Reviews!

IMG_20220925_155642_993_resized_20220925_040108908Good day to you all.  Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Professor Darius Robottom, known to many as ‘Doc’ (something to do with resembling a character from some old film, I gather).

I have been – between vital experiments aimed at bettering the future of humankind – watching the twin ventures of Mrs S and her team:  The Steampunk Dolls House Etsy shop and the monthly craft stalls in Somerset where she trades as Steampunk – Shrunk.  It occurred to me that it might be advantageous to join their community at the awkwardly names Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, but I wanted to assure myself that this was a suitably classy establishment for a gentleman of my immaculate credentials before making any commitment.

What better place to look than at the present month’s reviews for the shop?   Well, they were charming, and most complimentary.

Sarah Luckenbaugh added a photo of their purchaseA customer called Sarah sent a photo of three items she had purchased, along with the following five star review:

“I was surprised by how much detail and writing there was on every page! Very well made, looks amazing and realistic!”

That impressed me.  I’m rather a stickler for detail myself.

Diane Burtenshaw added a photo of their purchaseThe next review came from a lady by the name of Diane.  She had purchased LG, one of the Offcut Robots, for a very particular – and quite splendid – reason.  Here is her photo of LG in position and her review, again with five stars, is as follows:

“Beautifully crafted item for displaying in a printers tray to represent items that my son enjoyed as a child.”

I was gratified to discover that craftsmanship is evidently valued by the group at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.

Carmela Dioguardi added a photo of their purchaseThe emphasis on craftsmanship is echoed by the third satisfied customer – clearly a person of considerable talent herself, which adds value to her review.  To her five stars, she added this photograph and the review below:

“I am so thrilled that I found this shop and this piece! The chestnuts roasting over a trash can couldn’t be more perfect for my Italian family’s shops at their farmhouse. Can’t wait to display it in my fall set up. It just adds so much ambiance. It is really beautifully made and was shipped timely and packaged for safe arrival. I will be looking for more unique things at this shop!”

Who could resist visiting Carmela’s family farm shops, when that much trouble is taken with the display?

Printable Bundle Witch or Wizard's Miniature Books - Tiny Book Kit for Instant Download - 3 Miniature Books to Make - 12th scale book kitThe final review (at the time of writing) is from a purchaser of a bundle of the printable miniature books available from the Etsy shop and craft stalls.  She gave the five stars which seem to be awarded to virtually all the shop’s items and commented:

“Great Print, quality item, super cute!!”

All in all, then, I have decided that this establishment meets my very high standards and I am delighted to become part of this community.  Thankfully, there are other creatives to chat with and I am very much enjoying my sojourn at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.

Glastonfaeries

IMG_20220825_115934_resized_20220825_120025525Not your typical pretty-pretty Disney-type fairies of course, but then you wouldn’t expect those from Steampunk-Shrunk!  These faeries are darker, edgier and strange.

IMG_20220825_115835_resized_20220825_120025090It started when our gardener found a cache of beads on rusting wires – remnants from a long-forgotten craft project – buried beside the swamp (which was a pond until the badgers discovered it and lacerated the liner with their claws, but that’s another story) in the grounds of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.  The beads had a certain patina of age and once they had been removed from their old wires and threaded on to new ones, a variation on the Offcut Robots started to take shape, with the beads rather than rusty nails for arms and discarded macrame beads for heads and bodies.  Chains and curled wire made their locs and the plastic lids used as paint palettes were cut up to create the wings.  Torn paper clothing completed the ensemble.  There were images of moths on the first one’s paper robe so she, obviously, had to be called Moth, while her copper, gold and yellow companion is Mustardseed.   Peaseblossom is drying in the workshop as I write and Cobweb, Puck, Oberon and Titania will follow.  Mrs S loves her Shakespeare!

A cluster of Glastonfaeries will accompany us to the next craft and vintage sales in Glastonbury Town Hall from 10.30 to 4.30 on Saturday 17th September and I dare say those who have not flown away by then with join us at the next sale on October 15th.  They are also available to buy online at this link.

Fair Life, by Evadne

“Black holdall or suitcase?” the others were asking, nervously, as Mrs S prepared us for our journey to the craft and vintage fair.  They breathed a sigh of relief as she assured them we would all be in the holdall.

“Suitcase is ghastly,” Holly explained to me.  It’s on wheels – no suspension – and the pavements of Glastonbury are far from even.  The holdall swings a bit, but she puts all the really delicate items in there, so we get a smoother journey.”

I nodded.  Hardly the way I’m accustomed to travel, but it could have been worse.

IMG_20220612_104446_resized_20220622_121053618I opted to stand on the highest point, beside my wonderful astrologium, and we received many admiring glances.  One lady almost paid to take me home, but finally decided her funds were not sufficient.

Jewellery, I noticed, sells very well.  So many people bought those little steampunk pendants made from vintage watch parts set in resin.  The knitted nightingales, sold in aid of Ukraine, were popular, too.  I was delighted to meet a customer carrying a staff who seemed fascinated by my device, but ended up purchasing the last of the time dragons.

I was hoping to offer astrological readings, but the lady on the next stall to ours seemed to have cornered the market and had a constant queue of people wanting to be told their fortune with tarot, angel cards and other such wisdom.

Finally, though, a customer began browsing the books.  There were many titles to select from, but on seeing mine, she exclaimed, “Oh – astrology!”

Wizard Widdershins turned to wink at me.  I think he meant it as an encouraging gesture, but I found it somewhat inappropriate.  Sure enough, though, I sold my first copy and was highly delighted.  I’m really rather looking forward to our next fair, in the Town Hall on July 9th.  Perhaps I’ll see you there.

Oh, and if you’d like to download a copy for yourself, along with instructions on how to turn it into your own miniature book, for a very modest price, click this link.

The Astrologium

How kind people can be.

Mrs S, like Shakespeare’s Autolycus, is ‘a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles’.  Not, we hasten to add, that she is a petty thief.  Quite the reverse, in fact.  Friends and acquaintances approach her, proffering handfuls of strange, broken or discarded trinkets in the hope that we will be able to upcycle them and produced new miniature wonders.

“Ah,” she said, spreading one of the latest collections on the desk.  “We appear to have an astrological theme emerging here. Could someone send for Evadne?”

The tall and haughty figure of Miss Capricornius was seen hurrying along the corridor moments later.  For a millisecond her eyes travelled to the items on the desk, but she quickly re-fixed her gaze upon the middle distance and trilled, “I came as soon as I was summoned, my dear.  I have no idea why I was called, of course, but Jupiter’s aspect in my chart today suggests a gift or opportunity of some kind.  Not that I would presume to suggest the two facts are in any way connected…”

“Quite,” said Mrs S, shortly.  “However, by chance, a few objects have come into our possession which may be of use to you.”

Evadne continued to stare ahead, waving a hand dramatically before her face, as if trying to remove a cobweb.

“I see the sun!” she exclaimed.  “Yet how could I receive the sun?  How strange these visions are!  And – could it be the constellation of libra?  Surely not!  Why and now the planets are showing me -”

“Yes, yes.  No doubt they’re indicating an amber pointer,” Mrs S sighed, glancing down at the desk.  “If you can make something interesting with these, Evadne, then take them.  I’m sure the brothers will be on hand to help with construction, should they be needed.”

She then left hastily, before Miss Capricornius could feign amazement at ‘discovering’ the trinkets.

Needless to say, my brother and myself were commanded to construct all manner of working parts for the ‘Astrologium’ she had decided to create.

“A rotating disc, darlings, about so big … no, not like that!  Tilted but roughly horizontal, obviously!  And this bead to turn it.  Why, it so clearly resembles a galaxy, don’t you think?  The holographic clock will require two more hands, in addition to this stunning pointer.  They must be huge and magnificent.  Bronze, perhaps and silver.  Oh, and a decorative but sturdy set of railings across the front.  Children can be so irritatingly curious!”IMG_20220530_145039_resized_20220530_025129821

So it went on for days, but I have to say, Charles and I are very impressed with the result.   To be honest, we did all the work.  ‘Her majesty’, as she’s come to be known, simply handed out the orders and then settled to write a book about her creation.  And do we get a mention in it?  Well I’m sure you can guess the answer to that.

Molly informs us that Miss Capricornius has been ordering more astrology-related items.  It sounds as if she’s decided to create a whole series of astrologiums.

Maybe mercury will go retrograde and her order won’t arrive…

Molly II

I’ve been asked to lift my head briefly from this fascinating Botanical Almanack I was reading, to introduce myself to you.

IMG_20220413_104437_resized_20220501_125611650My name is Molly, but since there was a previous proprietor of this little bookshop who went by the same name, the inhabitants of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers call me Molly II, which sounds rather regal, I feel.  Apparently the first Molly was enticed to head off to live in a beautiful home in North Wales with someone everyone here calls ‘Her Ladyship’.  I’ve read her book, naturally.  It’s called ‘Molly, by Herself’ and explains how she took on the job of sitting in the bookshop and encouraging customers at our Steampunk-Shrunk craft stalls to buy some of our books.

Since she left, the little bookshop has been gathering dust and the book sales at craft markets have dwindled.  Apparently customers are less interested in a simple display of books, but enchanted by the idea of purchasing one from Molly’s Book Emporium – probably the smallest functioning bookshop in the world.

So how, I imagine you wondering, did I arrive on the scene?  Well, to be honest, I was one of a large group of 12th scale porcelain orphans who were (oh, the shame!) being auctioned off on a well-known online site.  Mrs S was the successful bidder and we duly arrived at the steps of Steampunk-Shrunk towers in a state of considerable disarray.  Between us, we had an assortment of missing limbs, grubby, torn clothes, matted hair and ugly faces.  Regardless of that, we were all warmly welcomed and given a comfortable home.  Eliza brought us each a toffee apple (except for the babies, of course) and asked whether there was anything we needed.  I asked whether there were any books I could read to the younger ones and Eliza jokingly enquired whether my name was Molly, by any chance.  When I told her it was, she gave a gasp of excitement and bustled off to tell Mrs S.

Can you imagine my excitement and pride when I was taken to the workshop for a makeover and then presented with my very own bookshop, positively bursting with all manner of volumes?  I have a padded chair to sit in, a table with an oil lamp and shelves and boxes filled with all the reading material I could wish for.  I’m allowed to go and read to the little ones whenever I like and my only duty is to work once a month on the market stall.

I attended my first craft and vintage fair last week and sold 27 books!  Everyone was delighted and praised me for being a first class bookseller.  Perhaps it’s my turn to write a book…

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.