An Antipodean Invention: Splendid Teapot Racing!

Posted By on August 17, 2016

This blogpost is dedicated to Donna Rose, the lady who inspired Countess Simona to create the sport of Splendid Teapot Racing. For the story of how it transpired, read on.

Splendid Teapot Racing is a Steampunk sport for all to enjoy! Originating from New Zealand in 2014, it was born of the steamy imagination of Countess Simona of Splendid Teapot Racing. With the initial racing vehicle ‘The Salty Sea Dog’ re-made from a classic 1950’s/60’s aluminum canteen teapot and a ‘junker’ radio controlled base by Captain Various, it hasn’t taken long for the craze to spread.
Captain Various with the very first racing teapot ‘The Salty Sea Dog’, made by him!
Image:  Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing
TheLadyArbitrates at SteampunkWayOfLife had the pleasure of interviewing Countess Simona, the Founder of Splendid Teapot Racing, earlier this week.

Tune back in to our blog on the weekend when we’ll post the most amusing movie snippets from the interview!

What is Splendid Teapot Racing?

Splendid Teapot Racing is a superb exposition of the creativity, speed and agility latent in all teapots that sit gathering dust on shelves everywhere.
Three of the inaugural competing Teapot Racing Vehicles at the 2015 Steampunk NZ Festival Oamaru, New Zealand: Salty Sea Dog, Stanley and Ol’ Smokey. These have three different bases and demonstrate significant in situ hints for success in teapot racing: wheel size, clearance (max 30 cm wide x 30 cm high x 40 cm long including all protruding parts of the chassis such as flags etc.) and a low centre of gravity.Image: Courtesy of Splendid Teapot Racing
Splendid Teapot Racing competitions are a call to all makers – amateurs and professionals alike. The Countess Simona describes it as a spectator sport which is “just silly enough”. She is firmly of the opinion that the more mayhem and absurdity ensues, the more entertaining the event.

Entrants are required to create a teapot-centric chassis, accessorised at the pleasure of the inventor, and mount this to a radio-controlled ‘vehicle’. Given that there are hobbyists with a range of expertise (and widely varying budgets) when it comes to radio controlled vehicles, racers are separated into 2 classes: ‘High Performance’ and ‘Junker’. The ‘High Performance’ class is for those hobbyists with electronics/robotics expertise and the budget to purchase and modify hobby shop calibre radio controlled vehicles for the base of their teapot chassis. The ‘Junker’ class of races are for those participants who use radio controlled devices such as one may pick up at Kmart or a junk shop for the base of their teapot chassis. Countess Simona has fashioned it thus in order to make the sport as participatory as possible and to ‘level the playing field’ so that those with the greatest expertise and budget for radio controlled devices don’t walk away with all the prizes!

That being said, those top ranking contestants in the High Performance class such as Colonel Hawthorne make it through the racing course very rapidly! The Colonel currently holds the record of 21 seconds (or thereabouts) for course completion with his racing teapot.

Latest Issue Sensation!

Posted By on August 15, 2016

The Chap’s latest sterling edition makes the unprecedented move of putting a lady on the cover for the second time in a row.

The lady in question is Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, who we decided was such a stylish icon that her life deserved an in-depth profile. This was a lady who wrote articles about Baudelaire, in between setting fashion trends and avoiding photographers all her life. In a dramatic contrast, we visited Margate to see what gentrification had taken place there, and found that it had all happened in a wonderful hotel called the Walpole Bay. Heading further afield, Laszlo Krass filed his report on an 1855 Cembalo Scrivano from the Caffe Quadri in Venice, while Tom Cutler advised on mastering the art of conversation.

Our main interview is with “Jolly” Olly Smith, wine connoisseur, bee-keeper and Bond expert, who discussed all these topics as well as Pingu and the paranormal with Michael “Atters” Attree. We display a selection of photographs of the most dapper chaps and handsome gals at this year’s Chap Olympiad, as well as showing the winner and runners-up in our Peaky Blinders competition.

Sartorial features include the khaki trouser, the neck scarf and the work boot, along with a rugged ramble to road-test a new interpretation of the country jacket by English Utopia. Cricketing headwear is inspected, with the conclusion that crash helmets are a little over-the-top.

To order the latest edition or subscribe, please visit

Hillman Aero Minx

Posted By on August 13, 2016

I couldn’t find any mention of one of the greatest but least known of British streamlined cars so her
e are a few examples of the Hillman Aero Minx. Hillman unveiled this very pretty car at the London Motor Show of 1932 and was a complete departure for the company, best known for producing reliable but unexciting family saloons to that point. The 1933 model with its helmet front wings with no running boards had a very short run, the design being changed to one with full wings and running boards and no examples of this first pattern are known to exist. Two examples of the later 1934 model do exist and I show both of them here. The lack of a first pattern car prompted me to create one for myself from the remains of a wrecked tourer bodied Aero. After four years I have not quite finished her but am getting very close and I show her returning from the workshop of the guys who skinned the body for me. Incidentally the same team are I believe currently putting together an exact replica of the Edsel Ford 1934 roadster. Hope you enjoy the Aeros.


Posted By on August 10, 2016

Good Steampunkers, we love a classic novel. From Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth to HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds, the inspiration drawn for so many things steampunk – from cosplay to video game worlds, from gadget creation to event theming – is indisputable. 

And so, in the late 20th century, authors such as KW Jeter and Tim Powers brought us new, powerful works of fiction. Time travel is still an ever-present theme and with the passage of time, they and others brought us re-imagined historical figures and started immortalising the cross-cultural human milieu and its effect on steampunk sensibilities by finely drawn characterisation.

Yet, the steampunk imagination did not stop there. New voices continue to add their voices and visions – hopeful and macabre. The capacity to locate these new soothsayers is unparalleled through the portals known to us as the interwebs. Through time, space and place, the tenacious thought tentacles of new writers and media makers reach out and take hold of our imaginations as they birth potent alternative realities.

With that in mind, we aim to bring you news on the latest whereabouts of emergent steampunk prophets!

Gallery of Curiosities showcase ‘a fiction podcast of weird, curious and horrible stories’. You can download podcasts to enjoy at your leisure. 

Images that reference the obvious inspiration behind this publisher of new media’s clever name – the Cabinet of Curiosities – immediately spring to mind:

Image Credit: Domenico Remps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Posted By on August 7, 2016

Absinthe Salon

Good Steampunkers, we proudly bring you our review of a fine establishment in Sydney, Australia:

Absinthe Salon

What is Steampunk?

Posted By on August 4, 2016

What is Steampunk?

This is our definition of ‘steampunk’: ‘steampunk’ refers to a fusion of steam-era aesthetics and/or principles with futuristic ideas about human existence in the space-time continuum, informed by the possibilities offered by ongoing scientific endeavour when joined to the imagination. Steampunk is brought to life by the power of dreamers with nostalgic notions, who are supported by a deep knowledge of past eras, deftly knitting together science-inspired visions of the future.

Image Credit: Thomas Veyrat

Let’s deconstruct it.

JW Keter by Photo by Gemnerd 2011

Steampunk is a neologism which (arguably) was coined in the 1980’s. It apparently arose from the mind of science fiction author KW Jeter who was searching for an accurate description of his works.

But this is an origin story and if you’re interested, you can read about it here[1]. It still does not flesh out the meaning of ‘steampunk’ as it exists now after the pummeling we culture vultures give it. Thanks to us makers and appreciators and cosplayers and consumers, ‘steampunk’ is now a richly contested term. Let’s contest it a little more!

Image Credit: Shanna Jones Photography Yatzer Truth Coffee Shop Cape Town. Used under Creative Commons 4.0

The term ‘steampunk’ is largely used as an adjective.

Steampunk is used to describe speculative worlds, environments, communities and the attributes of people and things that exist within these. Those who adopt steampunk inspired identities often adopt affectations from their favourite eras: manners, mannerisms, speech patterns and communication styles. It adds to the flavor and experience. In delightful ways, it cross-fertilises the past with the digital age.

Hot Music At The Height Of A Hot Summer— It’s The August Pilsner’s Picks!

Posted By on August 1, 2016

Hot music, plus a little vaudevillian hokum from Billy Murray and some good old-fashioned song-belting from Sophie Tucker. Also of interest are the two equally great but very different renditions of “China Boy” made twelve years apart, which really show how much the style of jazz had changed (or evolved) over that time. By the way, it’s just as well that they’re both instrumentals, because the lyrics of that tune would definitely fail any modern “political correctness” fest.

The August Picks are a day early, because the ol’ Panther is so swamped at work that he figured that he’d better get the playlist up today rather than trying to do it tomorrow when he’d probably be too exhausted to even change the Victrola needle, much less turn the crank. Enjoy!


Posted By on July 31, 2016

 Painted Ponies by William Manns

Want a classic coffee table book on carousel horses? We’ve got you covered! ‘Painted Ponies’ is a classic coffee table book published in 1986 featuring the story of antique carousel art. Marvel at the detail of carved carousel horses created by the most renowned carvers. Painted Ponies has over 650 colour photographs and is a window into a bygone world which is, slowly but surely, being revived by restorers and visitors right around the world.

What could be a more Steampunk travel experience than going back in time on a carousel ride? From California to Connecticut, you too can be transported to a gentler, nobler time. Indulge your nostalgia, a sense that time is a circle and ride a horse in slow motion. We’ve got the goods for you, no matter what side of the States you live on! And for all us overseas visitors, we’re going to have to travel to get there!

Children love carousels – often termed merry-go-rounds – even the mass produced dinky ones you see dotting the walkways of malls.

But what of authentic old carousels? Lovingly hand produced by master craftsmen, they continue to swirl…yet just remember… in the early 1900’s when carousel rides were at their zenith, their rotational speed of 15 miles per hour was faster than anything! Hang on!

We recently visited Westfield Topanga just 30 minutes northwest of downtown Los Angeles to attend my favourite twins’ 1st birthday party.  We were pleasantly surprised to find an unusual double decker carousel ride indoors, on the first floor in front of the Target store.

Topanga Westfield is at 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park, California.

And just because babies are adorable…here are the twins (pic used with kind permission of their mom)!

By the way, the ‘smash cakes’ the girls are just about to plough into are from The French Confection Co. run by Mademoiselle Mallory in Burbank!

Here’s The French Confection Co.’s awesome Instagram feed

And The French Confection Co.’s amazing Facebook page
We love them because not only are their era-inspired cakes works of art, they taste sensational!
But back to carousels…food is distracting! We’ve just discovered the MOST DIVINE carousel related place ever: The New England Carousel Museum! In Bushnell Park stands a 1914 vintage carousel. Made by Stein and Goldstein, the 24 sided pavilion houses 48 hand carved wooden horses and 2 lover’s chariots that rotate around a Wurlitzer organ belting out the tunes in its lovably strident fashion.
This carousel is one of only 3 remaining Stein and Goldstein Carousels left in the world. The flamboyant horses with their flared nostrils, big teeth and wild eyes are decorated in colourful cabbage roses. The restoration work on each piece has been lovingly accomplished with the support of donations.

The museum has great hours for summer – open 10 am – 5 pm, Wednesday to Sunday in July and August. GO, GO, GO!!!

Jazz Age on the Delaware – Saturday is the big day!

Posted By on July 29, 2016

Saturday is the big day!

Since I transitioned to live events, this festival is certainly one of the biggest I’ve ever produced.  I want to invite all dieselpunks and steampunks to come out and strut their stuff.

Jazz Age Style’s 1920s festival in Northeast Philadelphia will be on Saturday from 11:00am – 5:00pm. We’ve assembled a great show for everyone.

  • Hot swing, ragtime, and jazz bands playing live all day.
  • Two professional dance troupes will strut their stuff.
  • An antique car, motorcycle, and bike show.
  • Vintage vendors and clothes dealers.
  • 1920s dance lessons.
  • A 1920s fashion contest with over $400 in prizes available (“Most Fashionable Flapper” and “Most Dapper Gent”).
  • A pie contest.
  • Children’s dance time.
  • A men’s barber station for haircuts and straight razor shaves.
  • An upscale cigar and tobacco lounge.
  • An upscale VIP lounge with private bar and gourmet food.
  • Mansion tours.
  • Croquet, badminton, and other lawn games.
  • A photo station.
  • TV and News crews from PA, NJ, NYC, and DE.
  • Tons of food options from the best food trucks in the area…
  • All on 18 acres overlooking the Delaware river!

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at

Use the coupon code JAZZAGESTYLE for 20% off!

Dressing in vintage-style garb is appreciated, but certainly not mandatory. We just want you to come out and have fun!

All proceeds for this non-profit fundraiser will go towards the construction of an outdoor play area for children at Glen Foerd that will focus on music, games, and movement. A prototype of the play area will be ready during the festival, and we’re asking for parents and kids to help us pick the best features to keep.

Check out this video from WHYY to see clips from last year’s Jazz Age on the Delaware >

Rocketeer getting a sequel, maybe?

Posted By on July 28, 2016

One of Disney’s most underrated films, The Rocketeer, is finally getting the respect it deserves. The Hollywood Reporter says the company is prepping a brand new sequel/reboot called The Rocketeers and the new hero is an African-American woman. Read more at io9.

If You’re Going to Firle…

Posted By on July 26, 2016

Firle Vintage Summer Fair is a small old-fashioned country-style fair set in the picturesque Sussex South Downs, beside the village of Firle and the manor house Firle place.

Taking place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th August, Firle Vintage Summer Fair features traditional swing bands, Charleston dancing demos, original Victorian fairground rides, croquet games on the lawns, a vintage fashion parade in the Lost Bohemia Catwalk, stalls selling vintage linens, furniture and clothing, and a fleet of vintage cars on the lawn in front of the family seat of the Gage family, who have occupied Firle Place since the 15th century.

Chaps will enjoy the ambience at Firle, which is unique among other festivals in that the Gage family owns the entire village of Firle, and some say they even own the inhabitants – all of whom have to prove they earn a crust via arts or handicrafts. No IT consultants are allowed to live in this quaint Sussex village, which has a slightly peculiar “Wicker Man” flavour to it, helped by the eccentric and nattily dressed vicar Peter Owen-Jones leading the service every Sunday.

Refreshments will include a champagne bar and local Firle ales. Nude dancing, ladies wearing only flowers and Swedish barmaids dubbed into English are not guaranteed but highly possible.

Firle Vintage Summer Fair
13th & 14th August 2016

All Aboard the Steampunk Express……..

Posted By on July 23, 2016

Experience the Golden Age of train travel! Get that steam train smell into your lungs, close your eyes and travel back in time.

What’s the experience like? Since 1962, trains from the Trainworks collection have gone on tour right around New South Wales (in Australia) and beyond. Sink back into vintage vinyl covered seats with individual tray tables in impeccably restored, wood panelled carriages.

The dining car has an excellent selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with which to wash down some tasty morsels. Martini, anyone?

Ladies and Gentlemen, leaving Sydney stations throughout the year, we thoroughly recommend exploring the many stunning regions of New South Wales in a First Class lounger. What could be a more authentic travel experience for the Steampunk aficionado? There is no experience more authentic than this!
Book your tickets, buy your friends a Gift Voucher, pack a little portmanteau and dress up in your 19thcentury finery (but we know how you like to PUNK it UP a bit!)

Where could you go? You board at Sydney’s Central Station to go on a day trip, a luxury weekend adventure, have a moving dining experience, or go to one of many special events…be sure to check back in as we’ll cover some spiffy occasions in upcoming posts.  

Should you book a Day trip in the First Class Lounge, you may very well be treated to a delicious Devonshire Tea.  The sterling service is explained by the manner in which Heritage Express is run: many of those assisting on board are volunteers and are there because of their love of train travel.

From the First Class Lounge – and only from this rarified section – you may choose to access the Observation Deck. Those with new fangled photographical equipment will be thrilled with the views they will capture from the vantage points on offer.

We beheld one of the Heritage Express steam trains chuffing out of Katoomba Station in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, collecting visitors who had arrived earlier that day to attend the Winter Magic Festival – held in June around the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere every year.

We heard whispers that those who had booked a dining car experience en route to the Winter Magic Festival were served a superb breakfast and plied with copious cups of tea until arriving at their mountainous destination.

To get your very own vintage Yuletide table, you may also visit the Victory Theatre Antiques located in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney) where Radical Brochante (Stallholder “FRE”) upstairs has all your tableware needs covered.