Photography by Fearless Photoworks
The last weekend of September was a double convention weekend for Robin and me. While Robin was meeting Levar Burton and Micheal Rooker at Nashville Comic Con, I had the pleasure of attending Seattle’s own steampunk convention, Steamposium. It was the first year of hopefully many more to come.
When the announcement was made back in February that Steam Con was no more, many of us were dismayed and left wondering where we would go for our steampunk convention needs. With the announcement of Steamposium in April we realized the gap would be filled, and then some! In its first year Steamposium already had a ball, a catered high tea fashion show, a concert, and a burlesque show. There was also an impressive guest line-up, including Sean Maher and Jewel Staite of Firefly, the steampunk band Steam Powered Giraffe, and popular steampunk model Kato along with her ladies of SteamGirl .All of this was at a beautiful and spacious location, Seattle waterfront’s Bell Harbor International Conference Center.
Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to attend con on Friday and thus missed out on what was probably a fantastic ball, but I did make it to both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I arrived with my good friend and assistant, Jen. We were immediately swept up and dazzled by how incredible everyone looked! I’ve been a steampunk fan for a long time and I never get tired of the extraordinary and grandiose environment created when such a large group of steampunk enthusiasts are together. I’m certainly no stranger to stepping into a fantasy world given my interests but steampunk brings a mixture of adventure and opulence like no other I’ve experienced. Everywhere we looked attendees were dressed to the nines, and I had a hard time deciding who to photograph first! You could say everyone was pretty steam-tacular. But really, I have a huge amount of respect and awe for the amount of time spent and level of detail put by people on amazing props and wardrobes. What I love even more than the completely amazing steampunk creations is the variety of people I meet in the community; it’s full of people of all ages and walks of life.
After walking around a bit Jen and I headed to the High Tea Fashion Show. We didn’t stay too long as there were already a few appointed photographers for the event and we didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. What we did see of the show was fabulous! The models were bringing their A-game on the runway and doing a magnificent job of showcasing the designers’ work. The tea and all the exquisite food was catered by Queen Mary Tea Room. Everything looked amazing and judging by the reactions of those around me, the food was definitely delicious! If they do that again next year I’m definitely going to buy a ticket and cover the whole event.
From the fashion show it was on to the autograph room to meet Sean Maher and Jewel Staite. Like many a geek I’m a huge fan of Firefly. On top of that I’ve been a big fan of Jewel since she was Catarina in Space Cases (yeah, I’m bringing the 90s Nickelodean love with that one). As one would assume I was pretty excited, as I clutched onto my Firefly book and waited in line I could barely contain my giddiness! I was not disappointed when I met them, both were so sincere and engaged in polite small talk while they signed my book. Sean signed first and even added “This must be what going mad feels like” with his signature, which both Jewel and I got a kick out of. Still chuckling from Sean’s quote Jewel signed my book with the quote “Up until the punching it was a real nice party…” Jen and I even got to take a moment to say hello and pet Jewel’s dog, which was a total sweetheart and very well behaved. I walked out of there very pleased to have met Jewel and Sean and to have acquired two more autographs for my Firefly book.
We managed a quick run through the dealer’s hall to admire all the fine merchandise and to visit some friends before heading to the Firefly panel. The Firefly panel with Jewel and Sean was probably one of my favorite I’ve ever been to. First off, those two have great chemistry, and you can tell they’re wonderful friends. Secondly, the staff of Steamposium had been giving them wine all day long so they were delightfully tipsy for the 5pm panel. Sean was adorable and giggly, and Jewel had all the best witty remarks. Jen and I had also scored front row seats so I was able to get pictures and video without random heads in the shot! Best panel ever. The stories they told about working on Firefly and other gigs were simply hilarious. I’d say one of my favorite moments was when someone asked them their inspiration to start acting and Sean gave this heartfelt response about being inspired by musical theater as a teen whereas Jewel said her inspiration was retail. She was five years old when she was first offered a job in a commercial and her mother won her over by promising she’d have her own money to buy more things if she did it. Between the playful teasing from Jewel and Sean to each other, as well as to the audience and the zany blue bearded pirate moderator, the atmosphere was really easy-going. It almost felt more like you were in a room with a whole bunch of friends casually swapping stories.
Unfortunately Jen wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t sure if she’d make it much longer. After a few quick mini-shoots with my friends Melinda Rose Costumes and SmallRiniLady, along with some quick hall shots of epic passerby, we left the con early. Jen said she wouldn’t be up for a second day of con so I sent my other assistant and good friend, Cora, a message to see if she could come instead, to which I got a very enthusiastic yes and plans to go together in the morning.
Sunday I met up with Cora and before going to con we made a small pit stop to the store so I could get a picture from Space Cases printed to have signed by Jewel. Upon arriving at con we had about an hour to kill before Jewel’s autograph session so we went to the dealer’s room to drool over all the beautiful hand crafted items. I ran into SmallRiniLady again at her booth and she gifted me the most adorable Minnie Mouse mini tricorn hat as a thank you for a photo shoot. I love it so much! Here’s a picture of us via selfie just after she placed it on me (bonus: fishie face Cora photobombing behind us). Thank you so much, Sammy.
While we were visiting with Cora’s friend, Deb of Sage & Sea Farms, LLC, we spotted a gentleman wearing a dragon/scale mail Jayne hat. I was thoroughly amused by the hat itself and had planned on asking him for a photo, but to our delight he came over to Deb’s booth and we realized it was actually Sean Maher! He was coming by to thank Deb for the vinegar she had had the staff gift both Jewel and Sean at the start of the con. I asked him politely and he allowed me to snap a quick photo in that awesome hat. Deb’s booth was right next to another friend of Cora’s booth, Friday of Friday Afternoon Tea. Apparently Friday’s daughter had convinced Jewel and Sean to go check out the tea booth during the Sunday morning Firefly panel and that’s exactly where they were headed as we were talking with Deb. Perks of a small con huh? Get a chance to hang out with the guests while sampling some amazing sipping vinegars and teas. Both Jewel and Sean sampled the fandom tea blends based off their characters from Firefly and liked them! I can only imagine how surreal that must have been for Friday as it was pretty surreal for us and we didn’t make the blends! What an incredible experience.
After a bit more meandering in the dealer’s hall it was time for Jewel’s autograph session so we got in line once more. I was pretty excited and curious as to what Jewel’s reaction would be to bringing up a Space Cases print to be signed by her. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed by her reaction. As soon as I pulled the print out and set it in front of her she said to me “Ohhhh my god where did you get this?!” I explained to her that my good friend Ed had helped me restore an older photo so I could print it myself. I actually had an extra copy of the print in a smaller size from testing out what would look best for signing. I quickly pulled out the extra copy and gave it to her, and she seemed thrilled. Getting to meet Jewel and seeing her so genuinely excited about a print from a show almost no one remembers was a childhood dream come true. I made Catalina from Space Cases smile!
Shortly after getting Jewel’s autograph we ran into Celestial Muse and Gigawatts still dressed up from Sunday’s High Tea Fashion show. They both looked so lovely I was happy to give them an impromptu photo shoot. Following the shoot Cora and I proceeded to walk the floor snagging some last pictures of people before the con ended. Then we found out at 5pm there was an end of con photo op so we ended the con in style with a fantastic massive group photo of everyone still around.
I was so thoroughly impressed with Steamposium, and not just because they brought guests from one of my favorite shows ever. No, I was impressed with how much they took on and accomplished in their first year. Sure there were certainly aspects that gave it away as a new con, mainly the overall frenzied and confused manner of things at times. There were a few late starts and scheduling snafus and the convention map was a tad confusing for us as it didn’t differentiate the floors very well. But in the grand scheme of things those are minor details that I know they will work the kinks out for next year. I think we can expect great things from Steamposium in the future and I’m looking forward to attending every year to come.