A Tall Dark Handsome Stranger

We get all manner of diminutive characters appearing at the gates of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.  One never knows who will appear next.  So I wasn’t surprised when a rather lovely young lady in a flowing sage green and dusky pink dress with a silk headscarf and dangling earrings arrived.  Initially she introduced herself as Gladys from Glastonbury, but her professional name is – apparently – Psychic Sabrina.
“I thought of spelling it P-s-a-b-r-i-n-a, but I think that’s a bit much, don’t you?”
Yes, I did.

“So you’ll be wanting somewhere to work, um, Sabrina,” I said.

She nodded gratefully.  “Just a very small consulting room.  I could do with a couple of chairs and a little table, if possible, and maybe somewhere to store these.”
As she spoke, she was unpacking a trunk containing the tools of her trade – a dowsing pendulum, a pack of cards, a large golden teapot (“tea leaf readings, my lovely”), and sure enough a china cup and saucer.

“I was drawn here, you know,” she confided. “The cards told me to come.  They showed me – I mean, I know it sounds a little clichéd, but it was so clear – that I’d meet a gentleman here who would be, well, significant in my life.  Tall, dark haired, very good looking.”

I thought about our few remaining gentlemen.  Most had left for America last month.  George Entwistle has almost no hair and can only lay claim to being the 12th scale equivalent of 5ft 9 by wearing his top hat everywhere he goes.   Hugo is certainly a distinguished-looking chap and may have been dark haired once, but he’s been grey for many a year.  That only left oil-smeared Henry and his brother…

“Charles,”  I called,  “Could you give me a hand making a set of shelves for a little room I’m putting together?  A stack of about three, to hang on the wall?  A nice grungy but feminine paint or paper finish, please.”

Charles went to work at once, while I set about covering an old room box with some rather beautiful floral papers and painting oddments of furniture in a mix of brown, anthracite and bronze.

Psychic Sabrina, meanwhile, remained strangely unaware of what was going on around her as she unpacked crystals, a ouija board and a set of tarot cards, lovingly wrapped in a dark silk cloth.  Next came various candles and a bottle of dried berries (“Rowan, for protection, dearie”).  I hoped the shelves would be large enough.

The next day all was ready for Sabrina to move in.  She was delighted with the room and spent some time putting up posters and charts, then began stacking her shelves and arranging the furniture.

It was only natural that Charles would drop by to check on his handiwork and to introduce himself to our latest resident.  He came upon the lady as she was deeply engrossed in a tea leaf reading and his gasp was audible.

Sabrina finally pulled herself out of her state of deep concentration to find him standing there.  She’s a professional, I’ll give her that.  There was the tiniest flicker of recognition in her eyes, as she realised that this was the stranger she had come to meet, but she quickly regained her composure and greeted him with a friendly smile.

“Hello, lovely.  Have you come to have a reading?”

I’ve never seen Charles lost for words before.  His mouth opened and closed a few times before he could trust himself to speak.

“Ahem, well, I actually came to check whether the shelves were suitable for your needs, madam.  A-a reading, you say?  Are you some sort of a fortune teller or something?  Never dabbled in such things before, but…  Well, it couldn’t hurt, could it?”

Sabrina was clearly used to putting anxious customers at their ease.  “Oh, so you’re the gentleman who built these splendid shelves.  Why, they are just perfect for my equipment, thank you.  What a craftsman you are!  Yes, I can tell you about yourself, point you in the direction of the best paths to take for a happy and successful future and answer any questions you have.  Shall we begin with a palm reading?  You just come and take a seat.  I’d like to give you a reading as payment for your hard work on my room.”

Charles nodded meekly and sat down.  He answered Psychic Sabrina’s questions – his name, his circumstances – without once taking his eyes from her face.  She smiled and nodded, studying him just as intently.
“Let’s begin with your right hand, then” she cooed, finally. “Just hold it out for me.  Are you happy for me to hold it?”

“Oh yes, certainly,” Charles replied, a little too eagerly.

Me, I’m no clairvoyant, but I think the writing is on the wall as far as these two are concerned.

 

 

 

Robot Rebellion

Poor Augustus.  He looks very apologetic and slightly alarmed.  He holds himself entirely responsible for the furious beeping and light-flashing, not to mention the broken crockery and so forth, but it really isn’t entirely his fault.

You see, when one is a serial collector of all manner of unconsidered trifles, as Shakespeare would have it, there comes a time when a major clear-out must occur.  This was just such a time.

I used vast quantities of broken jewellery, charms and other pleasingly-shaped objects to create some of our Wild and Wonky seasonal tree decorations.   However there is a limit to what can be suspended from a Christmas tree.

I felt that the football boot studs, the broken plastic wind instruments, the polystyrene packaging, the various bottle caps and the two broken toy motorcycles would be a step too far, so I did what I usually do at such times.  I handed them over to the highly enterprising Augustus Robottom and suggested he make some more of his very popular junk robots.

True to form, Gus produced some little wonders.  There was a small butler bot holding a goblet of wine, a robot maid with teapot and cup, several messengers, guard bots and a very cute little handyman with screwdriver, drill and assorted useful bits and bobs.

Then the trouble started.

junk robot bikersGus began to transform the motorbikes.

They had been in a sorry state when I first found them in the 50p box of a local charity shop, but once Augustus had worked his magic and added in some rather unlikely components, he produced a couple of quite extraordinary biker bots.

The paintwork was transformed with glittery nail varnish and metallic wax.  Huge exaust pipes were fashioned from a plastic trumpet and saxophone.  An action figure’s mask became a grille on the front of one.  A plastic drinking straw became a huge steam funnel on the other.  The little robot drivers were fixed into place – one leaning forward eagerly, the other a rather laid-back easy rider.

Gus pronounced himself pleased with the result.

Then the trouble started.

the robots spot the bikerThe smaller robots caught sight of Robot G on his gleaming copper and gold motorbike.  Pandemonium broke out.

Remember R2-D2 at its most animated and loud?  Multiply that by eight and add in the smashing of household items and you’ll have some idea of the hubub caused by the consternation of the jealous little robots.

I’m not sure what that butler was offering me in his jewelled goblet, but it looked rather more like a poisoned chalice than a glass of wine.   Beaded arms and fists were raised and each mouth spewed unbridled fury.  They encircled poor Augustus, each demanding a shiny set of wheels for themselves.  Alas, I had to admit I’d only been able to aquire two bikes.

We both felt it best they didn’t meet Robot I, the second biker.  Fortunately, he was quickly snapped up by a collector in the United States, so their paths will not need to cross.

“Perhaps,” I suggested later, “it would be better to make your next batch of robots without emotion chips.”

Sadly, Augustus agreed.

The remaining robots will be on sale at the Folk Art Market in the Assembly Rooms, Glastonbury, Somerset on Saturday 16th November 2019.  Any who are left will move to one of our Somerset outlets – Magpie Vintage in Midsomer Norton or Street Emporium.  Interested customers who live further afield can contact us via the form on the home page of this website.

 

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.

Keeping Close

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.

Henry about to set off in the clockwork time machine

“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.

A rare shot of Dr Thrustington without his shades.

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.

As for the rest of us, we have a few weeks to breathe before heading for a touch of sea air at a Dollshouse and Miniatures Fair in Weston-super-Mare next month.  We hope to see some of you there.

Meanwhile, there is still the Etsy shop, for those who live further away.

A Touch of Clarity at Steampunk-Shrunk

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

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

Unique and Upcycled

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

Selling Direct

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

The Steampunk Dolls’ House

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

The Crispin Emporium

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

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

 

 

 

By George – so pleased to make your acquaintance.

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

Steampunk-Shrunk tinker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Touch of Fortune

So here’s the thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phew.

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

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

 

 

 

 

Upping the Date

Greetings to all from the grey, damp and murky land of Avalon, where life, myth and mystery combine curiously amongst the swirling mists (well, actually thundering hail storms at the moment, but that’s a temporary glitch, I’m sure).

We felt the arrival of a new year merited an update on how things are progressing here at Steampunk-Shrunk HQ.  When I say ‘we’ I refer to myself – a slightly eccentric but mostly harmless white-haired writer-and-educator-turned-miniaturist – and the cluster of (far more eccentric) 1/12 scale figures who share this compact and slowly sinking residence.
Yes, it is indeed sinking. It used to be level with the road outside when it was built, a mere three-hundred-and-something years ago. Alas, it has failed to keep pace with the world around it and is now reached by stepping down from the pavement into our semi-subterranean world. It all adds to the general weirdness…

We are currently working alone, since the Steampunk Dolls’ House – our fellow enterprise based in Shropshire – almost sold out over Christmas and its few remaining residents are in the process of moving to new premises.  Nothing daunted, and buoyed up by moderate successes last year, we have decided to take to the road this year and flaunt our wares in far-flung areas of the United Kingdom.

Sadly, we possess only two vehicles between us, and both of those are at 1/12 scale.  Determined not to allow that to dissuade us, however, we have purchased a suitcase of gargantuan proportions and one of those magical devices for taking card payments from customers.  Many hours perusing bus and train timetables and hunting out bargain-priced accommodation means that we are about to commence our Grand Tour.

Messrs Crackington and Balsover are busily creating an emporium filled with a host of cunning contrivances and devious devices, which will be available for purchase at our forthcoming sales.

Some of their wonders, including the mysterious Oracular Device and the dangerous-looking Phosphorus Pump are displayed here.

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting more of the delights you can expect to discover on the Steampunk-Shrunk stalls which will be appearing around the land.

Our first venue will be the Thame Miniatures Fair (in Oxfordshire) on Saturday 17th February,  followed by a weekend Steampunk Convention on March 24th and 25th in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

We’d be delighted to meet you at one of these events and hope you’ll be able to join us.

 

 

 

 

 

Steampunk Christmas?

The two terms don’t sit particularly comfortably together, I feel.  As I pondered the possibility of adding seasonal items to Steampunk-Shrunk’s stock for the upcoming Christmas sales, images of rusty Santas and welded junk Christmas trees felt less than inspiring.

I’d more or less given up, when I opened a draw and found some of these little creatures, bought in last year’s January sales, peering hopefully up at me.

There was already a box of vintage watch parts sitting on the desk, and the two seemed to fit together perfectly.

So now there are some steampunked reindeer, some with tiny cogs for eyes, while others have real (industrial grade) rubies – Rudolph the red-eyed reindeer?

By now some modicum of Christmas spirit was seeping into my veins and I started hunting around the studio for other items that could be combined to create something festive.
“How would one decorate a steampunk Christmas tree?” I asked myself.
Idly I began twisting wire around needles to form coils and threading them with whatever came to hand – vintage beads from an old necklace, cog wheels and watch parts, bells, charms and even miniature teapots. The copper coils were bent and twisted at crazy angles and the weird, dangling objects that emerged were hung from lengths of ribbon.

Who can say whether others will share my concept of a steampunk Christmas?  Time will tell.

These One Of A Kind oddities will be on display at the two December stalls where Steampunk-Shrunk is exhibiting.  See home page on this site for details of dates, times and venues.

The Vital Chapter – Missing!

The case of the missing chapterThere is a mystery in the library: The Case of the Missing Chapter.

As you may recall from Chapter 3, Josephine had secretly summoned Harvey, her ailing husband’s younger brother, from his enterprise in the Congo.  Her hope was that he would be able to lift Algernon’s spirits.

Certainly something of note happened during Harvey’s visit – but what?

The pages have been carefully removedAlas, dear reader, you will have to make up your own mind on this subject, since a person or persons unknown have neatly removed this vital chapter from the book.   If you head over to my Facebook page, you will be able to scroll down to a brief video of the library.  Perhaps you may spot a clue or two… 

When you encounter Algernon in Chapter 5 (which, thankfully, remains intact) you will discover the most profound changes in his fortunes and – indeed – those of the entire city of London.

 

If you are left pining for some enjoyable reading material, as a result of this sorry state of affairs, may I perhaps point you in the direction of the July edition of a periodical by the name of Dolls House and Miniatures Scene?  On page 22 of this magazine, you will find an article about this very blog, penned by my own stained and glue-coated hands, which may be of passing interest.