we don't seek a cure. 

For three days, the halls of the Seatac Airport Hilton and Marriott were thronging with airship pirates, mad scientists, time travelers, intrepid adventurers, and countless other exceedingly well-dressed individuals with affiliations unknown.

Kevin Steil, Airship Ambassador
Among the best dressed was Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador, who conducted an hour-long interview with myself (and many others throughout the weekend) for his excellent Steampunk blog. also called Airship Ambassador.
On Friday, I moderated a panel on "Becoming a Writer" with authors Caitlin Kittredge and Jay Lake. We tried to give budding writers as much encouragement and reference points as possible. Jay was nominated for a Steamcon Airship Award this year, celebrating extraordinary achievement and contribution to the Steampunk community. 

Caitlin, at the tender age of 26, is already a publishing veteran with several paranormal series to her credit, and a new Steampunk YA series called The Iron Codex debuting in February from Random House with the first title, "The Iron Thorn."

Gail Carriger, David Malki! and me
Saturday included a panel on "Researching the Victorian Era" with bestselling Parasol Protectorate author Gail Carriger and Wondermark comic artist David Malki! (and, yes, he spells his name with an exclamation point.) 

Gail Carriger's academic background as an archeologist gave her research tips an added ring of authenticity. Her witty novels, Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless, are a Steampunk series not to be missed, and her livejournal blog is among the most amusing on the 'Net.

Davis Malki!'s Wondermark comic is a true original. He shared with us the intensive research he puts into his art. Please visit Wondermark --an entertaining foray into a Victorian world you won't soon forget.

Everyday Steampunk
"Everyday Steampunk" was my final panel of the day. My fellow panelists were Clockworks webcomic artist Shawn Gaston and artist Anthony Jon Hicks of Tinplate Studios.

Me with Shawn Gaston and Tony Hicks
In addition to drawing the unique and entertaining Clockworks, Shawn also DJs a Steampunk night at an absinthe bar in his home city of St. Louis.

Tony Hicks sells wildly original art on Etsy.com. Please stop by his shop to view his fascinating "Anomalies." They are disturbing and irresistible. 

And then the Green Hour,  L'heure Verte, arrived...

At six o'clock in the evening, a group began to assemble to hear your humble author hold forth on her favorite topic: Absinthe. 

I expected an audience of around 25-30 and was overwhelmed to see in excess of 150 onlookers fill our little "salon". 

Had I imagined a crowd this size, I would have placed the absinthe-inspired art of Manet, Degas, Picasso, and Van Gogh up on the big screen. 

After describing the cultural history of Absinthe and its place in Belle Epoch cafe society, I demonstrated the time-honored method preparing Absinthe. I worry that the audience members sitting farther back could not see the lovely louching process first hand.  (Note to self: MUST add a big screen to all future presentations.)

The many fans of the notorious Green Fairy asked interesting questions and shared their own experiences. A drawing was held to give away door prizes: Three absinthe spoons, each accompanied with a copy of my own: "The Second Glass of Absinthe."

In my next post, I will detail my general experiences as a Steamcon attendee as opposed to a presenter, with many more photos to come. Stay tuned...


We have three winners!

Many thanks to all who entered my Halloween Absinthe contest, either by leaving a comment here or through my website. I loved hearing from you all.

As promised, three winners' names were drawn from my absinthe fountain.  The drawing was monitored by Sprocket, the Steampunk Schnauzer. (try to say that three times, fast.)

The winners--Penny, Helen, and Liz--have all been contacted and their prizes are on the way to them. They resided in all parts of the country, from one coast to the other.

Hosting a giveaway drawing was so much fun, I want to do it again and again!  Stay tuned...