The Theatres of Clockton

“What Clockton-upon-Teas needs is some culture,” announced Lucy Larks-Thrustington.

Steampunk 12th scale Porcelain Jointed Dollhouse Doll Lady LucyLucy is one of our newest arrivals at Steampunk-Shrunk towers.  She is, by profession, a dancer of some sort.  By Jove, she certainly has the legs for it… Ahem.  Anyway, she was looking at me and my brother Charles as she spoke, as if she expected us to conjure up some kind of performance.

“Not quite our forte, Madam,” I told her.  “Now if it’s a nice device or gadget you’re after – a portable time machine or flux capacitor or something, look no further.  And anyway, theatres are closing down everywhere – all this confounded anti-sociable distancing malarkey.”

All the more reason for us to open a few, then,” she smiled cheerfully.  “Let’s make miniature theatres – with cardboard cut-out characters.  Then we can put on shows for the good people of Clockton; cheer them up a bit, you know?  I’m sure you clever gentlemen would be able to make the performers move around the stage.  You are so gifted.”

Oh, that smile!  Gracious, she is a very persuasive young lady.  Charles was clearly all too keen to help.

“What scale were you thinking of, dear lady?” he asked, eagerly grabbing a notepad and pencil.  “After all, we are already what most would consider to be – ah – miniature.”

(This was said with an accusatory glance at me.  Will I never live down that unfortunate space-time fluctuation which might have been partly due to the malfunction of an early device I built?  I know it led to our population shrinking to one twelfth of our original size and I have apologised repeatedly.  However we are very comfortable here in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and have what many would call an excellent life. thanks to dear Mrs Steampunkle – a normal-sized lady who has opened her home to us.)

“No, darling! Far smaller than us!” exclaimed Lucy.  “Tiny people – about this big?” She indicated approximately an inch with her hands.  “I see them on little stages dancing and perhaps a few trapeze artistes, a tumbler or two and ballet, of course…”

“Well,” I said, slowly, “there’s a pile of box lids in the corner of the workshop, left over from the clockwork bird cases.  They might do for stages.  About the right size…”

“Splendid!” she cried.  “I knew you would be the gentlemen to ask!  I’ll go and cut out some suitable characters and leave the construction work to you.”

Tiny theatre  miniature stage with dancers  moving ballet image 3Charles decorated the stages, creating backdrops, curtains, wings and so forth.  I set to work with copper wire, coffee stirrers, cocktail sticks and pins to create the movement.  Soon we had several little theatres with beechwood sliders to move Lucy’s figures across the stage, rocking swings and even a metal balancing beam for a tumbler to turn around on.

Theatre Model  Mini Stage  Dancing Diorama  OOAK Miniature image 7The good people of Clockton-upon-Teas and all the inhabitants of the Towers came to watch our performances.  Ava found some splendid musical renditions to play on her phonograph and while Charles and I moved the sliders back and forth and twiddled the knobs, the audience gasped and applauded in a most gratifying manner.

 

Should you wish to choreograph your own miniature ballet or create a circus performance of your own, do head across to the SteampunkDollsHouse, where our creations can be purchased.  You will discover there that Lucy, too, has her price.  I suspect she is that sort of dancer…

 

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.

 

 

Clockton-upon-Teas

Tea Cup, Vintage Tea Cup, Tea, CupIt all started with tea.  Hardly surprising – our little hive of fairly pointless but hugely enjoyable industry runs largely on tea most of the time.  Not, I hasten to add, the sweetened, milk-infested mud-brown builders’ variety.  We are partial to fascinating infusions – green, white, herbal – with interesting combinations of subtle flavours.  When pressed to drink black tea, a little Earl Grey, or better yet Lady Grey (the citrus blends so well with the bergamot) is acceptable.  Without milk, obviously.

Imagine, then, our total delight when a visitor to Steampunk-Shrunk Towers arrived bearing the most delectable of gifts: a clear acrylic box containing small cardboard pyramids, each containing a different variety of tea.  Such a thoughtful present.  Mrs S positively purred with delight.

For the next week or two we sipped all manner of enticing blends.  (Some a little more enticing than others, it must be said; rooibos combined with chocolate and vanilla is something of an acquired taste, I feel, although green and pomegranate was an unexpected delight.)  As the tea was consumed, the little card pyramids were carefully placed on one of the few remaining clear horizontal surfaces while we waited for their next incarnation to become apparent.

We are – as many readers will know – purveyors of upcycled items.  We pride ourselves on reusing what many would consider waste to create new objects of desire.  These tiny containers clearly had some wonderful incipient purpose.  It was our role to discover it and make the transformation.  Pondering possibilities, teacup in hand, is one of our major tasks.

“Church spires?” ventured Madame Ava Brassfeather.  “A sort of city of spires, perhaps.”
Hugo Fforbes nodded. “Or maybe roofs on turrets – a gothic mansion or two with clocks and flagpoles.”
“Clock towers, yes, could work…” muttered Henry, thoughtfully.
“They’d be too small for us to fit inside,” Gina pointed out.

Gina is a young American girl, lodging with us temporarily whilst awaiting her father’s arrival (when Mrs S gets around to creating him).  She was right, of course.  But as Lady Cristabel pointed out, in a miniature retro-futurist world, size – like time – is distinctly relative.

More tea was imbibed, more empty boxes found, and interesting paint or paper applied to every surface.  That clear plastic box in which the tea bags had arrived was pressed into service to make arched windows.  Curtain rings, cocktail sticks, drinking straws and various beads were gathered.  The extensive stash of adhesive tapes – metallic, decorative, double-sided – was raided.  Gradually a rather wonky, rust-toned, multi-towered building emerged.

The town hall of our new urban development was judged a success.  Soon more buildings followed and before we knew it, the town of Clockton-upon-Teas started to form.

The structures, being made of lightweight card and plastic, are easily manoeuvered around, even by 6 inch tall artisans.  Thus the town changes rapidly and frequently.  If I’m brutally honest, I have to admit that we have become rather obsessed with creating this delightful, clock-infested borough.

What will become of it?  Mrs S is planning to take Clockton along to the Best of Somerset Show in the City of Wells later this month.  If any parts of it remain, they may find their way to the deliciously quirky Magpie Vintage shop in Midsommer Norton, or even our Etsy shop – the SteampunkDollsHouse.

The Black Door

It’s possible that the ancient black wooden door at the front of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers is as old as the building itself.  Certainly there is a huge iron key that looks to be many centuries old.

What comings and goings that door must have seen.  And certainly there have been plenty in the present month.

Just imagine our amazement when the infamous Dr Oskar Kopp and his ‘enhanced’ assistant Bjørn arrived.  They had left us several years ago to accompany a reknowned storyteller and share their tales with her audiences.  Now, it seems, the good lady is moving to another continent and asked whether she could return these gentlemen and their laboratory to us.

If you are unfamiliar with their story, you could go to this link and its successor and read about them.

The doctor, we noticed, looked somewhat older and perhaps slightly frail.  Bjørn, on the other hand, appears to be thriving with his mechanically enhanced brain and strong clockwork heart.  We look forward to hearing about his research into alchemy, when Dr Kopp is out of earshot.

However there have also been some departures.

Augustus Robottom has clearly become disillusioned with the little robots he has been creating.  He grabbed a copy of The Time Traveller’s Companion and announced that he was relocating to Alabama.

“But what about these small, er, devices of yours?”  Mrs S enquired.

“Confound the things!” he said gruffly.  “I suggest sending them over to the Magpie.  I think they would fit in well there.”

“Ah yes.  Excellent idea,” agreed Mrs S, and she began packing them up to take to the rather wonderful Vintage and Curiosities shop she supplies in Midsomer Norton.

The very next day, Mr Coggleford the furniture restorer and young Jasper, his son and apprentice, told us that they intended to follow in Gus’s footsteps and would be taking one of the time machines as well as one of their finest cabinets with them.

All three will be sorely missed here, but we applaud their ambition and hope that their life in the New World will be most successful.

Now we hear rumours that more ladies and gentlemen will be joining us to once again swell the ranks of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers’ inhabitants.  Today, though, with storms raging outside, the massive black door remains firmly shut.

 

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.

Chestnuts roasting on a Steam-Powered Engine?

Steampunk Christmas?  The words don’t go together too well, do they?

Vague images of a brown and black clad Santa in a filthy coal-fuelled sleigh, hauled by robot reindeer, or a rusty artificial tree made with cogs of diminishing sizes…

on sale at Sheampunk-shrunk stallsNevertheless, we do have our own line in suitably eccentric tree decorations.  The Wild and Wonky Decorations are a splendid mix of beads, coiled wire, charms and curiosities.  The odd vintage watch cog, key or teapot may be thrown in for good measure.

Let no one accuse us of having a bah humbug approach to the festive season.

We were delighted with the number of people (mothers and daughters, mostly) who rushed at our recent stall at the Glastonbury Folk Craft Market, crying, “Oh look at those robots/ time machines/ gadgets!  Dad/Uncle Jim/your brother would love one of those.”

Many an item was purchased to be hidden away for Christmas.

Customers also seem to love our tiny items – amulets, potion bottles, scrying mirrors, miniature wax candles and so forth to use as cracker gifts or stocking fillers.

Last but by no means least are our tiny 12th scale books.  All were written in house and each has a full text and coloured cover.  Several are also lavishly illustrated.  There are steampunk stories, a catalogue of Robottom’s robots, a time-traveller’s companion, as well as books of spells, charms and potions.  If you’ve left it too late to have them posted, many are also available in Do-It-Yourself format as instant printable downloads.  All you (or the recipients) need is a printer, a glue stick and a pair of scissors or craft knife.  Full instructions are provided.

Browse the Steampunk Dolls House for all titles available and if you like a bargain, do check the very special price on our DIY book bundle, with a selection of 5 books for less than £1 each.

One customer bought a bunch of these to hand around the dinner table instead of Christmas crackers, so that all her guests could make and go home with their own miniature book.  All titles are suitable for children as well as adults.

Of course there is the usual range of Steampunk figures, furniture, time machines, watch cog jewellery and far more besides at our etsy shop, but please order early, as we have much travelling to do in December.

Festive greetings to all our kind followers and customers.

Spooktacular Views

“Well, young Jasper,”  said Hugo Fforbes, in the deepest and most sinister voice he could manage, “If I pull my cape around myself just so, do you think I could pass for Count Dracula?”

Jasper looked critically at the elderly gentleman and paused.
“Well, Sir,” he said at length, “I think it would be rather a pity to cover your splendid mechanical arm. It looks far more imposing than those false teeth.”

Hugo smiled. “Perhaps you’re right, my boy. I’m just trying to get into this Halloween spirit.”

“Well Pa said we’re already fairly spooky, being retrofuturists and only existing in a parallel universe.  And when I asked Mrs S if she’d be dressing up for the Spooktacular Fair on Saturday, she said if she didn’t wear any make-up that would be enough to scare all the customers away.  She said we should simply be ourselves.”

“Well to be honest, that’s quite a relief,” the Steamic War veteran exclaimed.  “Those vampire teeth cut into my gums most unpleasantly.”

Amulets for protection

“I think it will be a lot like any other Steampunk-Shrunk stall, to be honest,”  added Jeremiah, Jasper’s father, who had just sauntered across to join them.  “We will be displaying our black and silver furniture range.  The witch’s hovel will probably be centre stage and there are all manner of skull candles, steampumpkins and potions for those of a ghoulish disposition.  I gather Mrs S has added in extra copies of the spell and potion books, too.”

“And I’ve never seen so many purple lights,”  grinned Jasper.  “I think it’s going to be rather exciting.”

Bell, book & candle sets

“Well the last time I visited the city of Wells, it seemed a rather sedate place,” Hugo observed.  “Many of the locals seemed to be in the autumn of their lives, one might say, and did not appear the type of persons to dress up in, er…”

“Vampire costumes?” suggested Jasper.

“Touché,” Hugo smiled, tapping the boy’s bowler hat playfully.  “At any rate, I need to go and oil my arm, ready for Saturday.”

“What was that about?”  Jeremiah asked.

“Oh, nothing Pa.  Could we perhaps hide a few of the pumpkins and skulls in our cabinets?”

Trays of potions, cures and poisons

“Well maybe one or two,” agreed his father.  “But keep it subtle.”

It remains to be seen whether Jasper heeds his father’s advice.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of the small – but perfectly formed – city of Wells in Somerset on Saturday 26th October 2019, do come along to the town hall and hunt us out.

Failing that, we will be in the Assembly Rooms in Glastonbury on November 16th – the day of the famous Glastonbury Carnival.

We look forward very much to making your acquaintance at one of these events.  If you live too far away, however, we currently have a Spooky Sale promotion on a number of Halloween-related items (as shown here) at our SteampunkDollsHouse Etsy shop.

Steaming off to the Seaside

Well no, sadly we won’t be steaming.  there are some quite splendid steam railways around these parts, but our journey this weekend takes us on a couple of buses instead.

We will be journeying through picturesque hillside villages in the Mendips and ending up on the esplanade of the delightful resort of Weston-super-Mare.  Only Mrs S will be able to enjoy the scenery, of course.  The rest of us will be squashed into that suitcase of hers.  Even more annoyingly, she has decided to bring along Mistress Ectophemia Fleabane and her hovel.  The smell is quite distasteful, to say the least.  It is best not to know what she is brewing in that caudron.

There is quite a little party of us, though.  Mr Coggleford and his remarkable son Jasper are coming along for the first time and little Alice will be putting in an appearance, as well myself, Lady Cristabel, Grace Pendleton and the distinguished inventor Augustus Robottom.  We will endeavour to stay as far from that creature as possible, and hope that she finds a new home to plague enjoy.

Coggleford & Son are bringing along a selection of their beautifully restored furniture and there is a slightly alarming ‘spooky section’, influenced, no doubt, by you-know-who.

 

I have to admit, though, the display is going to look quite striking with all those purple lights shining up through the potion bottles and amulets.  Not to mention the creepy cabinets!

All in all, we should have a very inviting stall at the Dollshouse and Miniatures Fair being held at the rather impressive Royal Hotel on Sunday 22nd September from 10am – 4pm.

Do hope some of you will be able to visit, and please buy that Fleabane woman  yourselves some delightful miniature treasures.

Kind regards,

Delilah Camshaft

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.