2016 High Desert Steam Con Maker Guest of Honor

2016 High Desert Steam ConThe High Desert Steam Con has asked me to be one of their maker guests of honor for their 2016 convention!  It’s happening in Sparks, NV, from March 18-20.  It’s going to be an exciting and exhausting weekend of panels, workshops, meets and greets, tea dueling, and revelry, and I’m expecting it to be worth every moment!  For years I’ve only heard good things about this convention and the people running it.  If you can make it out, I would love to see you there.

The final schedule has not yet been determined, but I am expecting to give workshops on corset pattern drafting, embroidery, and corset flossing, and panels on a variety of costuming subjects.  On Saturday there will also be the CelebriTea, where attendees will have the opportunity to sit for tea with myself and the other special guests.  Space is limited, so that particular event will require a special ticket.  All of my panels and workshops will be included with the convention pass valid for the day on which it happens.

I must admit that I am more than a little nervous about being a maker guest of honor.  This will be more activity packed into three days than I have even attempted in years.   Diana will be there with me to help me through it all, but I have no doubt the weekend will qualify as overdoing it severely, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.  The staff of the convention has been incredibly accommodating of my limitations and gone out of their way to make sure my only concerns will be making sure my workshops and presentations are everything the attendees are hoping for.  With some luck and determination I may even have a new outfit to wear that weekend!  I really hope so, because I’ll feel awfully silly if I’m there for my corset making expertise and I don’t have a properly fitting corset to wear, though I know anyone who follows me online will understand completely.

In less happy news, I am not planning to attend Clockwork Alchemy for the first time since it started.  Last year we only made it with the help of friends, and this year it doesn’t look any more feasible.  I will greatly miss all the friends I have only been able to see that one time each year, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for 2017.

Lucy Corsetry Interview and NACLS

The North American Corsetry and Lingerie Symposium happened on July 18, 19, and 20.  I was mistaken about the weekend when it was happening and had to pack in a rush to head out the door for the symposium.  The corded corset did not get finished, and I have barely done anything with it since.

That said, the weekend was absolutely amazing!  One of the biggest highlights for me was meeting Lucy of Lucy’s Corsetry in person.  Most of you probably know her because of her site and YouTube channel where she shares her wealth of knowledge about corsets, corset makers, and corset brands.  For me the connection is much more personal, because when I announced I was sick she offered to run a funding campaign for me to help pay for me medical expenses.  The campaign was a success, and without it I am fairly certain I would still not be able to take the antibiotics I needed because all of my expenses have been out of pocket, without any help from insurance.  At the end of the weekend we had time to film an interview for her vlog.


In other news I met lot of other amazing people, and had a fantastic time.  In the classes learned a new technique for pattern matching from Amber Welch of Lovely Rats Corsets, an interesting method of draping a ribbon corset so it does not have a side panel from Jasmine Ines of Sin and Satin Corsetry, and learned more about ready-to-wear corsetry from Jessica of Ties That Bynd Designs, Inc.  On the second day of classes I also got to prattle for several hours about hand sewing and embroidery.  I was tired enough by that point in the weekend that I had trouble staying on focus and on topic, but despite my issues I saw a lot of ah-ha moments, which always makes me happy.

Zessina took a number of candid photos on the first day of classes.  These first two are from the pattern matching class, where we were using tracing paper to pattern match across panels.

Photo  of NACLS 2015, by Zessina https://www.facebook.com/Zessinna

Photo of NACLS 2015, by Zessina

Photo  of NACLS 2015, by Zessina https://www.facebook.com/Zessinna

Photo of NACLS 2015, by Zessina

I love the fabric I ended up with, but I didn’t get far enough along during the class to cut into it, so at some point down the road I will use one of my own patterns and that fabric to make a corset using the method Amber Welch taught.

Floral Cotton Print Fabric

Floral print cotton fabric I received at NACLS 2015 for the pattern matching workshop.

Lastly, I want to include a candid photo of Zessina the photographer, model, and all-around delightful person who took the candid photos above.  Here she was trying on one of the Lovely Rats corsets with the assistance of Amber Welch, ahead of the photo shoots that happened the next day.

Photo of Zessina and Amber Welch, NACLS 2015

Photo of Zessina and Amber Welch, NACLS 2015

Later that same day we also had a fun corset trying-on session, where any of us who were interested got to try on the corsets various makers had brought with them to the conference.  Some of the corsets from Ties that Bynde were close enough to my measurements to try on, so I did so with delight.  They were a little too long for me to sit in (a very typical problem for me with ready-to-wear corsets), but otherwise delightfully comfortable and with a much larger reduction than I currently have on any of my personal corsets.

The next NACLS is tentatively planned for 2017, and I’m looking very much forward to it.  I hope to see more of you there! :)

Clockwork Alchemy 2015 Recap

Sidney and Diana - Clockwork Alchemy 2015Thank you once again to everyone who helped make my trip to Clockwork Alchemy this year a success.  Diana and I both had a wonderful time, we got to see lots of friends, and both the panel and workshop were well attended and well received.  I’m very happy we made it, and hope we make it out again next year.

We drove out on Thursday afternoon, and stayed with a friend on Thursday night, saving us one night’s expense at the hotel and ensuring that I didn’t start the weekend sleep deprived.  We made it out to the convention hotel before 10am, in time to catch the SteamWomen panel, which was scheduled in the first time slot on the first day of the convention.  If you’re not familiar with it, SteamWomen is a blog dedicated to highlighting the amazing women makers, artists, and creators in the steampunk community.

Diana was fighting a migraine that started on the drive out, so after we got our hotel room she took a nap in the dark and I headed back out to see live acoustic music sets in the tea parlor.  I got to drink lovely tea while being serenaded by Nathaniel Johnstone with Dogwood and Tempest, Unwoman, and Captain John Sprocket of The Cog is Dead.  I hadn’t expected to stay for the entire afternoon, but that’s exactly what I did.  That evening Diana and I both attended the Wind-Up Cabaret where Dogwood performed a set of her own music (something I had been looking forward to), as did Frenchy and the Punk, and Unwoman.  I greatly enjoyed all the music sets leading up the performance of Any Moment Now, a steampunk musical written by Nathaniel Johnstone and Alyssa Rosenbloom.  After the performance we chatted briefly with friends before retreating to our hotel room to unwind and go to sleep.

Saturday we perused the vendor room and milled about before the panel Recognizably Victorian-Esque, which was presented by Yuly Springer of Butterfly Frillies Corsets, Diana, and myself.  We got to prattle on about Victorian foundation garments and silhouettes, and ways to recreate those features in steampunk garb to achieve immediately recognizably Victorian influence.  The panel immediately following was all about how to tie ties, bowties, and ascots, so of course Diana and I stuck around to try our hand at it.

After that we headed back up to the hotel room so I could finish putting together the base patterns for the corset drafting workshop on Sunday.  We had intended to head back downstairs for the Saturday concert, but instead we just stayed in the hotel room and relaxed.  I am grateful for the ability to have the hotel room, because the option of resting instead of being stuck out in the convention made a huge difference in how well I fared throughout the weekend.

Sunday was the fashion show, which of course I wasn’t going to miss!  It was fabulous.  :)

After the fashion show I had to go back up to the room and grab all my materials for the corset pattern alteration workshop.  We had a full house, with a few people choosing to work on the floor since there was not enough table space.  Lots more people poked their heads in, but quickly realized there wasn’t enough capacity in the room for more attendees, and as it was Diana dn I spent most of the three hours moving around the room talking to people and helping them along with their particular situation.  For the first hour there was a lot of confusion, but everyone followed along with the instructions as faithfully as they could.  Then we got far enough for the Ah-Ha! moments to start occurring, when the setup we had done for the first part of the workshop started to result in actual drafting.

No one actually finished a pattern, but I believe I succeeded in providing them with the tools they need to finish the patterns at home.  A number of people were able to get pretty far along, and before we reached the end of the workshop time a lot of attendees had already reached information overload.  Overall, I was extremely happy with how to workshop went, and if I make it back to Clockwork Alchemy next year I’ll be sure to offer it again, only next year I will have a handout as well.  All of the material I covered in the workshop is from a tutorial I am writing, and hope to have finished in the next couple months.

I was completely exhausted after the workshop, but the day didn’t end there.  We ran into other friends I didn’t even know were at the convention, chatted for a while and made plans to meet on Monday, and made it out for the all-con photo before retreating to our room once more.  I would have loved to attend the Sunday night concert, but I was too tired.

Monday we met back up with our friends, attended a panel on Victorian serial killers one of them presented, said our goodbyes, and hit the road heading back for Las Vegas.

All in all, it was an incredible weekend, as always.

Corset Pattern Alteration Workshop

Date: May 24, 2015, 3-6pm
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Event name: Corset Pattern Alteration Workshop at Clockwork Alchemy
Further info: http://www.clockworkalchemy.com/

The workshop is free for anyone attending the Clockwork Alchemy or Fanime conventions. You must have a convention pass valid on Sunday to attend. Clockwork Alchemy is a steampunk themed portion of the convention, held at the DoubleTree Hotel near the airport.

The workshop will have a few patterns to use as a starting point, which attendees will modify to fit their measurements. It is my hope that every attendee will have enough time to create a custom tailored pattern to take home with them.  The instructions given will be based on the tutorial I am writing on corset pattern alteration.  I am not certain when the tutorial will be finished and published online.

Planning for Clockwork Alchemy

Take Sidney Eileen to Clockwork Alchemy 2015 is an Indiegogo campaign to fund myself and Diana going to Clockwork Alchemy.

Clockwork Alchemy is a steampunk convention that happens the last weekend of May in San Jose, attached to Fanime.  I have attended every year since it’s inception, providing panels and workshops on corsets, corset making, and corset buying. This year I am planning to give a corset pattern drafting workshop and costuming panel, the details of which I will provide after the convention schedule has been announced.

Diana and I are both natives of the San Francisco Bay Area, and lived for a number of years in the Sacramento area, where we were active in the local steampunk scene. We moved to Las Vegas in 2012 when Diana was accepted as a PhD candidate in Anthropology at UNLV, and Clockwork Alchemy is one of the few chances we have to see and hang out with our friends in California. Due to chronic health problems I have not been able to work for four years and our finances are abysmal to say the least. That means we need your help to come up with the money for gas and food for the trip, and the handicapped accessible hotel room.  Staying in the convention hotel would be ideal for me with my health problems, so I have a quiet place to retreat when I need to without having to drive a distance from the convention hotel.

Any money raised above the campaign goal will go towards my medication, ongoing testing, and doctor visits for the summer.

There are a handful of perks available, set up to be easy and fun for me to fulfill.  Among the offerings are homemade cookies and homemade couverture chocolates.

Countdown to Clockwork Alchemy

Title: Requiem, Artist: Sidney Eileen

9″x12″ dark brown ink on watercolor paper
Croquille nib and #6 round brush wash

The Clockwork Alchemy convention is just two days away, in San Jose, CA.  I won’t be making any more art until I am at the event, most of my stuff is packed, and I’ll be down there tomorrow evening.  I am taking some of my art supplies with me so I can do commissions on-site, and I’ll also take orders for commissions to be completed at a later date.  There have been a few SNAFUs, but nothing insurmountable.

I will have with me a number of original ink paintings, plus limited edition prints of those paintings.  Some of them will be available at special prices at the convention.  Look Out, the triptych painting in the Artist Gallery, will also be available for sale, along with my silver steampunk kimono I work at Nova Albion last year.

Title: Octopus Miniature Minimalist Painting 1, Artist: Sidney Eileen

Octopus Miniature Minimalist Painting 1
3″x5″ Impasto acrylic on canvas board

Other artwork include several large impasto acrylic minimalist paintings on wrapped canvas, and several miniature impasto paintings on canvas board.  For something which may be worn, I am bringing a number of pendants, lockets, and pins with miniature ink paintings.

I will have two corsets with me for sale, but no other clothing items.  Despite best of intentions to have spats and bustle skirts available, physical limitations prevented me from making them.

If you are coming, don’t forget that I will be giving an all-day corset making discussion on Sunday.  Drop by for part, or stay for the whole day.  It will run from 10am to 6pm.  You do need a convention pass to attend.  If you stop by my table that day, you’ll get to meet my closest friend, Britva, who will be minding my wares while I am occupied elsewhere.

The entire convention is packed with wonderful workshops, panels, and events.  It truly is worth coming for.

Mr. and Mrs. Cats in Heart Locket, by Sidney Eileen

Mr. and Mrs. Cats in Heart Locket
These mini-paintings created in brown ink on watercolor paper are each about 3/4″ across and 3/4″ tall.

Nova Albion Follow-up

The two weeks prior to Nova Albion I spent in a sewing hole, desperately finishing as many costume pieces for myself and my friends as possible.  The finished pieces were only half of what I had originally planned, but I was very happy with how the pieces I did finish turned out.  Tomorrow I plan to upload some photos for my portfolio and provide more detailed explanations of the two finished costumes.  One of the planned costumes, which I did not even start, is a men’s steampunk Japanese outfit that I still intend to make at a future date.  One of the finished costumes, the silver satin kimono, was what I wore on Friday at the costume contest, where I won the Ode to an Elder God category.

At the convention itself I sat on three discussion panels, and also conducted a corset making tips and tricks discussion. I only had two weeks to prepare, so I started by creating an outline of the aspects of corset making that should be considered when planning to make a corset.  To aid in note-taking and to help speed the pace of the discussion, I turned that outline into a word document with space for note-taking.

Corset Making Discussion Outline Word Document

The corset making discussion went wonderfully, and the format worked better than I could have hoped.  The only down side was a lack of time.  I was only given 1.5 hours, which gave us barely enough time to get half-way through the outline, and even that was a more superficial discussion than I would have liked.  I hope to arrange to conduct a similar discussion again at a later date, but with enough time to get through all the material.  I will also periodically use the outline as a writing prompt for my blog, so all of my readers can find the information.

A wonderful fellow I met conducting a panel on adding color to your steampunk wardrobe is Roget Ratchford.  I had a fantastic time speaking to him, and if you want a sneak peak at the finished silver satin kimono, check out his online portfolio.  Should I have a chance to sit on a panel with him again in the future, I will be very pleased.

I attended the convention in cahoots with the League of Proper Villains, a steampunk group centered in Sacramento.  The League was the largest group to enter Friday’s costume contest, with a good fourty members in attendance.  We also had an info table on the mezzanine, where various antics occurred, and we had a party room packed with treats and goodies and alcohol (including absinthe).  Everywhere you looked was another Villain sporting a red arm band, and a very large portion of the attendees of the convention found themselves sporting a League ribbon from their con badges.  All in all, we were most pleased with the undeniable impact we had on the convention.

My personal great find at the convention was a new steampunk cane.  I’ve been wanting to make myself one for months, but have just not found the time.  At the con, I found Matthew Winkelmann, an artist from Washington, who brought with him a number of wonderful steampunk canes which he had for a very reasonable price and was willing to cut to length for actual use.  I ended up choosing one that had a hammer head on it, which fit very nicely in my hand.

Other than that, I spent a lot of time with good friends and new friends, and left the event feeling very pleased with the weekend.  It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to be a part of the events again in the future.