Retrofuture DIY

I'm not steampunk but I know where to get it: Tailors and retailers of Clockwork Con 2012

I'm not steampunk but I know where to get it: Tailors and retailers of Clockwork Con 2012

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Clockwork Con pulled out all the gears and chambers for the Steampunk gathering taking place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel this weekend. Panels, bands, clothing stores and demonstrations brought their best brass and clockwork couture to the science ficition sub-genre con.  Honey Hackwrench, of Airship Delirium of Grandeur, aka The Sky D.O.G.s. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Capt. Whittaker, of Airship Isabella, who "left his business cards in his other armor," led the Dark Steampunk panel. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Dark Steampunk was a panel exploring a new storyline in the LARPing community. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Dark Steampunk  follows an Orwellian struggle between The Order and S.C.A.R.S, with many of the participants playing dual characters on both sides. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Tiffany Hinnen created & wore an item she coined the "bustle bar," (pictured here) which served drinks to con goes. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Steve & Deb Liptak make up husband & wife team Soldier of Sojourn, which designs & manufactures various wares for their characters. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Ms. Madd, of Airship Lollipop, with adornment crafted by Madam Julez Deity. Photo by Jon Shapley
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 Cut Thrust & Run performed a long set which mixed comedy, costumes and staged combat.  Photo by Jon Shapley
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 Cut Thrust & Run performed a long set which mixed comedy, costumes and staged combat.  Photo by Jon Shapley
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Con goers Isis & Czarina try on clothing made by Pendragon Costumes. Many vendors came out to show off handmade wares, from corsets to armor to medieval masks. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Alexster Kidd II showing off her character's costume. Photo by Jon Shapley
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Cadence, who stayed in character for most of the con. Photo by Jon Shapley
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A mustached con goer. Photo by Jon Shapley
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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.

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For more info on the mountains of cool stuff displayed at Austin’s steampunk-o-rama, check the vendor list at clockwork-con.com