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 suitcase??

Keeper of the Hour Glass ModeratorI am mortified.

I, Lady Christabel Craxton-Keyes, Keeper of the Hour Glass Moderator, am expected to travel in a suitcase!  This is an outrage.

Initially, when Mrs Steampunkle told us we would be travelling to a Steampunk Christmas Extravaganza in a pretty town in the Shropshire hills, I was rather pleased.  The event sounded charming.  My sister Delilah and I joined Mr George Entwistle in admiring the festive decorations that had been prepared for the Christmas market and looked forward to encountering our fellow steampunk enthusiasts.

on sale at Sheampunk-shrunk stallsIt was only yesterday that she explained how the journey would be organised.  We will be travelling by railway train, from Mr Brunel’s splendid Bristol Temple Meads Station.  I was most pleased at this prospect.

It was only then that the woman broke the news.

“I’m sorry, Christabel, but you and the other exhibits will be securely stored in a valise.  I will do all I can to make your journey as comfortable as possible.”

Exhibits!  What an insult!  And if she thinks I am mollified by her description of that battered, wheeled suitcase as a ‘valise’, she is quite mistaken.

So spare me a thought, Dear Reader, as I am buffeted and bundled around.  I just hope the Extravaganza will be worth it.  I hope, too, that I am able to procure a new home while I am there, so that I’m not forced to travel back here in the same humiliating manner.

 

Lets do the time warp again…

“It’s been a while,” Henry told me, wistfully, “since I went time travelling.  Any chance you could help me out with a new machine?”

“Fine,” I said.  “As long as you can source all the components from our junk box.”

“My pleasure, Madame,” he beamed, and headed off to rummage through the collection.

Putting components together is never easy.

An hour or so later he was back with a particularly ugly little bamboo chair, a couple of clarinet keys, a light-up Christmas badge, an empty ribbon reel, the inside of a sewing thread spool, a clip from the old shower curtain, a few beads, promisingly-shaped wires and springs and a plastic robot arm.

“Hmm,” I said.  “Interesting.  How are you going to power it?”

” ‘If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration,’ as my dear old friend Nick used to say.  That circuit in the badge is at a perfect frequency and has plenty of energy stored in its batteries.  As for the vibration, just take a look at these springs and the switch on that clarinet key.  Try twanging it!”

I did.  It made a rather pleasant Jew’s harp sound and vibrated beautifully.

Henry's time machine from Steampunk-Shrunk
Henry had it fired up in no time.

“Okay Henry.  You get the circuits sorted and I’ll get to work with some paint and copper tape,” I told him.

Before long the machine was finished.  Certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing of objects, but when he sat in the seat, Henry had foot pedals that could be calibrated to the target date and time, a copper steering column, a strange silvery sphereoid that did goodness-knows-what, but seemed very important, along with a clock and altimeter.

“Dear Madame, if you would be good enough to give the temporal booster rocket a turn and then ping that little lever you liked so much, I’ll give it a spin,” Henry smiled.

Available at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls
Ready to go.

“Don’t forget to put your goggles on, I told him.  And make sure you’re back in time for the trip to Shrewsbury.”

“It’s a TIME machine, Madame!” he chided.  “I can be back at whatever time I choose!”

“Yes, I know that, but – just be careful, Henry.  You know how, um, adventurous you can be.”

Henry waved his cap to me and then, as I started the contraption’s rocket up and watched the blue and red sparks firing away inside it, he focused all his attention on that strange silver ball.

a blank

“Henry, how are you going to start it up by yourself when you want to come back…?” I was asking.

But I was all alone.

He still isn’t back.

I just hope he’ll make it by the time of the Shrewsbury Christmas Steampunk Spectacular,  Knowing Henry, he’ll be there with seconds to spare.

If you’d like to take a look at the machine, or even contemplate buying it, do come and join us at the market in St Mary’s Church on December 1st and 2nd 2018.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Through the Looking-Glass, and how Alice got there

Something a little different today: a glimpse into the creative process that went into one of our models.

First there was the box…
…which, after a bit of rearranging, became a double room.
I decided to send Alice through the looking glass, but this was the only girl doll I could find.
So she needed a makeover…
This is as close as I could get to Tenniel’s original illustrations.
I knew the bits of foam packaging from a set of roller blinds would come in handy sometime.
With a few sawn up oak twigs and a battery tea light, Alice soon had fireplaces.
Some card and lace trim made the mantlepieces. Time-consuming to make two of everything!
The clocks had to look the same from the back, of course…
… but quite different from the front. Everything was true to Lewis Carroll’s text and John Tenniel’s pictures.
I used polymer clay and jewellery findings for the fire irons. The white knight needs to slide down the poker.
Imagine how long it took to set up and glue down the pieces. White is about to catch Alice in fool’s mate.
In Looking-Glass House, though, the pieces are wandering two by two around the fireplace. A bishop is sitting on a log, reading a broadsheet…
… and a white pawn called Lily has fallen over on the table and is screaming for her mother.
A shadowy Alice can be seen climbing through the mirror from the completed drawing room…
… and emerging in Looking -Glass House.
Of course both rooms fit neatly into the box to make a perfect little set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Alice and the room box set are for sale in our Etsy shop – The SteampunkDollsHouse.  Follow the links to take a look at them.

 

 

Alice Alone – Almost

There were only four of us at the start of the latest Steampunk Convention, unless you count the two ladies engaged in the tea duel, who speak to no one, but fix each other with steely stares over their cow biscuits and cups of tea, or the Samurai warrior who stands transfixed in some Zen-like meditative state.  Just four – myself and the three gentlemen.

I am Alice.  I was Mrs S’s first ever makeover.  I permit myself to believe that I will always hold a special place in her heart for that reason alone.  Then there was Bertie, the military gent who made maps of uncharted lands for the Ordnance Survey, Lars, the mysterious inventor who never removed those dark glasses and William, the rather aloof and dapper man with the dart-launcher chained to his arm.

We stood in a casual group on the stall, all secretly wishing that a new owner would arrive and transport us to a permanent home, ending our nomadic existence.

Bertie was the first to leave.  Just imagine his delight when he discovered that his new guardian was to be the very same lady who had, on a previous occasion, purchased Leonora.  A match made in heaven, we all agreed.  We could imagine those two intrepid explorers heading off to discover new lands and treasures together.  How could we be anything but delighted?

Lars was the next to depart.  His new guardian was also a returning customer.  The young man had bought that very worrying time machine with the flashing lights.  I was glad to see that go.  It made me nervous.  Now here he was again, eyeing each of us intently and trying to decide which of us would be the machine’s inventor.  Well clearly it had to be Lars.  William would never get his hands grubby with oil or grease and – well – do I look like the kind of person who would go galivanting around in a time machine?  Obviously not.

So by the end of the day, only William and I remained.
“Just you and myself, then Madam, it would seem,” he said, in a slightly strained voice.
“Indeed,” I replied, permitting myself to look into his eyes and notice that there was a certain softness in his expression which I hadn’t noticed before.

“Charming about Bertie and Leonora,” he said.
“It is,” I agreed, and found myself wondering, fleetingly, how it would feel to end up in the same home as William. Not too disagreeable, I felt.

“I never really got to know Lars,” I told him.
“Hmmph,” he snorted. “Very odd chap. Brilliant inventor, of course, but not – you know – someone I warmed to.  We had, er, business dealings, but that was all.”

I nodded. I’d never before thought of William warming to anyone.  But who can say?

On the road again

How very inconvenient it is to be bundled into a wheelie suitcase and carted off to different venues with such frequency.  True, Mrs S is always careful to cushion us well and give us as much personal space as possible, but it is not a pleasant way to travel.

No sooner are we back from a spate of ‘Dolly’s Daydream’ sales, than we are once again off on a new adventure.

Ah, but this one is a steampunk gathering, and we do love those!  All the wonderfully attired people who actually understand what a tea duel is and why we have Racing Teapots and Octopuses’ Gardens.

So on September 16th, we and our gizmos, gadgets and other wonders will be on display at The Steampunk Essextraordinaire VI in the splendidly named Museum of Power.

Do come and join us if you are in that part of the world.Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

The Room of the Unnamed Warrior

It was a visit to the Japanese section of the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) which started the latest flight of fancy at Steampunk Towers.

The low light conditions necessary for displaying the ancient and valuable fabrics there meant my snatched photos were of very poor quality, but I was inspired to try out (or maybe invent) some sort of samurai steampunk after seeing the amazing costumes and I needed some points of reference.

steampunk shrunk figureFirst I had to repaint the face of my chosen figure.  I managed to find a chap with suitably high cheekbones who worked rather well, once his bland smile and vacant staring eyes had been removed and replaced.  Scraps of black and gold silk and damask fabric were cut and handstitched to make his clothes.  

steampunk shrunk characterJunk jewellery is my favourite resource – those bags of single earrings, broken bracelets and knackered necklaces sold for a few pounds by enterprising charity shops.  I found a bracelet panel that worked as a breastplate, once I’d aged it a bit.  A lone earring and a couple of shell charms went well on the helmet.  Leather and foam scraps, a piece of drinking straw coated in copper tape and one of those plastic ring pull things from a drink carton were all pressed into service.  I painted up a little sword charm and found a sheet of metallic plastic mesh I knew-would-come-in-handy-one-day to make the armour, and my tiny warrior was complete.

boxed set from steampunk-shrunkThe perfect display space was a little bamboo box I’d found in The Works a few weeks back.  In homage to the museum display, I mounted the helmet on a dowelling stand.  A bead and yet another junk earring, shaped like a mask, completed this to make a kind of mannequin head and my tiny warrior now crouches (almost) menacingly beside it.

Is it steampunk?  You’ll note I refrained from adding gratuitous gears and cogs to the costume.  However I feel he would grace any steampunk convention.  Time will tell.

If you head to this website’s HOME page, you’ll be able to check dates and venues for our forthcoming sales in Essex, East Sussex and Shropshire.

 

 

A Case in Point

Well there’s always a story.  The Case of the Balloon Journey had one, naturally.  Harvey Cholmondeley, the intrepid and rather dishevelled traveller had been a minor, though pivotal, character in the story of The Vital Chapter.

It was he who flew from somewhere in Africa, at the bidding of his sister-in-law, to rescue his brother Algernon from a bout of depression.  Quite what he did, we never discovered. After his visit, however, Algy became the Lord Admiral of the High Skies and hero of our proud nation.

So what did Harvey do after that mysterious intervention?  Well, to be honest, he trailed around many Steampunk-Shrunk stalls, where he often took pride of place at the centre of the displays.  He drew people in.  They admired his case, complete with clouds, balloon basket, flickering burner, hip flask, map and other necessities.  They often wished they had the funds or the room in their crowded houses for his case, but departed instead with some smaller trinket.

All this changed last weekend, though.  A delightful gentleman, with a twinkle in his eye, gazed at the case for some time, then announced, “I rather think I need to buy that.”
“I rather think you do,” agreed his good lady.

The gentleman had, it transpired, been an aviator in his younger days and it was clear that Harvey was off to an excellent new home.

Imagine our surprise, though, when an illustrated message reached Steampunk Towers a few days later.

additions to the basket

The ladies and gentlemen gathered around eagerly to discover news of their erstwhile companion.  Algy was, understandably, particularly interested.

Harvey had, it appeared, changed his name to Bertie, hoisted a Union Flag on one of the ropes, acquired an anchor and a travelling companion in the form of a seagull, which had made itself quite at home in a coil of rope.  The hip flask, we noted, was still in the pocket of his greatcoat, but perched on the side of the gondola was an almost certainly alcoholic iced drink, complete with curly straws.

Algernon spoke for us all when he announced, “I see that my brother has found a home with a true British eccentric who shares our taste for the minutely absurd.  How perfectly delightful.”

And it was so very thoughtful of the gentleman to think to share with us the further adventures of one of our own.

 

Barnaby Balsover’s Lucifer Device

Barnaby with his devicePermit me to introduce myself – Barnaby Balsover, inventor, creator and tinker at your service.

I am the creator of gadgets and gizmos such as The Oracular Expedient, The Phosphorus Pumping Device, The Equilibrium Enhancer and the much-favoured Ginerator, many of which now grace the homes of Steampunk enthusiasts around the world.

Barnaby Balsover's inventionToday I am delighted to present my Lucifer Device.

If I say so myself, this machine is a wonder.  The casing is copper-coated.  There are a plethora of gears and cogs to drive the engine (although persons from your dimension may prefer to use the on/off battery switch).  When it is powered up, the entire device emits a purple glow and this is projected in a beam from the jewel at its tip.

I have named this light ray ‘extra violet’ and I am still investigating its properties.  No doubt they will be of tremendous value to humankind once I have fully acquainted myself with all of them.

Alas, an inventor’s life is never easy and funds are hard to come by, so I have resorted (Oh the shame!) to selling myself and my device to any discerning collector who will be prepared to part with the derisory sum of £38 stirling at the Steampunk Dolls House.  In this way, I hope to acquire sufficient money to finance my research and creations.

If you, dear reader, know anyone who would be interested in making such a purchase, please ask them to head to my display at the Steampunk Dolls House.

There are many other items, incidentally, which may be of interest to purchasers of miniature steampunk ephemera in this illustrious emporium.