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.

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.

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!”

 

 

The Case of the Cases

Here in 21st Century England, it is possible, for a modest outlay, to purchase sets of what are called ‘storage suitcases’ from a well-known chain of stationery shops.  These sturdy little card cases, with metal handles and hinges, come in three sizes ranging from 12 x 8 x 3.5 inches (30 x 20 x 9 cm) down to 8 x 6 x 3 inches (14 x 20 x 8 cm).

It quickly became apparent that these would provide excellent and easily portable little rooms for the steampunk ladies and gentlemen to inhabit.  Decorating and furnishing them has become one of my chief delights and many have headed off to happy homes throughout the country.

The prices vary considerably, depending on the complexity of the contents and whether they are sold with or without figures.

Here are the cases currently available at Steampunk-Shrunk:

The Engine Room
This is housed in a large case.  It is the room in which Henry the tinker (See Diary of a Tinkerer) repaired and powered up his time machine.

It contains a large pile of coal, a Twisted Firestarter (safely caged), a huge steam boiler with furnace beneath (complete with opening door and flickering flame), various pipes and a complex set of gadgets, the purpose of which remains a mystery to me.  It costs £58 and, like the other cases, can be purchased at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls or online. See home page for details.

The Case of the Balloon Journey
This is the only outdoor scene at present.  Harvey Cholmondeley is travelling from Africa to visit his brother Algernon.  (See The Vital Chapter).  Land can just be glimpsed through the clouds below, while Harvey stands in his basket, which has a turning anemometer and a burner with working flame (powered by a battery tea light).  Harvey wears a genuine leather coat and flying helmet and has all the details and gadget you’ve come to expect from steampunk-Shrunk figures.  This case costs £68 (or £48 without figure).

The Case of the Withdrawing Room
This small case shows her ladyship’s personal space.  There is a whatnot filled with her treasures, a bird in a cage, a chair, mirror and table complete with a flickering steampunk lamp.  Her journal, pen and inkpot lie on the table.  There is no figure sold with this room, which costs £48.

 

The Case of the Tinker’s Time Machine
Yet another time traveller! Here you find George Entwhistle hard at work on a partially completed temporal transporter.  You can find the full story here.  The room is crammed with detail and his machine flashes with different colours (from an upcycled Christmas badge!) in the most dramatic way you can imagine.  George wears a battered leather apron and specially adapted goggles.  The furnished room costs £58, or £78 with George included.

The Case of the Tea Duel
The room is set up for the most genteel of duels, but the intent is deadly serious.  There is real china crockery and ‘cows’ (a plate of malted milk biscuits) are the weapons of choice.  The tiny room is cleverly back-lit, so that light shines through the window.  The cupboard conceals the lighting for the scene.  This case can be purchased for £58. 

However for a further £27 (£85 in all), the immaculately attired duellists – Leticia and Prudence – can be added.  An absolute bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree, since Steampunk-Shrunk figures normally sell for £25 each.

 

Cabinets of Curiosities

Continuing with my series on what’s available at Steampunk-Shrunk, this week I’d like to highlight the Cabinets of Curiosities.

Of all the things made here, I think the gadgets and gizmos are my favourites.  I love scouring charity shops, discount stores, eBay and so forth for tiny weird bits and pieces I can upcycle, combine and transform in wild and wonderful ways.  Inevitably, I was ending up with a mass of very fragile tiny steampunk gadgets, whose purpose I could only guess at.  A few found their way into the room boxes or the hands of my characters, but Charles Tradescant here decided to collect the rest together into wooden cabinets.

The ones available at the moment are all this style (left and above) – about 8 inches/20cm tall and 6 inches/ 15cm wide, freestanding and made of wood, with a perspex window, ten compartments and a decorative fastening catch.

Charles displaying a smaller cabinet – currently out of stock

I suppose they would fit into a tall dolls’ house, but they really look their best as freestanding ornaments on shelves or mantelpieces, where the intricate and eclectic contents can be viewed.  Each is completely unique, with a glorious mixture of books and letters, art works, specimens in jars, skulls, shells and other natural objects as well as the intriguing steampunk contraptions.  All are glued down, to preserve the sanity of the owner, but with moderate pressure they can usually be detached.

There will be three cabinets available at our next stall (Thame Dolls House and Miniatures Fair on Saturday 17th Feb 2018) at £45 each.  They can also be purchased online, with postage and packing extra, although a few items may need to be glued down again on arrival, so have some superglue handy.

Please use the contact form at the bottom of the HOME page on this site if you’d like to know more.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Tinkering with Time

George Entwhistle, a patents clerk by day, had always enjoyed tinkering.  The trouble was, tinkering could be a somewhat noisy activity.  Living as he did in a terraced property, he had to contend with frequent complaints from neighbours and visits from members of the constabulary.

In consequence, he’d been banned from hammering, sawing, welding or producing anything with a tendency to explode between the hours of 8pm and 10am, and all day on Sundays.  This, given the long hours he worked at the patents office, made it difficult for him to achieve anything of note.  George felt cheated by life.

All this changed, though, the day he realised that the blocked up door in the sitting room did not, as he’d always imagined, lead to the parlour.  Careful measuring and still more careful (and virtually silent) plan drawing showed that there was a two and a half foot gap between the blocked door and the parlour wall.

Working only between the hours of 7.30 and 8 in the evening, George carefully prised open the mysterious door and discovered, to his great amazement, a staircase leading down.  Eagerly, he availed himself of an oil lamp and the poker from the fireplace, and cautiously descended.

Cellar Outlet, Gang, Dark, CreepyImagine George’s surprise and delight as he discovered a further door at the base, which opened quite easily, revealing a large cellar!

Certainly it was cold and uninviting, but the walls were thick.  George raced upstairs, grabbed his noisiest intruder alarm – one of his most unpopular inventions amongst the neighbours during the testing stage – and took it down to his newly discovered domain.  Here he set it off and left it in the cellar, shutting the door behind him and returning to the sitting room.  Despite the deafening clang of bells and shriek of whistles echoing around the empty space below, there was virtually no sound to be heard from either the sitting room or parlour.  Despite it being 8.30, not a single neighbour banged on the wall or hammered on his front door.
“Eureka!” exclaimed George.
“Quiet in there or I’ll summon a constable!” came an angry shout from the occupant of number 28.

From that day onward, George worked to transform the cellar into a tinker’s workshop.  He extended the heating pipes downwards to power a boiler, which not only heated the workshop, but allowed him to brew a much-needed cup of tea from time to time.  He constructed a doorbell with a wire connecting it to the front of his house, so that callers could be heard.  He made himself a shelf and workbench and even installed a clock and mirror.  The result was a commodious and most agreeable work space.  George was a happy man.

He is currently busying himself with constructing a clockwork time machine.  He’d long had a plan, gleaned from a combination of the failed ideas of several other tinkers.  Working in a patents office did have certain advantages.

As you can see, his contraption is well underway, and he’s able to fire it up for short periods.

“Only a matter of time,” George mutters to himself, smiling slightly at his own wit, “Now that I no longer have to suffer time restraints, soon I shall be the master of time!”

Time will tell…

 

Should you wish to inspect George’s cellar workshop and the items he is creating there, do come to any of the Steampunk-Shrunk stalls at various events over the coming months.

The details of venues, dates and times can be found on the home page of this website.  

Oh, and if you come along, do ask George to demonstrate the time machine.  He loves to show off his workmanship.

 

 

A Visit to Brasston

It was, not surprisingly, young Molly who found the book first.  She’d read her way through everything in the Steampunk-Shrunk library  – even the Suffragette newspapers – and had been on the lookout for something new.

the group are becoming excited

“Excuse me, Lady Cholmondeley,” she said, dropping a pretty curtsy to Josephine, “But do you think your husband, seeing as how he’s the Lord Admiral of the High Fleet, could take me on one of his sky ship machines to Brasston?  They’ve got a perfectly splendid aerodrome and I’m sure they’d allow him to dock there.  Let me show you the pictures.  They’re in colour!”
“Why I’ve never heard of the place, my dear. Are you sure you’ve got the name correct?” smiled Josephine.
“Oh yes, Your Ladyship, Ma’am. I think it must be very famous. It won the ‘Most Cosmopolitan City Award’ in 1850.”

Josephine started to look through the book – a most difficult process since, unlike the inhabitants of Shrunk Towers, this book had not been shrunk to one twelfth of its original size.  She had to obtain assistance from several other members of the community and they in turn became mesmerised by the splendours of Brasston.

“Good lord!” Barnaby Balsover exclaimed, “There’s a chap there having his shoes polished by a clockwork automaton!  Quite remarkable!”
“Certainly,” agreed Ava Brassfeather, “And it says they do tours of the clock factory and provide cake and tea.”
“I believe it says you have to pay extra for cups and saucers, though, Ma’am,” Molly whispered, jumping in alarm when Ava made a loud tutting sound.
Molly wasn’t sure whether this was aimed at herself or the facilities available at the works, but she didn’t venture to speak again.

A touching moment for the valiant couple

When Algernon returned from a successful raid on a troublesome bunch of sky pirates who had been terrorising the airways above Penge, he was met by a mass of pleading faces.
His wife took his arm, gazed alluringly into his eyes and purred, “My dearest…”

“Hmm,” he said finally, once he’d had a strong cup of gunpowder tea and an opportunity to peruse the book.  “I strongly suspect that this is a work of fiction, created by this rather splendid gentleman on the back cover, Mr Ashley G.K. Miller.  I’m not convinced that the city exists.”

“Well if anyone can find it, it’s you, Old Boy,”  announced Lord Horatio Backgammon, and the others joined in a chorus of agreement with his Lordship’s sentiment.

And so, as I write, the entire group is busy packing and preparing for an epic journey in one of the fleet’s most capacious dirigibles, while Algy is earnestly poring over his charts, in search of the city of Brasston.

 

Should you wish to discover this remarkable location for yourself, dear reader, I suggest visiting Mr Miller’s Facebook page, where you will find all the details you need.

 

 

Autolycus

Sometimes we like to push ourselves a bit – yes?

I fell in love with this image on Instagram and decided to try and make something similar at 1/12 scale... I had these cheap old prams kicking around, so they were the starting point. 
www.steampunk-shrunk.com 
#steampunkshrunk #steampunk #miniatures #modellingSo I was staring at this gorgeous picture on Instagram – yes, this one here – and thinking how much I’d like to create something like it.  Now I don’t have a soldering iron or any other metal-working skills or equipment.  My woodworking ability stops at cutting up coffee stirrers and lolly sticks with a junior hacksaw.  In fact, I’m strictly a glue-and-cardboard person if I need to make anything rigid.  It didn’t look particularly hopeful.

Then I remembered that I had a couple of cheap 1:12 scale metal prams.  I put them next to the photo and decided the larger one might just work.  Well, it was worth a try.

First part mounted on the chassis. 
www.steampunk-shrunk.com
#steampunkshrunk #steampunk #miniatures #modellingFirst there was much measuring, pattern cutting and trial and error with some nice brown card I had lying about.  Next each piece was lined with card-backed fabric in a subdued floral pattern and the centre part of the body was glued in place.  It looked roughly the right shape.

Putting together the dashboard, steering wheel and brake was easy, as was the little padded leather seat.  My horseless carriage was coming together.

If it was going to be horseless, it needed an alternative power source.  Steam – obviously.  I cobbled together a little steam engine to go on the front and used a drinking straw covered in copper tape for the funnel.

The basic bodywork in place (cardboard with several coats of clear gloss varnish)
www.steampunk-shrunk.com 
#steampunkshrunk #steampunk #miniatures #modellingIt was at around this point that the vehicle’s name came to me.  In Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, there’s a character called Autolycus.  He describes himself as ‘A snapper-up of unconsidered trifles’ and that is exactly what this vehicle was becoming.  A spring from a ballpoint pen, the stick from a cotton bud, several small rubber washers, along with beads, chains, charms and jump rings from my junk jewellery collection all went into it.  So The Autolycus it would be.

The boot was turned into a strong box, with tiny nail art crystals for the rivets.  The windows were cut from clear acrylic packaging and set into suede strip seals.

Finally – and very nervously – I put the whole body together.  A couple of coats of clear gloss acrylic varnish gave it look not too unlike polished wood, and strips of leather thong worked well for trims.  The roof frame was – obviously – made from coffee stirrers!  The door was attached with a strip of cotton tape and some faux hinges made of beads stuck to the outside.  More beads and some earring wires made a pair of suitably ancient-looking lamps and at last The Autolycus was finished.

Obviously it lacks the beautiful clean lines of the vehicle that inspired it, but I’m not unhappy with the overall result and I’m sure the ladies and gents at Steampunk-Shrunk will be rather interested in this strange vehicle, despite the fact that it’s the steampunk equivalent of a smart car and only the skinniest and most agile contortionist would be able to get inside and steer the thing. No automatic alt text available.

 

The Autolycus will be on display at various Steampunk days and miniature fairs in the New Year.  Check the home page on this site for details of dates and venues.