After having mobilized the bulk of the troops for Mysticon, we pared down to fighting trim for the following weekend’s trade show experience. Captain Charette joined Phineas and I for the trip to Pennsylvania and the wonders that awaited us at the Exposition.
Our primary mission was (as it always is) to meet marvelous steampunks, and we certainly accomplished that. What an intelligent and interesting crowd! We were invited to enough fascinating steampunk events that we could be on the road every weekend well into summer. And then, Lucretia Dearfour fixed me with her mind-control laser eyebeam and told me we were going to COME TO WALTHAM for INTERNATIONAL STEAMPUNK CITY, and it became reality. Nice trick, my dear, see you in May!
Secondarily, of course, is to tempt said steampunks to visit this website and enjoy the stories published
here. For the Steampunk Home Show we had a third plan – to show off the elegant and portable handmade furniture and casework that Phineas von Hedwig and Eve Charette make, along with the gorgeous hand-painted decoration of our dear and talented friend, Jill Evans-Kavaldjian, and test the possible market for their work.
These three artists have banded together under the name Pith Helmet Provisions, and are prepared to furnish your campaign, airship, or home with hand-painted, durable, and environmentally sound floorcloths, tables (which fold up and come with a canvas carrying bag), chairs, Cocktail Cases, and iPod Sound Boxes, so that even on the move, you may surround yourself with beauty. Of course, you don’t have to take them out of your parlor, but you will be comfortably prepared when adventure calls.
The Expo and Home Show took place in a large exposition hall outside Philadelphia. Organizers, including the genius behind Steampunk World’s Fair and Wicked Faire, engaged a remarkable variety of talented and fascinating artists, crafters, and performers, from fire dancers to roller derby girls, bands (Psyche Corporation and our friends Cryomancer were wonderful), clothiers, costumers, and jewelers, (including our old friend Lord Montague Jacques Fromage, and new friend MizzMechanique, who kindly gave me the octopus necklace I drooled on, even though a) I was going to tell you about her anyway, and b) I’m sure the drool could have been washed off), photographers and candy sellers, and a blacksmith (close to a door so the forge would vent properly, of course).
The ladies distributing tastes of handcrafted gin, absinthe, and locally grown rye vodka were bound to be popular, and rightfully so. We were delighted not only by the quality of the Philadelphia Distilling spirits and the charm of the staff, but the beauty of the bottles. Pith Helmet Provisions brought a few bottles home and will be basing a line of cocktail cases on them, including an absinthe serving kit with fountain, glasses, spoons, sugar – every accoutrement one might desire.
A third of the hall or more was dedicated to the Steampunk Home. Friday night we attended the vendor & industry professional’s party and heard a brief talk on steampunk design by Tyson Ness (look for an interview with Tyson in an upcoming post). He gave several talks to the general public over the course of the weekend, on interior design basics, working with steampunk elements, and how to give a new house the right old touch.
The exhibits in the Steampunk part of the hall were breathtaking. Our own portable parlor worked beautifully, inviting passers-by to step into our space and explore the furnishings and inventions therein. We were not the only inviting rooms, however! Kevin R. Shahan and Doug Meyer set up the submarine parlor, using Doug’s (surprisingly comfortable) industrial furniture and Kevin’s stunning lighting and backdrop. When it was slow on Sunday morning we did a fun photoshoot in the sub! Mr. Jared Seaver and Mr. Seth W. Chatfield established a Victorian library and cabinet of wonders. And there was a gorgeous salvaged steampunk kitchen.
We met Jona Harvey, whose company takes apart old buildings that would be destroyed, finds a buyer, and rebuilds a piece of history in a new place. We saw antiques and architectural salvage, rebuilt antique stoves from Erickson’s Antique Stoves, steampunk lighting, and unique works of art. Splendor surrounded us. If you were there, you will never be satisfied in a normal furniture store, ever again.
The first and grandest display belonged to ModVic. Melanie and Bruce are the reason we were invited to this weekend, and we are grateful to be included. Just getting to know them better was reason enough for us to come! Their display featured some of the remarkable pieces from their famous Steampunk House. Their work is clever, elegant, and inspiring. As is Melanie. She always looks beautiful, and I am so stealing her corset/bustle/miniskirt look. Wow.
We took turns away from our exhibit to walk about and enjoy the general splendor, but we were mostly working, and so missed the fashion show, fire dancing and most performances. Even without them, the Alternative Living Expo was an amazing experience.
More photos from our Expo experience are here on the Steampunk Family Flickr.