Thursday, April 12, 2018 0 comments

And a Lady's mind turns to...

Parasol Duelling!

Yes  the 4th annual Spring Regionals are coming up on April 29th in Calgary Alberta.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

For more information and to find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling

Maddie Hatter and the Timely Taffeta

Monday, February 5, 2018 0 comments

Maddie Hatter's adventures continue!

Here is a book trailer I did for Maddie Hatter and the Timely Taffeta by Jayne Barnard


Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Practical Airship Design Part 7

Saturday, December 23, 2017 0 comments

Splendid she must be!

"How time flies when you are having fun."
Or conversely...
"Life is what happens when you have other plans."

This is the final post in my Practical Airship Design series, which I started way back in November of 2012, 5 years ago!

You can read that initial post and start the series here.

According to the "Contents and Prospectus" this post should have been:

"In conclusion, our Captain has ordered that she must, in addition to being one of the most technologically advanced airships of the age, be one of the most "Splendid"(tm) and this post will attempt to grant his wishes to the best of this poor flight engineer's ability."

Alas, I never got around to writing that post and cannot at the moment remember what I had intended to cover...

However, I think this series does need a formal conclusion, so if you have landed here please stay with me for a bit.

Like any good fictional tale, the action does not take place in isolation from the world around it.  Fictional tales always have a framework that supports the story. For speculative fiction like Steampunk, that framework/world may or may not bear much of a resemblance to the real one. The world of our Role Play group, "The Airship's Mess Deck", is no exception. The world in which we traveled, on the experimental airship the Velvet Brush which is the subject of this series, was similar to the real world physically but its technical and political history was slightly different.

As I mentioned in the first post we tried to limit the fantastical to keep the world realistic, with only a few key changes to make it interesting. Authors are allowed to create any kind of world they like in which to place their tales, but in the case of our Role Playing, we consciously decided to make our shared world a parallel one only slightly different. Physics still works like normal, and even the most fantastical elements are still "believable" in context.  The awesomely powerful core of the Velvet Brush herself being a good example.   

In our world the Velvet Brush was truly a technical marvel, the finest ship in the Royal Airship Navy. No other airship in the world could match her. Being experimental, and therefore fantastically expensive, she was never equaled or copied. During the course of our role play, she survived storms, sabotage, intrigues, and political machinations. Those of us who flew with her across the skies of the world always had her as a solid base for our adventures.

The crew and passengers have moved on to new adventures, however the shared world we created still exists in the imaginations of those who played in the Airship's Mess Deck (see more below). Like the crew of any "happy ship" in the real world, lasting friendships have resulted.

As the Engineering Officer, and eventually the Commander, of our ship, I see her in my minds eye still, an enormous silver and polished brass ship,  moving through the clouds, steam rising from her twin funnels, signal flags hanging from her rails. The Velvet Brush is truly as "Splendid" as she was intended to be. 

Thanks for following along as I tried to do some Practical Airship Design.

I hope you have enjoyed the journey.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.



My character's adventures, along with some of the crew, are being posted as Serial Tales on this blog:
"Frozen Sky"
"Lost at Sea"
And a third tale "Ice and Clockwork" coming soon.

One of the passengers on our ship has her own adventures chronicled in the brilliant Maddie Hatter stories written by Jayne Barnard
Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond
Maddie Hatter and the Gilded Gauge
Maddie Hatter and the Timely Taffeta
And more coming soon.

Oh, and Parasol Duelling is now a formal sport played all over the world!

Thanks for reading.

Absinthium Redux

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 0 comments


A few years ago I was working on the design of a mechanical Absinthe preparer inspired by a mechanical wine pourer.

I called my device The Absinthium Project.

This machine which prepares a Gin and Tonic might just inspire me to start working on it again.


Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced!

World Championships 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017 0 comments

A fine Autumn day of Skill and Elegance.

The 2017 Parasol Duelling World Championships were held on Saturday September 9.
Summer in Calgary had been very hot, and very smokey from the forest fires to the West in British Columbia, and this early September day was no exception.

The competition was held in a beautiful Confederation Park in NW Calgary.

Photo by Chuck Szmurlo, May 30, 2007
The park was built to celebrate the Canadian Centennial in 1967 and it stretches along a little creek that winds for almost a mile through a valley.  The park is a very popular wedding spot so we were not sure exactly where in the park we would be able to compete, but as luck would have it we found a beautiful spot amongst the cottonwood trees along the creek, within easy access of the main parking area.

The Grande Promenade of the contestants was very picturesque, the dark green trees with a scattering of bright yellow leaves falling made for a wonderful backdrop.

Photo by Dave Harold
Photo by Karlo Keet

Photo by Karlo Keet

Photo by Karlo Keet

Photo by Karlo Keet

Photo by Karlo Keet
We had eight competitors this year, including the 2016 World Champion, the 2016 Junior, Compulsory Figures, and Flirtations Champions.
Competitors and Doctors
L to R: Maxwell MacDonald-Smythe (aka Kevin Jepson), Barb Sand, Sarafina Kain, Monica Willard, Karen Siemens, Teagan de Boer,
Dr Johann Portsmouth Adler (aka Stewart MacPhee.)
L to R seated Raven Hawthorne, Briona Justine, Josanna Justine
Photo by Dave Harold

After the promenade the contestants and Doctors gathered for the traditional "Welcome and Admonition" from Madame Saffron Hemlock, given this year by Baroness Fawkes as Madame was unable to attend due to the smoky air.

The Welcome and Admonition
Baroness Daniella Fawkes (Dana Teh) and Erin Sand were the judges.
Photo by Karlo Keet
Salute to the Judges
Photos by Karlo Keet

The first competition was the Compulsory Figures.

The Ladies demonstrated great skill and confidence with their figures.
Here is a sample of some of the Compulsory figure forms.

Karen Siemens
Photo by Dave Harold

Barb Sand
Photo by Dave Harold
Monica Willard
Photo by Karlo Keet

After the Compulsory Figures were completed the Flirtation Trials were held, always a crowd favourite as the Ladies try to elaborate on their figures.

Elegance and drama were very much in evidence.

Raven Hawthorne
Photo by Dave Harold
Raven Hawthorne and Josanna Justine
Photo by Peter Justine

This year there were several unique examples of creativity including, for the first time, the use of a 'prop'

Teigan de Boer and Monica Willard (with prop)
Photo by Karlo Keet

 Some different interpretations of the Plant...

Teigan de Boer and Monica Willard
Photo by Peter Justine
And the Snub.
Teigan de Boer and Monica Willard

Continued below.

A wonderful Afternoon at the Duelling

Saturday, September 16, 2017 0 comments

Another great Championships.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Lost at Sea Part VIII

Monday, September 11, 2017 0 comments


Here is the final part of the second of three serial stories from our Role Play group The Airship's Messdeck.

You can start from the beginning here.

Previously, the engine of the Argo is beginning to fail, and even though the storm has abated the old trawler is being forced back by the swell onto the roaring breakers crashing against the iron bound coast of Norway.


Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Lost at Sea
A serial story from The Messdeck.
  by Kevin Jepson

*The engine is making a loud grinding and knocking sound, but the smoother patch in the breakers has moved almost astern. It is clearly a spire of rock rising up from the seabed just below the base of the great swells, its seaweed covered surface can be seen just below the foaming troughs as the waves break across. It is almost full daylight now and there is indeed a bay reaching back beyond the rocks. Max and the members of the Velvet Brush's crew are all in the wheelhouse.*

    "Lt Bueckert, collect all the bits of your aether wave gear and your code books and put them in a sack and prepare to get them overboard!"

    Miss B.B. looks shocked "My, my code books Sir?"

    "Aye we are going to hit the shore and maybe sink, but if we don't we don't need anyone finding their Lordships codes to play with eh?"

    "Oh, oh yes, aye of course, I'll do that right away." Surprisingly Miss B.B touches her cap in salute and then drops down the ladder.

    "Simpson, gather up the navigator's charts, and the records from the Chirper, get them into a weighted bag and move them up onto the upper deck where we can grab them if we have to leave in a hurry! If the worst happens they should sink too."

    "Aye aye Sir!" and Simpson also drops down the ladder.

    Iveta makes to follow him but Max says "Lt Baleva, things are going to happen really fast once we are amongst the breakers, make sure everybody is on the upper deck. We'll likely roll over if we hit broadside on and I don't want anybody trapped below, understood."

    "Aye aye Sir."

    "And Lieutenant..."


    "Mr Angus and I will stay at the wheel as we get close so if anything happens to me you will be in command get them back to England as best you can."

    "Aye Sir, I..."

    Mr Angus growls, "No you bloody well won't laddy! You is an old salt and no mistake. I know how the Argo steers but I can't see behind us. I'll need you looking out to give me some proper helm orders as we get close. You get up on that bloody deck and see if there's a way through!"

    Max watches the grey old fisherman grimly gripping the shattered wheel and shakes his head, comes to attention and salutes. "Aye aye Captain Angus, Aye aye."

    *The crew collects on the roof of the cabin, the roar of the surf is like thunder, the air thick with salt spray. Miss B.B. clutching the canvas bag with the remains of her aether wave gear and the code books watches the crashing surf for a moment and throws the bag overboard. The motion of the Argo is wilder now, corkscrewing and bucking in the confused waves close to the breaker line. The smooth patch is anything but this close in. A churning mass of foam and breaking water shooting high in the air.*

    Max calls out "Port 10!". Then "Midships!"

 *The rocks are closer, the water gushing in great frothing torrents onto and over the submerged rocks.*

    "Starboard 20!" Then "Midships... That's all Mr Angus we are on them now!"

    *Grabbing anything solid everyone hangs on as the Argo's whistle begins to sound, long, continuous, and mournful. Blasting her last defiance at wave and rock.*


About Gears, Goggles, and Steam oh My!

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Category List

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