This weekend the Kalamazoo Living History Show will celebrate its fortieth year. As in recent years, the owner, Leslie Martin Conwell, is anticipating over 10,000 in attendance. Over 270 artists, craftsmen, exhibitors, and vendors of ware will set up at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center on the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds 2900 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. The show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday March 21 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2015. Admission is $7 for one day or $10 for both days and free for children 12 and under when with a parent.
Whether you are a Living History participant, antique collector, steampunk, or just like fun, historical collectibles, the Kalamazoo Living History Show, the largest, indoor living history event east of the Mississippi, is an event that is well worth the trip with hundreds of booths to shop for crafts, art, clothes, jewelry, books and other pre-1890 living history supplies.
There will be hundreds of folks dressed for the period from Native Americans and frontiersmen and women to military men from the Civil War and earlier.
This year the show’s them is “Rangers Lead the Way – The American Ranger Tradition” and the featured speaker will be Lieutenant Colonel Danny Davis, Ph.D. Retired. Lieutenant Colonel Davis will speak on the rich history of the American Ranger from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War and beyond. Tim and Terry Todish will be presenting on “wilderness Warriors of the French and Indian War.”
Additionally the Bush Native American Drum and Dance and the SouthEastern WaterSpider Drum groups will be performing traditional Native American music and dance. So you don’t need a modified DeLorean to drop back in time a century or two this weekend and check out the beautiful costumes, crafts, and cultural exhibits at the Kalamazoo Living History show!
On December 12, 2014, Geekonomicon, a first year convention of all things geek, has steamed past Guinness’ World’s Record for the most Steampunk fans in one location. According to Captain Cannon Trawets of Mississippi’s Airship 67 (much like Cub Scouts call their groups a den, Steampunks call their groups airships) they contacted the Guinness Book of World Records prior to the convention and arranged to attempt to break the current world record of 185 steampunk fans.
Since the officials at the Guinness Book of World Records wasn’t sending a representative, they were required to take down the names and contact information of all in attendance as well as provide photo and video documentation of the event.
The fans converged on Geekonomicon’s main meeting hall in the convention center in Biloxi, Mississippi, and lists were passed for everyone to sign. In speaking with Cannon Trawets this writer examined the records which also indicated the seat in which the attendee was located so that Guinness may verify them in the photographs.
In all there were 239 names on the list. This writer did mention one minor oversight that boosted the world record-breaking grand total of Steampunks in attendance to 240.
For more about steampunk #240, National Steampunk Examiner John N. Collins, find him on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook and be sure to let him know your thoughts on his articles!
H.P. Lovecraft’s fictitious book, the “Necronomicon” was said to have information on the Elder gods, including how to summon them. In Biloxi, Mississippi, the Geekonomicon is summoning geeks from all over and, especially geeks of the Steampunk fandom, to appear over the weekend of December 12-14, 2014, where they will attempt to break the worlds record for the most steampunks in one location.
The convention is scheduled to have many very impressive guests, including Gigi Edgley who is slated to be in Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City. Ms. Edgley has graciously agreed to an interview with this writer while at the convention. Ms. Edgley is also starring in a short film, “Hashtag” and if you act fast (it ends in three days from the date of this writing), you can take part in this by kicking in on their Kickstarter! The kickstarter rewards include autographed items from Ms. Edgley, IMDB thanks and producer credits and even as an actor in the show!
The entertainment scheduled for the event is sure to entice as many Steampunks as possible to the convention. The steampunk sideshow, Carnival Epsilon, will be adding magic, mirth, and merry, sideshow geekery with their machetes, chainsaws, mousetraps, and a little light lunching on a lightbulb. Captain John Sprocket and The Cog is Dead crew will be there with their songs of steam. Chicago’s Master Magician Ron Fitzgerald rounds out the entertainment with his magical mayhem.
So, hop in your airship, carriage, or Delorean and head on down to Geekonomicon 2014 for some steamy fun on the lovely gulf city, Biloxi!
Erica Willey is a freelance artist from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is a recent graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design and also is a fan of Anime, Steampunk, and cosplays both. Check out the interview and then follow her links to enjoy her artwork.
John N. Collins (JNC): It was a pleasure to meet you at Youmacon, Erica. It was impossible to miss you as the corridor was blocked with all the photographers and con attendees shooting your picture as I was trying to work my way through the Renaissance Center. Tell me about your cosplay.
Erica Willey (EW): Well this year for Youmacon I decided to replicate Ryuko Matoi final from the anime Kill la Kill. I fell in love with her character right away. Unfortunately I don’t know how to sew yet, so I ordered the base of my costume, altered it, and created the chest pieces, out of craft foam. Altogether the costume took about a month to make. I have some modifications I want to make that will probably take a couple more weeks.
(JNC): What inspired you to become a cosplayer and what other characters have you cosplayed?
(EW): I’ve had a passion and love for the Japanese culture for as long as I can remember. When I first discovered cosplay in high school it immediately captured my attention. What I think inspired me most to become a cosplayer was the excitement of the cosplay world. People take it seriously and get excited. Cosplayers really appreciate the work that goes into making the costumes. It’s also fun and gives everyone a chance to be whoever they want for a day.
I only started taking cosplay seriously, though, about 3-4 years ago, when I attended JAFAX for the very fist time. That year I actually created my own steampunk get up. And I rocked that cosplay outifit for my first year at Youmacon too. My next project will be Satsuki Kiryuin’s final form.
(JNC): Not only are you a cosplayer, but you are also an artist. When were you first inspired to become an artist and who or what inspired you?
(EW): Art has been in my life for as long as I can remember. My mother, throughout the years, has done freelance work. So it was her artistic skills that got passed onto me. Besides my mother, the first artist to inspire me was Salvador Dali. But I’d say what really had an impact of my style and approach towards my work is the fantasy and sci fi world that we all know and love. The artwork from games such as League of Legends, Legends of Cryptids, and Magic the Gathering has had a very huge impact on me. I admire the work of their artists very much and hope to one day be at that level and work for Riot Games, Applibot, or Blizzard. I just graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design this year, and have been successful in my frelancing career. Working for one of the big time companies is my ideal.
(JNC): As an art student and a freelance artist you take on assignments where you are told what the professor or client wants from you and then create it based on their orders. How do you work up the creative flow when you are told what to create?
(EW): For artists it is hard to follow strict instructions from a client. When there isn’t much wiggle room the creative flow is restricted. That is the life of an artist. I guess you could say we improvise. As I create a piece for a client, I am creating it for myself as well. Whether or not I like the concept of the piece I’m working on, I keep in mind the client’s needs and enjoy the creative process. I know that if I don’t enjoy the process, the final product won’t turn out as well. So the key is to love every minute of the process and let that inspire the final product.
(JNC): Is it easier or harder to create without any input?
(EW): It really just depends. Sometimes the creative flow comes to you while you’re walking on the streets and see an odd shape in the clouds, but a lot of times it doesn’t come to you at all, which makes producing any sort of artwork challenging. So having some sort of input does help at times, but too much input, confines the creative mind we artists are known for.
(JNC): What media do you use and what is your favorite?
(EW): The only media I work in currently is Digital. A majority of my time is spent in photoshop. Originally I strictly used traditional mediums such as oil paints and watercolor, but have fallen in love with the digital world.
(JNC): As a recent graduate of Kendall and a frelancing artist, where do you want to go from here?
(EW): As I had mentioned, my goal is work with Riot Games, Applibot, or Blizzard. To prepare myself for that future I am working with kickstarter companies and taking other freelancing opportunities.
(JNC): Where can the reader go to see more of your artwork and how can they contact you for more information or to contract artwork from you?