How not to be a craft market customer

Well that’s another craft market done and dusted.  Business was slow – all the stallholders agreed.  A fair few people wandered into the town hall and did the circuit, but most appeared to be either exercising their dogs (yes, really) or deliberately aimed their line of vision just above the height of displays and sellers as they walked very briskly and left with wallets intact.

Ah well, we’re used to days like that.  Cost of living rises and all that.  We roll with it.

Fortunately we did shift plenty of the badges and knitted nightingales Mrs S was selling for Ukrainian refugees and – let’s face it – their need is far greater than ours.

IMG_20220326_105649_resized_20220329_112816967Of course there are customers who take an interest and engage.  Most are charming, mildly apologetic that they won’t be buying, but enjoy looking closely at the wares and asking questions.  The smiles on the faces of small children allowed to turn the handles of the wobbly mechanical things and make the birds, balloons etc twirl around made up for the lack of takings.  Then there was the gent who was walking past and did a double take, recognising Mrs S from quite different circumstances.  Having greeted her, he stopped to take in the the stall’s contents.  His eyes moved slowly along the six foot table, then he stopped and stared at Mrs S.

“You made these?”  he asked incredulously.  “What, ALL of them?” when she had smiled and nodded.

He paused for a long while, shaking his head as he clearly made far reaching adjustments to his opinion of our stallholder.

So yes, customers like that are just fine.  We are not expecting everyone to buy and bear them no malice if they don’t, but there are a few who needlessly raise the hackles of those trying to sell their wares.

Please:

  • Don’t bring your dog to an indoor market if it is likely to forage around the displays, scent mark the table corners or yap continuously.
  • Don’t look pointedly at a stall and say, “Did you make all this?  Yes?  Hmm, well done.” in the patronising tones of a schoolmistress from the 1950s.
  • Don’t allow your child to finger anything unless the stallholder specifically invites them to do so.
  • Don’t tell the stallholders they should have made particular items into earrings/brooches/tea cosies if they expected you to consider buying. (These people always smile graciously when politely thanked for their opinion and walk away convinced that they have done a great service.)
  • Finally, and above all, don’t smile at the female stallholder selling items created with wood, metal and resin and ask if her hubby made them.  We quail when Mrs S replies icily that she does not have a ‘hubby’ and if she did, she wouldn’t let him anywhere near her workshop!

Stuff That

IMG_20220313_152937_resized_20220314_095249429Well no, they’re not very steampunk…  We’re deviating slightly for a very good reason.

A visitor to Steampunk-Shrunk Towers last week came clutching a large bag of toy stuffing, intended for use in our miniatures.  Very kind, but none of the items we make include the addition of toy stuffing (well, apart from wisps of mock steam for small boilers and contraptions occasionally).  Mrs S has a firm policy of never peering into the mouths of gift horses, so she sat down to ponder a use for it.

We’d already been intending to have a basket of items on our next market stall (26th March, Glastonbury Town Hall) to sell for Ukraine.  So maybe some tiny soft toys?

Mrs S decided Ukraine must have a national animal, like USA’s eagle or Russia’s bear.  She researched: Nightingale.  Yes, really.  A poignant symbol of the coming of spring, the building of homes and beautiful song.

Could she knit nightingales??

IMG_20220314_095120_resized_20220314_095249127After a huge trawl through online knitting patterns, she found exactly what she needed – a pattern for a small bird, knitted all in one piece.  A work of genius, actually.  It’s more like a cross between knitting and origami, with its many twists and turns and complex shaping, but it comes out just fine.

Friends were polled to decide whether to knit them in natural browns or in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag.  ‘Some of each’ was the verdict, so she has been busily knitting ever since.  A small flock has emerged and will continue to grow.

The proceeds, depending on the situation by that time, will either go to reputable aid charities or to fellow Etsy sellers in Ukraine.  Many of them have had to close their regular shops, but are still able to sell printable digital items and so get their hands on a small income.  Search for ‘Ukraine sellers’ on Etsy and you’ll find everything from beautiful art works, scrapbook papers and recipes to images of the national flag and drawings by the sellers’ children.  You pay by PayPal, the money goes directly into their accounts and you can download the files, send a message of support in the review section and maybe get a hasty but heartfelt message of thanks from the seller.

Etsy has served us well, with our SteampunkDollsHouse shop over the years, so we are happy to support our fellow crafters and artisans in Ukraine at this time.

Mechanical Miniatures

“It’s been a while since we turned our hands to anything mechanical,” my brother Henry said, rather wistfully.

We started exploring piles of promising-looking items in the workshop.

“Wheels?” I suggested, holding up some circular wooden blanks.  “Hard to get the hole for the axle right in the centre though.”

“Cams!” he replied jubilantly.  “Drill the holes off-centre and we can make some cam-operated wind-ups.”

IMG_20220221_094042_742_resized_20220303_101756693 (1)And that was all it took.  He started to put some sturdy little boxes together, the ladies decorated them and I (Charles) got to work on the cam mechanisms and handles.

The first was a multicoloured dancing tree, made from twisted wires, sequins, beads and charms.  Next we raided the vintage watch parts for some springs and gears to put together with coiled copper wire.  Then we became more ambitious and produced a tiny hot-air balloon, complete with top-hatted magnificent men to fly it.  100% upcycled junk!  An old Christmas tree bauble was covered in plastic mesh which held Mrs S’s garlic, a few beads and jewellery bits added for the basket and the gents were fashioned from cotton bud stalks with tiny shoe eyelets for their hats!  Many hours of exacting work, of course, but we’re very happy with the finished result and now planning a series of dancing birds, octopuses and who knows what…

Proud to say that this week they have been the most viewed item in our Etsy shop.  Here’s a quick link, in case you’d like to take a look.

Heart, Flag, Ukraine, Kyiv, NationalOh, and while you’re on Etsy, we’d recommend searching for printable items produced in Ukraine.  Our fellow sellers there have been forced to shut their regular shops, due to the war, but still receive money direct to their PayPal accounts if we buy their digital artwork.

Ginger Flies In

IMG_20220213_104455_resized_20220213_105303441That was a close shave!  Just as daylight was fading on Friday night, Mrs S pronounced Ginger Jenkins, our latest arrival, fit to travel with us on the Saturday morning, to the Craft & Vintage Market in Glastonbury Town Hall.

We were a motley crew, but drew many admiring glances – Ginger in his flying leathers, Wizard Widdershins glaring enviously as other wizards’ staffs outshone his own, Eliza the tiny toffee apple seller, the two young glamorous ladies (Holly displaying rather too much of her scarlet fishnet stockings for my liking), dependable George the tinkerer and Cecily and myself – Gwendoline – engaged in a tea duel in our favourite little café.  Mind you, I do think Cecily should cut back on the amount of gin she secretly adds to her tea.

20180206_164936“Just a nip, my dear, to keep me alert,” she insists, but she slid from her chair on numerous occasions.  Rather unseemly.

Still, all in all, it was a delightful affair and Mrs S was very pleased with our takings.

We will be returning to the same venue on March 26th and hope to meet more lovely customers then.  Meanwhile, Mrs S is busy adding Ginger, and a few items of jewellery to the Etsy shop, which you can visit here.

Message in a Bottle

Just a week to go until our first market stall of 2022!

Mrs S has dusted down the wheelie suitcase and the big black bag and we are preparing for the half mile trundle down to the Craft & Vintage Market at Glastonbury Town Hall on Saturday 12th February.

IMG_20220205_103944_resized_20220205_104029899Obviously Valentine goodies will be featured – from steampunky stuffed velvet and leather hearts with keys, clocks, chains and more or less anything else that came to hand, to heart-shaped pendants decorated with cogs or crystals.

Talking of Crystal – our lovely little fortune teller won’t be joining us.  She has left the Towers and should be arriving in Indiana around now to join her new custodian.  Wizard Widdershins has agreed to join us, though (unless the person who has had him in their basket at the Etsy Shop for several weeks now finally heads to the checkout) so there will be a good selection of miniature ladies and gentlemen.

IMG_20220203_140856_resized_20220205_104030215Perhaps under the cover of those mists we mentioned last time, a selection of tiny bottles has washed up on our banks.  (Avalon is, after all, an Isle, if only in name at present.)  Each contains a couple of sparkles or tiny gems and a mysterious message, intended only for the eyes of its new recipient.  That’s if they can manage to get it out of the bottle… not easy but possible.  We’ve tested them.

Some of these items, and more besides, will be making their way across Somerset to the ever-exciting Magpie Vintage shop in Midsomer Norton in the next few days.

Enjoy your week and we hope to see some of you at one of our outlets soon.

The Towers in Winter

Few visitors are finding their way to Steampunk-Shrunk Towers at present, shrouded as it is in the mists of Avalon.  Travellers pass by, huddled in their greatcoats, gloves and bobble hats (Why do those hats have bobbles?  Such an odd custom…) but few would guess the hive of activity concealed behind our heavy timber doors.

IMG_20220112_142044_resized_20220112_022338333 (2)No peace for us.  We’ve been busy replenishing stocks – trying hard to remember just how we made those lines that sold out last year and, obviously, inventing new ones.  Once again, we’re happy to announce, there are over 100 lines for sale at the Steampunk Dolls House and more still to fill our market stalls for the coming year.

IMG_20220116_105511_resized_20220116_105704052 (1)The first of those is fast approaching – Saturday 12th February (so just in time for Valentine’s Day!) at the Craft and Vintage Fair in Glastonbury Town Hall, Somerset from 10.30.

Take a look at some of our latest creations – the tiniest pendants decorated with real (but suitably miniature) crystals,  a range of larger heart pendants with our usual steampunk twist and if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart sufficiently on these cold, grey days, take a look at our 1:12 scale fire pits, complete with flickering flames.IMG_20220127_150539_resized_20220129_100109982 (1)

Enjoy browsing the shop, from the comfort of your own living rooms, and we look forward to seeing those of you who live in or close to Somerset very shortly.

Watch the Birdie (or the Horse or the Gecko…)

Sincere apologies for not posting an update recently.  Life on the road (or pavement, mainly, as Mrs S tends to walk to our market stalls, dragging us along in a wheelie suitcase or two) has been all-consuming.  

IMG_20211119_100027We have a brief respite now until our last sale of 2021 at Glastonbury Town Hall on December 18th, then a winter break until February.  The Etsy shop, of course, continues to thrive (we’ve just been awarded ‘Star Seller’ status for December!) and we’ve recently re-stocked our shelves at Magpie Vintage and Curiosities in Midsomer Norton.

We’re including a few photos from a recent market.  Meeting real humans again has been a delight and the response to our stalls has been overwhelming.  If you’re one of the people who took our business card and have recently discovered this blog, welcome, by the way.

IMG_20211119_095339Mrs S has enjoyed herself thoroughly and is kept busy creating new stock in between all the sales.  Here she can be seen showing off the Case of the Apothecary’s Shop and some of the Clockton-upon-Teas buildings.  We have a very few of those left for the next stall, then we’ll be raiding the recycling box for more packets and bottles to upcycle ready for next year.

The standout best-sellers on our stalls this season, though, have been the ridiculously eccentric watch-part pendants, badges and brooches.

IMG_20211125_141214_resized_20211202_120636288Having been gifted many boxes of vintage Swiss watch parts – from the days before batteries, back when the clockwork mechanisms were wound by hand – Mrs S spends many happy hours at her desk, picking out one tiny piece after another and deciding what, in that strange mind of hers, they look like.  Here, for example, you might be able to spot a gecko driving a combine harvester, Rudolf the wonky reindeer, a flying griffin, a bird on wheels and a turkey… or not!  It’s very much in the eye of the beholder.  IMG_20211126_131538_893_resized_20211202_120636791Our current favourite is this little horse.  Odd that watch parts lend themselves to such an interesting range of designs, including animals.  Mind you, we’ve recently been asked if there’s an otter… even watch parts have their limits!

If you live in Somerset and want to pay us a visit at the fair, do come and introduce yourself.  Sadly we aren’t planning to do any steampunk conventions or sales further afield in the foreseeable future, but will work hard to keep our other outlets stocked – and to post regularly here.

Wishing all our followers and patrons (and anyone else who stumbled across this site) a joyous festive season and a most auspicious New Year.

 

On the Road Again!

There are just a handful of people left here at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers who remember the touring days.  The rest of us listen with a mixture of respect, envy and terror as they tell us tales of being bubble-wrapped, boxed and thrust into Mrs S’s trusty old wheelie suitcase, then trundled away on journeys lasting many hours.

SITC21.jpg WEB (1)“Ah,” they say, “but when you finally arrive and are unpacked – then it’s all worth it!  You’ll be placed ever so carefully in just the right spot to display your fine costumes and intricate details.  Fairy lights and spotlights will illuminate the stall and people will come to stare, to gasp, to admire… and sometimes to buy and take you off to a new home.”

IMG_20210928_153101_resized_20210928_033607222We had almost given up hope of experiencing a fair ourselves, but now we have FOUR to look forward to before the end of the year!

The months of lockdown in the Towers have been pleasant enough.  The visits from the plague doctors and others were diverting, but to see Mrs S dusting off the suitcase and searching out her stocks of bags and boxes…  Well we can’t deny that we are more than a little excited.

Bootiful Miniature Upcycling

Here at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, we love recycling.  Mrs S is, to quote Shakespeare, ‘a snapper up of unconsidered trifles’.  Junk packaging, broken dolls and furniture, charity shop finds… all are squirrelled away and lovingly upcycled when inspiration arrives.

img_20210920_165032_469IMG_20210916_105712_resized_20210921_110939915Some of our favourite finds are the little packs of boot and shoe eyelets we pick up for a fairly modest price (and an excellent cause) from the local children’s hospice charity shop.  They are leftover stock given to the charity by Clarks – the famous shoe manufacturers a mile or two down the road.

As you can see, the plain round ones make quite perfect camera lenses at 12th scale.

img_20210919_102222_981_resized_20210921_110659377There are all manner of fancy designs, though. It didn’t take us long to realise that they would be ideal as miniature candlesticks.

We hand-roll wax around a length of sewing thread, place them in the eyelets and light them just for a moment to blacken the wick and (if we’re lucky) create a drip.

Holographic Reflections

20161230_192628-1Professor Laszlo Erazmus here.  Delighted to see you all again.

I felt it was high time I updated you on the comings and goings at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, now the plague doctors have departed and life has returned to what passes for normal hereabouts.

Mrs S has survived the strange times and is currently hunting in various attics and cobweb-coated cupboards for the last few items to be restored to our virtual shop.  The stock room is full to bursting and our resident tinkers are bearing the thoughtful expression which presages a burst of frenetic activity, usually resulting in more interesting gizmos and gadgets for sale.

12th scale Holographic Hand Mirror  Steampunk Dollhouse gold without ringI am kept busy producing my holographic hand mirrors – a modest contribution to the SteampunkDollsHouse‘s stock, but definitely a best seller, with many five star reviews to their credit.  Miniature Photographic Studio  Model Photographer and Shop in image 0However I did permit myself a brief respite to visit the photographic studio of one of our newest residents – Mr Harold Wallington.  I’m sure you’ll agree that his photographic portrait (above) captures my likeness rather well and I would earnestly recommend his services should you wish to procure an image for yourself.  Mr Wallington and his shop can be found at this link.

We look forward to welcoming many of our patrons back to the shop in the ensuing months and indeed to take Steampunk-Shrunk out into the wider world once again as long as the plague continues to subside.