Convention Guest and Presenter: Paige Gardner

Paige Smith costume guest

Paige Gardner
“Ex Libris”

Costuming Guest and Presenter | Specialty (Steampunk)

TWITTER: @CostumeArt |FACEBOOK: CostumeArt


My panel/presentation specialty is taking existing garments/found items and re-purposing or reconstructing them into Steampunk gear, masks, creative costumes and art  with the most basic of tools and elements.  It has been referred to as “no-sew, low-pro” costuming as I will use safety pins, key rings, wire, grommets etc. to build stage-worthy costuming.

Most of my costume work is typically recognized within the Steampunk community as part of a series of Automatons (each with specific functions).  The vintage items incorporated and altered into the automaton’s gear reflect the automaton’s purpose. The masks, gear and accessories are completely handcrafted with found/salvaged items and created as individual wearable artwork.

My mandate as a convention guest is to entertain and engage every audience with memorable and informative panels that encourage attendees to keep moving forward with their costuming/convention goals.  A list of my convention appearances, costuming recognitions, and other related work appears below. NOTE: For links to media interviews, video, articles and more visit:

PANELIST / GUEST Appearances:

Stearmpunk Panel at San Diego Comic-Con International 2013 (photo | Jerry Abuan)

Stearmpunk Panel at San Diego Comic-Con International 2013 (photo | Jerry Abuan)

DragonCon, Atlanta GA — Comic-Con International, San Diego CA — ChattaCon, Chattanooga TN — Con-Nooga, Chattanooga TN — ImagiCon, Birmingham AL — AnachroCon, Atlanta GA — Hypericon, Nashville TN — PlayOnCon, Birmingham AL — Steampunk World’s Fair NJ — GeekMediaExpo (GMX) Nashville TN — Wizard World Comic-Con (St. Louis) — Alabama Phoenix Festival Birmingham, AL — Artifice Club Atlanta GA Events (Clockwork Carnival, Weird West Saloon, Atlanta Steamfest), Marble City Comicon Knoxville TN, MomoCon Atlanta, GA, Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition Canada.


Director “The Steampunk Exhibition”, “The Gadgeteers Showcase”, “Tinkers Clockwork Carnival”, Biscuits & Bowlers at Dawn: High Fashion and High Tea” at DragonCon (Atlanta, GA), Curator for Museum of Alternate History – DragonCon, Director of Fabrication Panels at AnachroCon (Atlanta, GA), Director Steampunk Stroll and related programming at ChattaCon (Chattanooga TN), Director of Steampunk programming at ImagiCon (Birmingham AL), Director of Steampunk programming at Alabama Phoenix Festival (Birmingham AL), Director for Vintage Vogue Fashion Show at DragonCon (Atlanta, GA).

COSTUMING WORK (Awards, Judging)stained glass costume paige gardner photo subversively com flickr crop

Best in Show at ChattaCon 2011, Best in Show Mechanical Masquerade 2010, Best in Show (intermediate) Con-Nooga 2010, Best in Show at PlayOnCon 2010, Best in Show Witches Ball / Birmingham 2010, GOTC (Girls of the Con) 2012 Calendar Feature, Dim Horizons Calendar 2012 Calendar Feature, Costumers Guild 492 Costume Award at San Diego ComicCon International 2013. Judges Choice & Audience Choice for Best 3-D Art / JordanCon 2014, Best Use of Lights – Readers’ Choice Award (Steampunk Chronicle 2015). Costume Judge for various events including: AnachroCon, Mechanical Masquerade, PlayOnCon, Alabama Phoenix Festival, ‘The Chosen Cosplay Competition’ at DragonCon etc.


Historic Barrington Hall Plantation, Roswell GA – Worthmore Historic Decatur, Decatur GA – The Steampunk Exhibition, Atlanta GA – The Gadgeteer Showcase, Atlanta GA – SteamFest, Academy Theatre, Decatur GA – Naked Art Gallery, Birmingham AL – The Costume Mini-Exhibition at DragonCon Atlanta GA -The Museum of Alternate History, DragonCon, Atlanta GA – “Steampunk: An Exquisite Adventure” (Scottsdale Public Art Exhibition), Scottsdale AZ, YomuCon (Tuscaloosa AL), The Knoxville Exposition (Marble City Comicon), The Hoover Library (July 2015).


Paige Gardner is an award-winning costumer who regularly appears at science fiction and fantasy conventions in U.S. as a guest and presenter on costuming and costume photography.  While Paige has created recognizable cosplay from the Sci-Fi universe, she is mostly recognized for her steampunk masks, gear and costumes that are constructed from found, salvaged or vintage items.

As a costumer who doesn’t sew, Paige is an entertaining and popular guest presenter sharing her enthusiasm for costuming with the minimum of resources and the maximum of tenacity! Paige’s humorous approach to daunting projects features shocking shortcuts, fresh ideas, and eccentric tips for building costumes using salvaged items, thrift store finds and other unlikely oddments.

Paige’s costuming work has appeared in national news outlets, magazines, television and independent film as well as being featured in books, including “1000 Steampunk Creations”, “1000 Cosplay Creations” and “The Steampunk Users Manual” by Jeff VandeMeer. Her masks and gear have also been exhibited at various venues around the U.S.

You can also find Paige and her costume work at CostumeArt on Facebook and @CostumeArt on Twitter and her blog at

SAMPLE PANELS for Paige “Ex Libris” Smith

The Cool Kids crowd at "The Desperate Steampunk" at DragonCon

The Cool Kids crowd at “The Desperate Steampunk” at DragonCon

The Desperate Steampunk: How to build a boss costume with the minimum of skill and resources
Behind the Mask:  Beginner and Intermediate how-to on building masks for costuming use
Cosplay Photography: How to style and model for the Best Costume Pics Ever!
Developing Your Steampunk Persona : Crafting a coherent backstory for costuming
Can’t Sew? Not a Problem!: Shortcut and Tips for Non-seamsters
Multi-Cultural Costuming: Historical and Alternate History
Thrift Store Madness: Finding the Best Things to Re-purpose for Costuming
Steampunk Trends in Pop Culture: Steaming Toward Mainstream

I love to share my enthusiasm with folks who are interested in costuming and prop building – especially audiences who are just getting started and welcome the shortcuts and time/money saving tips I share in my presentations. Please reach out to me BELOW if you think I can contribute to your convention or special event.  I’m portable – smile!



2 thoughts on “Convention Guest and Presenter: Paige Gardner

  1. Have you thought about doing a panel at wizard world comic con in New Orleans Jan. 6-8, 2017?
    I’m not affiliated with them but would like to attend any panels you would have.

    • I’d welcome the opportunity to panel at WW in NOLA – but the process of attending is very different from most events I’m able to present at. I did a popular panel at WW in St. Louis a couple of years ago – and it was huge fun. I was contacted by a local coordinator for WW panels, then. But I haven’t been queried by Wizard World – New Orleans. (I’d love to attend – just to see all the awesome costumes!

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