Masks by Jen

Masks by Jen is another merchant on the floor at A-Kon that truly captured my attention. Masks have always been an article of clothing which has fascinated me after I first read The Phantom of the Opera back in sixth grade. The many cultural and spiritual uses for masks over the centuries of human existence is positively fascinating. There’s no piece of human adornment that has such incredible transformative powers as a mask.

If you all read my A-Kon overview post, you know that I did not elect to go to the masquerade. I was far too busy getting autographs from Abney Park and hugs from Nathaniel to actually make it to the dance. I had anticipated this, and thankfully stuck to this plan of action, because I came to A-Kon without a mask. If I had not been so firmly set on Abney Park autographs, the Masks at Jen’s booth would have surely swayed me to attend in one of her masterpieces.

That’s just one example of the many remarkable masks that Jen has produced. I really like that the masks are made from durable leather so their sure to last and survive being thrown in a suitcase for transportation. My favorite of hers is her Phoenix mask… it’s just stunning!

Jen is also another local artist to the DFW area. You can read more about her here.  Unfortunately she does not have a schedule of events so we may know where she will turn up next, but her website more than sufficient to handle a purchase should you wish to buy one of these wonderful masks.

Scarlett’s Corset

This evening (finally) starts the series on merchants whose wares impressed me at A-Kon and had business cards to give me so that I could follow up with them here at Trial By Steam. First up, is Scarlett’s Corset.

I saw these corsets at A-Kon and was very much impressed by the workmanship of the corset. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell from just an online picture how well made and supportive a corset will actually be when worn. And a corset is one article of clothing that one should not causally approach. It’s a very confining garment which literally changes the way the wearer breathes. Lacing a corset too tightly can cause one to pass out, and if done over a long period of time, can actually shift the shape of the wearer’s body and internal organs.

So, corsets are not to be taken lightly. If you should choose to wear a corset, make sure it is one that is well constructed to your body’s specific dimensions.

That being said, these corsets are gorgeous! Here’s a photo of them that I took from the convention floor:

What’s even better for my readers in the DFW area is that Scarlett’s Corset is a locally owned business. So, if you missed the opportunity to buy one of these at the convention, you haven’t missed the opportunity to be measured and fitted by the maker of the corsets so that you can be absolutely sure that the corset you buy is properly suited for your body. For information on sizing a corset, click here.

For my out of region readers, however, fret not! Scarlett’s Corset’s tours the nation sporting their wares at many a convention. Click here to see when they may be coming to your part of the US to witness these wonderful articles of clothing for yourself.

A-Kon 21 Overview

Whew, what a week! Sorry for the delay in updating, folks. This week has been terribly rough and containing far too many after-hours projects a row. But now I’m back and very excited to tell you all about the wonders of A-Kon 21.

I think we all know that I was skeptical about the amount of Steampunk activities that were going to happen at A-Kon. Why would they have Steampunk events at a explicitly Anime convention? I still am not exactly sure, but I’m pleasantly surprised that there was a strong Steampunk presence there. So, without further ado, a quick summary of A-Kon 21! 😀

Thursday night was Registration night which naturally meant standing in a long line to receive my badge. I had just come from work and picking up a friend who flew in from MINNESOTA to hang with me for the weekend. It just so happened that I managed to fall in line right in front of a Dieselpunk named Larry and his charming wife and we became fast friends. Over the weekend, we learned that we lived relatively close to one another and that we had a number of of interests (besides Steampunk) in common.

Click on the photo to check out Larry's blog!

Friday I wandered about A-Kon for a bit and browsed the various merchants wares. I picked up lots of business cards of products I liked so that I could show them to you all in future blog posts! Friday was the official start of Steampunk events, and the first one was a “Steampunk 101” panel led by the Sky Dogs and the Delirium of Grandeur. At this panel, they discussed what they thought Steampunk was and offered up various categories of Steampunk. I thought the panel was interesting, especially when compared to the current direction of the Great Steampunk Debate. There certainly are a lot of different opinions and perspectives on what Steampunk means to people. I promise I’ll write a post later on this panel.

Later that evening was a Steampunk Tea Social which sounded lovely on paper but in reality was made a bit uncomfortable by the lack of tables and chairs. Also, hot beverages are usually not the drink of choice for those wearing many layers in the 100 degree weather of a Dallas summer. I chatted with Larry and his wife and a couple of new acquaintances who were pleasantly charming. There was an a Capella group there to provide the entertainment for the night, but they seemed to lose everyone’s attention after they sang the same song four different times. Imagine that.

And just when I was starting to worry about the future of this convention, in walked Captain Robert, who I’m sure you all know is the lead singer of Abney Park. There he was, just hanging with us. I couldn’t believe it. I had not expected to see any of the members of Abney Park until Saturday night at the concert, and yet, there he was! I was literally shaking with excitement- a fact that Captain Robert did not fail to overlook as I took a photo of some of my new friends with the Captain.

“She’s shaking,” he said.

“I know,” I said to myself.

After the photo was taken, I asked if I could have a photo with him as well, to which he responded, “Come into my arms.” I’m pretty sure I squeed in excitement. Captain Robert put an arm around my waist and commented again on my shaking, before concluding, “It’s our love, darling.”

The tea social ended shortly after this photo was taken, which was proceeded by the Steampunk Ball. It quickly devolved into the raved I feared it would, but not before Captain Robert led us in the dance to Airship Pirate and played air-violin for us during the song’s violin solo. Needless to say, it was epic… And that, my friends, was just Friday night…

Saturday was only more epic. At a Q&A session with the whole of Abney Park, I was asked by Nathaniel where I got my top hat which is quite the compliment considering how many top hats they see… After the panel, I got the email addresses of the band so that I could forward the information on to them. Wheee!

So then, the concert. Oh god, the concert… I sat for three hours to get a front row view of the action (with a little help from my friend Larry, who rocks) and it was positively amazing. Abney Park was everything I could have hoped they would be, and more. It was amazing!

They played all of their hits… in fact the only one I really missed was Under the Radar, a personal favorite of mine. By the concerts nearing end, however, everyone was screaming for them to play Airship Pirate, to which Captain Robert informed the crowd that they could not play it because they did not have their violin stand… unless… someone would hold the violin for Nathaniel during the song. And guess who got picked to come up and rock out with the band! (I’m still searching for a good photo of this. If anyone finds one, please let me know…) Nathaniel even gave me his pick that he played the night with after the song was over.

In autographs after the concert, I got a hug from Nathaniel and he asked me to add him of Facebook which was another squee moment. I can’t wait to see them again at SteamCon.

So, needless to say I had a spectacular time a A-Kon. I met many wonderful Steam and Dieselpunks and I can’t wait to see Abney Park again. It was hard to go back to work after such a Steampunk weekend, but fortunately, I have SteamCon on the horizon. I doubt it could come fast enough, though!

Steampunk Events at A-Kon 21

Today is the start of registration for A-Kon here in Dallas, TX. Fortunately, my friend and I have already pre-registered and have our badges in hand. I’ve been pouring over the programing schedule and my, am I surprised by how many Steampunk events are happening here this “Anime Convention.”

I was initially attracted to A-Kon 21 by the singular knowledge that Abney Park is playing this Saturday at 10PM. The last time Abney Park was in Dallas, I was out of the country and therefore missed the concert. I refused to miss this latest opportunity to see Abney Park, and decided to take the weekend off to laugh at all the Anime nerds while I hung around waiting for Abney Park’s performance. I assumed that this would be most of the weekend.

My, was I incorrect. There’s almost always some Steampunk event going on at A-Kon. On Friday afternoon, there’s a panel called, “Steampunk 101: What is Steampunk to You?” I’m very excited to hear what people have to say about this and how it differs (if at all) from the discussion going on at present at The Great Steampunk Debate.

Friday night, there is a Steampunk Tea Social (squee!) and then a Steampunk Ball immediately following the Tea Social. I just hope that Steampunk music is played at the ball. I’ll be really disappointed if they anything other than that. Techno, rave music and anime music is all a no-no. We’ll see what happens and hope for the best in the meantime.

Saturday night is the Abney Park concert *happy dance* and the band will be avaliable later for autographs. I think I will have to get a poster or something equally exciting signed. Sunday there’s a session on Steampunk Couture with the Sky Dogs.

Sounds like a busy weekend! Just as a reminder, there won’t be any more Kon related posts for a while. I won’t have internet connection at the Kon hotel, so updates between now and the end of Kon will be spotty at best. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’ll do my best to update the blog with the limited internet that I might have, but if you miss my posts that much, come find me at the Kon! You can count on my presence at all of the events I’ve mentioned above!

Steampunk Fashion Ball at Panoptikon

In an effort to highlight the occasional Steampunk event in my current location of Dallas, TX, I’d like to bring your attention today to a “Steampunk Fashion Ball” at Panoptikon in Deep Ellum on Friday, May 7th at 9PM. The House of Mob will be presenting their latest line of Steampunk fashion for the viewing delight of all Dallas Steampunks. Best of all, the event is free; there is no cover or entrance fees to witness this exciting event.

House of Mob has a five page spread in Twisted South Magazine that came out on May 1st at Barnes and Noble, Borders, Book World and Waldenbooks across the USA, Puerto Rico and the UK with some stores carrying the magazine in France and Spain. It is a limited edition magazine, so if you like what you have seen on House of Mob’s website, consider picking up a copy, and be quick about it!

This is a excellent opportunity to meet some local Steampunks in a town where Steampunk seems scattered and a bit disorganized. I’d like to be able to say that I will with all certainty be at this event, but with the way my work is, I can make no certain guarantees to my presence. If you decide to go, let me know how it was!

Where you will be able to see me, with all certainty, is at A-Kon in June, specifically, at the Abney Park concert. I have no idea as to why Abney Park is playing at A-Kon. The connection between Steampunk and anime is feeble at best, but the fact remains that Abney Park will be in Dallas, and I therefore, must be there, and I hope you will be as well. Early registration for A-Kon is closed, but you can still buy tickets at the door when the Kon starts.