Parasol Duelling in the Streets!

Monday, October 12, 2015 0 comments

Anytime and any place!

At the 2015 World Championships on Sept 19th  Street Duelling was included as a demonstration sport!

Since then I have had some questions about what Street Duelling is and how it compares to the usual Parasol Duelling we are all familiar with.

Street Duelling first appeared in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign and likely originated somewhere in the American West. The reasons for its popularity probably have to do as much with how "exotic" and a bit "unladylike" it was, in comparison to the more stately and formal duelling of the British Duelling Schools as with anything else :-)

Street Duelling is based on the Brandenburg Variations rules that we normally use but with a couple of changes that result in a strong resemblance to an Old West gunfight. Tales of such rough gun play were popular in England long after the real "Olde West" had passed into history.

 A Street Duel is conducted with miniature parasols, typically 8" or so long. These are kept in holsters, like that for a gunfighter's revolver, or tucked into a belt. They can also be kept in a "Parasol Pocket" sewn into a Lady's skirts.The figures are the familiar Twirl, Snub, and Plant. Because the Street Duelling parasol is so short the plant is just held straight down, and the twirl only has to go to the side.

There are some Street Duelling parasols that are even smaller that can be operated with one hand which can make for a very fast duel indeed!

The Duels themselves are typically conducted without a Doctor, the count being done by the duelists themselves. This meant that Ladies could duel anywhere! It also meant grudges and "duels for cause" between Ladies could be conducted in private.

Under Her Majesty's Rules any "duel for cause" must be conducted with a Doctor present.

Street Duels start with the Ladies facing each other, rather than back to back. They stand closer too, only a few paces apart just out of reach of an extended arm holding the short parasol. Much better for giving your opponent the "look".

Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA
The Duelists start with their parasols holstered, their arms at their side. Then like a gunfight the Ladies "draw" their parasols quickly and bring them upright in front of their face. The first Lady to get her parasol into position starts the count and the other Lady must follow that count.

From there the duel proceeds like normal.

This sequence of photos from Twitter user MetallYZA, taken at the 2015 World Championships, captures the intensity of the "draw".

Monica Willard is one of the best Street Duelists in the world and carries dual Street Parasols in her tooled leather holster.

Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA
The Draw! 

She draws the parasol and holds it up in front of her face.

Her eyes never leave her opponent's face!

Speed is important but so is being able to move smoothly into the figures once the count begins.
Monica Willard
Photo by MetallYZA

Here she has moved into a well executed snub still focused intently on her opponent.

From this position she could easily move into a plant or a twirl as needed.

Two things to keep in mind here:

1) There is no start signal for the draw like there is when the Ladies turn from their paces in a normal duel. This gives great opportunities to try to psyche out the opponent.

2) Counting while doing the figures is trickier than it seems :-)

At first Street Duelling was not permitted in formal competition because it was considered rather unladylike. It was very popular however and many Ladies carried Street Duelling parasols, even sporting elegant leather holsters on finely tooled leather belts imported from the American South West.

In a nod to this popularity Her Majesty decided to allow Street Duelling in competition. However Her Majesty decreed that the duels must be conducted with a Doctor present to do the count. The duelists still face each other and do the draw on their own time but, in competition, the Doctor starts the count when the first Lady gets her parasol into position upright in font of her face.

Street Duelling was never included in the scoring for the World Championships but there were still prizes and awards given for the best duelists.

The Street Duelling at this year's World Parasol Duelling Championships was very well received and the Ladies demonstrated great intensity and speed.

Next year's competition will include a formal Street Duelling tournament and is going to be very exciting indeed.

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

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 are here.

Graphical calculations

Sunday, September 6, 2015 0 comments

Graphs, straight edges, and math oh my!

An interesting "Pie in the Sky Project"

Back in the days before the availability of ubiquitous computing capabilities complex mathematical relationships and rules of thumb were often calculated using graphical computations known as Nomograms or Abacs.

These graphs were laid out in a way that using a straightedge one could determine the result of often complex multi-variable calculations. They were used in everything from engineering and navigation to accounting. They were also used in business and government where there was only a vague mathematical relationship between inputs.

This one for example, is used for "quantitative risk assessment of food to guide sampling/analysis for the purposes of official control of food and to support the enforcement of food safety/consumer protection law."


This series of posts by Ron Doerfler describes the process by which such graphs are generated:…/the-art-of-nomography-i-geometri…/

So what is the Pie in the Sky Project here?

  • Why not create our own Steampunk Nomograms?
  • What kind of Nomograms would our Steampunk Mad Scientists use?
  • Would they be complex and arcanely illuminated or simple and elegant?
  • Would they be kept in massive bound books chained in our laboratories or kept in our pockets in miniature books with fold out pages?
  • Would they have pockets in the covers to hold exotic curves and circular slide rules or would they have a simple straightedge that would also work as a bookmark.
  • What kinds or equations and nomograms would a Dr Frankenstein use?
  • What about an Airship Engineer? 
  • What would the Abac book of an Aetherwave operator look like?

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

P.S. This book from 1918 has an amazing amount of info and examples of interesting nomograms. The math isn't too bad but it does need some concentration to follow :-)
Graphical and Mechanical Computation

P.P.S Lots of good Nomography tools and some interesting examples here:
Society for the Conservation and Advancement of Nomography

Who will be the new World Champion!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 0 comments

Coming soon!

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 are here.

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

Join the corp!

Monday, August 24, 2015 0 comments

Her Majesty's Airship Corp Huzzah!

Lots of images of real and movie airships plus a very catchy tune.
Even though in our Roleplay the Airships are part of the Royal Navy I think Max and his crew would approve of this message!

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

Morcambe Seafront in 1900

Friday, August 14, 2015 0 comments

A panorama of Ghosts!

This delightful film, taken from the footplate of a tram in 1901, shows the harbourside of Morecambe in the UK.

A look at a typical day with ordinary people of all classes and occupations going about their business on a bright sunny day.

Also a little creepy to me because these are all ghosts, nobody in this film is still alive.

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

"I'm working on it!"

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 0 comments

"Just another minute" she said!

A month from now Calgary will be host to the world famous event called Beakerhead.
This five day extravaganza of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Music takes over much of downtown Calgary.

This is also where we will be having the Second Annual Parasol Duelling World Championships!

That is if we can get there barring a few technical difficulties...

Me and the talented Monica Willard working on the "Tin Fish"
Photo taken by the brilliant Neil Zeller at about 2:00am

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

Steampunk Negative

Sunday, August 9, 2015 0 comments

A "mirror mirror" version of Steampunk

Recently I posted the following picture on our local Steampunk community's Facebook page.

My comment on it was "At least she is wearing her goggles!" which was meant to be ironic, because it is very rare to see Steampunks actually wearing their goggles!

welder by creativephotoworks

Needless to say it elicited a fair amount of comment!

Some were critiquing her badly adjusted cutting torch, others suggested that perhaps her safety gear was insufficient... One comment attracted my attention for two reasons, first it missed the intended irony entirely and second it said, "Not even sure why it was posted as it is in no way Steampunk related."

For this poster missing the ironic point was not a surprise, however the second point got me thinking.  This picture is not Steampunk in the traditional sense, BUT it illustrates several Steampunk aesthetic elements that are worthy of comment. The elements are displayed in the negative, much like the "Mirror Mirror" episode of Classic Star Trek!  

For starters there is the obvious element of the goggles actually being used as I mentioned. Then the lack of any overt Victorian dress, no corset, no lace, no leather, no brass, not even a hat. 

Being inappropriately dressed for a dangerous activity such as welding or cutting is pretty common in Steampunk imagery so in this sense it is not an opposite, although exposing this much skin when doing so is and would definitely run a foul of the local O.H. and S. inspectors!

The gritty industrial setting is common in Steampunk, but this one has no gears, no gauges, no steam even.

It is an interesting counterpoint to our "standard" Steampunk industrial imagery. So in that sense I think it works as a Steampunk illustration.

After all who didn't think that this version of Spock was a more interesting one.

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

About Gears, Goggles, and Steam oh My!

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