“Steampunked?” snorted the gentleman. “What kind of word is that? I don’t like the sound of it one little bit. Nor does my good lady wife or our maidservant, either. We are respectable people, I’ll have you know. ”
His two female companions nodded in anxious agreement.
I smiled sympathetically. These characters had only just arrived at the Steampunk-Shrunk workshop, wrenched (literally – their feet had been glued down) from a deceased elderly lady’s dolls’ house when her family were clearing out.
“I realise it must be very confusing for you. This not the most organised of places, but I promise you the end result will be worth it and you’re going to love your new look. It will certainly be more exciting than standing in a dolls’ house for decades.”
“There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with the clothes we are wearing,” he insisted.
“Well they look just fine from a distance,” I said carefully, “but – well, not to put too fine a point on it, they are glued to you! Your shirt, if you’ll forgive me, is a strip of poor quality fabric wrapped round your shoulders and stuck to your back. You have no waistcoat, no pockets, no hat…”
“May I be so bold as to ask what your plans are, ma’am?” asked the maid, dropping a slight curtsy.
“I will be hand-stitching all your clothes – even the shirts and the ladies’ undergarments. Only the leather coats are glued, as stitching makes them too bulky, but they will open and have pockets you can use. I love to include as much detail as possible. Let me introduce you to some of the other people who have been transformed.”
First they met Isambard.
“Take a look beneath his greatcoat,” I suggested.
Their gasps as they saw his glass buttoned cotton lawn shirt and brocade waistcoat suggested that I might be winning the argument. They noticed the gold watch chain and stared in amazement as I pulled his fob watch from the satin-trimmed waistcoat pocket. Next I took the brass binoculars from his neck for them to examine and emptied the contents of his inch long leather shoulder bag on to the table. There was a folded, rather battered set of engineering plans, the pipe Isambard can never bear to be without and a tiny leather pouch containing tobacco (made from shredded leather).
“Each of my Steampunk-Shrunk characters has one or two details like that,” I explained. “Mercurius has binocular goggles, a map of the Antarctic in his coat pocket and a casket and key hidden under his coat. Eve has a clockwork mechanism set into her back, although from the front you would never guess that she is an automaton. Bella has an intricate mask made of watch parts, wires and black lace. Why, even young Ruby has a tiny ticket to the steampunk fair tucked into the band of her hat.”
“I see,” said the gentleman, quietly, as he looked down at his own clothes.
“When do you think you can start to, ah, ‘Steampunk’ me?” enquired his wife.
“And me, ma’am?” whispered the maid, eagerly.
Some of the characters mentioned can be found at the Steampunk Dolls House if you click on their names. Isambard and Ruby will be attending the Craft and Vintage Fair at the Town Hall, here in Glastonbury, UK on April 29th 2017.
As for the new characters, I’m sure they will enjoy their transformation as much as I will.