Stranger than Fiction

Travel, naturally, is quite out of the question.  Here we were, isolated in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, wondering what to do with ourselves.

Mrs S – who is around the same size as yourselves, dear readers – claims that the building is a small and fairly cramped cottage, but since the rest of us (due to a certain, er, accident involving a spacetime anomaly which we prefer not to mention, Henry…)  currently find ourselves shrunk to one twelfth of normal size, the residence appears positively cavernous.  Walking from one wing to another can easily serve for our daily exercise.

Nevertheless, time had been hanging heavily.

Imagine our delight, then, when Molly hit upon the idea of opening her Literary Emporium to one of us each day.  It is an exceedingly small establishment, so social distancing does not permit more than a single individual to enter the building at any time.  Each of us has been issued with a card stamped with the dates for our visits and everyone is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to peruse the many fascinating volumes available.

Only one thing marred our pleasure.  Several upstanding and usually trustworthy members of our community mentioned catching glimpses of a tall, shadowy figure skulking around the Emporium.  Rumours abounded as to the identity of this personage.  This lockdown seems to make everyone a little jumpier than usual and some had claimed it was a creature conjured up by Dr Kopp, our resident mad scientist, who was recently seen taking an extreme interest in certain passages in the ancient Grimoire.

I didn’t for a moment believe such poppycock.

Oh goodness – manners!  I failed to introduced myself.  Abject apologies.  That is me above and to the right – Gwendoline Thrustington-Clawhammer, tea-duelling district champion 1885, 1887 and 1891.

Yes, I know.

I did mention that it was a spaceTIME anomaly.

Anyway, my turn in the bookshop finally came around.  I became quite mesmerised by the Book of Spells and lost track of the time.  Fearing that I’d be late for an afternoon tea appointment, I rose quickly from my seat and at the same moment heard a definite sound outside the shop.  I had the distinct feeling that someone had been spying on me and that my sudden movement had startled them.

“Ava?”  I called, “Is that you?”  (Madame Ava Brassfeather is most prone to sneaking around the place, so naturally I suspected her.)  Then I recalled the stories about the mysterious stranger.  For a moment, I blush to admit, I considered screaming.  Thankfully I quickly came to my senses and hurried out to see who was there.

I was just in time to see a tall and muscle-bound gentleman trying to duck behind the far wall.

“You there!  Halt at once and reveal yourself!”  I cried, in my most imperious tone, hoping earnestly that he wouldn’t misinterpret my hurried command.

The figure turned to face me and although he cut a commanding presence, I noted that his eyes looked calm and, indeed, rather sad.

“Ah,” he said, softly.  “Ma’am I do hope I didn’t startle you unduly.  Please forgive my intrusion.”

His accent appeared to be that of an American gentleman, from the southern States, I suspected.  His gentle demeanour mollified me somewhat, but the fact remained that he was undoubtedly a trespasser.

In a slightly quieter tone, but still – I hoped – with a certain air of authority, I replied, “I am not easily startled, Sir, but I wish to know how you come to be in this private residence and what your business is.”

“Yes Ma’am, of course,” he responded.  “I can see that my presence here must look most suspicious.  My name is Clark Obadiah Jackson III.  I’m searching for someone who is – very dear to me.  The honest truth is, Ma’am, I can’t rightly explain how I came to be in this building, exactly, unless you are in any way familar with the notions of – uh – time travel and teleportation?”

He was fingering a device attached to his left wrist as he spoke.  I suspected (correctly, it later emerged) that he was considering activating it in some way to vacate our particular time and space if he met with too much hostility.

Now that I studied his face more closely, I realised there was something faintly familiar about it.  I knew he did not belong in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and was fairly certain our paths had never crossed, yet that slight memory or familiarity could not be discounted.  I realised that I did not wish him to leave as suddenly as he had appeared.  On the contrary, I was extremely curious to hear his story.

“I am – unfortunately – more familiar with time travel and teleportation than I would wish to be, Mr Jackson,” I assured him.  “Indeed, all the residents of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers have personal experience of its uses and often rather unfortunate side effects.   I suggest we take a seat in the Emporium whilst you recount your story.”

“Well that’s mighty civil of you, Ma’am, in the circumstances.   I truly do appreciate it.”

He doffed his hat to me in the most charming way and followed me into Molly’s little shop.

I lit the oil lamp and waited with considerable excitement to hear of Mr Clark Obadiah Jackson III’s adventures.

To be continued.

A Travel Guide to Clockton – Book Text

In these reduced circumstances (well, to be honest we know all about being reduced, here at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers) our nebulous, non-physical Etsy shop is looking somewhat depleted.  Even the merchandise is now mostly non-physical, since digital downloads can easily be bought and sold and purchases downloaded in the comfort of the customer’s own home.

Our 12th scale DIY books are a case in point.  Here follows the contents of our latest foray into literature – a gazetteer of Clockton-upon-Teas – for your perusal.  Please enjoy, then head across to The SteampunkDollsHouse and purchase your miniature copy at this link.  25% off normal price at the time of writing!

The Splendid Municipality of Clockton-upon-Teas
The view shows part of the Town Square in this delightful small town, where timepieces abound and tea packaging has been carefully repurposed to create a wide array of buildings.
Adjust your goggles and sit back to enjoy a tour of some of Clockton’s most notable edifices.
Steamperley House
It is the only structure in town to have triple towers, each of which is furnished with lightning conductors – an eminently wise and sensible precaution, given the complex engineering which takes place inside.
Known locally as ‘The Glass House’, this delightfully airy residence boasts three large windows which overlook the bustling square.
Lantern Mansion
A most unusual and attractive structure, Lantern Mansion has a finely constructed glass roof, featuring a huge smoked glass dome. We understand that the owners have plans to transform the roof area into a conservatory, subject to planning permission. The mansion is a private residence.
Copperton Tower
A pair of clipped bay trees adorn the enchanting arched entrance, but perhaps this structure’s most striking feature is the copper-edged walkway around the base of the marble – clad spire This neat and charming building houses the headquarters of the Coppersmiths and Brassworkers Guild.
Flaggons
This rather squat, but nonetheless attractive place is home to Clockington’s only micro-brewery. On summer evenings, locals gather at chairs and tables in the Town Square to imbibe their notorious ales and a few rather interestingly flavoured gins.
Gemini Towers
The only building in town to boast two clocks.
 

 

Professor Erazmus’s Gifts

For sale at the SteampunkDollsHouseHigh in one of the attic rooms of the famed Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, Professor Erazmus keeps himself very much to himself.  This is partly because he prefers his own company, but mostly because he does not wish anyone to interfere with his Scrying Machine – a contraption of such sophistication and complexity that its clockwork mechanisms are built into the very walls of the building.

With this astonishing device, the professor is able to peer into the homes and lives of any of his acquaintances and – more especially – those of his many wards.  These young people have now left the safety of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and moved on to make new lives for themselves in all corners of this world and a few others.

However Erazmus still keeps a keen, fatherly eye on each of them and uses his machine to check that all is well in their new homes.

At the approach of the festive season, the professor begins to prowl around the many workshops, inventing rooms and creative corners of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers in search of the perfect gifts for these much-loved young people to whom he has been guardian for so long.  It is with great care and delight that he selects the perfect gift for each of them.

Of course, because of the clever construction of the scrying machine, Erazmus has the added pleasure of being able to watch the reactions of his wards as they open their parcels, no matter how far away they are now living.

Here is Ruby, who moved away long ago.  For her the Professor has chosen one of these delicate holographic scrying mirrors.

He hopes that this will encourage her to keep in touch and let him know what she is up to these days, but he’s not sure that his plan will succeed.

 

 

 

a young showmanThis is young Rufus, who moved away to begin a career as an inventor and travelling showman and was a great favourite of Erazmus’s.

To this enterprising young man, Professor Erasmus has chosen to give this time machine, as soon as it’s finished.

 

Milly, the steampunk housekeeper robotYoung Henry, here, travelled to the East Coast of the United States some time ago and promptly changed his name.

The professor has decided to send him a robot to assist with the routine jobs involved in working the time machine.

 

Lost in a bookLittle Molly has, he knows, gone to an excellent new home in North Wales.  However he has decided to send her some more books, as she can never have enough.

 

 

 

 

 

The content of this post is now on sale in miniature book format in the SteampunkDollsHouse, with even more illustrations.  It can be bought either as a finished book or as a downloadable DIY page, which can be printed out and made up, with full instructions.

The Professor and his Scrying Room are also available there, at this link.

Molly Moving On

There was the tiniest tap on my workshop door.

“Hello Molly.  Come on in.  Everything OK?”

Molly blushed and did that little bob curtsey thing she does.  “I’m so sorry to bother you, Mrs Steampunkle, ma’am.  I wouldn’t normally.  It’s just that this is something rather important ma’am.”

“Molly you’re welcome anytime. So what is this important thing?”

Lost in a bookShe rummaged in her pocket and brought out a rather crumpled envelope. To my surprise, her eyes filled with tears.
“Ma’am, you’ve been so good and kind to me,” she blurted out. “You gave me my first job, and it’s such a good job, too – reading books in the Literary Emporium you built especially for me, and showing the customers how lovely all the books are… And they are lovely too. I really, truly mean that. I just don’t know how to tell you this…”
The poor child began to sob in earnest.

“You want to move on,” I smiled. “Is that it?”

She gasped. “OH! How did you know? I’m so sorry but yes, ma’am. I do. You see I’ve had this letter from her ladyship – Lady Josephine, ma’am, the Lord High Admiral’s wife.  Imagine her writing a real letter to me!  She tells me that she has met Mr Ashley Miller, the famous author of that wonderful book about Brasston and that he is going to accompany them on their visit to that great city, in the dirigible.  But, oh!  Here is the amazing part, ma’am – she says that as it was me, or is it I?  As I was the person who first discovered and showed her the book, they’d like me to go with them on the journey.  I’m just so happy and proud, ma’am, I could burst.  Imagine an ordinary little girl like me taking a ride in the Lord High Admiral’s craft!  And I’ll get to see Lady Josephine again – she was always so kind to me, ma’am.  AND I’ll get to meet Mr Ashley Miller in person!  Oh and I’ll get to visit the amazing, cosmopolitan city of Brasston!
The outside view“But that means, ma’am, that I’ll have to leave you and the Emporium, and whatever will you do, ma’am, to get the visitors to come and read the books if I’m not there to encourage them?”

It would have been quite wrong to laugh, despite the comical appearance of this agitated child – lauging one minute and weeping the next.  I did my best to mop up her tears and assured her that she must of course go on the journey to visit Lady Josephine and accompany her on the expedition to Brasston.

“We could ask young Alice to take over your job in the bookshop,”  I suggested.  “She is a very keen reader.”

The inside viewMolly clapped her hands in delight and agreed that this was a splendid idea.  I then told her I’d found her ladyship’s partly written journal in a dusty corner of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and asked Molly if she would kindly take it with her, so that Josephine could continue to keep a record of her adventures.

“Oh yes, ma’am, of course I will.  She will be so pleased to have it back.  And if you would be so kind, might I also take one of our blank notebook and pencil sets for Mr Ashley Miller, ma’am?  Being a famous author, I’m sure he would want to keep a record of the journey for himself.”

“Molly, that is an excellent idea.  Pop down to the Emporium and choose one for him, then we must help you to pack.”

There followed many tearful ‘thank yous’, interspersed with at least a dozen more ‘ma’ams’.  I am happy to say, though, that Molly set off on her long journey North this morning and will soon be reunited with the Admiral and his lovely wife, and all of us here wish them a most splendid adventure together.

 

More information on Ashley Miller’s Lego-Steampunk fusion book Brasston can be found at this link.

Molly’s Literary Emporium will continue to sell books, both at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls and in our Etsy shop at this link.

A Visit to Brasston, Chapter 3

This is all becoming a rather intriguing co-production…

Some long-standing readers of our little blog may recall a post a while ago in which some of the residents of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers discovered a large book about a steampunk city constructed of Lego bricks.  Jan Miller – the author’s mother – who shares our fascination with steampunk and all things miniature, acquired some of the characters who appeared in the original story and then wrote a sequel as a guest blog.  You can read the story so far at this link.

I’m most happy to say that she has now penned a further intriguing chapter in this saga, which I include below.

A visit to Brasston  Chapter 3

Lady Josephine was just taking afternoon tea in the Conservatory when a blinding flash of light and a loud whirring noise made her jump to her feet, knocking over pots and tea things. There materialised in front of her Mr. Ashley G. K. Miller in a strange contraption with whizzing disc and coloured lights. As it came to a halt he called out, ‘Phew, that was a little hairy!’

‘My dear Mr. Miller!’ exclaimed Josephine ‘What a surprise! – how did you get here?’

‘This is my new Time Machine,’ Ashley explained.  ‘ Following the ideas of the esteemed author, Mr. H.G. Wells. I have experimented with it only once before.’

‘Good Gracious! You mean you have travelled through time?!’

‘ Not exactly on this occasion.’  Ashley climbed stiffly out of the chair squashed behind the driving mechanism. ‘No, I did experiment with that last week, but it was a bit weird – I ended up down a rabbit hole with some very strange characters like an hallucinating caterpillar and a mad hatter.  But talking to them and a little girl called Alice, also from the Larger World, I was interested in her experience of changing size in order to be there. As you know, I am from the Larger World, where I wrote my original Traveller’s Guidebook to Brasston. When you and your friends asked for my help in visiting that extraordinary city, I hit upon the idea of trying to use the machine to shrink myself to your size so that we can all go on this trip to Brasston together.’

‘It seems to have worked- and here…’ Ashley rummaged behind the seat, ‘should be a miniaturised version of that very guidebook for you!’

‘Oh thank you!’ exclaimed Josephine. ‘That will make it a lot easier for us to use, and I was wondering how we were going to get the original guidebook inside our Dirigible.’

‘Exactly.’

‘Will you be able to return to your own size when you go home, however?’

‘Well I did when I got out of the rabbit hole – but I’m not quite sure how I did it!’ mused Ashley.

‘Oh dear, you need to write everything down exactly how you did it to get here, before you forget – would you like to join me for tea while you do that?’

‘What an excellent idea’ agreed Ashley, rummaging for his reduced sized notebook, but then realising he had forgotten the pen to match the size to which he had now shrunk. But Lady Josephine furnished the right size of pen.

‘So do you think the Time Machine adapts to the size of the world into which youtravel?’ she asked.

‘Yes, it seems to adapt to whatever the ambient conditions are,’ replied Ashley.

‘How extraordinary!’

‘Yes, I’m just beginning to explore the possibilities.  But I’m not sure if this will help us when we get to Brasston – they are even smaller than you, being Lego! However, my Time Machine, unfortunately, can only take one person at a time.’

‘Oh! How did you find out about this extraordinary Lego city of Brasston?’

‘Well I was reading the esteemed author, Jonathan Swift, about Gulliver’s Travels, and contacting him through my Time Machine, I found he had discovered this place, as well as Lilliput.’

‘Good Gracious! Do you think they will see us as undesirable giant aliens and pin us to the ground also?!’

‘I hope not, but nothing is achieved by being afraid!’

 

We hope you enjoyed that and are looking forward – as we are – to the next instalment.

The steampunk figures and time machine were made by Steampunk-Shrunk and similar items are available at our etsy shop at this link.  Miniature versions of the Brasston book, as featured in this story, are available to order from this site.  Please use the contact form on the home page.

Ashley Miller’s delightful Brasston book can be purchased in a ‘Larger World’ (full)size version from the Brasston Facebook page by clicking here. It would make a thoughtful gift for anyone, including children, interested in Lego and/or steampunk.

The Book of Potions

Greetings again from Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.

Imagine, dear reader, the bats wheeling and swirling overhead and an incalculable quantity of spiders spinning their webs to coat each corner and dangle from every vaulted ceiling.  Little light penetrates the ivy-clad windows at this time of year and even the log fire hisses and smokes as the damp permeates every part of our ancient building.

Does that set the scene nicely for what follows?

We noticed that we have not yet provided the full text for our rather popular little Book of Potions.  We consider it to be perfectly readable, but there are those who complain that the print is rather small, so here follows a complete transcript for your edification.

 

TO ENABLE SILENT MOVEMENT

Place into a cauldron a quart of ditch water, collected in the dark of the moon.  To this add the following:

– a pinch of broomstick fleas

– 4 bats’ wings

– a scoop of octopus slime

– 2 pinches of tarantula hair

Allow to steep for at least 7 days.
Light a fire beneath the cauldron and boil vigorously for several hours, until a yellow film covers the potion and the mixture is thick.
Strain it into jars and allow to stand for some several days until well congealed.

To use:
Rub the potion all over your body and allow to dry before dressing.  You will now be able to sneak up on your enemies or prey.

HEARING POWDER

When old age, or a strong fascination with heavy metal music has rendered you less able to hear clearly, you will find this substance of great assistance.

Crush the following items together in a pestle and mortar:

– 1 ounce of pickled beetles,

– 3 fly agaric mushrooms

a scoop of brain juice

– 7 camomile flowers

Once you have a smooth powder, bind it together with the whites of as many larks’ eggs as needed to make a firm paste.
Leave to dry until hard, then crumble the mixture into jars or bottles.
A small quantity should be placed into each ear.  The effects will last for approximately 12 hours

POTION TO REPEL THE UNDEAD

Prepare a concoction composed of equal parts  wild garlic, hemlock, sumac, mouldy cheese and dried warts.
This substance will prove quite irresistible to your victim and will draw it to sample the potion.
The active ingredient, however, which will drive all zombies away, never to return, is a plant known commonly as Angel’s Tears. This you must dry and crush very finely, combining it with the other ingredients so that the undead do not perceive it.
Steep this mixture in gin for some thirty days, then pour into shot glasses and leave in places where you suspect the undead will gather or approach.

POTION TO INCREASE LIFE EXPECTANCY

While no potion is proof against natural disasters, mob violence or angry villagers with long pointed sticks, this potion is proven to otherwise extend life to the age of at least 350 years. Indeed, Mistress Althemia Potentate claims to have been alive for 487 years after taking a teaspoonful a day for most of her life.

To a pint of cider vinegar (with the mother), add:

– 17 goji berries

– 3 ounces of rolled oats

– 5 eagle toes

– 6 dead men’s teeth (powdered)

– a sprig of rosemary

– a tablespoon of hearing powder (see earlier recipe)

– a slug of sloe gin

– one cup of cold tea

This should be stirred thoroughly and placed overnight in the light of a full moon before straining and bottling it.

One teaspoon a week, diluted in shark blood if preferred, should be sufficient to prolong your life to a considerable degree. However if you wish to enter the Irish Stout Book of Records or decorate your home with cards of congratulation  from many successive monarchs, you could try taking a teaspoon each day.

INVISIBILITY POTION

No book of potion recipes would be complete without one to render you invisible from other humans.  Be warned, however, that you will still be visible to certain creatures, particularly hobgoblins, elves, banshees, sprites, trolls and vampires.

To your cauldron add a pint of spring water and the following ingredients:

– 14 moth wings (any variety)

– 3 desiccated spiders

– 2 grams of powdered bat wings

– an ounce of eagle fat

– a pinch of thyme

– a few drops of octopus ink

Boil vigorously until dark brown in colour and of a treacle-like consistency.
Take a tablespoon an hour before you require invisibility.
NB Effects wear off quickly.

We are sure you will recognise how useful it would be to have your own copy of this invaluable volume.  Fortunately, you can purchases it for a trifling amount from any of the following outlets:

  • The SteampunkDollsHouse Etsy shop (either as a ready-made book or a printable DIY version) with 20% off during October 2019
  • The Crispin Emorium in Street, Somerset, UK as a ready-made book
  • Magpie Vintage in Midsomer Norton (see previous post for location details) as a ready-made book
  • Steampunk-Shrunk stalls, in both formats.  The next one is the Wells Spooktacular in Wells Town Hall, Somerset on October 26th.

 

 

Book of Spells

“Gracious Heavens!” exclaimed Ava Brassfeather, as she peered from the window of one of Steampunk-Shrunk’s gothic towers.
“Hush, she might hear you, my dear,” hissed Penelope. “She’ll probably put a curse on you, or whatever her sort get up to.”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed Ava, but in a slightly lower tone.

The object of attention was one Mistress Ectophemia Fleabane, the latest – um – companion of the apothecary.   Regular readers may recall the distrust with which our little league of ladies and gentlemen have always regarded the proprietor of The Dodgy Pharmacy, as it is know in these parts.  Since the arrival of his new friend, though, things have taken a definite turn for the worse.

Ava had spotted this woman skulking around the shrubbery far below, gathering plant and insect specimens into dusty jars and pursuing some poor creature or other through the undergrowth with a dagger.  There appeared to be a rather sulky yellowish mist surrounding her.  It was all most unbecoming.

“I’d just persuaded that chap to begin stocking some useful items in his shop,” Hugo told us.  “He’s doing spare parts for mechanical arms, steam engine oil, time traveller pills oh, and some rather fine powder that improves one’s hearing quite astonishingly.”
“Beg your pardon?” said Henry.

But there was barely a smile. No one was in the mood for Henry’s humour. It was as if Mistress Fleabane’s unsavoury yellow fog had settled over everyone.

At that very moment, the door of the tower room creaked open and the crone herself stood before us.  She held out an aged and yellowing tome.

“I’s done yer a book,” she croaked, proudly.  “All writ in me own fair ‘and, it is, with a bit of assistance from me dear friend the apothecary, as he’s so good with ‘is grammar.  It’s SPELLS!”  This last word was issued like a challenge and she fixed her beady little eyes on each of us in turn, daring anyone to object.

“Well how lovely,” cooed Penelope, with impressive presence of mind.  “Thank you so much, Miss, er, Mistress Fleabane.”

Hugo strode forward and took the volume from her hand.  If he was scared that it might explode on impact, he showed no sign of it, although we noticed that he used his mechanical hand to take it.

A long and awkward silence followed.

“Well then,” the woman said at length, “I’d best be gettin’ back to them bats.  Got loads to de-wing before midnight.  I’ll bid you good day.”  And she left as suddenly as she had arrived.

A collective shudder travelled around the room but in spite of our trepidations, we were all keen to read the spells in her book.

Here is what we read:

BOOK OF SPELLS

SPELL TO VIEW PHANTASMS from other dimensions

Hold a holographic mirror before your face and turn towards the direction from which you suspect the creature to be approaching.  NB: This can normally be ascertained by sounds or odours emanating from the beast.

Stamp your left foot upon the ground three times and say,  “Reveal thyself, foul being,” loudly and clearly.

A clear image of the phantasm should become visible in the glass.

You would be wise to hold some means of self defence in your other hand, with which to protect yourself if the being should be of an aggressive nature.  However you will now know exactly what manner of creature you are dealing with.

SPELL TO PROTECT THE TRAVELLER FROM TIME SICKNESS 

When engaging in temporal voyages, the time traveller will often experience unpleasant side effects and become disorientated.  Protect yourself with this spell.

The night before the journey, which should preferably be whilst the moon is waning, smear a generous quantity of octopus slime (available from all reputable apothecaries) over your head, paying particular attention to the area behind and beneath the ears, and recite this chant whilst drinking a strong cup of tea:

“May the e’er-moving oceans instill into me, their calmness in motion as I sup this tea.”

This should enable you to enjoy your time-travelling.

SPELL TO ASSIST THE USER IN MAINTAINING BALANCE AND POISE (particularly useful before a tea duel)

Prepare a concoction composed of equal parts brain juice and broomstick fleas.  Spread it over the part of parts of the body in which you wish the balance to be most evident.  If this is legs and feet, perform the ceremony standing on one leg.  If it is hands and arms hold a moderately heavy object in one hand and attempt to keep it as still as possible.  

Repeat the words, “By brain and broom balanced be,” three times.

You should notice a definite improvement as you speak these words for the final time.

SPELL TO INCREASE STRENGTH AND VITALITY

This spell is best performed in an extremely hot and steamy envirnment, such as an engine room or in the vicinity of any steam-powered contraption.  Light a red candle and place it on the ground.  Allow it to burn while performing the spell.  Remove any particularly restricting or flammable items of clothing (allowing modesty to be your ultimate arbiter when making choices), run in a circle around the candle seven times and then leap over the flame, repeating the words:

“_____________ (insert name) be nimble,  _____________ (insert name) be quick,  _____________ (insert name) jump over the candlestick.”

This may be redolent of a child’s rhyme, but it is in fact a powerful charm which, when used in the manner described imbues the individual with extreme power and fortitude and allows him (or her) to indulge in such onerous and exhausting tasks as are deemed necessary for life.

Ensure that any resultant burning or smouldering garments or soft furnishings are extinguished without delay.

SPELL TO ENCOURAGE GROWTH OF FACIAL HAIR

Should any gentleman feel himself to be lacking a full and lustrous beard, extravagantly bushy side burns or an elegantly waxed moustache, he is advised to perform the following spell:  Vigortously rub a mixture of steam engine oil and tarantula hair (both freely available from reputable apothecaries’ stores) into the requisite area of the face while repeating the words:

“Grow, you fine whiskery protuberances, grow!”

Repeat as required over the next several days.  

Please note: It is not advisable for ladies to use this spell unless they wish to undertake a career in a travelling show or circus.

 

We stared at one another in total astonishment.

“Steampunk witchcraft?” muttered Henry.  “Didn’t know that was a thing.”
“More like a thinly veiled advertisement for the items in their shop,” snorted Hugo.

However many hands thumbed those pages throughout the following days….

Should you wish to procure a copy of this volume, a downloadable version is available from the SteampunkDollsHouse

 

 

Grimoires

Mrs S is away from home at the moment. Leaving Steampunk-Shrunk Towers in the capable hands of Charles and Henry, she has traversed the country once again and is sojourning in the sweltering East.

To keep her occupied in spare moments, she has taken a sheaf of printed covers and pages to construct a plentiful supply of Grimoires – enough to tide us through the plethora of Steampunk-Shrunk stalls coming up this autumn and to cover the inevitable rise in demand at the SteampunkDollsHouse shop around Halloween.

Cutting and glueing the spell books together is the easy part. Each page then needs to be ‘distressed’ to give the appearance of great age.

This is a time-consuming process involving a variety of substances and techniques. Grimoires, after all, must expect to be exposed to all manner of strange environments and materials over the centuries.

Once suitably ancient in appearance, each little volume will be offered for sale. No two are completely alike.

As for the spells, charms and advice hidden within their pages – customers should take these with a large pinch of salt (along with essence of bat wing, scale of newt and a sprinkling of items digg’d in the dark).

Credit must be given to Betsy at www.etsy.com/shop/chocolaterabbit for the excellent covers and illustrations.

Icabod Cogbottle’s Inventing Room

Forgive me if I appear to complain.  My wife Dorothea is the most charming of women and exceptionally skilled, not only at running a household and entertaining our guests, but also as a highly accomplished parasol duellist.  However I do not feel that she fully understands the struggles of an inventor.

Why, she has just entered my workspace once again and remarked – quite harshly, I felt – on the quantity of litter strewn across the floor.  Does she expect that every design will result in a successful invention?  Applying for patents is a most costly and time-consuming process, so I restrict it to only the most promising designs.

If (as I have explained to her on many occasions) she would permit me to create my prototypes in this room, I could adjust them as I go along and the drawings would be far more productive.  Alas, she insists that any tinkering must be restricted to the cellar!   She complains that the smells, dust and general mess involved are unacceptable within the main body of the house.

So why, I can imagine you asking, do I not do my drawings down there as well?  The answer, dear reader, is that the cellar of this house is particularly damp and cold.  That hardly matters when I am actively sawing, soldering or otherwise constructing my machines and gadgets, but it is not an atmosphere conducive to long hours sitting at a desk engaged in meticulous draughtsmanship.

Thus it comes to pass that many of my designs, so painstakingly drawn, end their days screwed up on the floor, from whence (as I explained to Dorothea) it is but a moment or two’s travail for the maid to sweep up and dispose of them.

Nonetheless, I feel I am making great progress, notwithstanding my perplexing situation.  The Swanopede (patents pending) which I am currently working on is of such ingenuity and obvious charm that it will almost certainly bring me the fame and fortune I so earnestly seek.

In the meantime, my first book (Gadgets for Life by Icabod Cogbottle – available at all good booksellers) is bringing in modest royalties and allowing me to continue to pursue my life’s work.

 

Molly’s Literary Emporium

I’m told that today is World Book Day, and to me that sounds like quite the most wonderful type of day to have.

by herselfAs you may remember, books have long been a passion of mine, and as a very small girl, I was given my ideal job – sitting on Mrs S’s Steampunk-Shrunk stalls reading one of her miniature books.  She said I encouraged customers to do likewise.

Now I am older, though, I decided I wanted to open my own bookshop.  I put the idea to Mrs S and she thought about it.
“So yours would be a little ‘shop-in-shop’, Molly? Your emporium would sit in a corner of my stall and you could sell your books from there. Is that what you had in mind?”

“Yes,”  I said.  I’d like rows of bookshelves and a little table with a reading lamp and…”

“And I think that is all we would manage to fit into it, Molly,” she said, firmly.

I had been going to ask for one of those sliding ladders and some stained glass windows, but something in her face told me that I was lucky to be getting a shop at all, so I smiled politely and thanked her.

The outside viewNow it’s finished, I have to say I’m truly delighted with my Literary Emporium.  It’s been built in one of those storage boxes that are made to look like books.

Inside, though, it looks quite opulent, with a carved wood ceiling and a big mirror to reflect the flickering oil lamp, as well as all those shelves of books.  The inside viewThe picture here was taken before I’d finished stacking the shelves, but you’ll get the general idea.  Mrs S put one of her pencils up against the side of the shop, so that you can see the size of it.

She was so pleased with the result that she used a photo of it to sell copies of the books at her Etsy shop.  (If you click on one of these pictures, you should be whisked straight there.)

For me, though, The best part will be opening my shop in person at our next market stall.  You can see where that is on the HOME page of this website.

If you come along, I’ll be delighted to sell you a volume or two.  We even have some magnifying book-reading devices, for those of you who struggle with the print.