We had our big fundraiser for the Salem Athenaeum this weekend: Clockwork and Cocktails: A Steampunk Affair. The event was the result of several months of planning and preparations and a last-minute frenzy of decorating. And then it was over and it all came down, in about an hour: so much energy and effort, so ephemeral. I have no pictures of the actual party because for the hour or so that I was there I was in a fog caused by a combination of cold medicine and gin, having come down with a bad cold the day before, but I trust that my friends and fellow committee members will send me some. Everyone was snapping away, as it was a very visual party. I do remember: quite a large crowd of 150 people, give or take 10 or 20, a broad spectrum of ages, 20s through 70s, almost all dressed in some steampunk fashion (which I did not expect; everyone seemed to take our theme very seriously), great musicians, a magnificent living statue who never blinked, and giant pink octopus tentacles descending upon the third-floor trustees’ room. Salem has quite an active steampunk scene, and we were fortunate to find (actually they found us) MHS Hysteria, a merry band of actors/crafters who really made the party.
Fortunately I took pictures of our decorating session the day before the party so all the embellishments are documented: they can live on in the digital world! We had a great committee comprised of the most creative women in Salem, and their individual and collective efforts created a magical environment. All the key steampunk details were there– clocks, gears, keys, hot-air balloons, Victoriana—elegantly executed and assembled.
Adam from MHS Hysteria had the genius idea of transforming the Athenaeum’s demilune windows into Hugo-esque clocks, an amazing illustration of our theme as well as the Athenaeum’s architecture. More clocks, just a few of many, including several sourced by Jane and a beautiful assemblage under glass by Suzie:
Part of the event included an exhibition of the literary sources of steampunk, which featured a lot of Jules Verne and other late nineteenth-century ballooning tales, so we wanted to carry that motif over into the party. Katy made little balloon baskets (as well as mustaches- and goggles-on-sticks) and a late-afternoon balloon brigade put them all together.
There were quite a few keys in the exhibition, which featured industrial ephemera as well as early science fiction. Salem’s own Locke Regulator Company was one of the largest manufacturers of steam fittings in the country at the turn of the last century, so we had to include some of their materials, and where there is a lock there must be a key! This motif was carried over into the party rooms, and even into the bathroom by Carol. After I took the above picture, a pop-up Sherlock Holmes (complete with magnifying glass) somehow made his way in here; apparently he was the talk of the party.
Goggles, goggles everywhere:
There were goggles everywhere, both made and acquired. Nathaniel Hawthorne wore his goggles-by-Carolyn (who also made the giant pink Octopus tentacles which I somehow failed to get a picture of) very well, I thought, as did this very dignified bust.
Miscellaneous objects of interest and beauty:
A very eclectic tableau on top of the card catalog (yes, the Athenaeum still has one), an automaton-esque old dress form (on which even the duct-tape shoulders look beautiful to me), and jewelry-insects under glass, just a sampling of the amazing decorative displays on view, and the energy and creativity of the event committee. In addition to the aforementioned ladies, I’d also like to thank the rest of the committee: my co-chair Sarah, master of logistics and the budget, Julie, Mary, Kristine, Penny, Stacia & Patti. Cheers to you all!