TeslaCon 2014: A Con Worth Noticing

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Over the weekend, I attended my first TeslaCon in Middleton, WI. TeslaCon is a convention based on the worlds of Steampunk and Victoriana. Honestly, as someone who has attended other conventions: TeslaCon deserves your attention. Let me list the reasons why - ten reasons to be specific.


1. TeslaCon is an "Immersion" Event

As, noted on their website, TeslaCon is, at its core, an immersion event. This means attendees get to participate in the story that is created. They get to play out their personas. They can attend immersion panels, presentations, and event interactions that add “layers of immersion” to the story they are participating in. There is a cast and crew divided into the "good side" (important names include Captain Kreger or Dr. Todd) and then there is the villainous members of S.W.A.R.M. (think vampires, creations, and those who dabble with dark magic). Both sides are at odds and their actions add to the experience of the convention.

Members of S.W.A.R.M., which I met in the Tea Room, one of the neutral areas of the convention - meaning both "good guys" and "villains" can mix without issue. 

Members of S.W.A.R.M., which I met in the Tea Room, one of the neutral areas of the convention - meaning both "good guys" and "villains" can mix without issue. 


2. TeslaCon takes a theme very seriously

As part of the Immersion element, each year TeslaCon has a new theme. The theme for 2014 (the 5th year of TeslaCon) was Journey to the Center of the Earth. They created a story-line about needing materials found in the center of the earth, accessing them via the North Pole, using a machine that will drill through to the Earth's core, etc. Then there was the promise of dinosaurs and that they delivered on multiple counts. You are even given a passport (to be stamped) instead of the normal paper in plastic badge typical of conventions. 

Did I mentions there were dinosaurs?

I made friends with one of the three triceratops (which are an actual Playskool toy)

I made friends with one of the three triceratops (which are an actual Playskool toy)

Sally and Dakota (before their debut at TeslaCon) courtesy of Dakota and Friends.

Sally and Dakota (before their debut at TeslaCon) courtesy of Dakota and Friends.

At a panel, I  met a baby T-Rex courtesy of Dakota and Friends.

At a panel, I  met a baby T-Rex courtesy of Dakota and Friends.


3.  Dressed to the Nines 

I have never attended a con where 98-99% of attendees were dressed up. TeslaCon is that type of convention. From Victorian frocks to intricate metal accouterments - there is something for everyone at TeslaCon. I wrote an in-depth piece (with more examples) about TeslaCon Fashion over at Geek Fashion Week that I hope you will check out. 

Laura Meyer of Twilight Attire – her look instantly caught my attention. You know her persona is a lady and someone of importance.

Laura Meyer of Twilight Attire – her look instantly caught my attention. You know her persona is a lady and someone of importance.

Plus wonderful fashion in the Dealer's Room. One of the shops was Milliner Extraordinaire by Deborah Olson - who also particpated in the TeslaCon fashion show.

Plus wonderful fashion in the Dealer's Room. One of the shops was Milliner Extraordinaire by Deborah Olson - who also particpated in the TeslaCon fashion show.

There were tons of examples of pop culture-steampunk mashups. For example, Steampunk Joker and Steampunk Harley Quinn

There were tons of examples of pop culture-steampunk mashups. For example, Steampunk Joker and Steampunk Harley Quinn


4. Maker's Room

Yes, a Maker's Room. What happens in the Maker's Room? On the hour there are at least two new programs, not to mention maker's tables where sewing is constantly going on or where you can learn about leather items. The programming is varied and can apply to other items, not just steampunk. For example: how to build your own dinosaurs / puppet, how to tailor clothing, up-cycle thrift-store clothing, make facinators, or make your own molds (and that is just a few items). There is also a fix it table. No need to carry glue or a sewing kit, when there is a whole table to consult in the event that something breaks. This was easily my second favorite room at the whole convention. I'm a maker and love to learn new skills and trades.

The Fix It Table

The Fix It Table

Table where constant sewing was happening - simply amazing.

Session on transferring Images to Wood

Session on transferring Images to Wood


5. Decorum and All Politeness

Seriously, everyone is extremely nice. Even the villainous members of S.W.A.R.M. are charming. At a time where headlines are flooded with sexism, sexual harassment, body shaming, etc, it is nice to make it through a con without hearing about any of these issues. 


6. Tea Room

For those who prefer coffee (I require coffee on a daily basis) there is area to grab coffee to go. However, for those with more time and for only $10 for all entire weekend, you can purchase a stamp to the tea room. There you can sit, converse with other con attendees, and be served tea and cookies of your choice. I now want all conventions to have a tea room. Many a time I have been in heels or a costume at a convention and long for a place to sit. I could never imagine such a place where you could not only sit and relax, but refuel with tea and snacks. I was able to sit and listen to S.W.A.R.M. members converse in character and it was utterly delightful. 

Steeping my tea. Since my husband and I were a party of two, we received cups of hot water and our choice of tea. Parties of three or more received a tea pot of hot water (the cookies here are ginger snaps).

Steeping my tea. Since my husband and I were a party of two, we received cups of hot water and our choice of tea. Parties of three or more received a tea pot of hot water (the cookies here are ginger snaps).

A view of many antendees enjoying the tea room. 

Each table had cream, sugar cubes, and local honey for your tea. (For future reference, I am a splash of cream in my tea kind of girl). Also pipes not includes - we allow props on our tea table. 

Each table had cream, sugar cubes, and local honey for your tea. (For future reference, I am a splash of cream in my tea kind of girl). Also pipes not includes - we allow props on our tea table. 

An assortment of other treats available in the tea room (and again, this is just a sampling. There were a few more options to be had).

An assortment of other treats available in the tea room (and again, this is just a sampling. There were a few more options to be had).


7. Short to Non-existent Queues

We have all been there at one point or another. Queuing in lines to get into a panel, meet an illustrator or actor, or even pick up a limited edition item.... to discover there were a few too many people in front of you. At that point you are shut out and all the time you stood in line wasted. Guess what? I did not experience this at TeslaCon. The con is a manageable size, in my experience, I never missed out on anything. It is a nice change not to have to stress about a schedule. Major plus for TeslaCon.


8. Quality Shops with Beautiful Goods

There are two dealer rooms, plus a few stands here and there which sell unique, handmade goods. None of those mass-market shops that flood the exhibition halls seller items you can find on Amazon. Instead think handmade clothing and accessories (jewelry, hats, etc), custom tea blends, spicy dark chocolate in the form of gears, a printing press, wind up toys, props made by small businesses, self-published or indie published books, and even dinosaurs with top hats to fit in with the theme. 

A chocolate booth. I tried a spicy chocolate gear and it was very good. Want to try it for yourself, you can find more information and products by Sweet Steam here,

A chocolate booth. I tried a spicy chocolate gear and it was very good. Want to try it for yourself, you can find more information and products by Sweet Steam here,

A table of replicas of antique wind-up toys. Spencer's Mercantile has even more items (I bought a pair of striped socks - for example. You can find more at their online store.

A table of replicas of antique wind-up toys. Spencer's Mercantile has even more items (I bought a pair of striped socks - for example. You can find more at their online store.

A tea shop, where I picked up two fun blends: English Caramel and Irish Whiskey Cream. You can find more about the shop, Tea & Absinthe, here 

A tea shop, where I picked up two fun blends: English Caramel and Irish Whiskey Cream. You can find more about the shop, Tea & Absinthe, here 

A peak inside of the small dealer's room filled with beautiful dresses 

A peak inside of the small dealer's room filled with beautiful dresses 

 

9. An All Day Event

Even though I had prior engagments both Friday and Saturday night, it was nice to see that the convention has events going well into the night. The con kicks off at 10 am and has events going up until midnight - all included in your regular price of admission. There was a fashion show, a gala, a TelsaCon themed Cards Against Humanity, plus other gaming, a ball, a comedy improv show, and a steerage dance. Not to mention two ticketed dinner events - where apparently everyone stays in character (ala Immersion Event). 


10. Creativity Abounds! 

Everywhere you look - there is creativity (as seen previous with clothing): Handmade machines, Handmade puppets, Sculplures, etc. Here are a few examples

Yes, this is me dressed as Steampunk Cruella as I inspected a monster (AKA puppet) to see if they would make a good coat or wrap. 

Yes, this is me dressed as Steampunk Cruella as I inspected a monster (AKA puppet) to see if they would make a good coat or wrap. 

Creativity can take traditional forms - ask you can see with this steampunk metal Dalek sculpture. 

Creativity can take traditional forms - ask you can see with this steampunk metal Dalek sculpture. 

My husband, Jeremiah, tries his hand at a handmade machine (he is trying to get to the end without touch the wand to the metal coil - this machine coincides with a book, which I forgot to write down.)

My husband, Jeremiah, tries his hand at a handmade machine (he is trying to get to the end without touch the wand to the metal coil - this machine coincides with a book, which I forgot to write down.)

This attendee had a dinosaur skull mask that actually could move when he talked.

This attendee had a dinosaur skull mask that actually could move when he talked.


*I do have one complaint, but it has nothing to do with the convention: The Marriott has the typical hotel lighting which makes it a little difficult to take in-focus photos. Yes, you do have plenty of examples here and that is because I took 3-4 photos per subject after the fuzzy photo / lighting revelation.

TeslaCon has announced that 2015 will have two themes: The Wild Wild West and Night Circus. I suggest keeping an eye out on more information via TeslaCon's official facebook page. I honestly cannot wait and hope that I will see you all there. 

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They have already released one of the two color palate guides - for Night Circus, "SATURDAY NIGHT PORTION. They promise the "Texas Palate" is coming soon.   

They have already released one of the two color palate guides - for Night Circus, "SATURDAY NIGHT PORTION. They promise the "Texas Palate" is coming soon.