Sex-guns, Tentacle Earrings, Steampunk Santa, and Corsets, Corsets, Corsets! (At the #Steampunk Convention: Up in the Aether 2013)
Over the Memorial Day weekend I worked the Up in the Aether Steampunk Convention in Dearborn, MI. My panels included writing and publishing and speculative fiction, but I was mostly there to run DIY workshops on building Victorian-style kites and lil steamboats. Although the DIY track was sort of an low-expectation tack-on to this con, all of the DIY sessions ran at capacity. After the con, I happened to see this post over on Facebook (just before they banned my book); it's by far my favorite cataclysmic putt-putt boat failure *ever*:
Having done a Steampunk event or two in the past, I can tell you that the folks showing up to these here are increasingly into making and DIY, with a corresponding improvement in costumes. I was *shocked* that not only were most of the attendees costumed (easily over 80 percent, evenly split with men and women), but that most had *multiple outfits per day,* and that these were overwhelmingly high-quality construction, clever, and increasingly representing a wider swatch of the imagined populace (mechanics alongside officers, dirty grubbers and opulent ladies, more cowboys and pirates, a couple time-traveling Star Trek crewmen, etc.) Yeah, the Prussian aspect of many uniforms meant that the crowd often took on an unintentional "affable Nazi" look that I wasn't not cool with, but even the Third Reich-iest looking folks were 1) super nice and 2) totally oblivious to how badly their costumes were freaking me out.
A few quick pics:
Those wings are articulated; really lovely movement.
(He's one of the organizers, actually; a bona fide Lord of Steam.)
The night before I took this pic I wandered in to an "Open Knife Fighting" event run by these Western Martial Arts folks as a sort of on-boarding activity. As it turns out, foam knife fighting--which sounds sorta NERFy--is essential getting punched. I'm terrible at fighting, but great at getting hit. This gal stabbed me *so many times* in those two hours. For the next three days I was all bruises down both arms, with actual cuts on my knife arm, a bruised hip, and aching kidneys. Brutally delightful.
Steampunk Santa sat in on a couple of my workshops, and was actually a really rad guy. He totally, and totally unobtrusively, inhabited the best possible Santa persona: He was affable and friendly without getting loud or in your face, always had candy canes (I guess con goers are notorious for skipping meals and getting light headed--which is certainly something I do when running workshops; dude saved me from swooning on several occasions), and always happy to help folks on their projects.
This pic is a twofer, since it 1) gives you a glimpse of the corset effect--overwhelmingly adopted by female attendees, even those participating in the Monkey Knife Fights mentioned above--and 2) *That mask!* That mask is articulated, so that when she talks the jaw moves independently, and it isn't leather: It's thin, fired porcelain *super-glued to her face*!
This is one half of the team Whalen & Shimmin, Traveling Tin-typists, who use authentic antebellum materials and methods to shoot tintypes (which, fun fact, were traditionally actually done on steel, not tin). These are really great sharp, bright images--the website totally does them no justice. Tintypes in general have sort of a ghostly depth to them that's fun, but these are exceptionally nice tintypes. Nice folks, too.
Last but not least, these noble wounded warrior:
And, yup, that pistol--here's a zoom-in:
It is indeed an internal-usage-approved personal vibrating wand device. As an aside, I met the dude responsible for inventing this steampunk dildo-zap-gun-handicraft; he is very rad, and as perplexed by the fascination as you are (it started out as a gag gift for a lady friend--which is neither a pun nor a literal description). I'm being coy about his identity because he's also a children's book author.
Unbeknownst to me a professional photographer snapped a pic of me and the steampunk Robocop at the book signing. The resulting image looks very much like me meeting a much cooler version of me from an alternate continuity:
(I gave him that bespoke print edition of "Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate", because I was crazy geeked about his outfit, and also was drinking bourbon out of the paper cup resting on my table.)