Brooks Renaissance Faire

A few weekends ago I finally got to go to the Brooks Renaissance/Medieval Faire.  I had wanted to go last year, but missed out because of timing (not being a driving-sort makes a big difference as to which events I can go to – especially ones that are two hours out of town!).  This year, however, I got to go!

Years ago I was interested in the SCA – but when the friend I had in the SCA moved away, that interest waned.  But, that does mean I have boxes full of (reasonably) appropriate clothing!

So first up – what I wore…

  • White linen t-tunic with red yarn couching in a vaguely Turkish style (yes, underwear as outerwear – it was hot!)
  • Brown belt – in a pattern that is similar to what you could get using card weaving
  • Peach/green semi-sheer veil
  • Faux blackwork purse/reticule

All in all – NOTHING that would actually be worn together if I was aiming for period – rather than “feels period-ish”.   Since I had no idea how dressed-up guests would get, and very little access to my stash due to the never-ending reno project, I was happy with what I picked out.  Since the website talked about people dressing as gypsies and pirates and fairies…. I figured that my costume choices would have a pretty wide latitude. 🙂

The Faire itself

Having been to a few SCA events, I think that I had more of that in mind.  At my first event, 12th Night, there was a large banquet, loads of people (all in impressive dress) and it seemed like a lot of activity.  At Tavern it was less so on all counts, but still interesting. At the two war/camp events I went to – there were workshops, vendor areas, food areas, encampments, and just a lot of overall activity.  There were very few people in ‘mundane’ modern clothing, and everyone was dressed up.  Still, from reading online, I figured that the “Renaissance faire” model was a bit different – so while I sort of knew the overall mood of what to expect, I didn’t really know the details.


All in all, the Faire was somewhat underwhelming.  We arrived for the last few jousting matches – which was kind of cool, but I had expected more pageantry with that.  We wandered to the arts and crafts area which featured perhaps 5-6 artists – although some of the artwork was very nice, the overall selection felt as though it’s inclusion had been a bit of an afterthought.  Only a few of the artisans were working in styles that suited the event.  (One artist who was working with charcoal/pencil, doing sketches of dragons and knights.)  From there we pretty much blinked and missed a food area – hot dogs and ice cream… and went to the vendor area – with largely theme-appropriate offerings, and a few that weren’t so theme appropriate.  From there we wandered down to the locations of two encampments (the only ones on site), then watched two women do some cabaret-style belly dancing, and four guys (two at a time) do some heavy combat.  While we had a Hawaiian Shave Ice, we watched a woman do a little puppet show.  From there we were ready to go, and passed the petting zoo – comprised of two miniature horses, two sheep, and a goat.

Puppet Show

Perhaps my expectations were just overly high.  Am I putting unrealistic expectations coming from a ‘big city’ perspective onto an event planned by folks in smaller towns?  Do the camping events I have been to just by their nature have more “things” because of all the encampments (and thus, with all of those people staying on-site all weekend, more need for things like food vendors, taverns, etc)? Maybe the lack of workshops/classes is what helped me get more in the mood before? (Not to mention, make it possible to talk to people and socialize.)

Belly dancer

Overall, although it was interesting – I don’t think that I’d make it a destination again.  Perhaps fleshing it out as a day trip to include a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park (with a chance to change in between!) might make the two hour drive each way more worthwhile?

What do you think?  Have you been to the Brooks Faire before?  How do you think it stacks up compared to other faires or SCA events?

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Another recent trip I took was to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It started out with good intentions; one of the local Steampunk groups was organizing a group trip down there, and I thought it would be a nice chance to meet up with them, dress up a little, and visit the museum, since I haven’t been since Junior High!  My BFF came along as well, since she also hasn’t been able to go for years and years.  We got there about 20 minutes in advance, and waited around until about 15 past the assigned meeting time in the assigned meeting spot.  I sent an email to the event host, and checked the event message board on Facebook, and didn’t hear that the time was being pushed back or anything – so at quarter-past, we got tired of waiting in the heat, and went inside.  (She had another event to go to that evening, so we were working on a schedule…)

So the Steampunk part of the trip was a bit of a wash honestly… as we were leaving (more than two hours later) we passed a couple who were dressed in Steampunk attire, but at that point we were running tightly on schedule, so I didn’t even stop to say hello… 😦  I was kind of bummed out that the specific point of going was to connect with the group, and also disappointed that the organizer never did get back to me.  It’s entirely possible that she wasn’t able to make it herself, and that the two people who we saw as we left were the only ones who even made it at all.  Oh well… I’ll just have to try again to get out to meet up with them.

BUT… since it’s relevant to my blog, I thought I’d share with you some of the photos from the museum all the same.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of how I dressed up for the event, since when we were outside, it was just too hot and sticky, and when we were inside, it was like Disneyland on a Teacher’s Conference day… (insanely busy and full of children.)  Note to self… go to these things on a weekday if possible to avoid the crowds!


T-Rex is obviously well loved here – there were at least three models like this… and they are HUGE!  (Ok.. I don’t know if all of them were T-Rex, but I think they were… I’m not so into it that I can tell them all apart…)

Cool bookshelf

Along with just being a display to coordinate with their prehistoric oceans exhibits, I thought that this was a neat setting for a Steampunk-esque scientist or explorer.  Plus, I love the light-filled shelves…….. hahah

Baby Octopus

One of the displays on those light-filled shelves was this little baby octopus.  It too made me think of the Cephaopod Tea Party blog that I like reading sometimes.

Under the sea....

An interesting under the sea display.

wacky carrot-like nautiloids

The under the sea display had these really interesting nautiloids that look a lot like carrots!  There were a number of other weird ones too, but I couldn’t get a great shot of them.  😦

After the museum we grabbed some lunch (wow it was hard to find a good place to eat in town… we ended up getting stuff from the deli at the grocery store instead) and then headed out to the hoodoos, and from there, home!

If you want to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum for yourself, here’s the info:

Toll free in Alberta
310-0000 then 403-823-7707

Toll free in North America (outside Alberta)

P.O. Box 7500
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0

Highway 838 Midland Provincial Park
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0

Steampunk Picnic coming up

Steampunk Picnic by Anna Fischer

Next Saturday is the Steampunk Picnic, and as I’ve never been out to one before, I’m really hoping for good weather and good timing so that I can make it!

To my friends – please come with me! To those of you I haven’t met yet, please say hello and help an enthusiastic newcomer feel welcome!

Here are the details from the Facebook event:

Time: Saturday, June 11 · 12:00pm – 6:00pm

Location:Prince’s Island Park, Calgary, Alberta

Details: Those who have attended our picnic’s know it’s a fun day of lounging in the sun, eating food and ice cream with some old fashioned games thrown in for good measure. We will be in our usual spot in the park, directly across the bridge behind Eau Claire Market. If you go out behind Eau Claire, past the water park and head towards the river you will see the bridge to Prince’s Island Park. Cross the bridge and we will be on the grassy space to your left. Bring picnic food for yourself, everyone provides there own meal. We always advise lots of sunscreen and a cooler costume. If you have a fun outside game that others can play, feel free to bring it!

So… what to wear?

If it’s a miserable day, then apparently the group will be meeting inside instead, though that likely won’t be nearly as much fun! Apparently in picnics past, the weather has been quite warm, so I think I’ll keep corsets out of contention this time around. I’m thinking my new green silk skirt, the purchased top that matches, my cream lace blouse over top, and my cream lace parasol to finish it all off. I’m thinking more ‘picnic’ and less ‘Victorian’ this time around, and there’s no way I’ll find the time to make anything! Perhaps some of the cream lace hanging out on my dressform right now could quickly come together as a spur-of-the-moment bustle though… hmmm.

I’ll also need a picnic blanket (I’m sure I can scrounge one up…) a basket for my lunch (and some lunch to put in it… cucumber sandwiches and iced tea perhaps?).

I found some cool images on Live Journal – check out Mlle Violet’s photos from a Steampunk Picnic in New York.

So, who will also be attending?

Upcoming Steampunk meets

Steampunk Picnic by Anna Fischer

Is anyone out there that I know interested in hitting a few of the upcoming Steampunk events with me?

First up is the Meet and Greet on May 3rd.  I’ve been meaning to go for a while, but they just keep happening on days when I have other plans, or (mostly this winter) on days when it’s too darn cold to think about facing the bus rides to get to the location.

Gears & Beers is on May 28, and unfortunately I already have other plans for that date, so I’m not attending, but then there’s an upcoming Steampunk Picnic on June 11th that I think would be fantastic – plus an opportunity for me to bring out my lace parasol!  I hardly ever have a chance to bring it out…

July 9th is a group trip to Drumheller, Tyrell Museum and the Badlands with the Facebook Steampunk group.  I’m especially interested in this, but of course the major problem is a lack of transportation.  I’ve been meaning to go to Drumheller to shoot photos for a while, and wouldn’t it be all the cooler with a bunch of Steampunks in costume?

Anyways.. I’ve noticed that little by little a number of my friends have developed interest in Steampunk as well, and I thought that I’d put this out there – asking if anyone is interested in accompanying me!

Steampunk – Accessories & Trims

When viewing Alisa’s Steampunk Geisha   (originally found on the Multiculturalism for Steampunk blog) and other really awesome Steampunk outfits, one of the things that I noted between the really brilliant interpretations, and the “oh, you put on a super long skirt” costumes, were the accessories and trims. 

For instance, in Alisa’s costume, there is a hair piece, hair sticks for the hair piece, geta-style shoes, tabi stockings with white spats, a white jabot, the fur collar, the pocketwatch, the jabot pin, the corset belt-thing (I’m not entirely sure what that is really) not to mention all of those lovely antiqued brass buttons, (I’m really much more attracted to the antiqued versions vs. the shiny brass on other costumes.) the tassel fringe, and the embroidery on the corset. 

So, with that in mind, I started thinking that one element that might upgrade my neo-Victorian garb to something more well-rounded would be some of the accessories.

Some random brainstorming:

  • Pocket watches

  • A compass
  • Parasols – I have a beautiful vintage white lace one
  • Military-style medals

Original source unknown... I think it was Clockwork Couture.

  • Lockets – like the photo below

  • Millinery – mini top hats have been around for a long time, but I’m thinking of hats a bit larger (still small and perched on the head though), tricorns, derbys, etc… I love hat-making enough that I could write posts and posts about this!
  • Keys – like rings of keys like a Victorian maid might carry…
  • Rayguns, pistols, and other slightly-off weaponry – though I dont know if I would have a persona who would find a purpose in carrying obvious weaponry…
  • Holsters and harnesses – to hold all of those rayguns and pistols I suppose. 
  • Fingerless gloves – I want to stay away from lace gloves I think..
  • Spats – but how would these work with the kind of footwear I generally wear?
  • Fans – I have a lace one.. where did I put it?
  • Canes – walking canes.  If only the one I have didn’t have a sword inside of it… not really street-legal.
  • Gauntlets and cuffs
  • Cameos and other pins/broaches
  • On footwear- those lovely granny-boot styles that I’ve been seeing somewhat more of lately. 
  • When I think of Victorian jewellery, I think a lot of jet –shiny black stones and carved details, garnet beads, rosary beads, elegant but not necessarily realistic florals….
  • On a more masculine front – pipes… though I dont think I would want to be carrying around something like that, unless I could blow bubbles with it! hehe
  • What else?  What else would you see someone wearing/holding/carrying?

I’m not a fan however of the “take a bunch of gears and glue them to something” school of Steampunk jewellery.      I suppose it’s because I think of the overall look as being more like transporting to a certain era, what would someone wear if they really were in that time/place.  The ‘glue some gears’ design seems more like something to wear everyday as an advertising piece or something to show off your interests – not something to wear with a full costume.

Thinking then about trims, there are a lot of trims that in my mind scream “neo-Victorian” (or simply Victorian, and by that matter Steampunk too) such as:

  • Tassels

    Pleating, ruffles, gimp, lace, bows, soutache...

  • Tassel fringe
  • Soutache braid
  • Fringe of all sorts
  • Heavy gimp-like braid
  • Braid that today would be reserved more for upholstery and home decor use than fashion
  • Fur (faux or recycled of course!) in collars, muffs, etc
  • Ruffles and lace (heck, ruffles trimmed in lace!)
  • Similar to that – self fabric pleated into a trim. I’ve done this once on my blue taffeta skirt, and once on the black and white skirt too.
  • Fabric itself – this isn’t so much trim – but using stripes and cutting them to create chevrons, or using lace overlays…  it’s doing something above and beyond…
  • military-inspired braid
  • Buttons as trim (again, back to the military-styled elements like double-breasted jackets, etc..)
  • For that matter, things like snaps and rivets, pushed from functional to decorative would count as trim as well…
  • Chain or chainette (again, military…)
  • Feathers (I’m not so much thinking of this as something that comes up top in my mind, but I’ve been seeing some feather trim in other’s costumes, and think that in the right context, they work…

Hmmm what else?  It’s one of the interesting things – I rarely “decorate” my normal daily clothing that I make with
Appliquéd cogs

 embelishments and trim, but it might be one of those things that takes a single garment out of the ordinary and more towards ‘costume’…. (and thus blending with other peices more easily…) 

When it comes to embellishment, I’ve seen a number of people stencilling, appliquéing, or sewing on things like cogs, clock hands, etc – but I think that generally is heading towards ‘stunt dressing’ more than costume.  That being said, I can see the motifs being translated into something like cutwork lace trim (out of non-fray ultra suede perhaps) or being incorporated in some other way – blowing up the motif perhaps or scaling it down considerably and repeating it. 

On an entirely different note, I had the chance to get to the first Steampunk Meet up here a few days ago, and had every intention of attending, but flaked out at the last moment.  Someone who I didn’t really want to hang out with was on the invite list as well, and another who I had hoped might attend wasnt…. and it was my first day back to work so I just decided to do other things instead.  Boo me.  *shrugs* Maybe the next one.