How to start an Airship

This is a short article that covers a little bit of what we cover in our Panel of the same name. Enjoy!

Starting an Airship is a fun way to get involved in steampunk if there isn’t one in your area or you have different interests than other Airships in your area. This document will help you plan for this and help you avoid some of the pitfalls many others have come across.

 

When building an Airship, the very first thing you should consider is “What is your goal?” That can be anything from “Be a business” to “Travel to events together.” This can help to define your group and find the most suitable people to be part of your crew. This way everyone has a clear idea of what the expectations of the Airship is.

 

Don’t be afraid to start small. I personally think it’s best to start small and grow from there. That way your Airship has time to grow and you don’t have as many growing pains at once. You will have problems as your crew grows. It’s just easier to deal with these problems one or two at a time rather than all at once.

 

Once you have a starting crew selected, you want to select your officers. This is generally your Captain and First Mate. It could include other positions depending on the needs of your group. These people should generally be responsible for organizing the crew and dealing with conflicts down the road (there will be conflict).

 

Speaking of conflicts, you will have some. People with different personalities with individual ideas will always conflict with others. Unless you happen to find the perfect crew the first time through, you’ll likely come across some sort of issue. Just be aware that it’s going to happen and besure to remind people that you’re all here to have fun. This is also why it’s important to have a clear set of goals for the group to avoid confusion and thus conflict.

 

Sometimes you have to remove people. Not everyone who joins your crew will work out. When the ship first starts out, you really can’t do trial members since everyone just joined. But don’t be afraid to ask someone to part ways. Just make sure you do so tactfully and maybe help them find another group more suited for what they want to get out of an Airship. It’s better to part ways than to let someone deter you from your goals.

 

As your crew grows, you’ll be able to do more as a group. Plan events, do things. Also, revisit your ships goals. Make sure that the goals you set in the beginning are the same goals your crew wants for the ship. New ideas may make for new goals for your ship.

 

Finally, get involved. Your area has a lot of steampunk groups in and around it. Steampunk is still growing and the more involved your Airship is, the more people you get to meet and interact with. That is the biggest key to this movement. The people involved make this all worth while. Go to smaller events out of your local area and support eachother’s Airships. They’ll turn around and do the same in return.

Buyers At Conventions

There are things that every convention attendee should consider or keep in mind when you go to conventions and browse through vendors. You’re going to find some decent items, but you can also find exquisite brilliantly crafted items, and even cheap poor quality things too. You’re going to see decent prices and then expensive prices, perhaps even some things over priced. No matter what you find, the biggest thing you need is respect. Whether it’s well-crafted or whether you think it’s cheap and crappy, you’ll find that vendors typically put a lot of work and love into what they do. You may not fully understand what really goes into handcrafting or making the things you see on the tables. Some vendors do this for a living, which means they have to make a profit. So, no matter what you see on a vending table, don’t call it “junk”, “crappy”, “ugly” or spend time at the table telling them their stuff is over priced and how you could do it better. Don’t toss merchandise around because you don’t like the price. After all, you buy what you break.

With that in mind, if you are respectful and appreciative of the work that goes into the craft, you may find that people are happy to tell you how to do it yourself. In our Steampunk community, we like to share. We want to see what you can do. We like the ability to bounce ideas off each other and teach each other. If you don’t have the time and energy to make your own, you can buy what’s on the table or commission a piece. That’s right! You’ll find that most (if not all) crafters will take commissions. If you don’t see what you want on the table, or wished it was another color, or wanted a Bunny instead of a Jackalope, just ask and be sure to take a business card.

Another thing you may not have realized is that a lot of vendors will haggle… unless you’re being rude or insulting about the merchandise or pricing. If you are respectful but can’t do the price, offer a better price. Especially if you are going to buy more than one thing, you might get a discount. Some vendors like to haggle. Besides, it’s sometimes (not always) better to sell something at a discount than not sell it at all! Please keep in mind that there is a limit to discounts. There is a hard cost for making items, and you have to make more than that cost in order to make a profit. A vendor has to make a living.

Something we like to do when we are browsing vendors, is to only look on Friday so we can get a good look at everything and really think about what we want to buy. Then we usually go on the buying spree on Saturday. However, there is an exception. There are lots of people who don’t want until Saturday, so there is always an equal chance that it won’t be there tomorrow. So, if we find something truly awesome or one of kind (there is usually a lot of unique items around), we snatch it up before it’s gone. Don’t be afraid to browse everything before buying, but don’t pass up something you really love! Don’t skip the tables on Sunday either, because anything that’s left will be easier to barter for.

Some vendors, like ourselves, will hold an item for someone so that no one buys it while they are going to get money or find their spouse or parent. However, don’t expect vendors to hold items for the whole day. Most vendors will assume you aren’t coming back if you are gone more than an hour. So, if you ask someone to hold something, make sure to come back within the hour or let them know you’ve changed your mind.

Most vendors will post “Do Not Touch” signs, but if you are seriously considering buying, most vendors are happy to let you pick it up for a closer inspection. If you know you won’t be buying, it’s better not to touch the merchandise. Also, out courtesy for the vendors and potential buyers, don’t block the table for long periods of time.

Another thing to mind is children. Please remember that if your children break or damage something, you’re expected to pay for damages. While most vendors will not allow kids to touch merchandise without parental supervision, that doesn’t stop kids from just picking up stuff when the vendor isn’t looking. Always talk to your children about not touching without asking first, to help minimize accidents. If the kids ask first, a vendor can supervise the handling.

In general, it’s really all about respect and handling with care.

Polymer for Octopodicon!

We are making cute little Octopod Charms out of polymer clay for Octopodicon!

Steampunk Musician? Read this!

As we’re ramping up our vendor table business as we attend more conventions. One thing that we’re missing that we feel would help complete what we offer is a good selection of Steampunk Music. If you’re a musician in the Steampunk Community who wants to get some additional exposure, let us know! We’ll be happy to play your music at our table, sell your albums and promote your band! Please contact us either on our facebook page or at coppertesla@gmail.com!

Updates & Photos

We have updating our Convention Services page and The Crew page with photos! We are currently designing new costumes for our crew so that we stand out more when vending and paneling. We like our simple western style, but we realize that conventions like the dazzling costumes. We will stick to our western style as much as possible, but we’ll start to look better as we work on our costumes.

We also just got our delivery of more vending displays. We got a mesh wire frame display with two wire baskets and several hooks, and a tie display to hand goggles and stuff off of (like ASI does). We should now have more room to vend! We have learned a lot from ASI and other crews about building upward to make more space at the vending table. We’re excited!

We started talking with the Underground Monster Carnival (local) about vending and paneling. Last year, we loved them! This year, we’re getting involved. We’ll get to bring our own tables, so we’ll be buying another table or two (reminder to self, get more table cloths). Since it’s a horror festival, we’ll be there in Dark Ministries costumes (our dark steampunk personas). Granted, the table will still say “Airship Horizons” but we can say “it’s donations for the Orphanium” (smirk).

Speaking of progression… we want to wish the crew of the Neo Dulcimer good luck in their upcoming changes. We hope you fair well and not loose contact. You are welcome to dock with us if you ever fly through Oklahoma City.