Write up in Make Magazine

| 6 months ago

I have just been written about on Make Magazine on a couple of Steampunk artefacts and thought you might be interested:  Click the link belowCrafting the Ultimate Steampunk Entertainment System

Æther Salon – Coffee! (Unedited Transcript)

| 8 months ago

[14:02:13]  Zantabraxus : Greetings, Engacia, Ziggy[14:02:33]  engacia: hello miss zantabraxus[14:02:53]  Cherie Harcassle: yes roller skating can be tricky, especially if one is experimenting with the boot rockets[14:02:59]  ZiggyFritz: Helloha, and thank you, Miss Zantabraxus.[14:03:42]  Wulfriðe Blitzen  : Welcome to the new arrivals, we are giving it a few minutes for some stragglers to make

Æther Salon – Asylums! (Edited Transcript)

| 8 months ago

Most of you know me as Beryl Strifeclaw.  I keep the asylum here in New Babbage afloat when I’m not off on some insane quest or other unexpected madness. Let me begin this by saying how this journey began for me and the reason that I began taking an interest in asylums and mental hospitals, […]

Æther Salon – Asylums! (Unedited Transcript)

| 8 months ago

[14:08] Luncheon Plate Mk 2: Have some petit fours.[14:08] Solace Fairlady: The baron is cost cutting again, i am sure they were petit fives last time[14:09] Darlingmonster Ember whispers: :D[14:09] Tepic Harlequin: Grand Eights is better…..[14:09] Stereo Nacht: Good day Ms. Andrea![14:09] Beryl Strifeclaw: Well, I’ll give it another few minutes due to the unusual […]

The Archbishop PC Suite

| 8 months ago

This is a PC/LCD/Keyboard/"Mouse" combo built using some of the more attractive design elements of the Gothic school of architecture. The LCD lives inside a scratch-built Gothic arch with quatrefoil designs and stained-glass doors. The PC case features the same Morisco-patterned glass, brass embellishments, a hinged lid for access to the drives and hardware, and […]

An Antipodean Invention: Splendid Teapot Racing!

| 9 months ago

This blogpost is dedicated to Donna Rose, the lady who inspired Countess Simona to create the sport of Splendid Teapot Racing. For the story of how it transpired, read on. Splendid Teapot Racing is a Steampunk sport for all to enjoy! Originating from New Zealand in 2014, it was born of the steamy imagination of […]

An Antipodean Invention: Splendid Teapot Racing!

| 9 months ago

This blogpost is dedicated to Donna Rose, the lady who inspired Countess Simona to create the sport of Splendid Teapot Racing. For the story of how it transpired, read on.

Splendid Teapot Racing is a Steampunk sport for all to enjoy! Originating from New Zealand in 2014, it was born of the steamy imagination of Countess Simona of Splendid Teapot Racing. With the initial racing vehicle ‘The Salty Sea Dog’ re-made from a classic 1950’s/60’s aluminum canteen teapot and a ‘junker’ radio controlled base by Captain Various, it hasn’t taken long for the craze to spread.
Captain Various with the very first racing teapot ‘The Salty Sea Dog’, made by him!
Image:  Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing
TheLadyArbitrates at SteampunkWayOfLife had the pleasure of interviewing Countess Simona, the Founder of Splendid Teapot Racing, earlier this week.

Tune back in to our blog on the weekend when we’ll post the most amusing movie snippets from the interview!

What is Splendid Teapot Racing?

Splendid Teapot Racing is a superb exposition of the creativity, speed and agility latent in all teapots that sit gathering dust on shelves everywhere.
Three of the inaugural competing Teapot Racing Vehicles at the 2015 Steampunk NZ Festival Oamaru, New Zealand: Salty Sea Dog, Stanley and Ol’ Smokey. These have three different bases and demonstrate significant in situ hints for success in teapot racing: wheel size, clearance (max 30 cm wide x 30 cm high x 40 cm long including all protruding parts of the chassis such as flags etc.) and a low centre of gravity.Image: Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing
Splendid Teapot Racing competitions are a call to all makers – amateurs and professionals alike. The Countess Simona describes it as a spectator sport which is “just silly enough”. She is firmly of the opinion that the more mayhem and absurdity ensues, the more entertaining the event.

Entrants are required to create a teapot-centric chassis, accessorised at the pleasure of the inventor, and mount this to a radio-controlled ‘vehicle’. Given that there are hobbyists with a range of expertise (and widely varying budgets) when it comes to radio controlled vehicles, racers are separated into 2 classes: ‘High Performance’ and ‘Junker’. The ‘High Performance’ class is for those hobbyists with electronics/robotics expertise and the budget to purchase and modify hobby shop calibre radio controlled vehicles for the base of their teapot chassis. The ‘Junker’ class of races are for those participants who use radio controlled devices such as one may pick up at Kmart or a junk shop for the base of their teapot chassis. Countess Simona has fashioned it thus in order to make the sport as participatory as possible and to ‘level the playing field’ so that those with the greatest expertise and budget for radio controlled devices don’t walk away with all the prizes!

That being said, those top ranking contestants in the High Performance class such as Colonel Hawthorne make it through the racing course very rapidly! The Colonel currently holds the record of 27 seconds for course completion with his racing teapot.
2016 Splendid Teapot Racing World Championships, Oamaru, New Zealand.
Image: by Liz Cadogan, Oamaru, courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing

The Inspiration Behind Splendid Teapot Racing

The idea for creating the pastime grew from Lady Simona’s friendship with Donna Rose who has since passed away. Donna Rose had osteoarthritis as a child and as an adult, losing more mobility over time, she used a wheelchair that she controlled with a joystick. She would attend and enjoy all the themed events in her local area but wanted to participate more than merely dressing up. Lady Simona thought that if Donna Rose could operate a joystick, she could certainly operate a radio controlled device! So…Countess Simona broached the idea of racing teapots on a radio controlled base with Captain Various who initially scoffed but, as is his wont, turned around and came up with a working prototype: behold the Salty Sea Dog!
Thus, the sport of Splendid Teapot Racing derives from the generous spirit of inclusion. Salient it is to remember that women are far more likely to be Carers and involved in caring-related professions. It seems no wonder, then, that this marvelous sport was conceived by a woman who was looking out for her friend.

As the well-known US steampunk event maestro Jeff Mach has recently said simply and ever so eloquently, ‘Hate is not a steampunk value’. Steampunk is about embracing and celebrating the diversity and potential of the human imagination and spirit.

A Bit About Countess Simona: Living and Breathing the Value of Diversity

The inter-cultural, cosmopolitan nature of Steampunk is inherently evident in the stance taken by Countess Simona who conscientiously goes about creating Steampunk looks that reflect her Antipodean heritage – a way of being that is redolent of her residence in Southern Pacific climes and her whakapapa (Maori genealogy and heritage). Claiming heritage from southern Maori tribes, the Countess works on incorporating cultural iconography in her garments, substituting these for lacework embellishments, trim, applique and other details. As Steampunk is about the future, it re-appropriates colonial histories (so much a part of the Victorian era) and re-imagines it. This is a key part of creating a new future in which we all share a place. 

What do you bring to steampunk from your own cultural heritage?

Splendid Teapot Racing Around the World

The Inaugural Teapot Racing Event was held at the 2014 Steampunk NZ Festival which was in Oamaru and ran from 30 May to 2 June.
Judge Dave Lee, Judge and Founder Countess Simona and Master of Ceremonies Montague Jacques Fromage at the Steampunk New Zealand Mess Dinner at Oamaru on 30 May 2015.Image: Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing

Splendid Teapot Racing now has meetings in 20 different countries including Germany, the UK (check out their Facebook Page and (most recently) Canada and (at last count) 21 chapters across the USA! Splendid Teapot Racing in the USA has a very active Facebook Page
In keeping with its colonial legacy, there have been a few rogue teapot racing events that have occurred in Australia without the Splendid Teapot Racing imprimatur – the last was the Eskbank Steampunk 2016 event at Eskbank House and Museum in Lithgow on 30 July 2016. Perhaps the colony has now been chastened into good behaviour as we note that the Goulburn Historic Waterworks will host the Steampunk Victoriana Fair on Saturday 15 October with Splendid Teapot Racing and the blessing of the Countess on the afternoon’s agenda.

Racing Rules

The Official Rules of Splendid Teapot Racing are given here.  The Countess does request that whilst you are free to use these rules to mount competitions, credit to Splendid Teapot Racing for creation of the sport is acknowledged in competition materials. It’s a matter of good manners, really.
Racing Teapots all in a row!
Image: Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing

The course taken by the racing teapots which have staggered start times involve navigating between six and ten obstacles. There is a 3-minute maximum time limit allowed. Obstacles include breakables such as precariously balanced teacups and the odd candlestick. Breakages are common so don’t drag out your Wedgewood ‘Cornucopia’ or your Clarice Cliff pieces if you’re setting up the course!

However, the Countess was at pains to explain that Splendid Teapot Racing is NOT a version of Robot Wars. Whilst mix-ups and tip overs and china breakages happen and are funny and even though remote control bandwidths for different vehicles may overlap in teapot drag racing events (a tea pot drag race generally closes off a Splendid Teapot Racing event), competitiveness aimed at solely smashing other people’s creations or blowing things up for the sake of it is not the heart and soul of teapot racing. One definitely gets the sense that it is a rather refined pastime!
Teapot drag racing lineup to complete an afternoon of Splendid Teapot Racing,
2015 Steampunk NZ Festival Oamaru, New Zealand
Image: Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing

Splendid Teapot Racing has also posted ‘A Guide for Organisers’ which you can access here. It’s very helpful and shows just how much thought has gone into making the pastime a success at social gatherings.
As with all good sports, Splendid Teapot Racing has already spawned a love child: Teapot Sheepdog Trials which is run by Capital! Steampunk New Zealand. Indeed, it would be hard to think of a sport which speaks to the New Zealand sense of humour and penchant for creating ever more hilarious sheep-related activities which give rise to a veritable library of jokes which people routinely crack at the expense of New Zealanders.

The first Teapot Sheepdog Trials were held at the CubaDupa Festival on 19 March 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. We wish this style of event all the best for the future!

Where To From Here for Splendid Teapot Racing?

Countess Simona is absolutely delighted to see the sport spread. She foresees that an age-old tradition – that of guild membership – is a potentially on the cards as the adoption of the pastime spreads and the collective imaginarium grows.

NOTE: This blogpost originally contained an error in respect of Colonel Hawthorne’s Splendid Teapot Racing winning time. The time given was 21 seconds (or thereabouts). The winning time is, in fact, 27 seconds. The article has been amended to reflect this.

No greyhounds, thoroughbred horses or other animals are harmed through adoption of this sporting pastime!


| 10 months ago

Good Steampunkers, we love a classic novel. From Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth to HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds, the inspiration drawn for so many things steampunk – from cosplay to video game worlds, from gadget creation to event theming – is indisputable. And so, in the late 20th century, […]


| 10 months ago

Good Steampunkers, we love a classic novel. From Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth to HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds, the inspiration drawn for so many things steampunk – from cosplay to video game worlds, from gadget creation to event theming – is indisputable. 

And so, in the late 20th century, authors such as KW Jeter and Tim Powers brought us new, powerful works of fiction. Time travel is still an ever-present theme and with the passage of time, they and others brought us re-imagined historical figures and started immortalising the cross-cultural human milieu and its effect on steampunk sensibilities by finely drawn characterisation.

Yet, the steampunk imagination did not stop there. New voices continue to add their voices and visions – hopeful and macabre. The capacity to locate these new soothsayers is unparalleled through the portals known to us as the interwebs. Through time, space and place, the tenacious thought tentacles of new writers and media makers reach out and take hold of our imaginations as they birth potent alternative realities.

With that in mind, we aim to bring you news on the latest whereabouts of emergent steampunk prophets!

Gallery of Curiosities showcase ‘a fiction podcast of weird, curious and horrible stories’. You can download podcasts to enjoy at your leisure. 

Images that reference the obvious inspiration behind this publisher of new media’s clever name – the Cabinet of Curiosities – immediately spring to mind:

Image Credit: Domenico Remps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Resonances of this peculiarly Victorian practice of collecting and displaying ‘strange’ or ‘exotic’ paraphernalia largely collected by travellers with deep pockets (or those they sponsored for the purposes of scientific exploration) are conjured up as you listen to the podcasts on their site. 
At the Gallery of Curiosities, vestiges and specimens of antiquity are deftly reimagined and powered anew by the breathtaking imaginations of the roster of talent whose works are showcased on the site.

Gallery of Curiosities is generous about posting links to author and peer media pages: a post on the latest podcast – Episode 26 Steam and Hot Air by Zach Bartlett offers links to the story transcript as it appears in Mad Scientist Journal. Erstwhile makers who enjoy cucumber and club sandwiches alike will chuckle about various inventions of Bartlett’s characters such as the Professor’s Reciprocating Steam-Powered Bread Slicer and Sandwich Arranger where a poorly placed exhaust valve leads to soggy lunchtime victuals. Recognising the everyday struggles of makers in their bid to create the extraordinary is just one aspect that makes this piece simultaneously transcendent and relatable.

The marvellous line (we won’t give the fine wording away) which describes the Professor’s announcement of each new invention where each word in the gadget’s is inherently capitalised raised an involuntary chuckle. What a marvellous observation of the popular semantic trend within steampunk maker circles! Why, we here at SteampunkWayOfLife do the very same thing with TheGallantMan’s audio inventions: our naming of Sir Round A Sound which you can commission is a case in point.

Gallery of Curiosities regularly advertises auditions for podcast character voices. Therefore, through this marvellous new media publisher, you may get your start on the airwaves helping bring new stories to life! One of their well-loved narrators, Vic Mullins, possesses a Scottish brogue so lusty that we were fairly brought to our knees, handkerchiefs a-fluttering, when we listened to Episode 22 Last of the Spice Schooners by Philip Brian Hall. Hall’s powers of description and keen sense of socio-historical accuracy are perfectly complemented by Mullins’ textured tones as the story unfolds of a plague ship that enters London Pool 50 years overdue with a crew suffering from…something…It is a sublime nautical tale of horror.

So, good Steampunkers, whether or not you are enjoying tea on a Sunday afternoon or whether you are about to board modern conveyances that spirit you towards the labour-currency exchange deal you have transacted with the modern world in which you find yourself deposited, download a few podcasts from Gallery of Curiosities and time travel in your mind…

Get the Jules Verne Leather Bound Classics from Amazon on your Kindle now!

HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds is a fabulous read in soft or hardcover. Order from Amazon now!

KW Jeter is attributed with coining the phrase ‘steampunk’ in the 1980’s. From his early days of publishing cyberpunk novels, his steampunk novels include the fabulous Morlock Night which you can get from Amazon here.


| 10 months ago

Absinthe SalonGood Steampunkers, we proudly bring you our review of a fine establishment in Sydney, Australia:Absinthe Salon Located just outside the bustling city centre, in an area which retains its Victorian feel in terms of street architecture, Absinthe Salon is a must visit for steamy residents of the metropolis and travellers alike. TheGallantMan about to […]