Pre-event Workshops

Learn to Contra Dance!

When: Saturday, May 25, 1–2:30pm

Location: Bloomington Public Library (Community Room)

All skill levels welcome. FREE.

Get your dancing shoes on and practice some contra dancing before the main event on June 7.

Each practice session will consist of a walk-through of some basic contra moves such as a ladies chain, and an opportunity to practice a contra dance to music. These practice sessions are intended to give people who have never done this style of dance before a small ‘taste’ of contra, and help them feel more comfortable joining in during the main event.

Learn to Contra Dance!

When: Thursday, May 30, 7–8:30pm

Location: Normal Public Library (Community Room, downstairs)

All skill levels welcome. FREE.

Get your dancing shoes on and practice some contra dancing before the main event on June 7.

Each practice session will consist of a walk-through of some basic contra moves such as a ladies chain, and an opportunity to practice a contra dance to music. These practice sessions are intended to give people who have never done this style of dance before a small ‘taste’ of contra, and help them feel more comfortable joining in during the main event.

Mini Top Hat making

When: Friday, June 7, 2–3:30pm

Location: Bloomington Public Library (Community Room)

Designed for teens 6th-12th grade. FREE.

Get ready for Cogs & Corsets by attending the Library’s workshop to make a mini steampunk top hat! No reservations required, and all supplies are provided.

Event Presentations/Workshops

Saturday, June 8

Mystery Airships of 1897

When: Saturday, 10-11am

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Presenter: Professor Zebulon Vitruvius Pike

Subject Area: History

On the dark and rainy night of November 17, 1896, hundreds of witnesses reported a dirigible in the skies above Sacramento, California. Thus began the series of thousands of sightings over the next six months from the Pacific Ocean to the Mississippi River, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Galveston, Texas. Hoax? Mass hysteria? Aliens? Or did a secret inventor beat Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and the Wright Brothers into the skies?

Prof. Pike is a gentleman adventurer, mercenary explorer, dime novel hero, and veteran of the late unpleasantness. After serving in the US Aeroship Cavalry and as special agent to the President, Pike left government service to travel the world. When not saving civilization as we know it from science pirates, abominations of nature, and invaders from the beyond, Professor Vitruvius occasionally lectures on topics of interest in history, science, and technology.

Spiritualism in McLean County

When: Saturday, 10-11am

Location: Ensenberger Building

Presenter: Rev. Nancy Ryall

Subject Area: History

Spiritualism is a rich part of the history of the small McLean County town of Le Roy, Illinois. James T. and Elizabeth J. Crumbaugh built a monument to the lasting communication between this world and the next. Learn how Spiritualism changed their lives forever.

Rev. Nancy S Ryall, RN, BSN, OM, CM has been a practicing Spiritualist for 45 years. She carries credentials as an ordained minister and certified medium from the National Association of Spiritualist Churches (NSAC). She is an active member of the International Spiritualist Federation and acts as the editor of their newsletter Yours Fraternally and as the membership representative for the eastern portion of the United States. She is former Pastor of Spiritualist Chapel in the Woods and Director of Cherry Valley Spiritualist Camp in Illinois. Ryall is experienced in all forms of mediumship, but has a special love for trance. She teaches workshops in trance, manifestation, healing, meditation, and many other topics. She also teaches online classes. Her website is linkwithspirit.com where you can see an example of her trance mediumship.

Ingenuity, Posthaste!

When: Saturday, 10-11am

Presenter: Clatie Fischer

Subject Area: Costumes & Props (make-n-take)

Materials Fee: $10 at the door. Class size limited to 8

This hands-on, how-to class will show participants how to use items from resale shops to create steampunk costumes. During the session, you will be able to assemble creative costume pieces. Some materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own thrift store finds.

Clatie Fischer has been sewing since she was a young girl, when she first began making something out of nothing. She majored in Apparel Design at Illinois State University, and has worked in the costume departments at Lincoln College and ISU. Fischer also worked costume crew for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. She has most recently been working with Heartland Theatre Company.

Anachronistic Makeup & Color Selection

When: Saturday, 11am-12pm

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Presenter: Bil Deck

Subject Area: Art & Maker, Make-up

This fast-paced, entertaining, interactive, and informative session will explore anachronistic make-up techniques relating to different face shapes, eye shapes, and skin types. Attendees will also receive information on color selection so the best in each and every face can be brought out.

With over 35 years of theater experience including hair and makeup design, Bil Deck has both a passion and a knack for unique communication that is entertaining as well as informative. He is a professional makeup artist with an education background and has consulted with entertainers and business owners on their promotional makeup and photography. He has also worked extensively with Chamber Steam Pop recording artist Michelle Deck on makeup, hair, and fashions for her CD cover, promotional photos, and live performances.

The History and Brewing of Tea

When: Saturday, 11am-12pm

Location: Ensenberger Building

Presenter: Professor Octavia Quinlan

Subject Area: History

Ever wondered how to brew the perfect pot of tea? Ever wonder where tea comes from and how it’s manufactured? Well, that is what we will discuss: the tea plant, how it is processed, and how to make it into a great brew!

A naturalist and nature illustrator, Professor Octavia Quinlan has been traveling the world looking for odd specimens of flora and fauna, and on the way has also accumulated a storehouse of knowledge on the tea customs of other lands. She enjoys talking about any of these topics, from anteaters to yapoks, from Assam tea to oolong, and anything else under the sun (but the weirder, the better).

It Isn’t Trash: The Practice of Assemblage

When: Saturday, 11am-12pm

Location: Inside Out Accessible Art

Presenter: Torii L. Thompson

Subject Area: Art & Maker

This session will explore assemblage art, drawing on Claude Levi Strauss’ The Savage Mind. Many of us identify with the value of practicing art from a non-scientific, non-officially trained perspective. Key concepts are “making do” with the materials you have; being able to creatively see materials as other than what they were intended to be; getting inspiration from the materials one picks up; finding metaphor or “close approximation” to be of more interest than purchasing steampunk from a catalog. But, what this discussion will do most is give you a platform from which to defend yourself against accusations of being a “trash picker, junk collector, or hoarder.”

Torii L. Thompson is a practitioner of assemblage and also informed from a theoretical perspective. She has recently won the Gallery Choice Gold Award at the Women’s Work 2019 show for an assemblage piece, and her work has been seen in many shows over the last several years including the St. Louis Artists’ Guild (Women’s Work 2017), The Arts Illiana Gallery (Second Juried Exhibition 2016), and Hoogland Center for the Arts (Springfield 2016). Examples of her work can also be seen in a variety of local businesses including Bloomington Audiology (Time is Relative), and Highland Veterinary Clinic (Fish Joy, Requiem for a Shed, and SPD).

Steampunk Stories and Sonnets

When: Saturday, 11am-12pm

Location: Half Hazard Press

Presenter: Ardis L. Stewart

Subject Area: Creative Writing

Ever imagine what it would be like to write your own speculative story with a steampunk spin? What about a steampunk sonnet? Then this workshop might be just the place to oil your creative cogs and get you started! We’ll cover some basic dos and don’ts of creative writing in general and steampunk literary style in particular, as well as play with some prompts — who knows, you may just be the next H.G. Wells or Jules Verne!

Ardis Stewart teaches English composition, humanities, literature, and classical mythology at Heartland Community College and Illinois Central College. Her poetry has been published in Seeding the Snow, RHINO, Word-River, the McLean County Barn Quilt Heritage Trail booklet and website, on WGLT’s Poetry Radio, and in the anthology Where We Live: Illinois Poets. You can also find her (often in historical costume), volunteering for the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site in Bloomington, Illinois, and dancing.

Humbug! Hoaxes, Charlatans, and Pseudoscience of the 19th Century

When: Saturday, 12-1pm

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Presenter: Professor Vitruvius Pike

Subject Area: History

P.T. Barnum was the “Prince of Humbug,” but he never once claimed that the lies he was presenting were anything other than pure entertainment. Plenty of other people, however, were not so reputable and the hoaxes they promulgated continue to this day.

Prof. Pike is a gentleman adventurer, mercenary explorer, dime novel hero, and veteran of the late unpleasantness. After serving in the US Aeroship Cavalry and as special agent to the President, Pike left government service to travel the world. When not saving civilization as we know it from science pirates, abominations of nature, and invaders from the beyond, Professor Vitruvius occasionally lectures on topics of interest in history, science, and technology.

Connecting with Spirit through Mediumship

When: Saturday, 12-1pm

Location: Ensenberger Building

Presenter: Rev. Nancy Ryall

Subject Area: Other

Rev. Nancy Ryall will give a demonstration of mediumship and connection of loved ones who have passed over. Not everyone will get a reading, but hopefully everyone will have the opportunity to witness Spirit working.

Rev. Nancy S Ryall, RN, BSN, OM, CM has been a practicing Spiritualist for 45 years. She carries credentials as an ordained minister and certified medium from the National Association of Spiritualist Churches (NSAC). She is an active member of the International Spiritualist Federation and acts as the editor of their newsletter Yours Fraternally and as the membership representative for the eastern portion of the United States. She is former Pastor of Spiritualist Chapel in the Woods and Director of Cherry Valley Spiritualist Camp in Illinois. Ryall is experienced in all forms of mediumship, but has a special love for trance. She teaches workshops in trance, manifestation, healing, meditation, and many other topics. She also teaches online classes. Her website is linkwithspirit.com where you can see an example of her trance mediumship.

Steampunk Assemblage Necklace Making Class

When: Saturday, 12-1pm

Location: Inside Out Accessible Art

Presenter: Blaine Kemp

Subject Area: Art & Maker (make-n-take)

Materials Fee: $20, cash at the door

This workshop will teach participants how to take different mixed media pieces and turn them into a one-of-a-kind necklace of their own. All materials needed will be provided.

Blaine Kemp is owner and designer of Steam Pop Creations (steampopcreations.com) and has been in business for more than six years, specializing in steampunk assemblage, and vintage and antique jewelry remastering. Her goal is to mix the old with the new to create unique and interesting jewelry.

The Hollow Earth

When: Saturday, 1-2pm

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Presenter: Professor Vitruvius Pike

Subject Area: History

We all know that we live on the Earth’s rocky surface with the interior a molten inferno. Or do we? What would you say if I told you the Earth was a series of hollow concentric spheres? Or that we were living on the inside of a hollow sphere? Delusional? Oh, yes. But why should we let that stop us?

Prof. Pike is a gentleman adventurer, mercenary explorer, dime novel hero, and veteran of the late unpleasantness. After serving in the US Aeroship Cavalry and as special agent to the President, Pike left government service to travel the world. When not saving civilization as we know it from science pirates, abominations of nature, and invaders from the beyond, Professor Vitruvius occasionally lectures on topics of interest in history, science, and technology.

Exploring Energy

When: Saturday, 1-2pm

Location: Ensenberger Building

Presenter: Rev. Nancy Ryall

Subject Area: Other

Learn about your own energy field and what you can do with it. You will get hands-on experience in feeling and reading it.

Rev. Nancy S Ryall, RN, BSN, OM, CM has been a practicing Spiritualist for 45 years. She carries credentials as an ordained minister and certified medium from the National Association of Spiritualist Churches (NSAC). She is an active member of the International Spiritualist Federation and acts as the editor of their newsletter Yours Fraternally and as the membership representative for the eastern portion of the United States. She is former Pastor of Spiritualist Chapel in the Woods and Director of Cherry Valley Spiritualist Camp in Illinois. Ryall is experienced in all forms of mediumship, but has a special love for trance. She teaches workshops in trance, manifestation, healing, meditation, and many other topics.

Tying the Knot

When: Saturday, 1-2pm

Location: Half Hazard Press

Presenter: Cathy Sutliff

Subject Area: Costumes & Props

Are you confused between a four-in-hand and a Kelvin? Do you think a half-Windsor is a wrestling move? This hands-on workshop will explore knots in men’s neckwear from the simple to extraordinary. A brief history of neckwear will be reviewed and then we’ll dive in making knots. Participants are welcome to bring their own ties or cravats to practice with, but neckties will be provided.

Cathy Sutliff has been involved in making period costumes since high school and briefly owned her own costume shop that featured vintage and reproduction garments. Inspiration to dive into men’s neckwear was spurred on by her husband’s personal collection of neckties numbering over a thousand pieces.

Finding Your Muse: Belly Dancing with Skirt and Sword

When: Saturday, 1-2pm

Location: Inside Out Accessible Art

Presenter: Moirne

Subject Area: Music & Dance

Steampunk is one way to get your creative muse going… but, how about trying belly dancing? Belly dancing incorporates muscle isolations throughout the whole body, with a splash of unique music, and dashes of skirts, bold jewelry, swords, candles, and streaming veils. Come learn a few basic moves that might just amp up your Steampunk game. Participants can also bring a full skirt to learn skirt work techniques as well. All persons are welcome. There is no age limit or gender restrictions.

Moirne is the Business Director for Tenth Muse Dance in Bloomington Normal. She has been Belly Dancing for 12 years, and has participated in over 100+ hours’ professional instruction by internationally known Belly Dancers. She has performed in shows all over Central Illinois, and created both solo and group choreographies for multiple performances including Bloomington Normal’s Cultural Fest and Tenth Muse Dance’s Spring and Fall Belly Dance shows.

Event Presentations/Workshops

Sunday, June 9

Spices of the Victorian Age & Beyond

When: Sunday, 9-10am

Location: Bloomington Spice Works (507 North Center Street)

Presenter: Ruben Granados

Subject Area: History

A quick dive into the popular spices of the Victorian Age and a look at unique spices from around the world today! This program will help participants get an idea about some of the commonly available herbs and spices in the Victorian Era. We will also delve into the modern spice cabinet and showcase some interesting items that are still popular today. There will also be some time for attendees to peruse and purchase items if they wish!

Ruben Granados is co-owner and manager of Bloomington Spice Works. His love of restaurants, cooking, photography, and spices were able to come together to provide a unique experience for the Bloomington-Normal area in the form of a specialty herb and spice shop. Whole spices ground on site provide the freshest products available in the area and the collection of unique and familiar spice blends keeps growing every day.  

Cogs & Corsets: Going Forward!

When: Sunday, 10-11am

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Panelists: Event organizers

Subject Area: Other

This is a chance for a little feedback! Members of the Cogs & Corsets planning committee will be talking about future ideas for the event, and would appreciate your input. Let us know what you liked about the festival and what we could do better. This is your opportunity to make Cogs & Corsets even more spectacular for 2020.

Festive Flower Crown

When: Sunday, 10-11am

Location: Inside Out Accessible Art

Presenters: Julie Johnson & Emily Anderson

Subject Area: Costumes & Props (make-n-take)

Materials Fee: $15, cash at the door

Hands-on workshop to create unique head gear appropriate for your favorite festival. Participants will have the choice of making a traditional flower crown or one “geared” toward Cogs & Corsets.

Julie Johnson and Emily Anderson are florists and decorators at Casey’s Garden Shop & Florist in Bloomington.

The History and Future of Steampunk

When: Sunday, 11am–12pm

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Presenter: Aloysius Fox

Subject Area: History

This session will take a look back on the formation of the Steampunk genre, its present state, and beyond. Following a folding timeline that begins on June 14, 1822, and working our way through the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, we shall explore how Steampunk has evolved from a literary sub-genre into a fully-realized community of eccentrics and dreamers intent on riding their airships into the future that never was.

Aloysius Fox has been an active member of the Steampunk Community since 2008, founding various Steampunk events such as the Steampunk Symposium and the Chicago Steampunk Exposition; and various Midwest Steampunk organizations in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and now Illinois. In his travels through time and space, Aloysius has learned a thing or two, and is always happy to share this knowledge.

Steampunk Air Garden

When: Sunday, 11am–12pm

Location: Inside Out Accessible Art

Presenters: Julie Johnson & Emily Anderson

Subject Area: Art & Maker (make-n-take)

Materials Fee: $15, cash at the door

An inventive approach to the display of air plants! Participants will make their own steampunk-themed air plant invention to take home with them.

Building Steampunk Communities

When: Sunday, 12–1pm

Location: McLean County Museum of History

Presenter: Aloysius Fox

Subject Area: Community

Is there no local Steampunk scene where you live? THEN START ONE! Join us for a guided discussion on how to form your own local Airship (or Steampunk society) and build up an active Steampunk community in your town. We will look at various groups from a number of states across the Midwest and analyze what practices led to their successes.

Clockwork Appurtenances

When: Sunday, 12–1pm

Location: Inside Out Accessible Art

Presenter: Clatie Fischer

Subject Area: Costumes & Props (make-n-take)

Materials Fee: $8, cash at the door. Max 12 participants

During this workshop we will create accessories that can enhance your costume and inspire the development of your steampunk character. We will use various items including hardware store buys and thrift store findings. Feel free to bring your own projects to work on, though it is not required.

Clatie Fischer has been sewing since she was a young girl, when she first began making something out of nothing. She majored in Apparel Design at Illinois State University, and has worked in the costume departments at Lincoln College and ISU. Fischer also worked costume crew for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. She has most recently been working with Heartland Theatre Company.

Calling all presenters!

Do you have a special talent that could be taught? Do you have Steampunk-relevant knowledge to share with the world? Are you a historian that can give us a glimpse into the history that inspires Steampunk? Or perhaps you’re a Maker who could share your skills, tips and tricks?

We’re looking for presenters for 50-minute workshops, panels, and presentations. These will be occurring throughout the weekend, Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9.

Fill out the presenter request form!