Steamposium 2017: Folk Rock and High Tea Fashion

The weekend before Halloween marked the 4th annual Seattle steampunk convention, Steamposium. With a con devoted toward a fantastic, grandiose style of fashion, I am never disappointed with the amazing, over the top outfits of the attendees. Additionally, I always know that Steamposium is going to have some top-notch guests and an exciting line up of events, including concerts, the high tea fashion show, and a burlesque show. This year was no different, with special guests Billie Piper and Reeve Carney from the hit tv series Penny Dreadful, along with musical guests Abney Park and Dogwood.

On Friday, I arrived with my friend Chameo Cosplay (David) at around 2:30 P.M. We decided to check out the artist alley and vendor’s hall first, which were combined into one big room this year. We are friends with several vendors including Tormented Artifacts, Regalia Designs, and Miss Haley Bombshell Boutique. So, in addition to shopping, we spent quite a bit of time catching up with our friends. While shopping I ran into my friend Britany of Britany Quinn Photography, who tagged along with us while we walked around. It was really great to spend so much time with her at Steamposium. She lives in British Columbia, and I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I’d like.

After a few hours in the dealer’s hall we opted to take a break out on one of the balconies to enjoy the view and pass the time before the opening ceremony started at 6 P.M. While we were outside, I took advantage of the golden hour lighting to snag some lovely sunset photos.

The opening ceremony was brief and to the point, which I always enjoy. They went over event highlights of the weekend, and thanked us for attending. They also explained that due to some unforeseen circumstances, they had lost some of their convention space. As a result, there were a few layout and schedule changes. Everyone was quite understanding of the necessary changes, we all know that problems can arise at any event. As the ceremony was winding down, someone suggested that everyone gather for a day 1 group photo. I like getting big group shots like that during con. It really captures the excitement and friendship among all the attendees.

Outside of the ceremony room, the staff had set up a gorgeous photobooth area, with a backdrop and couch. Coincidentally, I ran into my friend Sara right after the ceremony, and was wanting to get some photos of her. So, we tested out the photobooth. The photos turned out quite lovely. I’m so glad they put this area in for attendees to use this year! I ended up taking most of my photos there all weekend.

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I visited with Sara for about 15 minutes before heading towards registration. Nerf Wars, hosted by Lord and Lady Towers, was scheduled to take place there from 6:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. When I arrived, they were just finishing up moving the registration tables, and explaining the rules for their first round of capture the flag. I had such a fun time covering the Nerf Wars last year I knew I didn’t want to miss it this time around. It was just as entertaining this year too! Not long into the Nerf Wars, Britany met up with me to check it out. All the spectators were cheering on the teams and cracking up over how theatric a few of the players were being. The spectators could watch from a no play zone on the stairs this year. Which was a definite improvement to last year, when I was basically in the middle of the battle unless I ducked into a panel room. It’s definitely easier for people to watch the teams play from this location, versus the basement level they had to use at last year’s venue.

In fact, a common topic of discussion throughout the day when I wandered around was how happy everyone was to be back at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. Which is where the first two Steamposiums were held. Last year, due to construction at Bell Harbor the steampunk convention took place at the Washington State Convention Center. While it’s a lovely venue, it just doesn’t have the same charm and aesthetic as the Bell Harbor. Attendees and vendors alike all agreed that Steamposium feels more at home at the waterfront location.

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Once the Nerf Wars concluded we headed upstairs to hang out and grab some free refreshments before the Dogwood concert started. The concert was amazing! I instantly fell in love with their powerful voice and unique sound. I loved their music so much, I actually bought a CD, which I almost never do anymore! Unfortunately, the concert was happening at the same time as the Shake That Brass Burlesque show, so, the audience was pretty small. What we lacked in size we made up for in excitement. It was very intimate and it felt it bit like a private show, however, I do wish that Dogwood had gotten the full audience they so rightfully deserve. Despite the smaller turnout, they brought so much excitement and charisma to the stage. I hope that Steamposium brings them back next year, and gives them a show time that doesn’t conflict with another main event. If you’ve never heard Dogwood’s mythology themed folk-rock music you should absolutely check them out here.

David had actually left the concert about halfway through to go pick up our friend Dahlia Darling Cosplay (Dahlia) from the train station. They took the train from Portland after work, to attend Saturday and Sunday of Steamposium. David called me when they were back to Bell Harbor and I ran out to meet them. I ended up having to leave before the concert was finished, but I have no doubt the last song or two I missed were just as amazing as everything else I heard! Dahlia was very tired from a day of work and then hours on the train, plus, we had an early start on Saturday. So, we called it a night after grabbing some fast food on the way home.


I found myself groaning awake to my alarm at 7 A.M. on Saturday morning. Since Dahlia was a model in the high tea fashion show, they needed to be at the con center at 9 A.M. Since we were all carpooling, we all had the same early call time. The con didn’t officially start for the day until 10 A.M., when we arrived I opted to follow Dahlia to where the models were getting their hair and makeup done. I was going to be photographing the actual fashion show later that day anyway, so, I figured no one would mind. I suppose it was fortuitous that I was there, because upon arrival Sage asked me if I would be willing to take all the models’ before and after photos, as she had forgotten to schedule any other photographers to do so. I said sure and that is how I ended up spending nearly all of my con day as an unofficial volunteer for the fashion show.

I spent most of the morning running around getting the before shots of the models and didn’t really stop to take until around 11:30 A.M.  Dahlia and I went for search of some food, we had skipped breakfast that morning to make it to the con center on time. There weren’t really any quick food options nearby other than some croissants we bought form the Marriott hotel bar across the street. When we got back Sage offered us some bananas as well.

When we got back to the green room the models were doing a practice walk-through. I took a quick food break, and watched them practice, before getting back to work. I spent the rest of the time before the show running back and forth with models, just outside the green room to the photobooth area.

My asthma was still acting up from a pretty intense cold I had gotten the week prior, so, the running around was quite exhausting. I really appreciate Gambino helping me, by holding doors open for me and the models, and making sure my water bottle never went empty. Despite all the madness, it was definitely worth it. The photos turned out amazing. The photobooth was the perfect area for the models in their final looks.

About 20 or so minutes before the show began I was asked to wait to photograph the last few models’ looks, so that none of the audience in line would see the outfits before they were meant to. I then focused on claiming my spot and light testing for the runway. By the time the attendees were getting settled with their tea and food, I was all set for the show to begin.

The high tea fashion show is one of the most popular events of Steamposium, and always sells out. For good reason, too! Not only do the attendees get some lovely high tea provided by Friday Afternoon, they get to see the works of some amazing designers beautifully modeled on the runway. This year the contributing designers were Regalia Designs, The Celestial Muse + Apatico, Blackthorn Haberdashery, and Tayliss Forge. The show went off without a hitch, and everyone did a magnificent job!

After the fashion show, I still had 2 models to photograph. I met up with them quickly before they needed to get their outfits back to their designers. I then spent the next half hour getting any additional photographs anyone from the show wanted. It was our chance to unwind and get some fun photos we didn’t have time for earlier in the day.

I had a lot of fun covering the fashion show, but it was also a lot more work than I had initially planned for. I was helping with the show from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. When I do it that again next year, I’ll be better prepared. There is one change I’m hoping will be implemented next year, which is to have food in the green room. I was never an official volunteer, and as such, I had no idea that there was a refreshments room for volunteers. As a result, I barely ate all day, there simply hadn’t been time to go get a meal off site. Also, as far as I know, most of the models didn’t get a chance to go eat either. I definitely think it’d be beneficial for all the fashion show models and other volunteers to have access to food in the green room. Especially since, the models were asked to stay in the room once they had changed into their show outfits. This was to prevent their looks from being revealed to attendees ahead of schedule. Which made sense, but was not practical when there wasn’t access to food nearby.

I also think it would be cool to showcase some of the vendors in the fashion show again, like they did last year. It was a good way to show attendees some of the merchandise available in the dealer’s hall, and to promote their vendors. Other than those two suggestions I wouldn’t change a thing. I love the high tea fashion show!

Once I finished the post fashion show photos, Dahlia and I met up with David. He was actually just getting back to the con. He had gone back home after dropping us off in the morning to get more sleep. We decided to head to the Makers Panel, which was hosted by previous Steapunk’d contestants Tobias McCurry, Thomas Willeford, Tayliss Forge, Charles Mason II, and James Neathery. They talked about what got them into making things, and into steampunk fashion in general. Many of them spoke of collecting antiques, tinkering with them till they worked, then wanting to build their own creations from there. They also spoke about how thanks to cheap, mass produced products, the average consumer has no understanding of the time, work, and cost that goes into custom made items. People now expect so much more for less. It was nice to hear their perspective on such topics.

Following the makers panel was the celebrity Q & A with Reeve Carney and Billie Piper from Penny Dreadful. As expected a large chunk of the questions were for Billie regarding her role as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who. It was fun to hear about her time on the set of the BBC series. However, after all these years, we know most of the answers to those questions. I was excited to hear more from both Billie and Reeves about their time on Penny Dreadful. They talked about some of the most challenging or interesting times on set, like really violent scenes and nude/sexual scenes. They mentioned any set day that involved nudity were long and cold. Billie remarked about the awkwardness of taking a break in a clean robe when you’ve been filming naked and covered in fake blood all day, and the shock value of that look.

Billie and Reeve also talked about the things they geek out over. For Reeve, it is recording equipment since he loves to make music. He loves collecting different microphones and other gear. I bet he’s got a pretty cool assortment of things. Billie loves to collect vintage fabric and I think she also mentioned vintage patterns. I would love to see her fabric collection, I bet it is lovely! I really enjoy getting a small glimpse into the lives of actors I admire, and appreciate their willingness to tell us more about themselves.

David, Dahlia, and I hung out for a little while after the celeb panel, we ran into our friend Devon and his adorable dog, Luna. I grabbed a few photos of them all at the photobooth. Shortly after, Devon headed out to meet up with his wife, and the rest of us went outside to watch the sunset on the balcony. The night sky mixed with the last remnants of day was so gorgeous I opted to snag some silhouette photos while we were out there. David looks really cool in them, like a lone cowboy at dusk.


Originally, we were going to stay until the Abney Park concert later that night, but hunger and fatigue was hitting us all pretty hard. We decided to call it an early night at con, and find some dinner. We ended up at the Red Robin close to David’s place. It was a nice way to unwind after a fun, but long day, at con. By the time I got home, I barely changed into my pajamas before my head hit the pillow, and I was out like a light.


Sunday, I was able to sleep in, thank god. We just needed to be there between 10 A.M – 11 A.M. to make it to our photo op with Billie Piper. David ended up staying up most of the night finishing up the vest for his Ethan cosplay, and overslept. When we arrived, it was about 10 min till 11 A.M., thankfully, we still made it to our photo op. I’m so happy with how our photo turned out! Unlike larger cons where you’re in and out in 15 seconds with no idea if your photo will look any good, the photographer at Steamposium really takes the time to make sure that everyone looks okay. It makes a huge difference. I’m also a fan of their lighting set up and background, they made the photos look very warm and inviting.

Photo taken and provided by Steamposium.

After the photo op, our first priority was getting some food. We headed to the restaurant next door and got some fish n’ chips. While we were eating, our friend Silas met up with us. As we were finishing up our meals I realized that the tea duels had already started. Everyone was curious, and we ran to the panel together.

We arrived just in time to hear the tail end of the directions for the first round of tea dualists. They had all the duelists seated at a table in the front of the room, with plates of biscuits in front of them. Each picked a biscuit and then had to dunk it into their tea for 5 seconds. Once 5 seconds had passed, each player pulled their biscuit out of the tea. If any of their biscuit dropped into the tea or onto the table they were disqualified. Whoever still had intact biscuits had the opportunity to “nom” them, the contestant that ate at least 94% of their biscuit in one go was declared the winner. A perfect game for Steamposium, really. I was definitely entertained. We stayed for a few rounds then decided to check out the dealer’s hall.

Before heading to the dealer’s hall, I wanted to grab some photos of Silas in his fantastic 18th century garb. I had immediately fallen in love with it. Admittedly, I have a huge weakness for that era of fashion, so, I was beyond thrilled with his whole ensemble. I ended up taking him to the photobooth corner. I swear, it was like that couch was made for him. He looked so fabulous. It was as though he was at an overly decadent party in the late 1700s. I was living for every moment of it.


Once in the vender’s hall I made my way to Ceylon and Cyanide’s booth. On Friday, I fell in love with the mini witch hats and top hats that they made by hand. I had promised myself to wait a few days and think it over before making any purchases, and by Sunday, I still wanted one. I guess waiting paid off, when I got back to their booth all the hats were 50% off! They proclaimed they didn’t want to travel back home with them. I bought a super cute teal witch hat on a headband. I’m planning to make cute teal and purple witch outfit based around it, eventually.

Shortly after we got to the dealer’s hall, we all split up to different booths. I explored on my own for about an hour, snagging some hall shots of people along the way. Dahlia had to leave at 1:30 P.M. to go catch the train back to Portland. I met back up with David and Dahlia around 1:00 P.M. to do a quick shoot of their Ethan and Vanessa cosplays from Pennny Dreadful. We started out on the balcony and then moved to the photobooth corner, and ultimately ended the shoot at a large decorative screen in the hallway closest to the exit to the parking garage.

By the time David left to drop Dahlia off at the train station, I was pretty tired from the long weekend, and my phone was about to die. I snagged a seat in the hallway we ended the shoot in, and had myself a nice rest. I ended up chatting with other attendees and grabbing shots of people as they walked by. It was relaxing.

When David got back to the con we only had about two hours left so we decided to wander around and see what panels were happening. We ended up finding ourselves in an interactive workshop that I can no longer remember the name of. The premise of it was science of the early 20th century, and how what was discovered then were the building blocks for things we have today, such as the modern engine. In addition to telling us about early inventions, and their inventors, the presenter had some examples of those inventions that you could play with. It was a nice, all ages event that was both educational, and fun.

David and I spent the last of Steamposium 2017 attending the staff Q & A to tell them about our experiences over the weekend and learn about their plans for next year. There were a few rocky patches here and there that mainly revolved around changes made, and a lack of communication about those changes. For instance, when things were moved around, like the gaming area, there weren’t any signs indicating where it was moved to. This led to many of the attendees not knowing they could play games past the time the dealer’s hall closed, as that is where the gaming area had originally been placed. Additionally, when changes were made to the schedule it was hard to track down a current schedule other than a printout located at the registration area on the bottom floor. I was assured that next year announcements are going to happen more so in real time and be made both on their website and on other social media, such as the Facebook page.

Ultimately, these were minor inconveniences and didn’t greatly impede the enjoyment of the convention. Steamposium has built up a great con in the 4 years it has been running. They’ve amassed very loyal and outgoing attendees. As always, I look forward to stepping back into the world of lace, brass, and gears again next year. Until then, I’ve got all these amazing photos from this year to tide me over. See you next time, Steamposium!

Unless otherwise stated, all photos in this article were taken and provided by Fearless Photoworks.

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