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Steamcon V

I just got home yesterday from Steamcon V, and it was a blast, as usual.  Only thing bad about it?  It went by in such a blur that it almost feels like it didn’t happen.  Usually time slows down and stretches out when I’m at these costume events, but not this time.

One of the two things I was particularly excited about was meeting artist Brian Kesinger.  I have been in love with his Tea Girls for awhile now, and I adore his new book about Victoria and her domestic pet cephalopod.  So sweet and funny!

I brought my book, and he was extremely nice and not only signed it, but drew me an Otto as well!

I am utterly charmed by geeky artists.

While I’m speaking of art, I’ll share a couple of prints I bought from awesome artists I met.

This one is by Robin E. Kaplan.  I actually bought four of hers, but I love this one the best.

This one is by Jessica Van Hulle.  Ferrets!

And, of course, I got all of them signed.  Super lovely people.

The other thing I was most excited about was the concert.  Abney Park, Frenchy and the Punk, and Professor Elemental.  One of my friends admitted to having a just a bit of a crush on the Professor.  I’m sure you all know about my feelings for Captain Robert of Abney Park.  I think this concert made all of us happy.  I know I have sore calf muscles today from all the jumping I did with Abney Park, and even though rap is normally not my thing, the Professor was charming.

I’m not crushing on him yet, but I definitely saw the appeal.  His free-style rap was pretty amazing – he had people in the audience hold up objects and he’d work them into a song.  He got everything from steampunk’d light sabers, to goggles, to a banana.  I’m particularly thrilled about the banana.

Frenchy and the Punk’s drumming were awesome.

And, of course, what can I say about Abney Park?  I was a little sorry that Robert didn’t do his normal bantering with the crowd, but their energy is always so infectious.  And I was happy that they did quite a few of my favorite songs, including Dear Ophelia.

For my concert outfit, I wanted something light and easy to wear, so I cobbled together parts of my steampunk saloon girl costume and the red velvet birdcage costume.

This was on Saturday night.  On Friday, I wore my Airship Pirate costume.  This was my first-ever steampunk creation, and I get more people writing me and wanting to buy this one than all of my others combined!  I have worn it several times, but never to Steamcon.  It was time.

That is my little pet cephalopod, Oswin, on my shoulder.  I’m totally taking him to England and Scotland with me when I go, and photographing him in famous places.  Brian Kesinger wants me to send him photos of Oswin’s adventures!

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My friend Melinda wore the relaxed version of her Ottoman outfit and looked fantastic.  You can read about her costumes on her new blog.  She does impeccable work.

I’m trying to convince her that we should do 1830-1840s steampunk next year.  Enough bustles!  Let’s have big skirts and hilarious sleeves!

One interesting thing Steamcon did this year (to go with the theme of Around the World) was give us all passports.

And then we could collect stamps from vendors, artists, etc.

One person embossed her stamp.  Pretty cool!

The best costumes come out on Saturday.  I wore my Steampunk Mummy costume.

I’m particularly pleased with how the skirt came out.  And the headdress was entirely sculpted by me, and has real beetle wings as “feathers”.

I had the fabulous silhouette cutter Kerry Cook do my portrait.  She asked for a picture of me in my costume afterward and had me sign a model release.  She’s working on a book, and might like to include my portrait and costume!

Melinda wore the fancier, teal-ified version of her ottoman – I love it when a costume can be worn several different ways!

Besides her costume, some of my other favorites were:

A Steampunk Ravenclaw!  I love this, because last year I did the Steampunk Hufflepuff, and it’s cool to see another Potter-geek doing their own version.

I love the back.

Lady Loki.  Those horns were incredible.

Asian steampunk.  Always a favorite!

Another Ottoman steampunk:

A TARDIS hat makes a gentleman 100% more dashing!

Great color combination on this one….

But my absolute favorites were this couple.  So gorgeous!

I also met up with my favorite stalker (kidding!) Teya and her SO Jon.  They are fabulous people who want to get chickens and maybe raise quail.  I stole this picture from Jon’s site, he has lots more from Steamcon and he’s a better photographer than I am, so go check them out.

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Sunday is pretty relaxed at Steamcon (everyone is recovering from the concert and other parties and balls) so I wore a mainly-thrifted outfit.  The only things I made were the waist cincher, the striped bustle, and the hat. (Tyson, that’s the Octopus pin you gave me!)

Oswin got to come out to play with me, too.  😉

My three panels went well, and were fun.  One of these days I’m going to see if they’d like me to do panels on either distressing costumes or using beetle wings in costuming.

And…what else?  There didn’t seem to be nearly so many ribbons floating around as usual – I only managed to net four (but one was a Hall Costume Award, so that was cool!)  Even the folks that were actively pursuing ribbons didn’t have the long, long, long, loooong collections I usually see.  Last year one woman had over 200!

But at least I got my Effin ribbon!

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Steamcon IV – Victorian Monsters

Halloween used to be my absolute favorite day of the year – you know, back in the day when I only had one day a year in which to dress up in costume.  Since then, I’ve discovered the world of renfaires and cons, and suddenly Halloween is barely a blip on my costuming radar.  This year, it was kind of an annoyance, actually, coming as it did a scant two days after I got home from a  fabulous three days of non-stop costuming with the creative, intelligent, and all-around fabulous people that are steampunks.

There is just something special about steampunks.  I’ve never felt such creative energy anywhere as I do when I’m with them.  It’s really hard to describe – it’s almost electric!  This year was especially amazing because I was invited by Steamcon to be a panelist.  I was very honored and more than a little nervous, as I’ve never really done anything like it.  I also expected to be on ONE panel, and I ended up on THREE.  “Wardrobe Rescue”, which as a completely interactive panel giving suggestions and advice on how to accomplish different costuming techniques or effects.  I think I learned way more from the audience in this one than they learned from me!

I also did a panel on the Well-Dressed Zombie, which was great fun, but I think hands-down my favorite experience of this year’s steamcon was doing the panel on “Style of the Skeuomorph” with author/bard Kiri Callaghan.  Basically, the panel was on how to take other genres of costumes (like Harry Potter or Doctor Who) and put a steampunk twist on it.  This is my favorite thing to do with steampunk!  And Kiri and I had a blast.  She can draw, so we basically asked the audience what they would like to steampunk, and then brainstormed together as she sketched it out on her tablet.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a few steampunk Scheherazades next year!  And I really, really hope the guy does something with the straight-jacket idea I gave him….I’d love to see that!

Anyway, I ended up not being nervous AT ALL once the panels actually started.  It was just complete fun from start to finish, and I hope I’ll be invited back again as a panelist next year!  Kiri, Amanda, and Alisa G – you all rock.

But now to the costuming – which is such an incredible part of Steamcon.  Here are my costumes:

Steampunk Hufflepuff   (Click the costume titles for a link to more pictures and a making-of)

Steampunk Grey Ghost:

Zombie Corset:

I also saw many, many more awesome costumes, and here is just a very few of my favorites:

Baba Yaga.  The detail on this was wonderful.  Lots of little bits and pieces, and everything tied into a specific story about her.

The skulls on the birdcage?  Those used to be PEARS.  So clever.

Medusa.  Loved how the whole costume tied together, and how beautifully the snakes turned out!

Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde.

Mummy with mummified cat!

Wicked.

Indian Goddess?

In addition to the costuming and panels, there were music events.  Friday night the League of Steam hosted a musical variety show and demonstrated their monster-hunting techniques.  David Tennant invited me to sit next to him at that concert!  Well, okay, not really…but he was a dead-on look-alike!  🙂

Saturday night was the BIG concert.  I was mostly excited to hear the Nathaniel Johnstone Band live.

Nathan used to be the guitarist/violinist for Abney Park, so I was very curious about his new band.  While not being as great as AP, I did enjoy their performance a great deal.  Plus, they had bellydancers!

And I have to show you this – a friend I made at last year’s Steamcon made me a gift!  She painted me a steamy chicken!  I love this so much – thank you Jilynn!

I think it looks a bit like my Antoinette.

Next up?  Lots and lots of costuming to get ready for Gallifrey One in February.  Can’t wait to hang out with the Wench Posse again – you ladies have GOT to come to Steamcon with me one of these years!

Steamcon III

Last weekend Jon and I went to Seattle for the annual steampunk con Steamcon.  We were in a fabulous new hotel, the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, which I hope will be the con’s home for many years to come.  It was brilliantly easy to navigate, unlike last year.  I didn’t get lost once!

So, on to the pictures!

Friday, I wore my new Steampunk River Song outfit.  River Song is a character from Doctor Who, and I enjoyed wearing this outfit a LOT.  Not only is she my favorite female character on the series, but I just love this steampunk version. Steamcon III built some awesome sets to play around with!

You can read about the making-of this costume here.  Most people didn’t know who I was, but for the few who recognized me…it was pure SQUEE.  My favorite was when two teen girls ran up to me all excited: “Are you River Song?????”  When I said I was and gave them the badge ribbon I had printed (it says “Hello Sweetie”) they said it was the best ribbon yet, and it totally ‘made their con’.  So cool!

I saw the Tenth Doctor at Steamcon as well, and I badly wanted to get a picture with him, but I only ran into him twice and both times he was rushing in the opposite direction with his arms full of supplies, so I couldn’t stop him for a photo.  😦   I loved wearing this so much that I also wore it Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon, I changed into my Victorian Bathing Costume for the Tea Costume Contest.  I knew going in that I wouldn’t win (my outfit didn’t match any of the three catagories) but I thought it would be fun to enter regardless.   It turned out they only got four entries, so they went out into the hotel and rounded up a few likely folks to pad out the competition.  There were a bunch of jellyfish, a fish with flippers, a mermaid, and my personal favorite: the deep sea diver.  Meet Jilynn:

She’s one of the ladies who reads my costuming blog, so it was fabulous to get to meet her at the con.  She made her entire costume.  The helmet is made from a globe!  The finned boot spats, the specimen jars, the breathing apparatus…all made from found objects.  And she told me she’d never done anything like this before!  I was Very Impressed.  And pleased when she won one of the awards.  Congrats, Jilynn!

This is one of the things I love about steampunk….the pure creativity.

Oh, and here’s a couple pics of my Bathing Costume.

I didn’t have the time or desire to make something really fantastic, so I just went silly, colorful, and multicultural.  I’m glad I don’t have to actually swim in this thing!

After the contest, I changed into my Chinese Cabaret Costume.  When I walked out onto the floor, it was amazing.  Steampunkers really, really like the multicultural costuming right now.  It was honestly like I’d turned into a minor celebrity of some sort!  People instantly started stopping me every few feet for pictures.

Click here for a short video of the sleeves in action!

I ended up being asked by a professional photographer to do a photoshoot.  So I walked up and down the grand staircase a half dozen times while he took shots from various angles.   Later, I did a second professional shoot as well.  I like celebrity in small doses like this!  🙂

One thing that really amazed me was the fervency of the ribbon collectors.  After I’d handed out a few, word started spreading and soon I had people running up and saying they’d heard I had ribbons.  I made two different ones: “Hello Sweetie” for my blog followers and Doctor Who fans who recognized me as River Song, and “Dragonfly Designs by Alisa” for everyone else.  Giving out ribbons is going to be a regular thing for me now…I need to think of some good ones for Gallifrey and Costume Con!

Sunday I wore my Ottoman Steampunk, largely because Steamcon was holding a “Wayfarer’s Brunch” with a multicultural theme.

After the corseting of the previous days, it was nice to wear something really cozy for the final day!  The vest is embroidered with beetlewings, and is definitely one of my favorite things I’ve made.  I won “Best Female Costume” with this at the Wayfarer’s Brunch, and was called up to the mike to speak a little about my costume and its inspiration.  That was fun too!  There were some really fab multicultural outfits at the brunch, here is just a few:

Jon and I pretty much only saw each other at lunch, dinner, and bedtime; the rest of the time we wanted to see completely different panels and events.   We did meet up to take pictures, though….

And I finally got him out of the white tennis shoes he always wears with his steampunk outfit, and into what he calls “old man shoes”.  Much better!

One of the highlights of the con for me was having my silhouette cut by the artist from Paper Shadows.  I wished I had been able to watch it being done, but of course I had to face away from her and sit still.  It turned out so fabulous!  I can’t even tell you how gorgeous and amazing her work is.  She just picks up a sheet of paper and uses tiny scissors to snip and cut…no patterns, no preparatory sketching, nothing but freehand art.  I liked mine so much I also am having her make it into a piece of jewelry.  Of course, that meant she had to take it with her, so I won’t be able to show you pictures for a couple of weeks, when she mails the original silhouette, plus the pendant, back to me.  I can’t wait.  I went back later to watch her cut someone else’s:

Steamcon is really so much fun.  I love the panels (I got to handle actual extant corsets and bustles!) and meet authors and artists.  I met fans of my blog (which was a surreal and delightful experience – it’s incredible to me that people are so interested in what I do. Teya, you totally made my day with your enthusiasm!)  And best of all, I got to see the most amazing costumes and meet the most talented people.  Here are just a few of my favorites I saw (when I had my camera – several escaped me because I didn’t have my camera available!)

Who doesn’t want a mechanical raven?

Yes, I know, not technically steampunk.  But her 18th century outfit is gorgeous, and she has a ship on her head.  I love it.

Beautiful bustle, beautiful colors.

So simple, so gorgeous. I want one!

Great detail.  I love monochromatic costumes with lots of detail!

Another great bustle and color combo!

If you don’t want to paint your Nerf gun, you just match your outfit to Nerf colors…

This family is a perfect example of why I love steampunk. It’s so awesome to see parents and teens enthusiastic about the same thing!

This lady’s outfit was so ornate.  And you can’t really see in this pic, but she had these amazing contact lenses.  This was hands-down my favorite costume, until I saw the female aviator costume:

I am such a sucker for wings that work!  So cool!

This is only a teeny sampling of the costumes I saw.  It was a wonderful weekend, and I’m already plotting my costumes for 2012.  The theme is “Victorian Monsters” which is SO MY THING.

Steamcon II

I went to my first Steamcon last weekend, and I already know it won’t be my last!  It was so much fun; the panels, guests, and people-watching were top-notch.

Here are a few of my adventures, along with a few photos.

First off, I was severely sleep-deprived when we arrived on Friday because I’d been up until about 3am the night before attending the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows midnight premiere.  (I’ll do a separate blog about that night later on.)  We get to the Hilton in Seattle and get checked *just* in time for the first panel I really wanted to see.  I’m a huge League of Steam fan, and was delighted to hear a few of the members had flown up to Seattle.  Their first panel was pretty much an introduction to who they are and what they do.  If you haven’t watched any of their short films, you need to check them out on youtube.  They are seriously the definition of everything cool about steampunk!  Their gear is absolutely amazing.  Everything ‘works’, from the baby eel shock-prong, to the net gun, to the plunger-canon!

They also have amazing costumes:

This is their zombie expert, Baron Von Fogel.  His most awesome bit of equipment is his hand-crank chainsaw.

Ghostbuster Crackitus Potts (shown here holding his baby eel shock prod – which actually does deliver shocks, as testified by brave members of the audience):

LadyAmeliorette Potts, his wife, also came, but by the second day was strangely absent, and in her place was one of the female ghosts who haunt the League of Steam:

Her costume was absolutely to-die for, with so much incredible detail.  I took many close-up pics, and will post them on my costume blog, Dragonfly Designs by Alisa.  In the background, you can see the fourth member of the League, Zedediah.  He is a domesticated zombie, and very well-behaved. If anyone was attacked, the evidence must have been cleared away quickly, because I saw no sign of mayhem whatsoever.

This guy was really amazing.  He staying in character the entire day, complete with eyes rolled back and drool.

On one of their other panels (shared by a genuine ghost-investigator), Potts took the opportunity to demonstrate his ghostbusting skills:

Friday evening was the Singalong with Abney Park.  Unfortunately, Abney Park was “unable to make it”, so they dredged up a last minute replacement band: Ranch Hand Robbie and his Wranglers!  It was hilarious to watch them attempt to stay in character as they “covered” their own songs.

I wore my Zombie Hunter outfit:

The second day (Saturday) I wore my Steampunk Geisha costume, which proved to be the most popular costume I’ve ever made!

It was difficult to walk more than a few feet without being asked to stop for a photo, and once I was stopped by one person, it quickly turned into a mob scene – I was instantly surrounded by cameras!  I truly felt like a celebrity in this dress!  I was even given an award ribbon by the Rose City Steampunks for “thinking outside the box” and “wearing a color other than brown”.  😀

One guy said there had actually been a panel earlier in which they had discussed what a ‘steampunk geisha’ costume might look like.  How funny if I’d managed to attend it in this outfit!

One of Saturday’s outstanding panels was the one with Abney Park.  Despite it being “early morning” (1pm!) they were awesome.  They told so many great tales, like Dan’s accidental arrest for convenience store armed robbery…

I was too busy laughing to take video, but someone else did:

They were having so much fun they went over their time, and I had to walk out before it was quite over in order to meet my friend Mike for the High Tea and Fashion Show at 2pm.

The High Tea setting was gorgeous, with white linen and candles.  They served ham and salmon tea sandwiches, mini quiches, and for dessert, mini petit fours, cream puffs, and mini eclairs.  The menu and schedule they handed out was gorgeous too:

We chose seats right up against the catwalk, and by chance the lady who took the seat next to mine was the wife of writer James Blaylock, the Steamcon guest of honor!  She and her husband were wonderful tea companions; during the fashion show, she kept leaning over to whisper: “Could I commission you to make THAT for me???”  😀  Too bad I don’t actually take costuming commissions, or I’d have had work for months – she had a serious case of costume-envy, after seeing all the great steampunk outfits all day!

Unfortunately, they didn’t allow any photography inside the tea room, but the fashion show was great fun.  Especially the designs from Lastwear.  They had their models act out little skits as they walked the runway!  I did find this photographer’s page with photos of the fashion show.  If you go about 1/3 of the way down the page, you’ll find a guy wearing a black cap with goggles, a black jacket, and a red kerchief around his neck.  He was particular fun for me, since he stopped right at our table, crouched down, made very intense eye contact with me, and proceeded to silently flirt.  When he left, Mrs Blaylock leaned over to comment that he had ‘wonderful eyes’.  Yes.  Yes he did!  *blush*

Saturday evening was the big concert.  None of us thought very much of the opening band (Bakelite 78) but the second band, Ghoultown, was very good.  I think I’ll get one of their CDs.  The headliner was Abney Park, and they were excellent as always, even though they were plagued with technical difficulties with Kristina’s keyboard.  (Like one of the fans shouted, it isn’t a real AP concert unless something breaks….)

Sunday I wore my Saloon Girl outfit.

 

 

I posed for more photo-ops, and had girls chase me down so they could pet my shoulder martin.  Also, I was reminded of an occurrence that happens only at costume-type cons: mutual butt fondling!  Yep, get two or more ladies wearing bustles together, and pretty soon it becomes a free-for-all, as everyone wants to examine the construction of everyone else’s bustle!  😀

Late afternoon it started to SNOW, and the con cleared out fast, as all the panels were pretty much over, as no one wanted to get stuck in Seattle!  This is also when I discovered that semi-skimpy saloon girl outfits don’t do well in snow – gads, that was a cold walk to our car!

My favorite panels ended up being:

Steampunk Ghost Hunting (funny AND informative!)

Eureka it Works! (that fabulous League of Steam & their equipment)

Victorian Undergarments (they had actual extant corsets, bustles, and petticoats to pass around for the audience to examine)

The Abney Park panel (well, of course!)

The Art and Science of Fencing (Knives, swords, and live dueling, what’s not to love?)

Perhaps the best part of any con is the people-watching.  Next, I give you some of the most awesome and fun costumes that other people were wearing:

This guy’s costume was flippin’ amazing.  I wish it showed in the pic, but inside the cage was a fairy.  And she moved, flying up and down in the most lifelike manner.  I don’t know how he did it, but it was GREAT.

Best wings ever.  They actually extended and retracted!

This guy’s hat lighted up in several amazing ways.  And besides that, he was just one of those really nice people that are such a pleasure to meet at cons. We took pictures of each other, and then (since I was in my geisha outfit) a crowd gathered and we ended up posing together for several minutes worth of pictures.

I have a love for mechanical arms. This guy had one of the best.

Mechanical arms aren’t amazing enough for you?  How about a mechanical ostrich???

Another pair of wings, and a guy whose costume is just generally cool.  Back view:

And front view:

A mechanical dog that moves, lights up, and barks.  It reminds me of the Doctor’s K9.

How can you not love a guy with an octopus on his shoulder?  It’s so elegant!

Here’s another one that the picture doesn’t do it justice. At all.  This is an articulated dragon, with “fire” in all its joints and under its scales.  So cool!

I don’t quite know who/what this girl was, but anyone who carries a glowing green brain around on their back is seriously cool!

Great fun was had, and I’m going back next year for sure – I already have costume ideas flooding my own (hopefully non green and glowing) brain!

Also, we are SO GLAD the con ended when it did, because today (Monday) Seattle is an absolute mess because of the snow.  If the snow had begun day or two earlier, it would probably have been canceled!