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!
It 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.
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.
High 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.
This 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.
Young 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.
Little 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.
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…
Nevertheless, 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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“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.
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.
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).
As regular readers will know, Mrs S has this unfortunate habit of stuffing us all into suitcases from time to time and heading off across the country to run Steampunk-Shrunk stalls in far flung places. We are jolted on and off trains, up and down escalators and thrown into luggage holds on coaches and it is far from pleasant.
“Well,” she says, a trifle testily, “If Henry and Charles would focus their excellent minds on creating space machines instead of time machines, perhaps they would contrive some sort of mechanism to move us smoothly and effortlessly across the land. Until then, we are all stuck with our present modes of transportation.”
However she has agreed to work locally for a few months, and we are delighted to say that all our forthcoming sales are based within our beautiful county of Somerset. (Check the home page for dates and venues.) And of course we still have our delightful outpost at The Crispin Emporium in Street.
Last Saturday, we had a gentle, ten minute stroll in the sunshine to the Glastonbury Craft and Vintage Fair. Such a delight!
We watched with rather mixed feelings as the beautiful Store of Strangeness was carried away to a new home, but imagine our delight when the purchaser returned a while later to collect Doctor Harbottle Thrustington to be the shop’s manager. He doesn’t give much away behind those reflective glasses, but we could tell he was delighted at the prospect. He was still more pleased when this charming customer decided to take Molly Forsey along to be his companion. We think they make the perfect couple and wish them well in their new home.
I have this pile of vintage clockwork parts, as many of you will know. Time hasn’t been kind to them, left as they were to rot in an attic for decades.
The ones I can clean up and get working are either sold as they are to automaton makers or turned into pretty clockwork twittering birds that sell as fast as I can make them. The ones that have seized up completely are taken to pieces, the parts being upcycled into our miniature gizmos and contraptions.
But there was this one. It defied all reason. The spring had snapped, the rubber bellows had perished, the little band that turned a few cogs in the middle had disintegrated, and yet, when I turned the key, it whirred into life. I had no idea how parts of it were still working.
It most certainly couldn’t be sold or turned into a singing bird. I removed the broken bellows and whistle. Stubbornly, the part that was left continued to function. Admittedly it was rather primitive, but each time I gave the key a few turns, the brass bit in the middle zoomed around at a rate of knots and the arm which should have moved the bird waved up and down unevenly, controlled by the blue steel cam. I presume one of the broken parts had once regulated the speed. The other mechanisms move relatively sedately. This one, though, buzzed like an insect as it spun around…
…and that gave me an idea.
I hunted in an old box of bracelet charms and found a few dragonflies, a butterfly and a bee. These were painted in jewel colours and most were stuck to the casing. Another was threaded on to a length of copper wire and fixed to the wheel in the centre.
Next I turned my attention to the arm.
Arm! That was when the idea of the Clockwork Entomologist came to mind. Somewhere I had… yes… in one of those boxes of junk-I’ll-find-a-use-for-one-day…
There it was – a 12th scale butterfly net!
Constructing a pair of arms and hands from epoxy putty was relatively easy. One held the net and was molded to the flailing metal arm. The other held a diminutive magnifying glass, cobbled together with a few bits from the stash. It fitted neatly into the now empty housing from the bird whistle. A pair of small black sleeves and cuffs dressed the arms in a suitably formal fashion. My entomologist might lack all other body parts, but those he had were at least well attired.
The mechanism was housed in a small cardboard box, decorated with an assemblage of suitable images. A few coffee stirrers were sawn up to make a cover for the spring, so that the sharp, snapped steel edges would be safely covered.
So there it is – my rather inept clockwork bug collecting automaton, swiping ineffectually with his net at the buzzing insect each time the little brass key is turned.