Creative spirit alive at the Steampunk World's Fair 2015

by - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder and our souls are deep with dreams. ~Gypsy proverb 

All roads lead to Piscataway this past weekend! The annual Steampunk World's Fair stitches together a group of souls with one taut binding thread - a desire to express creative spirit. Anonymous or notorious, in costume, behind tables in booths, on stage, in the courtyard, everyone shares the spotlight here. It is a festival of fiendish fun for all ages where art expression emboldens freedom allowed to flourish without boundaries or boorish branding. Here, come as you are and find camaraderie in abundance. 

As a three-day event aficionado mesmerized anew by the amazing costumes and bright personalities, my goal was to delve into some of the unique artistic endeavors featured this time around. It was quite easy to get overwhelmed with the surrounding frivolity and finesse, and we did recognize some familiar faces and crafty characters I featured in my journal entry about the Steampunk World's Fair 2013. Charming and devilish, gears and glass, leather and lace, wool and wood, spawn Indie artistry in all shapes and proportion, whatever your purse size. Whether searching for a simple trinket, impressive ornament or embracing costume, all you need to do is seek and you shall find many resurrected art forms...

Exhibiting customized historical garments and hats, As They Sew In France by John Richardson is a couturier for fans and connoisseurs of period festivals. The details are magnificent, a reflection of John's learned couture and millinery technique acquired as a costumer skilled in Victorian garment design and construction.
Each is a one-of-a-kind creation. John grants complimentary consultations to find the right designed period fit to create the perfect costume for his clientele. "Wearing period dress enhances the overall experience of all the attendees at one of these events," notes John. "The clothing carries you back in time, and makes the wearer part of the historic scene."
The black velvet and paisley jacquard ensemble on the right sold on Friday evening at the Fair.

The historic scene was set pretty snug when I tried on a hand made embossed leather corset from Pendragon Costumes. Specializing in quality costuming for men and women, owner and designer Nicole Fullerton is an expert in fit and construction for over twenty years with custom offerings in Renaissance, SciFi, and Steampunk wardrobe classifications. This corset featured antiqued brass swing clasp hardware in the front with full antique brass eyelet lace-up in back. Okay, as long as I don't breathe I'll be alright! It is amazing how fashion has evolved well into something more comfortable, unless of course you are gearing up for a weekend like this!

Upwards, Evolve Well's creator Mel Wood works with leather, metal and feathers. It is easy to see the exotic influence in her one of a kind work stemming from fifteen years as a belly dancer. She sharpened her sewing skills as a costume maker and travels all over the US to meet inspiring people for her craft. As one busy lady, she is a partner in the Evolve Wellness Center in Pennsylvania where she also teaches yoga and belly dancing. Yes, that is definitely heading in the right direction.

Up ahead, once you step into the space occupied by Moss Fete, you can almost hear the pitter-patter of tiny woodland creatures enjoying a fairy party in one corner of the room. Filled with fleecy soft "accoutrements for your alter ego" designed and created by Wendy Allen, her felt magic is quietly frivolous.With her successful first endeavor MissFitt, the moss has spread allowing her to branch into more playful woolen wonders. It is a refreshing alternative to the structured haberdashery of the genre and makes for an effortless blending of style into the everyday.

Necessity breeds invention, doesn't it? In need of something sturdy to carry our cell phones, bits and bobs during this convention, we discovered a quality leather accessory vendor Earthly Leather Design and purchased beautiful hand tooled belt pouches. Providing costume pieces for renaissance fairs, wardrobe designers, production companies and reenactors with over 15 years experience, the good sturdy leather is understandably well sought after. In an ample variety of patterned bracelets, belts, purses, and pouches, accessory selections can easily tell your personal story. A marriage of fashion and function.

Speaking of a story to tell, just open the box... Ask Shannon Truax what he has to say about his Bone Shaker Boxes, one of a kind wood trunks each with an apologue of interest. As a one man company in Georgia, his passion goes beyond the expected to arbitrary all created from the comfort of his own garage. Materials are of the finest quality with the best craftsmanship for whimsical functionality enticing Steampunk enthusiasts and collectors of oddities.

This Bar Box is a real beauty, holding twelve to sixteen small bottles of alcohol (or anything else you might want) on the left. In the main part of the trunk, two small drawers hold shot glasses. Copper and glass fittings on the right funnel the ingredients into a mixing chamber that stream your blended elixir into a glass retrieved from one of the larger drawers at the bottom. Clever and cool, huh?
In one of his Communication Boxes (tall box in back), the telephone sends encrypted tapped messages, the inception of military communication, sort of an Imitation Game-ish relic. The Steam Punk Tool Kit (open step box in front) would be great for those forensic freaks with a taste for ingenuity kept neat and tidy. This one houses a collection of necessary gadgets to survey a time-travel crime scene with style. Included tweezers "removes bits of glass from the victim's cheeks and forehead and places them in clear evidence bags". Hmmm, sounds like the perfect gift for any Sherlock Holmes devotee.

Speaking of glass, there is something quite reminiscent about Fragile Beauty's color-rich stained glass designs. Artist Sarah Segovia began exploring this ancient art in 1994, and her fascination developed into a devoted business. Her body of work "reflects passion to create fragile beauty, intricate patterns, and unique designs". When asked what sells the best, her answer came a bit hesitant since it is greatly dependent on many factors such as the venue and types of patrons in tow. Famous icons like the Doctor Who tardis usually garner a lot of attention, and she made a special amber colored Steampunk version for fans at this fair.

In natural shades of amber, burnt sienna, and raw wood, Greenwood Creations Studio has resurrected the art of pyrography. As in bygone Victorian America, skilled pyrographer Michelle Greenwood's artistic creations are rendered sketches directly onto wood then "fire painted" with a tool similar to a soldering iron. Details are burned into the wood with delicate definition. Her works include a broad range of decorative items, jewelry, "kitchen witchery" (spoons, cutting boards and trivets), and spiritual pentacles, runes and divine images. This delicate and detailed crab (above left) took her 36 hours to complete! Brenna purchased one of her many pentacle pieces, proudly sporting it the next morning for Saturday's festivities.

In between all the forums, panels and scheduled events, we saw a familiar face. When we first encountered Katrina Davies form Oil and Lace two years ago, we met her talking automaton parrot, Smithwick in he hallway. This time around, she has a flourishing business of mechanical "pets" selling numerous creatures big and small, each with a unique personality. These animals are made with a lot of love, painted plastic to look like metal, leather, and bits and pieces of cast-off electronics to create the built in sensors activating their responsive actions.They are able to pose and many are small enough to travel as a sweet little daily companion for pros at cons. 

The final taste? Sweet Steam offers some of the most delicious themed epicurean chocolates available. After sampling their cogs, we were sold! These would have been great for Brenna's Steampunk Sweet 16 party. Although accustomed to fiery tastes, the spicy cogs were a surprise, the chocolate blended not only with cayenne pepper, but a touch of cinnamon. Allowing heat to build slow and smooth then hit a crescendo of zest, the cinnamon adds a delightful gradient of delicate flavor at the end. Orient Espresso locomotives blend luxurious rich dark chocolate with snappy espresso for another smooth, flavor-rich experience. Oh, what the heck, we purchased the peanut butter and the mint cogs to pick up the steam at home.

There were so many gifted vendors at the fair and we did mange to visit each and every one of them over the weekend, perusing their displays, gathering business cards. Entertainers sold their wares at traveling stations satisfying steady patrons and garnering some new fans too. It was a very captivating weekend with all the gifted energy around us, alive and well received at the Steampunk World's Fair 2015.
Until the next time we all meet, let's keep that creative spirit alive... xoxo-Sonya

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