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The Time-Traveller’s Companion

Well ‘excited’ is putting it mildly.  Henry and Charles have been leaping around Steampunk Towers all day, slapping each other on the back, chortling, yelling and banging their fists triumphantly on the workbench.

Henry and Charles' first bookI really can’t blame them, though.  First, they sold another of their time machines – and to a university lecturer in the United States who teaches time-travel, no less – and secondly, they have published their first book!

It’s a slender volume, comprising just twelve pages of text, but it constitutes an essential guide for any time-travellers who wish to journey through London’s past and future.

a fascinating readOh, there will be those who purchase the book and then complain that its print is too small to read.  So as is our custom, we will reproduce the text here in its entirety.

However we strongly suggest heading to The Steampunk DollsHouse and downloading a copy for yourself.  Not only is it a delightful little item to own, but if you do so, our little authors here will be quite ecstatic.

 

THE TIME- TRAVELLER’S COMPANION
London Edition
Charles and Henry Fortescue

Preface

Having travelled extensively through time from our workshop in the city of London, we humbly offer this volume to fellow temporal voyagers, in the earnest hope that they may avoid some of the pitfalls and experience some of the delights which we ourselves have encountered. We feel that this will quickly become an indispensable aid for all serious time-travellers.  London 1885

Section One: Dangers

Clearly, one of the most useful services we can render to our readers is to provide warning of times to avoid, when calibrating your time machine.

As all serious time travellers will be aware, your geographical location will not change – only your temporal one.

Consequently, this volume will be invaluable, should you be located in London or its environs.

 

A List of Dates to Avoid

AD 43   Moderate risk. Roman military invasion underway.  Pretty ruthless bunch.

AD 61 Extreme danger. Iceni tribe sacking the city.  Slaughtering everyone they see.

1066 Moderate risk. Unsettled times as Normans take control.

1381 High risk.  Gangs of peasants rampaging.  Some chap called Tyler in charge.  Avoid.

1642-9 High risk. Civil war.

1664-6 High risk.  Plague is rife.  People dropping like flies.

1666 Extreme danger.  London is ablaze.  Do not attempt to stop in early September.

1888 Low risk.  A spate of grizzly murders taking place in the capital.

1915 High risk.  War! Airships and futuristic flying machines dropping fire bombs on London.

1940-41 Extreme danger. London ablaze and virtually destroyed by fire bombs from flying craft.  Do not stop.

 

N.B.

Having seen the devastation of 1941, we have chosen not to travel further into the future, since we feel there is a very real possibility that some dreadful post-apocalyptic times lie ahead and that the world will indeed end in the year AD 2012.

Should any readers dare to venture into those uncertain times – and survive – by all means notify us of your findings upon your return and we will incorporate them in a future edition, with due credit to the authors, obviously.

 

Section Two: Highlights

Whilst it is only prudent to take due care, we wish to emphasise the uplifting and informative experiences that can be gained through judicious time-travelling.

In this section, therefore, we will outline some of the most fascinating and instructional journeys which we ourselves have experienced within the historic and fascinating city of London.

c.600,000 BC: We have found this to be a surprisingly warm and pleasant period in our capital’s history.  The astonished traveller can expect to encounter herds or mammoth, hippopotamus, deer, wild horses and much other wildlife strolling around the banks of the Thames.  A remarkable experience.

c.200 AD:  Should you wish to view London’s origins as a city, this would be an excellent time to stop.  A golden age of prosperity exists as London is being laid out by its Roman leaders.  They appear more mellow in this age.

c.884: The chance to see King Alfred the Great setting London up as his capital should not be missed.  The traveller is warned to avoid any encounters with the warlike Danes, but it is most instructive to see the Roman city being expanded and improved upon by a truly enlightened monarch.

1588 -1600:  It would be foolish, in our humble opinion, not to visit London at the time of the flowering of the world’s most esteemed playwright – William Shakespeare.  One of us was fortunate to watch a performance of Macbeth at a playhouse, with Mr Shakespeare himself taking the role of Duncan.

1838:  Should you be able to calibrate your machine to arrive in London on a specific date, why not attend the coronation of our beloved Queen Victoria on June 28th?  A stunning occasion.

1920-30:  For those requiring a relatively safe journey into the future, the wonders of this era should not be missed.  You will find locomotives running in tunnels beneath London’s streets, astonishing vehicles travelling at great speed on said streets and wonders which we can barely dream of.

Perhaps, in the far future – should the world survive – there will again be halcyon days of great splendour and achievements.  We earnestly hope that this will be the case.

Let us end this slim volume with a short, and by no means exhaustive list of items it would be wise to take with you on any adventures into other times. 

Reading about time travelUseful items for time-travel 

A supply of candles and lucifers.

A tin of dry biscuits.

A hip flask of brandy.

A supply of fine gold chains to exchange for currency.

Spare breeches and hose.

A firearm for self-protection.

This volume!

We wish you safe journeys.

 

 

A Visit to Brasston – Extended Version

Something a little different this week:  Jan Miller, who purchased both Algernon and Josephine Cholmondeley from our Etsy shop, has added a further chapter to the story of their impending visit to Brasston, The Most Cosmopolitan City Award winner in 1850.  Delighted to know that the Lord Admiral of the High Skies and his wife are in such excellent hands.

We hope you will enjoy reading both chapters here:

Chapter 1

It was, not surprisingly, young Molly who found the book first.  She’d read her way through everything in the Steampunk-Shrunk library  – even the Suffragette newspapers – and had been on the lookout for something new.

“Excuse me, Lady Cholmondeley,” she said, dropping a pretty curtsy to Josephine, “But do you think your husband, seeing as how he’s the Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, could take me on one of his sky ship machines to Brasston?  They’ve got a perfectly splendid aerodrome and I’m sure they’d allow him to dock there.  Let me show you the pictures.  They’re in colour!”
“Why I’ve never heard of the place, my dear. Are you sure you’ve got the name correct?” smiled Josephine.
“Oh yes, Your Ladyship, Ma’am. I think it must be very famous. It won the ‘Most Cosmopolitan City Award’ in 1850.”

Josephine started to look through the book – a most difficult process since, unlike the inhabitants of Shrunk Towers, this book had not been shrunk to one twelfth of its original size.  She had to obtain assistance from several other members of the community and they in turn became mesmerised by the splendours of Brasston.

“Good lord!” Barnaby Balsover exclaimed, “There’s a chap there having his shoes polished by a clockwork automaton!  Quite remarkable!”
“Certainly,” agreed Ava Brassfeather, “And it says they do tours of the clock factory and provide cake and tea.”
“I believe it says you have to pay extra for cups and saucers, though, Ma’am,” Molly whispered, jumping in alarm when Ava made a loud tutting sound.
Molly wasn’t sure whether this was aimed at herself or the facilities available at the works, but she didn’t venture to speak again.

A touching moment for the valiant coupleWhen Algernon returned from a successful raid on a troublesome bunch of sky pirates who had been terrorising the airways above Penge, he was met by a mass of pleading faces.
His wife took his arm, gazed alluringly into his eyes and purred, “My dearest…”

“Hmm,” he said finally, once he’d had a strong cup of gunpowder tea and an opportunity to peruse the book.  “I strongly suspect that this is a work of fiction, created by this rather splendid gentleman on the back cover, Mr Ashley G.K. Miller.  I’m not convinced that the city exists.”

“Well if anyone can find it, it’s you, Old Boy,”  announced Lord Horatio Backgammon, and the others joined in a chorus of agreement with his Lordship’s sentiment.

And so, as I write, the entire group is busy packing and preparing for an epic journey in one of the fleet’s most capacious dirigibles, while Algy is earnestly poring over his charts, in search of the city of Brasston. Unfortunately the trip was delayed – but that is another story!

Should you wish to discover this remarkable location for yourself, dear reader, I suggest visiting Mr Miller’s Facebook page, where you will find all the details you need.

Chapter 2

After several months, Algernon Cholmondeley, Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, was finally re-united with his dear wife Josephine. He had been captured by Sky Pirates before he could take his friends on the planned trip to Brasston.   Josephine was so relieved to see him again.  But they had been communicating by means of the steam telegraph while he was captive.

 

It seems the Sky Pirates extracted a large ransom from the Admiralty before releasing Algy unharmed. He, meanwhile, had secretly been inspecting the Sky Pirates remarkable Airships and learning as much as he could about their design.  Of course Algernon was used to high powered airships in his normal day job, but the Sky Pirates had adapted some new ideas from other countries they had plundered.  Algy was now determined to make a new airship of his own.  It would have all the latest technology for the 1850s, including a pigeon-guided location finder.

Some of Algy’s pictures of the Sky Pirates’ airships

 

As his wife and friends were so interested in visiting this Brasston, he could use that trip as an experimental run.

 

 

Lady Cholmondely had also been in contact with Mr Ashley G. K. Miller, the author of the esteemed volume; ‘A Traveller’s Guide to Brasston’ which had started the whole thing, and he had sent  pictures of himself on one of his recent Hot Air Balloon Flights.

 

 

He said he would be delighted to help them make the Airship and take them to Brasston.

Lady Cholmondeley soon got the local enthusiasts together to collect all the bits and pieces they could find to make the new Airship. Having Algy’s colleagues in the Admiralty look through the old sheds, and with Mr. Miller’s collection of past pieces they had quite a good start.

 

 

Josephine and her friend Penelope set to work right away to make a comfortable day-bed for the passengers inside the Airship, while Young Algy played with his own model one. ‘Oh these feathers are going up my nose!’ exclaimed  Josephine.

They were happily employed in this activity while Lord Algernon thought about his new Airship design. More about how he is getting on with it another time!

 

Jan Miller is a writer and publisher on the conservation of native plants. She also has an interest in miniature plants and crafts.  See her website www.7wells.co.uk where you can also find her Asperger’s Syndrome son Ashley G. K. Miller’s book about Steampunk Lego ‘Brasston’.

Lord and Lady Cholmondeley and the Steampunk artifacts were upcycled and made by Jan Stone at Steampunk-Shrunk. Victorian dolls’ house and conservatory with real plants by Jan Miller.

A Touch of Clarity at Steampunk-Shrunk

Charles lands at Steampunk TowersA new year dawns, marked here at Steampunk Towers by Charles’ jubilant arrival on January 1st in his velvet-seated time machine.  Considering the adventures he’s had, neither he nor the machine are looking in bad shape at all.  True, he’s been slightly pompous since someone commented that he looked ‘very timelordish’, but we can forgive him for that.

Anyhow, for those new to our site, or confused by recent changes, here are some notes on what exactly Steampunk-Shrunk is and how it trades.

Unique and Upcycled

Everything produced by Steampunk-Shrunk is a hand-made and one-of-a-kind (OOAK) creation.  Upcycling is very much part of our ethos.  It is a point of honour here to find novel new uses for plastic packaging, broken jewellery or watches and the kind of junk that lies about most homes and charity shops in forgotten boxes and shelves.  This tinkering and repurposing lies, after all, at the very heart of steampunk.

Selling Direct

Shrewsbury Christmas spectacular 2018Our favourite way of selling is through the Steampunk-Shrunk trading stalls.  These can be found at various steampunk fairs and conventions throughout the UK, at selected dollshouse and miniatures fairs and sometimes at craft and vintage fairs.  We love to be able to chat to customers, to allow them to pick up and examine our wares and see if they can read our tiny books.
The next fair we have booked is in Shrewsbury in March 2019, but all venues will be listed on the home page of this website and promoted on our Facebook page.

The Steampunk Dolls’ House

This is the international trading arm of our micro-business.  At the time of writing, we have around 35 lines for sale in this Etsy shop, which can be shipped around the world.  We try to provide plenty of photos and detailed descriptions, so that customers know what they are getting, and it’s very easy for them to ask questions or chat about items we are selling.   All our reviews so far have had five stars, which is hugely encouraging.  The link to the Etsy shop is here.

The Crispin Emporium

Street, SomersetOur latest sales venture is hiring a glass cabinet in a beautiful craft emporium in the Somerset town of Street.
Street is best known as the home of Clarks Shoes and the massive Clarks Shopping Village.
The emporium, upstairs in the newly refurbished Crispin Centre, supports and showcases local artists and craftspeople and provides a welcome change from the chain store outlets.  The building also houses a gorgeous florist shop, a very lovely cafe (Street Food!) and various meeting and event rooms.  It gets its name, incidentally, from St Crispin who – along with his brother St Crispian – is the patron saint of shoemaking.
If you are visiting Street this year, or nearby Wells or Glastonbury, do call in and take a look.  Here is a link to the emporium’s Facebook page, so you can check opening times etc.  The address is: 83 High Street, Street, Somerset, BA16 0EZ.

There is also a contact form on the home page of this website, if there are items you would like to know more about.

 

 

 

Topping Toppers

The steampunk hat is a wonder to behold.

The ingenuity and range of adornments to bowlers and toppers at any steampunk gathering is stunning.

Mine tend to be diminutive.

However customers often arrive at my stall searching for items to add to their own headgear. Imagine my delight when I recently met a lady and gentleman whose top hats were decorated with some Steampunk-Shrunk gizmos!

I was happier still when they purchased more. Perhaps at a future venue, I’ll see those in place on the Inventors’ Hats they are creating.

As for me, I’m rather fond of my brown bowler.

By George – so pleased to make your acquaintance.

We may have met before, but permit me to introduce myself anew.

Steampunk-Shrunk tinker

I am George Entwistle, tinker and general handyman to the gentry.  Yes, I have resigned from my post as patents clerk and become a full time tinker.  Indeed, I would venture to say that my time machines are very much sought after by ladies and gentlemen of discernment with an adventurous temperament.

I like to consider myself something of an adventurer, too.  Very recently I travelled in a railway carriage to a steampunk spectacular in the delightful town of Shrewsbury.  What an experience it was!

customers at Steampunk-ShrunkThe purveyors of our products were the most splendidly attired persons I had ever encountered.  Even Mrs S, who is quite used to these affairs, was impressed and kept taking photographs of them, a few of which I will reproduce here.

We had scarcely opened before Alice announced that she was changing her name to Olga and heading off to become an opera singer with her new patron.  I think Sir William was sad to see her go, but he soon began to chat in a very friendly manner to Miss Delilah.

Steampunk-ShrunkI confess I was quite delighted when a charming lady and gentleman agreed to purchase my latest time machine.  I often wonder where my customers will end up when they head off on their temporal journeys.

My greated delight, though, came when a distinguished looking gentleman stopped to admire our wares.  There was something familiar about him and I was quite taken by his military bearing and immaculate appearance.  He chatted for a while about our room cases to his good lady, and it was only after he left that Mrs Steampunkle told us it was none other than the great Icabod Steam!

How I regretted not having removed my stained and grubby leather apron or straightening my tie!  I even had the honour to view his trailer at close quarters, although Mrs S wouldn’t permit me to leave the stall to watch one of his performances.  I noticed that she was mysteriously absent at that time, however…

Upon our return to Steampunk Towers (and mainly, I suspect, to quieten the complaints about the journey from Lady Christabel) Mrs Steampunkle announced that some of us would be heading to a new residence.  I was fortunate enough to be chosen, along with Lady Christabel, Sir William and the lovely Miss Delilah, to inhabit a glass display cabinet at a quite charming Emporium in the Somerset town of Street.  We have five of my friend Mr Robottom’s robots with us, as well as several cabinets of curiosities and the Looking Glass rooms Mrs Steampunkle quite recently completed.

It feels quite strange to be away from Steampunk Towers, but our creator visits us regularly and has promised to pop in and check that we are all happy in our new surroundings.

Do come along to pass the time of day, should you be in the vicinity.

 

 

A suitcase??

Keeper of the Hour Glass ModeratorI am mortified.

I, Lady Christabel Craxton-Keyes, Keeper of the Hour Glass Moderator, am expected to travel in a suitcase!  This is an outrage.

Initially, when Mrs Steampunkle told us we would be travelling to a Steampunk Christmas Extravaganza in a pretty town in the Shropshire hills, I was rather pleased.  The event sounded charming.  My sister Delilah and I joined Mr George Entwistle in admiring the festive decorations that had been prepared for the Christmas market and looked forward to encountering our fellow steampunk enthusiasts.

on sale at Sheampunk-shrunk stallsIt was only yesterday that she explained how the journey would be organised.  We will be travelling by railway train, from Mr Brunel’s splendid Bristol Temple Meads Station.  I was most pleased at this prospect.

It was only then that the woman broke the news.

“I’m sorry, Christabel, but you and the other exhibits will be securely stored in a valise.  I will do all I can to make your journey as comfortable as possible.”

Exhibits!  What an insult!  And if she thinks I am mollified by her description of that battered, wheeled suitcase as a ‘valise’, she is quite mistaken.

So spare me a thought, Dear Reader, as I am buffeted and bundled around.  I just hope the Extravaganza will be worth it.  I hope, too, that I am able to procure a new home while I am there, so that I’m not forced to travel back here in the same humiliating manner.

 

Tinkering with Time

Steampunk - Shrunk!

George Entwhistle, a patents clerk by day, had always enjoyed tinkering.  The trouble was, tinkering could be a somewhat noisy activity.  Living as he did in a terraced property, he had to contend with frequent complaints from neighbours and visits from members of the constabulary.

In consequence, he’d been banned from hammering, sawing, welding or producing anything with a tendency to explode between the hours of 8pm and 10am, and all day on Sundays.  This, given the long hours he worked at the patents office, made it difficult for him to achieve anything of note.  George felt cheated by life.

All this changed, though, the day he realised that the blocked up door in the sitting room did not, as he’d always imagined, lead to the parlour.  Careful measuring and still more careful (and virtually silent) plan drawing showed that there was a two and a half foot gap between…

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Lets do the time warp again…

“It’s been a while,” Henry told me, wistfully, “since I went time travelling.  Any chance you could help me out with a new machine?”

“Fine,” I said.  “As long as you can source all the components from our junk box.”

“My pleasure, Madame,” he beamed, and headed off to rummage through the collection.

Putting components together is never easy.

An hour or so later he was back with a particularly ugly little bamboo chair, a couple of clarinet keys, a light-up Christmas badge, an empty ribbon reel, the inside of a sewing thread spool, a clip from the old shower curtain, a few beads, promisingly-shaped wires and springs and a plastic robot arm.

“Hmm,” I said.  “Interesting.  How are you going to power it?”

” ‘If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration,’ as my dear old friend Nick used to say.  That circuit in the badge is at a perfect frequency and has plenty of energy stored in its batteries.  As for the vibration, just take a look at these springs and the switch on that clarinet key.  Try twanging it!”

I did.  It made a rather pleasant Jew’s harp sound and vibrated beautifully.

Henry's time machine from Steampunk-Shrunk
Henry had it fired up in no time.

“Okay Henry.  You get the circuits sorted and I’ll get to work with some paint and copper tape,” I told him.

Before long the machine was finished.  Certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing of objects, but when he sat in the seat, Henry had foot pedals that could be calibrated to the target date and time, a copper steering column, a strange silvery sphereoid that did goodness-knows-what, but seemed very important, along with a clock and altimeter.

“Dear Madame, if you would be good enough to give the temporal booster rocket a turn and then ping that little lever you liked so much, I’ll give it a spin,” Henry smiled.

Available at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls
Ready to go.

“Don’t forget to put your goggles on, I told him.  And make sure you’re back in time for the trip to Shrewsbury.”

“It’s a TIME machine, Madame!” he chided.  “I can be back at whatever time I choose!”

“Yes, I know that, but – just be careful, Henry.  You know how, um, adventurous you can be.”

Henry waved his cap to me and then, as I started the contraption’s rocket up and watched the blue and red sparks firing away inside it, he focused all his attention on that strange silver ball.

a blank

“Henry, how are you going to start it up by yourself when you want to come back…?” I was asking.

But I was all alone.

He still isn’t back.

I just hope he’ll make it by the time of the Shrewsbury Christmas Steampunk Spectacular,  Knowing Henry, he’ll be there with seconds to spare.

If you’d like to take a look at the machine, or even contemplate buying it, do come and join us at the market in St Mary’s Church on December 1st and 2nd 2018.

 

A Touch of Fortune

So here’s the thing.

A week or two before I was due to move from my temporary lodging back to Glastonbury, I sold the Fortune Teller’s Table.  It sold to a customer in New York.  I had a million things to do, so I raced down to the post office first thing, sent it off tracked and signed for, as usual, pocketed the receipt and went off to get on with some of those jobs.

You’ve guessed, haven’t you?  When I came to mark the item sent on my Etsy site, the receipt – with that all-important tracking number – had vanished.  I turned out my bag, all pockets and looked inside anything I’d used that day, but it was nowhere to be seen.

“Well,” I thought to myself, “Let’s just hope the parcel doesn’t go missing.”

The day I moved – while I was actually on the journey, in fact  – a message came through from the buyer.  Where was the table?  Why hadn’t I sent the tracking number?  It hadn’t turned up.

I went cold and clammy all over.  Never before had a parcel been lost in the post, so why this one?  All those lovely five star reviews would be worth nothing if just one customer posted a rant about what a careless and unreliable supplier I was.

I came clean, apologised profusely and asked her to wait another week, just in case it was languishing in customs.  After that, I promised, I’d either send her a full refund or attempt to make a close copy as a replacement.  ‘OK,’ she agreed – one week, and she’d prefer to have a replacement to a refund.

SteampunkDollsHouse on EtsySo, with suitcases and packing boxes still unopened, I hunted through my 12th scale furniture stash and – I could hardly believe my luck – found an identical sized desk.  It was brown, rather than black and, unlike its predecessor, it still had some drawers.  Over the following days I studied the photos and worked to reproduce the dowsing pendulum, the tiny pack of cards, the candle, dream divination book, aged scrolls, tray of crystals and fortune telling boards.

It was nearing completion, when another message from the customer arrived.  “It’s here!” she said.  “I haven’t even opened it yet, but it was delivered today!”

Phew.

So I looked at the replica I’d been working on, decided the table top didn’t look mysterious enough, and covered it with a deep blue velvet cloth.  And now, there is another Fortune Teller’s Table for sale in my Etsy shop.

You can take a look at it by clicking this link.

 

 

 

 

Through the Looking-Glass, and how Alice got there

Something a little different today: a glimpse into the creative process that went into one of our models.

First there was the box…
…which, after a bit of rearranging, became a double room.
I decided to send Alice through the looking glass, but this was the only girl doll I could find.
So she needed a makeover…
This is as close as I could get to Tenniel’s original illustrations.
I knew the bits of foam packaging from a set of roller blinds would come in handy sometime.
With a few sawn up oak twigs and a battery tea light, Alice soon had fireplaces.
Some card and lace trim made the mantlepieces. Time-consuming to make two of everything!
The clocks had to look the same from the back, of course…
… but quite different from the front. Everything was true to Lewis Carroll’s text and John Tenniel’s pictures.
I used polymer clay and jewellery findings for the fire irons. The white knight needs to slide down the poker.
Imagine how long it took to set up and glue down the pieces. White is about to catch Alice in fool’s mate.
In Looking-Glass House, though, the pieces are wandering two by two around the fireplace. A bishop is sitting on a log, reading a broadsheet…
… and a white pawn called Lily has fallen over on the table and is screaming for her mother.
A shadowy Alice can be seen climbing through the mirror from the completed drawing room…
… and emerging in Looking -Glass House.
Of course both rooms fit neatly into the box to make a perfect little set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Alice and the room box set are for sale in our Etsy shop – The SteampunkDollsHouse.  Follow the links to take a look at them.