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Here are two more videos of the Interviews that I conducted at The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition. These interviews feature some fantastic costumes, and even more fantastic personalities. What an exciting bunch, these Steampunkers are!

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Here is the second variation of my steampunk outfit worn for The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition.

In this variation I have added a hoop skirt under the full length skirt, a bustle pillow under the bustle, traded the over-bust corset for an underbust and black chemise, and added my green bolero.

The drama of the skirt and the shoulders of the bolero create an exaggerated hourglass silhouette.

The bustle pillow also adds volume to the back which contrasts with the sculptural pleats of the bolero.

For the bolero I had to draft my own pattern because I couldn’t find anything suitable that already existed. I got a lot of compliments on my hat and the bolero because no one had every seen them before.

I am very excited about how this costume turned out; it is surprisingly comfortable, despite all of the metal and layers involved. Honestly, if you took out the corset and hoop skirt I could wear this to bed.

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This weekend I attended The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition as a member of the press, representing Nerd Caliber. Sine this was my first steampunk con ever, I needed to make a steampunk outfit. But because I love period clothing so much, I couldn’t just made one simple outfit, no, I had to make many different garments that served multiple purposes when possible, and combined together in different ways to make more several variations of costume. This weekend I wore two variations of costume, variation A is featured below.

I made everything you see here besides the corset, boots, and gloves. The boots are from my Sophie cosplay, and the corset and gloves I owned prior to the conception of this outfit.

 The hat is a miniature garrison hat which is made from the same suiting material as the full length skirt. It is secured to my head with a double-pronged alligator clip, sewn to the back of the hat.

The bustle and over-skirt were made from curtains, and the bustle also doubles as a shall for when it gets cold. Here I am with my friend Kelley, who also made her steampunk outfit just for this exhibition.

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I just got back from The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition 2011 at the Courtyard Marriott in Fitchburg, MA. As with every convention that I attend, I will be writing an honest review of the con as I experienced it. This was the Convention’s first year of operation, as well as my first steampunk convention; I will be highlighting the differences between a steampunk con and an anime con in this review in addition to giving it an overall rating.

Jake von Slatt’s Vintage Steampunk Ride. Photo by Josh Pegg.

Time and Location: The Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Fitchburg is a lovely place for a small convention like TGNESE. It is a beautiful and modern hotel with a sizable lounge, several function rooms, and an exposition center two buildings away, where the main events were held. The hotel is also connected to a Coco Keys resort and water-park for those who brought a bathing suit (sadly I did not). The convention itself occupied 3 panel rooms, about the size of your average classroom, and two vendor halls: one for artists and one for more established vendors and clothing salespersons. As I stated before, the main events took place in a large exposition space set up like an auditorium a short walk away. There were also events and entertainment held in the lounge area, which was an open area of seating next to the hotel’s front desk.

View of the Bistro and Hotel Lobby. Photo by Josh Pegg.

The convention filled this very small space, as they had many more attendants than expected. They had already sold out of pre-printed badges on Friday, and were hand-writing them from there on out. Next year the con will be moving to the Connecticut Convention center, where Connecticon is currently held, which is a huge step-up from this  years location.

One draw-back from having the convention in a hotel on a weekend is that there was a lot of mingling with other unsuspecting hotel guests. There was part of a wedding party staying at the hotel that weekend, and the convention was always in the way of (or at least made things more interesting for) families on vacation, business people trying to use the bistro, and wedding guest trying to exit and enter the hotel lobby.

The time of year however, was perfect for a steampunk convention. Mid September is consistently a beautiful time of the year with crisp, bright days. This weekend was in the mid 60’s and sunny, which meant that attendants could get a few pictures in the sun, but not sweat themselves to death in their over-coats and stockings.

I zone out in Peddler’s Alley. Photo by Josh Pegg.

Parking: Parking at the Hotel was “complimentary” to all guests and attendants. A HUGE plus. It was absolutely fantastic being able to park for free and come and go as we pleased. There was plenty of outdoor parking, and all within a short walk from a door which was great on those chilly nights.

Juggler of Swords

Food: Though there was food at the hotel complex, it was generally limited and expensive for a meal. There was an over-priced hotel restaurant, and over-priced bistro, a fairly priced market snack-room, and a pizza hut inside the Coco Keys resort pool room which meant your pizza would smell like chlorine. I did not eat at the hotel so I can’t vouch for the quality of the food. My friends and I drove to restaurants in the area: a mexican place, and then a Wendy’s, but other than that we ate food that we had packed for the room. The room however, did not have a mini fridge nor a microwave, so we had to make due with non-perishables only. Food in the area was also at least a fifteen minute drive away.

Some cool dolls in the Artist’s Alley

Lines: There was only one line that I saw all weekend, which was for the “Girl Genius Radio Show” Panel. The line was three times the size of the small panel room! Other than that monster line, there was no line at registration, no lines for any panels, no lines for main events, no lines for the dealer’s room. No lines for me all con. Pretty nice.

Staff: I actually could not identify any staff all weekend. There were two women sitting at the registration table, but other than that I have no idea who was running the convention. Staff was not checking badges at the panels nor policing how full the panels got, nor managing crowds because there really were no crowds or lines to manage. They were not wearing anything special that I could tell and honestly, their presence was not missed. Steampunk is genuinely the nicest counter-culture I have ever encountered and there was not one incident where I thought that staff was needed.

A Steampunk trailer?

Panels/Events: Once again, this convention was small, and panels were sparce. Steampunkers are a much older crowd than you will find at Anime and Gaming conventions. Therefore Friday was a very slow day. There was very little panel over-lap and so there was a lot of time that I spent wondering, “Gee, what should I do now?” Lots of time to just sit and wander and still not feel like you were missing a panel that you really wanted to see. There was only one main event on Saturday, and all of the panels stopped at 8pm just as that main event, the Abney Park Concert  was beginning. Sadly I did not get to attend the convention on Sunday, which was when a lot of the panels that I personally was interested in seeing were taking place.

The panels that I did see, however were about the same as at any other con, except they were all about steampunk. There were panels about how to many steampunk costumes, and how to make steampunk props, what types of transportation and stories you can come up with for your steampunk persona, etc. There were also some great comedy panels like the “World Domination Hour” and the Steampunk version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” “To Whom Does That Line Pertain To, By Chance?” I think that was the title anyway….. I saw a puppet show and part of a music act, but the best thing about the convention, in my opinion, was the entertainment in the hallways. There were actual performers set-up in the halls, which really added to the spectacle that is steampunk. There were musicians and a balloon artist, and Lydia’s Carnival Sideshow! That was amazing! We got to see an escape artist and a contortionist perform right out in the open, making the whole convention feel more like a victorian carnival than a modern day convention. The performers really added to the atmosphere and made me feel more like a time-traveler. I really hope that when the exhibition moves to the Connecticut Convention Center next year that they keep the hall-performers.

Cosplay/Costumes: Your typical Steampunk outfit isn’t technically cosplay, because most are original characters, however you do occasionally see a pre-existing mainstream character who has been reinterpreted by the costumer to have a steampunk look. At this small convention, I only saw two of those: a Batgirl and Poison Ivy in steampunk, I didn’t get their pictures, but I really liked the thought that went into their outfits. I liked the thought in everyone’s outfits, really! These steampunkers put so much thought and effort into putting their outfits together. One attendant that I interviewed on behalf of Nerd Caliber told me that brass is the new green, in that steampunkers are excellent at repurposing old things for their costumes. They take stuff that would have been taking up space in the trash or in your mother’s basement, and turn it into something new and creative. I am really impressed with that kind of resourcefulness.

Contortionist in the lobby

Other Notes: I was really struck by the sense of community between Steampunkers. I immediately got the sense that everyone at this convention knew each other, and I have never experienced a social dynamic quite like that before. Again, everyone was super friendly and eager to share their knowledge. These people are real thinkers and enthusiasts; they don’t just stick gears on a hat and call it steampunk; almost everyone I talked to, attendants and vendors alike, really do their research about the era that they are trying to reinvent. Steampunk is about alternate history, it is about a Victorian Era that has the same spirit as the true history–the sense of adventure, the passion for discovery, the thrill of science and prosperity–but takes the science and the adventure further than reality would allow. It takes what people were thinking about in the Nineteenth century–things like time travel, reanimating corpses, and underwater worlds–and builds upon them to create new stories and new fantastic technologies. Steampunk is a creative community that is actively defining and expanding its own genre of literature, film and fashion. It really is an amazing sub-culture which I knew very little about before this weekend. Steampunk is not about the goggles and little hats, people, there is so much more beneath the surface.

Contortionist Folds Herself in Half

I Give The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition 2011 a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Great people, great ideas, and free parking! But the panels rooms were too small, and there wasn’t all that much to do at any given time. At least, there weren’t enough events to justify the $65 registration fee. Still, this convention has a lot of promise and I will be happy to attend next year.

Master Bedroom of Jake von Slatt's Steampunk bus! Photo by Josh Pegg.

Thank you all for reading!

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This weekend will be my first time attending the Great New England Steampunk Exhibition in Fitchburg, MA.

You can view their website here.

I will be working as a cosplay correspondent for Nerd Caliber, running around interviewing people with cool costumes!

I will also be dressed up myself in my first ever steam-punk getup, the components of which you can view in previous posts on this very blog.

I am wicked excited and I hope to see you there!

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To go with my steam-punk attire I have made a sci-fi bolero and another skirt. The bolero matches the ball gown skirt that I already made, but you’ll have to wait to see them paired together until september!

I actually started this skirt months ago when I made my bustle because I loved the fabric. However at the time, I couldn’t decide what to do with the skirt to make it interesting. I didn’t have enough fabric to make a full-length skirt, and a knee-length circle skirt seems a little plain for a costume. I’m striving for extravagance, here. So I decided to tack the skirt up on itself to create some bustling in the front. A little short by itself, but I think it will go great with the right pair of bloomers, or used as an overskirt. to embellish something longer. I know I’ll use it for something!

I tend not to iron things before I photograph them, I know. It is just so painful to iron something only to store it in my closet for a month or two before wearing it out.

As I said before, the bolero is the same material as the full length skirt I recently put together. It’s a heavy suiting cotton which takes on different colors in different lights; sometimes it’s green, sometimes grey, green, or brown. I didn’t have a pattern for a bolero, so I had to wing it. I did print out a free pattern from butterick.com, but quickly realized why it was free–thankfully before cutting. The free pattern was just totally wrong, especially the arm holes, and would not have been wearable. Recognizing this pattern flaw right away prevented me from waisting any valuable fabric. Yay! But now I had no pattern.

I ended up starting with a pattern for a bodice, and did some major modifications. I raised the neckline, thickened the shoulders, cropped it, rounded the bottom, etc. The pleating is totally my own, no help from any sort of pattern there. The “sleeves” if you can call them that, are actually from a pattern for a cap sleeve but are supposed to be half that size. Instead of folding them in half, I just lined them and used the large version. It is a very dramatic shape, but I was going for a sci fi look after all. Plus if I’m going to wear a skirt that’s three times my size, I’ve got to balance things out up top. now I’ve got to come up with a shirt that will go well with this bolero. Sleeves or no? Leave me comments!

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Remember that skirt I posted in this post? Well I told you I had added channels inside the seams to put draw-strings through so that I could bustle and change the skirt to fit the occasion, and now, I have pictures to share!

Here is that very same skirt with the drawstrings tied up. I bought some extra long shoe laces off of ebay, and strung them through the channels. When the drawstrings are untied, the skirt hangs at its full length, but when you pull the drawstring, the skirt gathers around it to form this stunning bustle.

Here is a close up,

And from the other side. The skirt can’t be made super short, but it the drawstring can pull it up to about my knees, if I wanted.

Yup, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

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