All posts by commsadmin

WisCon 41 — Announcing Activities at The Gathering

The Gathering

The Gathering is a great place to meet new people — or reconnect with folks you’ve met at prior WisCons — while learning or helping others to learn a new game or skill. We’ve got ten activities this year, all happening 1-4pm in the Wisconsin Ballroom on the second floor.

Looking for a way to strike up conversations with some of your fellow con attendees? We’ll have an Icebreaker Scavenger Hunt, where you can search for characteristics and experiences. To participate, put stickers from the Icebreaker table on a badge card marking which broad categories apply to you, then start conversations with other people with stickered cards in order to fill out your own scavenger list.

Continuing this year are two well-loved swaps: Clothing and Nail Polish. Calling them “swaps” is a little misleading, everyone is welcome to peruse and take home anything that strikes your fancy — there’s no need to bring things in exchange, though we love it when you bring items to donate!

Our Clothing Swap is a great place to bring those treasured pieces of clothing that you can’t quite bear to donate without assurance that they will be loved by their next owner. The formal gown that no longer fits, the perfect waistcoat that you just can’t justify keeping, or parts of that well-crafted cosplay for a fandom you’ve lost interest in — they can all find new homes! Any clothing is welcome, but we do ask that you don’t just clean out your closet. Rather, bring a few things that you think other WisCon members will love.

New this year for the Clothing Swap:  Please mark whether you’re clothes have been washed with scented laundry products or if you’ve used scent-free.  The scents from laundry products can linger for years in garments, so please only mark your donations as “scent-free laundry products” if you’ve never used scented products!  Our valiant Clothing Swap volunteers will be working to keep scented and scent-free items separate this year.

This is the third year of the Nail Polish Swap. Is your nail polish stash overflowing with colors that looked promising in the store but not quite right on your nails? Come trade for something more your style! Bring some unloved bottles and your enthusiasm for sparkly fingers and find some new colors to experiment with. Even if you don’t have polish to swap, come pick up a bottle to take home. We know you’re eager to swap your neglected polishes for some new pretties, but remember to make sure they haven’t dried out before you pack them up!

When do you drop off your donations for the Clothing and Nail Polish swaps?  You can stop by the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse on Friday starting at 11am.

In addition to swaps, the Fiber Circle returns for those who knit, spin, crochet, embroider, and more. Just bring your yarn, needles, thread, scissors, and beads.

The Gadget and Device Petting Zoo isn’t a swap, but it is a way to share any neat devices you own, and to try out some of the neat devices belonging to other folks in the WisCon community. The table will be staffed throughout the Gathering, but nonetheless we strongly recommend that if you don’t want to lose it, don’t leave it unattended.

Returning this year is the ever-popular Fancy Hair Braiding, with a braiding expert in attendance to teach techniques and demonstrate rope, round, French, Dutch, and crown braids, shapes like hearts and spirals, and other advanced ideas like 5- and 7-strand fingering techniques. Unfortunately, our second braider, with expertise in kinky, coily hair, is no longer able to attend.

Local makerspace the Bodgery is running a simple e-textiles activity where participants can learn how to combine fiber arts with electronics. As part of this activity, they’ll teach people how to sew a simple circuit using some felt, an LED, a coin-cell battery, and some conductive thread.

We’ll have Tabletop Games, too. You can join the WisCon Gaming team for some light and accessible games while you learn about the variety of gaming offered at WisCon 41. Browse our board game selection, meet GMs and fellow players, and sign up for role-playing games running this year!

Have you ever wished you knew how to pick locks? You can learn at the Gathering this year! Locks and picks will be provided; you just need to bring a steady hand and a sense of curiosity.

As always, the Tiptree Auction Preview will be happening at the Gathering so you can you can view and write bids in advance of the auction on Saturday, where all proceeds support the James Tiptree Jr. Award for thought-provoking SF&F that expands and and explores gender roles.

Volunteering at WisCon 41 — Lots to do!

Kristin Livdahl

WisCon is organized and run by volunteers and there are many ways to help out this year. We’ve highlighted a few of those opportunities in recent posts, but we also have opportunities in almost every department. Below is a list of many of the departments that use volunteers — most still need more help. We hope you will give a little bit of your time to help keep WisCon the great event it is!

Each year volunteers receive a special commemorative thank you gift that is only available to volunteers — we’re excited to offer badge wallets/holders this year. After requests for a more neutral color,  we’re going with a black holder with white printing this year.

Also, if you volunteer 6  or more hours (participating in programming counts, too!), you can receive a $20 rebate on your registration as funds allow. Volunteering can be a great way to give and also get a little back to help with convention expenses!

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator:


Often needs someone local to help with directing the movers for convention set-up and tear-down on Thursday and Tuesday.

Con Suite

This area is often understaffed. We need volunteers throughout the convention to provide hospitality to congoers. We also have a need for a few more volunteers who are SafeServ certified or willing to become certified.

Art Show

This area is also often understaffed. Volunteers are needed to help with set-up, tear-down, sales during open hours, and during the show preview.


Needs 1-2 people throughout the convention to set up blue tape — early mornings and before the Opening Ceremony, Tiptree Auction, and Dessert Salon.  Also needs 1-2 more people to help put up signs on Thursday and take down signs on Monday.

Green Room

Needs volunteers throughout the convention as programming runs.


Is open almost the entire convention and needs volunteers throughout.


Various shifts open throughout the weekend. Training provided.

Bakesale for Tiptree

Needs volunteers for shifts from on Saturday.

The Gathering

Volunteers are needed to help with set-up and tear-down and to give the people staffing booths breaks during the event.

Volunteering at WisCon 41 — Art Show, Registration, & Green Room

Kristin Livdahl

Are you looking for a quiet place to get away from the big crowds for a couple hours? Do you need a way to meet new people at the convention but are more comfortable having people approach you? Do you want to help out with the convention but need a position where you can sit or stay sitting most of the time? We have volunteer opportunities that allow for all of those.

Art Show

The Art Show is usually a quiet oasis during the convention and there are many shifts available during the convention. Volunteers staff the desk during the show preview, assist with sales and check out sold items near the end of the convention. This area has traditionally been understaffed.


Helping check people in and register new arrivals is one of the best ways to meet new people and put faces with names. Email in advance if you are interested in taking a shift — or stop by at the beginning of the convention to see when they need help. Volunteers are needed for shifts from Thursday until Monday.

Green Room

We can always use a few more dependable volunteers to take shifts helping in the Green Room which is open during all the hours programming runs. Volunteers count attendance at programs, assist programming participants with name tents and other duties. The Green Room is great way to meet some of the interesting people who are participating in panels, readings and other programming in a relaxed environment.

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator at

Volunteering at WisCon 41 — the Con Suite

Kristin Livdahl

Volunteers are the lifeblood of WisCon and essential to keeping the convention the wonderful, diverse gathering that it is. We will be featuring a few of the many volunteer opportunities available during the con over the next few days and hope you will consider giving back to WisCon by volunteering.

Providing hospitality is part of our commitment to making WisCon affordable and accessible to everyone and the Con Suite is one of the busiest places during WisCon. Because of this, it is also the one that often needs the most volunteers. We have ConSuite shifts available starting at noon on Thursday (for set-up) and running throughout the convention. Please help us out by signing up for a shift or two. Most shifts are two hours long and we have times to fit everyone’s schedules.

We also still have a need for ServSafe certified (a requirement of our providing food for congoers) volunteers to take the lead on a four hour shift . There is still time to get certified: the course and test is online and will only take a couple hours and WisCon will reimburse you for the course fee of $15-16.

(This post from last year provides some useful info about ServSafe — what it is and why we need it.)

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator at

Volunteers sought for the Gathering at WisCon 41 — Clothing Swap

WisCon Chairs

The Gathering is the official opening to WisCon. On Friday afternoon the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse Hotel turns into a fair of sorts. Activities range from a Scavenger Hunt to Tabletop Games to a Nail Polish Swap to a Fiber Circle. It’s a fun, laid-back way to ease (or jump!) into just the right mindset for a WisCon weekend.

This year we need a few more volunteers to help make the Gathering come to life. Would you like to accumulate time toward earning a rebate on your membership cost? Would you like to help WisCon members look fabulous? Join us as a Gathering volunteer!

Urgent — Clothing Swap seeks fashion mavens!

The Gathering's Clothing Swap at WisCon 40
The Clothing Swap at WisCon 40’s Gathering.

Our Clothing Swap is the only Gathering activity that isn’t run by the folks who propose it — because it’s so popular that we just keep holding it no matter what! That means we need YOU… to help out at the Clothing Swap. We’re in search of at least two people who love recommending clothes and giving opinions about what would look great on folks — but who also are willing to hang, sort, and set out the clothes that members bring in to gift to each other prior to the opening of the Gathering. Interested? Give us a holler at and we’ll make sure you get first crack at the treasures.

The First WisCon Dinner — seeking leaders and diners!

WisCon Chairs

We’re looking for people who have been to a few WisCons already to lead a group for the First WisCon dinner — is that you? We already have a few, but we need at least two more! If you’re interested, please email and we’ll put you in touch with the First WisCon Dinner coordinator — and yes, leading a group is volunteer time that can count toward eligibility for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of the registration fee!

The First WisCon Dinner is our effort to welcome new attendees, share hints of what not to miss, and dispel the misperception that everyone at WisCon already knows each other. Everyone — whether it’s your first, fifth, or fifteenth WisCon — is invited to meet right outside the doors of the 2nd floor Wisconsin ballroom after the end of the first panels (between 5:15 and 5:30 pm) on Friday. We’ll organize ourselves into groups small enough to allow conversation, then each group will head to a different local restaurant chosen to suit dining preferences and your budget. Over dinner, we’ll all get to know each other and WisCon veterans will share memories and advice with new arrivals!

It’s a wonderful way to spend the first evening of the convention.

Updates on — Registration & Childcare, Dessert Salon tickets, and hotel cancellation policy

WisCon is less than two weeks away!  Here are some updates and upcoming deadlines you’ll want to know about as Memorial Day weekend draws ever nearer.

Pre-con registration closes Monday, May 15 (11:59pm Central Time)

Want to make sure you have a pre-printed badge waiting for you at the convention?  Online registration is still open!  You can pay right away via PayPal.

Did you know you can register now online and then pay in person at the Registration Desk?  You can!  This is a good option if you want to ensure that you’re registered and have a printed badge, but would rather pay in cash.

We do cap membership at 1,000, and we make no guarantees that memberships will be available at the door, but this year chances look pretty good for at-the-door memberships.

WisCon's registration desk, staffed by 2 volunteers
The Registration Desk at WisCon 40, staffed by the friendly Sheree (left) and Lenore (right).

Single-day memberships

Want to try out WisCon without committing to a full membership?  In town for only a day?  We offer — for purchase at the door only! — single-day memberships at the following rates:

  • Friday: $0
  • Saturday: $25
  • Sunday: $25
  • Monday: $0

Yes, Friday and Monday are FREE!


WisCon offers Childcare at a cost of only $1 for children ages 0-6 — but you do need to register them in advance!  Childcare registration closes on Monday, May 15, along with online registration.  You can register your child for Childcare by logging into your WisCon account and using the registration system.

Dessert Salon tickets

The Dessert Salon is capped at 400 tickets, and we have sold out!  If you’d like to be added to the wait list, please email:

Hotel cancellation policy

Huge news for reservations at the Concourse hotel — we now have a 24-hour cancellation policy!  Our room block with the Concourse used to come with a full week cancellation policy, but that’s been changed starting this year.  If you need to cancel your Concourse reservation, you can now do so with only 24 hours’ notice before your reservation begins.  If you wait too long to cancel your reservation, you will incur a cancellation fee.

If you need to reach the Concourse, call: 1-800-356-8293

If you have questions for our hotel liaisons, email:

See you soon!!  🙂

Sign up for the WisCon 41 SignOut!


Interested in registering for a spot at the SignOut this year? Afraid you missed the deadline? We were changing the SignOut registration process this spring and so it was closed for awhile — but there is still time to sign up!

a table tent at the SignOut
You, too, can have a spot at the SignOut to chat with your fans and sign autographs!

What’s the SignOut? It’s a signing party and WisCon farewell rolled into one! Writers (and other creators!) and those who love them will gather together at mid-day on Monday to sign and get signatures, to thank and praise and schmooze one last time before we fly away for another year.

If you would like to be a signer, please complete this registration form. The deadline for registering before the convention is Monday, May 15 (at, as always, 11:59pm Central Time). If you miss the sign-up deadline, contact us via to see if spaces are still available!

Are you looking at this on the Sunday of WisCon and you realize you want to participate? Come to the SignOut info table at least 20 minutes before it starts and we’ll set you up!

folks mingling in the SignOut room
The SignOut at WisCon 40 winds down.

WisCon 41 — Announcing our Art Show Artists

Art Show

We are very excited to announce the artists in WisCon 41’s Art Show.  This year’s show will feature 38 artists, 13 of whom are new to the WisCon Art Show! (* = new)

Clara Abnet-Holden: Drawing and painting

Stacie Arellano: Illustration and comics

*Jon Arfstrom: Painting

Lisa Bergin: Felted sculpture/fiber art

Susan Simensky Bietila: Political illustration and buttons

*Sophia Brueckner: Multimedia/interactive sculpture

J.J. Brutsman: Fiber art monsters

Katie Clapham: Photography

Tahlia Day: Watercolor/mixed media painting

Meredith Dillman: Painting and illustration

*Anna Dudda: Handmade scarves

*Jack Rowan Rose Evans: Drawing, painting, illustration

Rhea Ewing: Illustration and comics

K.J. Forest: Photography

Geek Calligraphy: Calligraphy and prints

Erika Hammerschmidt: Jewelry

*Elizabeth Frohn Hengst: Mixed media art

*Kathie Huddleston: Fused glass jewelry and sculpture

Ingrid Kallick: Painting and illustration

Theo Nicole Lorenz: Coloring books and illustration

Jennifer Neises: Polymer clay sculpture and jewelry

*Brigid Nelson: Handmade totes and purses

*Ariana Olsen: Painting

Katherine Olson: Jewelry and photography

David Lee Pancake: Illustration and sculpture

Mary Prince: Mixed media sculpture and painting

*Jana Pullman: Fine bookbinding and boxes

April Robinson: Drawing and painting

*Mark Roland: Fantasy art, painting, printmaking

*Sad Chimera Princess: Illustration and comics

Samhain Press: Illustration, book sculpture, jewelry

Nevenah Smith: Etched glass and glass sculpture

Lisa Snellings: Poppet sculptures and prints

Heather Tatarek: Painting and handmade journals

*Kat Weaver: Illustration

Alex Wells: Art dolls

Claire Whitmore: Illustration

*Yara Charms: Jewelry

And an informational exhibit on Susan Wood, a feminist SF fan writer and critic, who was GoH (with Vonda McIntyre) at WisCon 2.

The WisCon 41 schedule — Hot off the presses!



The schedule for WisCon 41 is now live online for everyone to view!

(Note: The WisSched app has not yet updated. We’ll let you know when it’s ready!)

Want a more manageable view of the schedule? Did you know that if you click around on the options at the top of the schedule grid you can change the view and even filter to different programming types? To change the view, at the top look for Display — then try out the Schedule, List, and Grid options. Want to just see what all the panels are? At the top of the page, look for the (multi-colored) labels marked Gathering, Parties, and so forth. For panels, click Program — et voila!

And they aggregate, too, so if you want a List view of all the Parties and Games, you can do that! To aggregate, select your preferred view, then click on the various programming tracks buttons to add those filters.

There’s a search, too, which will search across programming titles and descriptions (but not panelists).

Are you part of a programming item and have a question for us? For the fastest response, please contact the team for your specific type of programming directly:

  • Panels:
  • Academic:
  • The Gathering:
  • Gaming:
  • Parties:
  • Readings:
  • Workshops:

In the next few days, we’ll be having blog posts to showcase details of other aspects of WisCon, from the Art Show to Gaming to the Dealers’ Room. Stay tuned!

Calling all teens and friends of teens!

WisCon 41 Chairs

Did you know we have a teen room at WisCon that features a combination of programs and space to relax just for teens?

It’s true! And we’re back and better than ever this year, in Rooms 606 & 607. We have a lot of great things in the works, including a special writers’s workshop, Magic the Gathering (with coaching available for newer Magic players!), video games, movies, and plenty of time to hang out or to head to other panels and programs.

We want to get the word out now, before the convention starts, because we want you to help us make our Teen Programs even better.

If you are a teen (or you know teens) and you have ideas, let us know, and we can make your ideas happen this year!

Have you come to our teen room during past WisCons? We would love to know what you thought about it, so we can make sure the stuff that works and is fun keeps happening — and that we stop bothering with the stuff that doesn’t work or isn’t worthwhile.

It’s important to us that Teen Programming reflects the ideas and serves the needs of the people who take part, just like the rest of WisCon’s programming. That means your voice is important, and so is your presence! In other words, we’re also looking for teen volunteers. Like most of the volunteer roles at WisCon, you don’t need to be local to Madison, and volunteers who put in at least six hours are eligible for a 40% rebate on their membership cost. And teen membership is only $20 for the entire convention to start with, so bring your friends and come help shape Teen Programming and the teen room into the future!

We’re planning to have a small library of used teen books available for the taking, DVDs to watch, PS3 and Xbox games — and we welcome donations. We’ll also be ready to label games or DVDs if you are willing to loan them, so you’ll get them back at the end of the convention!

Let us know if you have ideas, opinions, donations, things you can loan us — or if you’d like to volunteer — by emailing us at

WisCon Workshops Special Events

Marianne Kirby

This year, WisCon Workshops is really excited to offer a couple of very special events. (Well, ALL of our offerings are special. But you know what we mean.)

These events don’t require participants to sign up ahead of time, so drop in and hang out with us as it works for your schedule!

Got a suggestion for a special event you’d like to see next year? Email any time.

Teen Writing Workshop

Offered in collaboration with Teen Programming, this year we will be offering a chance for teen writers to respond to prompts and share their work with each other. This session will be facilitated in cooperation with teens – by them and for them. Are you a teen writer? Email if you’d like to be involved in the planning of this event!

Open Writing Salon

  • Friday, 8-10pm
  • Saturday, 9-11am
  • Saturday, 8-10pm — With drive-by drabbling!
  • Sunday, 9-11am — With drive-by drabbling!
  • Sunday, 8-10pm — With drive-by drabbling!

Looking for a quiet place to get some words on the page? Join us every morning and evening from Friday night to Sunday night for an opportunity to share space with other writers. Catch up on email, work on a short story, join in on our WisCon Fan Fic Drabble Challenge — this time and space will be dedicated to taking some time to channel all of that awesome WisCon energy into words. (If other creative folks want to slip in during Salon hours, you’ll be welcome, too.)

WisCon Workshops Participant Mixer — Friday, 12-4pm

In place of the usual post-critique after party, this year we’ll be hosting a mixer event for everyone who has plans to participate in the WisCon Workshops offerings. Get to know your fellow writers, network with artists, and enjoy some light refreshments. Continue conversations from the critique sessions and start new ones about your favorite projects. Come and mingle with us! More information to come.