Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Clockwork Alchemy 2024 Brings Steampunk to the Bay Area

Every year, Steampunk aficionados don their finest outfits, load them up with as many gears and gadgets as they can fit, and gather together for Clockwork Alchemy, a three-day celebration of all things Steampunk. 

This year’s Clockwork Alchemy, held at the San Mateo Marriott, gathered crafters, creators, combat enthusiasts, and more, with the overarching theme of “Aetheric Ocean.” As such, many attendees came clad in their finest naval or pirate gear, complete with all the cogs and contraptions that makes Steampunk so visually exciting.

So, how was the con itself?

Art Exhibition

As a celebration of all things Steampunk, Clockwork Alchemy had a dedicated room for showing off art, crafts, and any other steam-adjacent creations. The Artists Gallery and Exhibition room displayed creations by artist attendees, including clothing, costumes, paintings, and props.

Panels & Workshops

Clockwork Alchemy’s schedule was packed with panels and workshops, and many attendees spent the weekend hopping between them (with occasional breaks for food and shopping).

The panels covered a wide range of topics, including everything from writing Steampunk stories to British naval history. Other panel topics included “Which Dystopia Are We In?” “Tesla: Genius or Madman?” and the 18+ panel simply titled “Steampunk Sex.”

Workshops provided attendees with a more hands-on experience, where they could craft items like hat wings or parasols. Some of the workshops were run by the con’s maker guests, while others were recurring events from longtime attendees. Because the workshops required the hosts to bring materials to work with, they did require preregistration and payment, but the attendees got to leave with both the items they created and the experience that comes with the workshops.

Musical Performances & Stage Shows

The convention held several performances throughout the weekend, with several musical guests in attendance, including:

Each brought a different style of music to Clockwork Alchemy, giving attendees plenty of options based on their musical tastes.

Additionally, the convention included performances from local Bay Area belly dancers to a fashion show from their Fashion Guest of Honor, Katherine the Great. Attendees could even catch a magic show from Professor DR Schreiber, who combined the history of parlor magic and entertainment with his acts of prestidigitation.

Shopping

Naturally, pretty much any convention gives attendees a chance to do some shopping, and Clockwork Alchemy was no exception. But what makes this convention different from others is that every vendor is selling wares of their own creation, so rather than booths for larger stores, it’s all independent creators.

The Artist’s Bazaar was the main shopping room, and was filled with handcrafted Steampunk outfits and accessories for sale. This ranged from accessories to full outfits, as well as headphones, home decor, corsets, leather crafts, and much more. It was a great opportunity for independent creators to sell their crafts directly to interested customers.

There was also an Authors Alley, where writers could sell their books. There were several local or guest authors in attendance, with everything from science fiction novels to comic books for sale. This year, author Anthony Francis was a Guest of honor, selling his books and answering questions while enjoying tea with attendees.

Guests

Clockwork Alchemy had several Guests of Honor, encompassing different aspects of the maker and Steampunk communities. These included:

  • Fashion Guest of Honor, Kathering Becvar of Blue Moon Designs
  • Maker Guests of Honor Buck Potter and Charles Mason
  • Author Guest of Honor Anthony Francis
  • Musical Guest of Honor Frenchy and the Punk

Each of the guests had their own presentations and panels, allowing them to interact with attendees and answer their questions. Clockwork Alchemy also gave them the opportunity to bring their own passions to the con, whether it was tabletop games or foam crafting.

Games

Attendees looking for some fun and games had plenty of opportunities. The convention had two rooms for tabletop games, including a sizable library of games attendees could borrow (mostly Steampunk-themed, of course, but not necessarily).

There were several TTRPG sessions scheduled throughout the weekend, including Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and even an art-based RPG where the players’ drawings impacted the game. Maker Guest of Honor Buck Potter also ran a few one-shot adventures including a D&D Spelljammer game and a Wildsea TTRPG one-shot.

Those looking for games with a more historical twist could also join in the Victorian Parlor Games, where they’d learn authentic 19th century games. 

Additionally, Clockwork Alchemy had a few unique games of its own. The convention hosted a Teapot Racing competition, where players had to drive remote controlled teapots around a course filled with obstacles. There was also the ever-popular Tea Dueling game, where competitors competed in games of Chicken by dipping biscuits in hot tea.

And More

Clockwork Alchemy had several rooms filled with activities, so attendees could always find something to watch or participate in.

The War Room, for instance, featured weapon demonstrations and training throughout the weekend, including everything from bartitsu (the martial arts technique made famous by Sherlock Holmes) to Hawaiian weaponry. Those looking for more of a science fiction bend could watch combat demonstrations from The Saber Legion Steampunk Charter, who showed off their Aetherblade (and definitely not Lightsaber) techniques.

For those in need of a moment of relaxation, and perhaps a spot of tea, the Tea Room provided an opportunity to sit down and snack. There attendees would be able to enjoy a calm atmosphere, cup of tea, and some biscuits as they took a moment to unwind. After the Tea Room closed, attendees could also stick around for a bit of fortune telling.

However, one concern that hung over the convention was the fate of its location. The San Mateo Marriott is closing down within weeks of the con, making Clockwork Alchemy 2024 the last event to be held there. While the convention organizers are currently looking for a new location, they have every confidence that Clockwork Alchemy will find a new home for 2025.

So Clockwork Alchemy 2024 bid a fond farewell to its home in the Marriott, but the attendees still left with the full convention experience. Whether they were there for the Steampunk aesthetics, workshops, panels, or art, they could find it all in Clockwork Alchemy.

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