Discover your fortune

In every job lot of second hand dolls I source, there are treasures and trash.

At first sight, Daniella fell into the latter category.  Her head was far too large for her body and limbs, her legs and minuscule feet were loose and badly made, her oversized clothes crudely glued on, her hair matted and messy and the face looked sullen.  What sort of transformation could I exact on her?

We stared balefully at one another for a considerable time and eventually I knew.

I have a friend who does psychic card readings in a little booth.  She wears glittering shawls, scarves and jewels in reds and purples with plenty of black eye makeup.  She was my inspiration.

Next I remembered those booths you used to get on seaside piers or in dark corners of amusement parks with a life-sized mannequin head and upper body.  You put your money in the slot, the mannequin jiggled about a bit and stared into a crystal ball, lights shone eerily and a card displaying your fortune emerged from a space below.  That was what Daniella would be!

Off came the clothes and hair.  A delicate paint job transformed the face from sulky to inscrutable and exotic.  A sleek black wig, silver, purple and scarlet shawls and large hooped earrings were added.  The legs and lower torso were glued into a cardboard tube and I set about making her booth.

A domed lantern at the top, concealed at the front with the Fortune Teller sign, holds a Halloween finger light, painted purple to illuminate the booth.  Daniella sits in a curtained section with a crystal ball made from a bead, a window and a slot for one penny to be inserted.

The rest of the box is decorated with diminutive tarot cards and other esoteric images, along with an aperture for the fortune card to be released.

There is even a lever at the back which can be moved, allowing the mannequin to shift about slightly as she considers your future.

My little fortune teller will accompany me to various steampunk conventions and sales throughout the spring and summer, until she’s snapped up and taken to read fortunes for some lucky customer.

She’s already packed and ready to attend the Shrewsbury Steampunk Spectacular on March 24th and 25th in St Marys Church.

 

 

The Case of the Cases

Here in 21st Century England, it is possible, for a modest outlay, to purchase sets of what are called ‘storage suitcases’ from a well-known chain of stationery shops.  These sturdy little card cases, with metal handles and hinges, come in three sizes ranging from 12 x 8 x 3.5 inches (30 x 20 x 9 cm) down to 8 x 6 x 3 inches (14 x 20 x 8 cm).

It quickly became apparent that these would provide excellent and easily portable little rooms for the steampunk ladies and gentlemen to inhabit.  Decorating and furnishing them has become one of my chief delights and many have headed off to happy homes throughout the country.

The prices vary considerably, depending on the complexity of the contents and whether they are sold with or without figures.

Here are the cases currently available at Steampunk-Shrunk:

The Engine Room
This is housed in a large case.  It is the room in which Henry the tinker (See Diary of a Tinkerer) repaired and powered up his time machine.

It contains a large pile of coal, a Twisted Firestarter (safely caged), a huge steam boiler with furnace beneath (complete with opening door and flickering flame), various pipes and a complex set of gadgets, the purpose of which remains a mystery to me.  It costs £58 and, like the other cases, can be purchased at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls or online. See home page for details.

The Case of the Balloon Journey
This is the only outdoor scene at present.  Harvey Cholmondeley is travelling from Africa to visit his brother Algernon.  (See The Vital Chapter).  Land can just be glimpsed through the clouds below, while Harvey stands in his basket, which has a turning anemometer and a burner with working flame (powered by a battery tea light).  Harvey wears a genuine leather coat and flying helmet and has all the details and gadget you’ve come to expect from steampunk-Shrunk figures.  This case costs £68 (or £48 without figure).

The Case of the Withdrawing Room
This small case shows her ladyship’s personal space.  There is a whatnot filled with her treasures, a bird in a cage, a chair, mirror and table complete with a flickering steampunk lamp.  Her journal, pen and inkpot lie on the table.  There is no figure sold with this room, which costs £48.

 

The Case of the Tinker’s Time Machine
Yet another time traveller! Here you find George Entwhistle hard at work on a partially completed temporal transporter.  You can find the full story here.  The room is crammed with detail and his machine flashes with different colours (from an upcycled Christmas badge!) in the most dramatic way you can imagine.  George wears a battered leather apron and specially adapted goggles.  The furnished room costs £58, or £78 with George included.

The Case of the Tea Duel
The room is set up for the most genteel of duels, but the intent is deadly serious.  There is real china crockery and ‘cows’ (a plate of malted milk biscuits) are the weapons of choice.  The tiny room is cleverly back-lit, so that light shines through the window.  The cupboard conceals the lighting for the scene.  This case can be purchased for £58. 

However for a further £27 (£85 in all), the immaculately attired duellists – Leticia and Prudence – can be added.  An absolute bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree, since Steampunk-Shrunk figures normally sell for £25 each.