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.

Steaming Away

Milly, the steampunk housekeeper robotFear not, Steampunk-Shrunk enthusiasts.  Normal service will soon be restored.

The trouble is, there have been quite a few sales from the Steampunk Doll’s House recently, and Mrs S has agreed that each order will be turned around within three days.  Not a problem when she is here, busily packaging us up in bubble wrap and boxes to travel off to distant lands.  Now, though, she has her bags packed and is locking the gates of Steampunk Towers for a week or so, while she heads across the country to commune with family and nature.

Inconsiderate, we know, but she has been working hard, and she’s promised to add yet more stunning steampunk stock to the Etsy shop as well as booking various dolls house fairs and steampunk conventions where we can meet with the public once more, upon her return.

Meanwhile, enjoy perusing our many stories and we look forward to being reunited with you very shortly.

Digby’s Brain-Powered Device

mad steampunk professorYou will obviously have heard of harnessing the power of steam, water and even the energy stored in a tightly wound spring to produce power.

Have you, though, considered utilising the power produced by the impulses firing within your brain to power a device?

digby demonstrating his light generatorCertainly you would need to possess a superior brain – one that is filled with constant and highly original thoughts.  I, Professor Digby Charlweston, am fortunate enough to have such an organ.  Working in close collaboration with my dear friend and colleague Nick Tesla, I have engineered a device which transmits energy from my brain into a leather and metal-bound lamp.  With sufficient concentration, I can send enough energy to produce a light brighter than any oil or gas lamp.

True, people snigger at my headgear when I am out and about.  Some have the audacity to call me eccentric – or worse.  Nevertheless, I have succeeded where countless others have failed.

“Thought is free,” The Bard said.  So, then, is my power source: free and inexhaustible!

If you visit the SteampunkDollsHouse, you will find a 1:12 scale model of myself, by energy-transmitting headgear and the light generator, which may be purchased.

 

A Catalogue of Robots

I, Augustus Robottom, am delighted to announce the publication of my first illustrated catalogue of Robots.

Their popularity is such that I felt such a volume would be of general interest to prospective purchasers and robot enthusiasts alike.

Some of my acquaintances have complained that the size of the book (less than 1 x 1¼ inches) along with its consequently small print and illustrations is a barrier to reading it.  Myself, I find the dimensions ideal, but for the benefit of the larger persons interested in reading my catalogue, I will print the edition’s contents below, so that all may enjoy it.

Robottom’s Robots Volume 1

Robot M

Milly, the steampunk housekeeper robotAffectionately known as Milly, this robot performs the role of housekeeper.  She ensures that all is as it should be and uses the aerial on her head to communicate wirelessly with any other robots in the vicinity. Thankfully, Milly is never overbearing or officious, but retains a calm, gentle demeanour at all times.

Like all of my machines, Robot M is made from random objects found littered around the inventor’s workshop.

Robot C

1:12 scale cleaning robotThis endearing little machine is a cleaning robot. It’s left arm is a powerful vacuum suction pipe, while the right is a brass-capped soft polisher.  It is ideally suited to keeping any location spotless and will never suffer from fatigue or backache.

Like all of my domestic mechanical aides, Robot C is made from random objects found littered around my workshop, many of completely obscure origin.

Robot E

1:12 scale security robotThis is my most fearsome little machine, since it performs the role of security robot. Despite his wonky wheels and dishevelled appearance, Robot E tirelessly patrols any building, using its powerful jaws to crush or at least deter trespassers.

Robot E is made from random items from my workshop. It’s new owner will spot steampunk gears, jewellery findings, beads, watch parts and other items cunningly upcycled to form this mechanical domestic aide.

Robot G

1:12 scale robot valetG is a dapper little machine and performs the task of a valet robot.  With his metal bowler hat and handlebar moustache, he certainly looks the part of a gentleman’s gentleman.  Robot G has wheels for added speed, ready to bustle around his master, bringing orderliness and comfort.

 

I constructed Robot G from random objects found around my workshop.  As the reader will by now have gathered, I am an incorrigible hoarder.

Robot T

1:12 scale domestic robotThis helpful little device brews an excellent cup of tea and is able to provide endless refills.  Its stereoscopic eyes can swivel, allowing it to check all parts of the room for thirsty individuals who might be in need of a refreshing beverage.  The pressure gauge on its front prevents the urn from overheating and it can provide milk from the small caddy in its left hand if required.

As always, I constructed Robot T entirely from discarded items.

 

Coming soon!

Watch out for Volume II of Robottom’s Robots.

Should you wish to purchase your own copy of this fully illustrated catalogue, please go to The Steampunk Dolls’ House where you will be able to download a file containing a 1:12 scale copy to construct for yourself, your dolls’ house, diorama or room setting.  Full, simple instructions included.

A Somewhat Vulgar Piece of Self-Promotion

Goodness!  My heart almost fails me in this endeavour and I shrink from such activity, but needs must…

Despite being far happier tinkering away in my studio, creating miniature wonders, the time has come to mention that the Virtual Shop has reopened for business, with a slightly altered appearance and all new stock.

Like Steampunk itself, this enterprise does not have a physical existence.  It is more conceptual in nature.  Nevertheless, the items it sells are real enough, and a small but growing cluster of our Steampunk Dolls House characters and accessories are now available at the Etsy Shop.  Here is the link: www.etsy.com/shop/SteampunkDollsHouse.

Josephine hurrying to greet her brother-in-law

Do pop along to take a look.  You may even consider placing a small token of your affection next to your favourite item, just to let us know we are appreciated.

Kindest regards from all at Steampunk-Shrunk and The Steampunk Dolls House

Robottom’s Robots

Image may contain: one or more people and people standingBeing a retro-futurist, it’s hardly surprising that Augustus Robottom is a man ahead of his time.

Reared in a wealthy family, where servants were the norm, it always seemed wrong to him that these people – some little older than himself – should have to rise earlier and work harder than his family, just to provide for their every necessity and whim.

When he came of age, therefore, Augustus set about inventing artificial servants.  These engaging little mechanisms, no larger than a domestic pet and therefore easily portable, are able to perform the tasks traditionally undertaken by those in service.

He originally called his creations ‘Robotts’, after himself, but this gradually became shortened to the more familiar spelling we know today.

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They perform a variety of household activities.

Robot T, for example, brews an excellent cup of tea and is able to provide endless refills.Its stereoscopic eyes can swivel, allowing it to check all parts of the room for thirsty individuals, who might be in need of a refreshing beverage.  The pressure gauge on its front prevents the urn from overheating.

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Robot M (affectionately known as Milly) performs the role of housekeeper.  She patrols the house tirelessly,  ensuring that all is as it should be, using the aerial on her head to communicate wirelessly with the other robots.  Naturally, Milly is never overbearing or officious, but retains a calm, gentle demeanour at all times.

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Robot Y performs a plethora of odd jobs, searching endlessly for creaking doors, broken hinges, leaky taps or holes in fences.  His head rotates through 360 degrees, so that he can spot potential problems in a moment.

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Gus is delighted with his diminutive workforce and is the envy of his acquaintances.  He has even decided to go into production,  using the profits from his robot sales to set up a fund for unemployed domestic staff to set up their own businesses, thus releasing them from a life of servitude.

I wish I could say that every redundant maid and stable boy is delighted with this turn of events, but there are some, alas, who sadly miss their former employment.

“Some day,”  Augustus tells them, “you will thank me for giving you this new chance in life and allowing you to release the creativity and ingenuity that lies within.  Some day, humanity will hand over all the dull, repetitive jobs to robots.  Mark my words!”

 

 

Discover your fortune

In every job lot of second hand dolls I source, there are treasures and trash.

At first sight, Daniella fell into the latter category.  Her head was far too large for her body and limbs, her legs and minuscule feet were loose and badly made, her oversized clothes crudely glued on, her hair matted and messy and the face looked sullen.  What sort of transformation could I exact on her?

We stared balefully at one another for a considerable time and eventually I knew.

I have a friend who does psychic card readings in a little booth.  She wears glittering shawls, scarves and jewels in reds and purples with plenty of black eye makeup.  She was my inspiration.

Next I remembered those booths you used to get on seaside piers or in dark corners of amusement parks with a life-sized mannequin head and upper body.  You put your money in the slot, the mannequin jiggled about a bit and stared into a crystal ball, lights shone eerily and a card displaying your fortune emerged from a space below.  That was what Daniella would be!

Off came the clothes and hair.  A delicate paint job transformed the face from sulky to inscrutable and exotic.  A sleek black wig, silver, purple and scarlet shawls and large hooped earrings were added.  The legs and lower torso were glued into a cardboard tube and I set about making her booth.

A domed lantern at the top, concealed at the front with the Fortune Teller sign, holds a Halloween finger light, painted purple to illuminate the booth.  Daniella sits in a curtained section with a crystal ball made from a bead, a window and a slot for one penny to be inserted.

The rest of the box is decorated with diminutive tarot cards and other esoteric images, along with an aperture for the fortune card to be released.

There is even a lever at the back which can be moved, allowing the mannequin to shift about slightly as she considers your future.

My little fortune teller will accompany me to various steampunk conventions and sales throughout the spring and summer, until she’s snapped up and taken to read fortunes for some lucky customer.

She’s already packed and ready to attend the Shrewsbury Steampunk Spectacular on March 24th and 25th in St Marys Church.

 

 

Book a Bargain

When I’m preparing stock for my stall, I like to have something to suit every age and every wallet.

Certainly the poseable porcelain figures, with all their clothes hand stitched and their tiny accessories and (often) new wigs all hand made, come out relatively expensive.  Likewise the room cases, which can take me weeks to create.  These items are not really suitable for children either, being fragile, with some sharp edges and a plethora of what health & safety people refer to as Small Parts.

That’s why I make sure some lines are child-friendly and always have a range of items for under £5.

The cheapest (and of course the best sellers) are the DIY miniature books.  For a mere 50p, customers can buy an A4 sheet containing a ready-to-make printed book, with full detailed instructions.  All they will need are scissors, a glue stick and considerable patience!  One enterprising lady at a sale just before Christmas bought one of these for each of her dinner guests instead of crackers, so that they’d spend a happy hour making them and each have a tiny memento to take home.  Construction needs a steady hand, so I hope not too much wine had flowed during the meal!  These are also popular pocket money purchases for children.

each page individually agedFor those who have less time and patience, there’s a range of ready made books, from tiny blank-paged notebooks and pencils to thicker, fully illustrated printed volumes.  The text of each book appears in this blog, in case the print is too difficult to read.

Here, for information, is a list of the books currently in print with links to their blog posts:

  • The Alarming Clock (available as a DIY book for 50p or a ready-made volume for £2.50)
  • Grimoire (ready-made book with each page carefully ‘aged’ for £4.50)
  • Molly – by Herself (DIY book for 50p)
  • The Magical Mechanical Bird (DIY book for 50p)
  • The Vital Chapter (The text is printed in blue towards the end of the linked post.  The ready-made book costs £3.50)
  • Journal (this ready-made book contains a few pages of her Ladyship’s notes.  The rest is blank and it costs just £2.50. The journal entries are based on the linked story, and the Case of the Withdrawing Room is also still available for sale at £48)
  • Heart of Glass (a ready-made book which was serialised here – Part 1 and here -part 2.  It costs £3.50)
  • Diary of a Tinkerer (My personal favourite!  A ready-made book which costs £3.50 and was serialised in four parts at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)  Note: Young Henry was last heard of piloting an airship somewhere, although an older and wiser version of himself – such things are possible with time-space anomalies – resides with me and is not for sale!  His original engine room, however, is still available at £58.

People who come to my stalls keep complaining that they find my 1/12 scale books difficult to read :) so with the help of my miniature tinkers, I put together some illuminating manuscript readers, with magnifying lens and lamp. Come and try them at the Thame Miniatures Fair in mid February.
www.steampunk-shrunk.com
#steampunkshrunk #steampunk #modelling #miniatures #manuscriptsHappy reading, and should purchasers still wish to try reading the original volumes, we do have a few Illuminating Manuscript Readers, with magnifying lens and bright lamp for £14.  (It’s pictured here on a centimetre square grid, to give an idea of scale.)

All the above items are also available for mail order, with postage and packing extra.  Please use the contact form at the end of the HOME page on this website for any enquiries.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Steam Birds to you and me

Silver-bellied lesser-hatted shriek in a 2cm glass dome.
www.steampunk-shrunk 
#steampunkshrunk #steampunk #bird #miniature #modelling“Ornithological taxi-chrono-polymy.”

Henry stared blankly at Charles.  “You lost me somewhere around the taxi,” he admitted.

Charles grinned.  “So you understood the ornithological part?”

“Yes – birds, and I can SEE they are birds of various kinds.  Nicely mounted, too. I like the glass cases. Kindly explain the rest of the title.”

Taxi- means to organise or put in order,” Charles responded. “You are familiar with taxidermy, no doubt?”

“Obviously – stuffed animals and such,” huffed Henry.
Another of the miniature birds
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#steampunkshrunk #modelling #miniatures #bird

“So taxidermy is, etymologically speaking, the art of organising a deceased creature’s skin (that’s the dermy part) to make it look lifelike by – yes – stuffing it carefully, adding glass eyes and whatnot.  Well I haven’t used the skins of dead birds for my process.  I’ve used watch parts, which is the chrono, and a substance known as polymer clay, which you brought back from one of your time-travel excursions to the twentieth century.  I decided polymy would be a suitable term for that. Simple really.”

“Hmm, if you happen to have eaten a dictionary,” observed Henry. “It doesn’t exactly slip off the tongue, though, does it?  Surely you need a simpler name if you’re planning to market these handsome creatures.  Steam Birds, for instance.”

“STEAM birds?” spluttered Charles. “Where the devil is the logic in that? They don’t relate to steam in any way.  They merely sit in their cases and look decorative.”

Last of the birds for now.
www.steampunk-shrunk.com
#steampunkshrunk #steampunk #bird #miniaturesHenry paused for a moment, looking pensive. Then a large smile crossed his face.
“Yes,” he said, firmly. “It stands for Small Technical Experimental Avian Models.  Avian refers to birds, Charles, as I’m sure you know.”

Charles regarded him for a moment, then erupted into peals of laughter.
“Touché, old chap!  Most ingenious!  Very well, then – STEAM Birds they will be.”

The crested red-backed cogfinch.
www.steampunk-shrunk
#steampunkshrunk #modelling #miniatures #steampunk #birdIf you are planning to visit any of our forthcoming Steampunk-Shrunk sales (see home page for details) in the next few months, you will be able to see and perhaps buy one of Charles’ ingenious little birds, such as the Crested Red-backed Cogfinch shown here.