Heart of Glass – Part 2

Hello.  It is me, Bjørn again.  I was telling you in the previous post how my life was saved by Dr Oskar Kopp and how I started to work as his assistant, while secretly wishing to study and become a great man like the Doctor himself.

One day I was brave enough to tell him of my dreams.  He sat silent for some time and then a strange expression crossed his face.
“Bjørn, my boy,” he said, slowly, “you have not the heart, or the brain, for greatness.  To do work like mine you need a strong, strong heart.  You need a keen, keen brain.  You are a good boy, but alas, you have neither… as things stand.”

Those last three words hung in the air, as if they held a promise.

“If you ver villing, though, zis could be altered.  Wat if I ver to offer you a new heart and a new brain?  You have seen ze marvels I can do.  It would be ze most glorious experiment, in ze name of Science!  If you ver villing, you could become a showcase of mein art!  Your mechanised brain and heart on display for all to see ze vunders of ze clockverk body.  You could achieve anything once zese adjustments had been made.  You’d be as great as me.  Maybe greater…”

Eagerly I agreed.  My weak heart, which had almost killed me once, would be replaced with a dependable clockwork mechanism, encased in a glass dome, so that all could wonder at its strength, and at my master’s skill.  I would be a walking advertisement for his abilities.  He explained less about the alterations to my brain, but I was led to understand that my ability to learn, to reason and to imagine would be considerably enhanced.

With a delicious sense of anticipation, I lay on the slab, allowed him to cover my face with a cloth soaked in some sleep-inducing substance  – and later awoke as you see me now.

Certainly now my mind and heart are stronger, keener than they were.  I can work harder, faster, better and I hold information and make deductions at lightning speed.  All this, the Doctor expected.  Perhaps he feared it slightly.  Yet he found a way to maintain his dominance.

Clockwork must be wound.  Each day my heart must be wound up or I will cease to function.  The winding mechanism has been set into the centre of my back – where only he can reach it.  In this way,  he ensures that I remain his servant.

Oh yes!  I can’t blame him.  He could not risk creating a monster who would overpower him.  Each day I must stand meekly before him while he winds, and winds, and chuckles gently to himself.

I am grateful to Doctor Kopp.  Yet I must think of myself too.  Am I destined to be subservient to him for the rest of my life?  Also, he is an old man.  Who will wind my heart when he is gone?  I must make plans.

It is indeed fortunate that in my ‘adjusted’ state, I no longer require sleep.  That secret room, the alchemist’s study, with its ancient spell book and equipment is my domain while he sleeps.  There are spells in the grimoire he has barely glanced at – spells that could create my freedom…

Bjørn, Dr Kopp and the Alchemist’s Study have now left the Steampunk Dolls’ House and moved on to a new home.  However there are many other figures still available there and at Rune Smith of Glastonbury.

Here are the links:  Steampunk Dolls House online Etsy shop

Rune Smith of Glastonbury

 

Heart of Glass – Part 1

Steampunk Anomaly 'Bjorn the Heart of Glass' Dollshouse Scale 1/12thI am Bjørn.  People call me Heart of Glass.  People pity me.  Or they are fearful.  Or disgusted.  A few show curiosity tinged with admiration.
“How does it feel,” they ask, “to be part man, part machine?  Do you have feelings?  Do you hate your employer for what he has done to you?  Do you seek revenge?  But then, do you have powers and skills the rest of us lack?  Is it glorious to become part machine?”
So the questions go on, and I am grateful to the enquirers. They are better than the ones who simply shudder and turn away, shaking their heads.

Let me tell you the story – my story – from the start.

Fire, Steamboat, Stoker, Boiler RoomI encountered Doctor Kopp when he saved my life.  I was a boiler-man on an icebreaker in the Northern seas.  For long, long shifts I shovelled coal into the great, ravenous furnace that powered the ship.  The owners worked me hard and my body – always thin and long and rather weak – was close to breaking point.

This day I was shovelling, then there was blackness and the next thing I knew was the Doctor bending over me anxiously, pushing up and down on my chest and giving a triumphant cry of “Ja!” as I blearily looked up at him.

It seemed I’d lost consciousness.  The chief stoker had run onto the deck and asked if there was a doctor amongst the passengers.  Doctor Kopp had rushed to my aid.  He tells me that without his intervention, I would have died then and there.

They wanted to put me back to work, but the good Doctor insisted I was to be allowed to rest for some days, until he pronounced me fit to work.  He had my meagre possessions moved to his cabin from my hammock in the engine room.  He cared for me, fed me and mixed potions to strengthen my body.

Dr Oskar Kopp

Soon I began to feel better, but still he would not let me return to work.
“Your heart, my boy!” he would exclaim. “It is sickly. It is not fitted for zis verk. Leave zis ship. I vill give you verk. You vill be mein assistant! You vill say yes!”

I did say yes.  Of course I did.  I had the chance to stop shovelling coal into that great gaping hell hole of a furnace; to become assistant to an eminent doctor.  I owed this man my life, and now he was offering me the opportunity to work with him.  Maybe I could learn from him, study hard, gain qualifications…  I could not express my gratitude and delight.

So when the ship docked at Newcastle, I left beside the doctor and travelled with him to his laboratory.

My jobs were menial, it’s true.  I cleaned his equipment, ran errands, acted as receptionist for his patients.  All this I did without complaint.  Also I saw the amazing work he did – creating mechanical limbs, weapons that were grafted onto the very bodies of their operators, even clockwork mechanisms to regulate irregular hearts.  The man was a genius!  Also I occasionally glimpsed the work he did in his private study after dark – the alchemy from that ancient grimoire, but this he tried to hide from me.

Ah!  But now I must stop!  The Doctor has retired to bed.  I have no need of sleep.  I too have secret work to do at night, so excuse me now.  I will continue my story soon.

 

Bjørn, Dr Kopp and the Alchemist’s Study have now left the Steampunk Dolls’House and moved on to a new home.  However there are many other figures still available there and at Rune Smith of Glastonbury.

Here are the links:  Steampunk Dolls House online Etsy shop

Rune Smith of Glastonbury

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying into the Sunset

Finally the day arrived!  My dear guardian, Uncle Razzy as I call him, has allowed us to celebrate our wedding in his glorious cliff-top mansion.   Not only that; he gave us two wonderful presents, both invented and built by himself.

He knows I’ve always loved the stars and planets, so he made us a clockwork orrery, encased in a glass dome.  He also knew that my dear husband (how strange it feels to use that word!) is fascinated by the idea of remote communication, so his second gift to us was a telephonic device – also clockwork, naturally – that will enable us to speak to him from anywhere in the world.  My Beloved insists that this is just the start and one day everyone will have one of these devices and be able to talk together from all corners of the earth.

I dare say you’re longing to see our wedding finery, so here’ is a picture of us about to enjoy a goblet of Uncle Razzy’s finest wine after the ceremony.

It was just at this point in the day that my Dearest drew me across to the window.  As you’ll see from the picture, I was too busy posing for the camera to notice what was approaching!

When I looked, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes!  The most beautiful airship you can imagine was coming closer and closer.  At first I simply thought it was a happy coincidence that the pilot should choose that very moment to fly past our window.  But no!   My wonderful husband assured me that we were due to embark on this exquisite vessel and fly off together into the sunset.  This was the honeymoon surprise he had been teasing me with over the past few weeks.

So we bade fond farewells to Uncle Razzy, my sister Grace, and all our other guests as we stepped into the ship and rose into the evening sky.

I am happier than I can possibly convey in words alone.  Wish us well on our adventure!

 

The Case of the Steampunk Wedding – containing the bride, groom, their gifts and other details – is currently on sale at Rune Smith of Glastonbury, as is another room from Professor Erazmus’ (Uncle Razzy’s) mansion.  Grace and many of the other wedding guests can be found at the Steampunk Dolls’ House

 

The Steampunk Bridegroom

I rather regret my – um – outburst now.  I confess I hadn’t realised the amount of work that goes into sewing a tailcoat – especially at 1/12 scale.  The seamstress grew quite angry.  She showed me the number of darts (never knew darts were used in sewing) and the intricacies of lining the tails and collar, and all with those huge clumsy fingers of hers.  I was anxious, though.  Only three days to the wedding, and there I was in my shirtsleeves, waving my watch at her and demanding that she finish the jacket quickly.  After all, she still had my hat and goggles to make.

Needn’t have worried, though. Everything was done in time and, I think you’ll agree,  the outfit does me justice.

Now I just have to finalise the arrangements for the honeymoon and all will be well.  My beautiful fiancée still has no idea where we will be going.  I’ve led her to suspect that we will be taking a journey on a steam locomotive, but my plan is that, as we celebrate with a goblet of wine after the ceremony, she will look out of the window and notice the airship approaching from over the sea.  I can’t wait to see the expression of amazement and delight on her pretty face as she realises that her dreams will come true and she will be sailing with me above the clouds.  Oh joy!

The Steampunk Bride

“We almost sold the engine room,”  announced the young man who runs one of the shops (the physical one) I supply, when I wandered in with some new stock last week.
“Came that close!” He squeezed his thumb and forefinger together.  “It was going to be a wedding present. They’re going to a steampunk wedding. They still might buy it, but then one of them said, ‘Oooh, I wonder if she could make a steampunk bride and groom…’.”
He looked at me quizzically.

“Maybe,” I said cautiously.  “I’ll give it some thought.”

I’d made a promise to myself when I started making the steampunk miniatures: NO COMMISSIONS.  I’d done them in the past and my vision rarely coincided with my clients’.  It often ended in tears.

This project was interesting, though.  The groom would obviously be in the usual smart dress suit with top hat and goggles.  I even had the ideal fabric – the remains of a black and gold jacquard scarf I’d found once in a charity shop.  It was dressing the bride, though, that intrigued me.  There were so many ways that could go…

I held out for at least two days, busying myself with the Garden of Ingenious and Mechanical Delights that is my pet long-term project.  Then I thought, ‘Well, if I just make a bride and groom and take them down to Rune Smith, it’s not exactly a commission.  The customers can decide whether they want to buy them, or go for the engine room.’

Bride first.

I trawled through steampunk websites and Pinterest for inspiration.  Would she be a cheery burlesque bride –  all thighs and cleavage?  A Victorian crinoline type with parasol and meringue skirt?  I didn’t fancy either much.  I wanted to do something new.

The fabric scraps box was upended and I picked out everything cream, ivory, coffee and toffee coloured.  The ribbon and lace boxes followed.  Then the leather offcuts box.  A plan was forming.  Steampunk is all about innovation, reusing and combining materials in unexpected ways, so that was what I would do.

First  lace-trimmed drawers and a cotton lawn petticoat, with gathered organza hem and a layer of coffee-coloured lace.  The skirt itself involved a solid day of handstitching all manner of fabric shapes and layers together – khaki drill, cream cotton lace, satin, ribbon, bias-cut pieces of handkerchief fabric and embroidery floss.  This was embellished with copper wire and (wince – hate it, but it had to be done) an assortment of watch cogs and fly wheels.  I always baulk at gratuitously applying machinery parts that have no function, but I had a feeling they’d be expected.

The bodice was a fragment of pale chamois leather, cut asymmetrically and laced at the front with gold thread.  The bouquet was a ribbon rose embellished with more cogs and wire, and I opted for a Game of Thrones type veil in bronze and blue organza with a simple wire and ribbon headdress.

I loved her.  I was exhausted.  But did she fit the brief?  Was she steampunk enough?

I decided to ask for some wisdom from a Facebook group I belong to – one specialising in making miniatures from everyday objects.  I posted a quick video of her and asked their opinions.  I’d purposely chosen this group, rather than one of the dedicated steampunk groups I belong to, to get a more ‘person-in-the-street’ opinion on what constituted steampunk.

The responses were many and various! Many iconised likes, loves and wows. The comments ranged from the singularly unhelpful ‘Dress her in black!!’, through ‘What IS steampunk?’ to one person who solicitously explained the difference between cogs and fly wheels as she thought I must be confused.  As I had hoped and expected, though, many of the kind and lovely people took time to suggest extras and modifications that would help me to fulfil the brief.

The veil – their collected wisdom told me – had to go.  The headdress had to include (oh shudder and groan at the dreary cliché!) a top hat, and possibly goggles.  The bouquet needed to be bigger and bolder, the bodice more decorated and – at her waist – either a pouch or (I loved this idea) a chatelaine.

So, having added several necklace chains worth of metalwork, a (heavily disguised) kid leather hat and gone along with the other ideas  – except the dratted goggles; I have my pride! – I reposted my altered little lady.

Unanimous praise – well almost.
‘I wish she had the glasses’  one of the goggles advocates wrote!

Well if that person is reading this, they might like to take a trip over to the Steampunk Doll’s House, where they will find many of my steampunk ladies and gentlemen sporting goggles in all shapes and styles.

Now I’m off to finish the groom.

 

 

Sir Ernest Buckleton-Tweedy – Airship Pilot.

Oh yes, I’ve been tinkering around in airships since I was a boy.  Had an uncle, don’t you know, who owned one and allowed me to go along on some of his journeys.  Goodness me, they were rough old machines in those days!  I remember having to move the rudder by manhandling a length of wire.  Cut your hands to ribbons, that did.  So I fixed up a little device that linked directly to the compass and the anemometer.  Far better.  The old boy saw what I’d done and was pretty impressed; kept me on as crew.

I thoroughly enjoy tinkering with the machinery even now.  Just take a look at my clockwork air-pressure measurement device here.  Dashed proud of that, if I say it myself.

A chap doesn’t like to brag, but I designed and built my own dirigible from scratch, y’know.  Steam-powered beauty of a machine, she is.  Now I regularly navigate to the Americas in her.  Off on another trip next week, as it happens.

I commissioned that woman – Mrs Steampunkle, or whatever she calls herself these days – to make me a new leather coat and helmet.  Made a dashed fine job of it in my opinion.  Good and thick with the fleece collar.  It can be bitter when you’re flying over Cape Horn, don’t y’know.

Anyway, can’t hang around here dilly-dallying all day, pleasant as it’s been to chat to you.  I need to go and sort out my provisions for the trip.

Toodle-pip.

 

Ernest – like the rest of the Steampunk- Shrunk figures – is a one-of-a-kind 1/12 scale figure with a porcelain head, hands and feet and movable limbs.  His coat, helmet, goggles and air-pressure gadget were handmade in Glastonbury, England.

He is no longer for sale, as was been bought as a gift for an aviation enthusiast.  I’m told there’s even a chance he may get the chance to fly in one of this gentleman’s remote-controlled aircraft.  Ernest would love that!  Other figures, including some more aviators, can be found at The Steampunk Dolls’ House (online) or, if you’re visiting Somerset, at Rune Smith of Glastonbury.