fbpx Marvelous Makers to Converge in SF: Clockwork Alchemy adds maker programming as it welcomes the founders of Obtainium Works | The Steampunk Explorer

Marvelous Makers to Converge in SF

Clockwork Alchemy adds maker programming as it welcomes the founders of Obtainium Works

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Update: The organizers of Clockwork Alchemy announced on Friday, March 13, that the 2020 event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Tickets will be honored at next year's event, to be held March 19-21, 2021. This year's theme of “Marvelous Makers” will be rolled over to next year. The organizers are asking attendees to support this year's guests of honor, musical guests, authors, and vendors. The announcement includes links to their websites. Here's a link to the announcement.

Original story:

Obtainium Works founders Shannon and Kathy O’Hare, along with Girl Genius creators Phil and Kaja Foglio, are among the special guests slated for Clockwork Alchemy, the steampunk convention that returns March 20-22 to the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, California, near San Francisco.

They’ll be joined by Fashion Guest of Honor Kij Greenwood, Author GoH Patricia Wrede, and Gaming GoH Jason Katanayagi, plus a slate of musical guests including Marquis of Vaudeville, Aurelio Voltaire, Unwoman, Lee Presson and the Nails, and Strangely Doesburg.

Maker Programming

This year’s theme is “Marvelous Makers,” celebrating creators of steampunk art projects. Obtainium Works is known for art cars seen at Burning Man and Maker Faire, and some of their vehicles will be on display in the hotel’s Pool Pavilion. Shannon O’Hare, aka Major Catastrophe, will offer a tour of his creations along with a panel in which he discusses “Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built an Art Car.”

Shannon O'Hare
Shannon O’Hare with one of his vehicles, the Ancient Mariner.

Past conventions have featured Splendid Teapot Racing, but this year the organizers have also added a maker competition dubbed the Tea Pot Racer Challenge. They will bestow awards for “Most Humorous,” “People’s/Fan Favorite,” “Best On Maker Theme,” and “Judges’ Choice,” plus an overall “Best of Show.” Entries will be displayed in the Artists’ Gallery for judging. Actual racing is not mandatory.

The Maker’s Market, a new addition to the Artists’ Bazaar vendor room, will offer raw materials, tools, and know-how for steampunk makers.

As before, the convention will have an extensive program of maker workshops, including sessions on leather work, robotics, and accessories made from EVA foam.

Musical Entertainment

Marquis of Vaudeville, which describes its sound as “progressive, carnival-esque punk cabaret,” will headline Friday night’s Aural Alchemy concert, with Unwoman and Strangely Doesburg also taking the stage.

Lee Presson and The Nails will return for the Emperor Norton’s Ball on Saturday night, followed by “Aurelio Voltaire After Dark,” an adults-only show featuring Voltaire’s music and stories.

Author Track

The convention will also feature extensive programming related to steampunk literature and writing. Author Guest of Honor Wrede is best known for her Enchanted Forest Chronicles young adult fantasy series, named in an NPR reader poll as one of the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels (it was No. 84 on the list). But she’s also the author of the Frontier Magic trilogy, a fantasy set in an alternate-world 19th century America.

Other literary guests include Harry Turtledove, the Hugo-winning author of alternate-history tales, along with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Shelley Adina, Laurel Anne Hill, Michael Schulkins, Michelle Lowe, Mike Tierney, Shelli Frew, Trevor Dutcher, Kristin Baker, Dover Whitecliff, Anthony Francis, A.J. Sikes, and B.J. Sikes.

Once again, David L. Drake and Katherine L. Morse will appear as their alter egos, Erasmus Drake and Sparky McTrowell, stars of The Adventures of Drake and McTrowell.

Authors will be presenting panels on a multitude of topics, including alternate history, steampunk literature for young adults, and Victorian-era engineering.

Other scheduled panels at Clockwork Alchemy include “Queer Victoriana,” “Victorian Vices,” “The History of Vaudeville, 1880-1910,” and “Steampunk Accessibility.” The latter will focus on issues involving people with disabilities.

The Steampunk Explorer editor Stephen Beale will also return with his “Steampunk Travel Guide” presentation, featuring travel destinations around the world.

More Highlights

Artist Guests of Honor Phil and Kaja Foglio will be making their second appearance at the convention. They are best known as the creators of Girl Genius, a series of steampunk comics that won the first three Hugo Awards for Best Graphic Story, in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Kij Greenwood Costumes
Kij Greenwood’s Victorian Spacesuit and Zeppelin Stewardess outfit.

Saturday’s Fashion Show will feature designs by Fashion Guest of Honor Kij Greenwood. Her costumes, such as the Zeppelin Stewardess and Victorian spacesuit, have also been highlights of past conventions. She works professionally as a costume designer, with a resume that includes theatrical productions in Boston and Houston.

The Airship Kamehameha War Room will offer instruction in various forms of steampunk martial arts, including foam broadswords, light saber choreography, and airship defense techniques. Attendees can also participate in a bout of Battle Croquet, a sport invented in England, though the convention will use American rules.

The Gaming Room will have a library of steampunk-themed games for attendees to play.

You can also take a break in the Alchemist Tea Parlor, where you might find yourself served by a Steampunk Deadpool.

Teatime with Deadpool
Teatime with Deadpool and Sabrina Nelson. Photo courtesy of Sabrina.


A full weekend pass costs $99 and provides admission to all events, including the concerts on Friday and Saturday night. You can purchase passes online or on-site at the convention. Day passes cost $65 for Friday, $70 for Saturday, and $50 for Sunday. They can be purchased on-site. Kids 12 and under will be admitted free with a paid adult ticket. See the registration page for details.

The Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport is located at 1333 Bayshore Highway, Burlingame, CA 94010. The hotel offers free shuttle service to and from San Francisco International Airport. See the convention website and Facebook page for more info and updates.

See the gallery below for photos of this year’s guests and scenes from past conventions.

Stories by Category: 

Keep up with news in the world of steampunk. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter, Steampunk Digest, delivered to your inbox every Thursday. You’ll get it a day before it's posted on the website.

Support The Steampunk Explorer!

Patreon: Make a monthly pledge of $1 or more. Includes premium content.

Tip Jar: You can tip the editor in any amount via PayPal.me.

CafePress: Buy T-shirts, buttons, or tote bags with our logo.