Clockwork Con kicked off on Friday morning and proceeded to shake its neo-Victorian moneymaker clear through three days and two nights of time-traveling airship pirates and tiny steam engines. Currency was earned and spent. A good time was had by all (including, presumably, the woman passed out asleep in a nook beside the entrance to the central room on Saturday night, decorated neck to wrist in magic-marker autographs).
The convention going crowd were a jolly, convivial lot. We got some photos of a few of them, for posterity. I could rattle on for paragraphs with details about how friendly and fun were the folks I met this weekend, but there was another feature of Clockwork Con that had me pleasantly astonished throughout the event. To quote Professor Steampunk: “There’s all this cool stuff!”
On Saturday afternoon, the central convention room was home to the Gadgeteer Festival, a venue for artisans and hobbyists of steampunk art and sculpture to gather and display their labors. Steve Liptak, half of the husband-and-wife gadgetry duo Soldier of Sojourn, transformed a household vacuum cleaner into a telescoping shotgun and a personal flight device with working propeller. You can find Steve, installed on his steampunk Segway, in photo number 6 of our slideshow.
The room also featured feats of metalwork—such as classy hairpins 'n' things by Bill and Deborah Jezzard of Plantersville—and electricological trickery by Professor Steampunk (my personal favorite: a railroad signalman's flashlight in which he'd swapped a red/white switchable LED for the original kerosene reservoir) and Marco Dernal of San Antonio’s Steam Engine Intrepid.
The greatest and most pleasant surprise of Gadgeteer Fest, though, came from "analog tele-phonographer" Christopher Locke of Heartless Machine. I will say this once: if you ain't down with tablet/smartphone amplifiers made from antique brass instruments then you ain't down with a dang thing. His photo gallery is cool, sure, but the sound! Hear it for yourself one day if you can.
The vendor's room stayed open all weekend, providing extraordinary finery of several varieties. Time-traveling textile work from Victorian and Renaissance clothier Raven Albrecht, leather pouches and trifles fashioned by Grimm Sister of San Marcos, and wigs and headpieces brought to market by Prince Pez, Austin's own gothic go-go Lolita of Ta-Ta Tuesdays at Headhunters.
An inspiring story came from Brian Griffin, proprietor and principal artisan of Griffin Leather. "I quit my job a while back and just started doing this," said Griffin, whose work includes masks, armor pieces and a wicked awesome skull box. "In six months, I was making as much as I had at my old job. Five years later, here I am."
During one of the panels I had a chance to visit, a presenter spelled out what I would come to realize as the common thread that tied together all this crafty complexity. "The bottom line is creativity," the clock-punk pirate told the room, "Take whatever you can do and have fun with it."
Heed the pirate, Austin. Whether it’s steampunk or clock-punk or cyberpunk or yarn-punk or paint-punk or not-punk-at-all that you're after, whether you make things for love or money, that’s some good advice.
For more info on the mountains of cool stuff displayed at Austin’s steampunk-o-rama, check the vendor list at clockwork-con.com