Book of Spells

“Gracious Heavens!” exclaimed Ava Brassfeather, as she peered from the window of one of Steampunk-Shrunk’s gothic towers.
“Hush, she might hear you, my dear,” hissed Penelope. “She’ll probably put a curse on you, or whatever her sort get up to.”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed Ava, but in a slightly lower tone.

The object of attention was one Mistress Ectophemia Fleabane, the latest – um – companion of the apothecary.   Regular readers may recall the distrust with which our little league of ladies and gentlemen have always regarded the proprietor of The Dodgy Pharmacy, as it is know in these parts.  Since the arrival of his new friend, though, things have taken a definite turn for the worse.

Ava had spotted this woman skulking around the shrubbery far below, gathering plant and insect specimens into dusty jars and pursuing some poor creature or other through the undergrowth with a dagger.  There appeared to be a rather sulky yellowish mist surrounding her.  It was all most unbecoming.

“I’d just persuaded that chap to begin stocking some useful items in his shop,” Hugo told us.  “He’s doing spare parts for mechanical arms, steam engine oil, time traveller pills oh, and some rather fine powder that improves one’s hearing quite astonishingly.”
“Beg your pardon?” said Henry.

But there was barely a smile. No one was in the mood for Henry’s humour. It was as if Mistress Fleabane’s unsavoury yellow fog had settled over everyone.

At that very moment, the door of the tower room creaked open and the crone herself stood before us.  She held out an aged and yellowing tome.

“I’s done yer a book,” she croaked, proudly.  “All writ in me own fair ‘and, it is, with a bit of assistance from me dear friend the apothecary, as he’s so good with ‘is grammar.  It’s SPELLS!”  This last word was issued like a challenge and she fixed her beady little eyes on each of us in turn, daring anyone to object.

“Well how lovely,” cooed Penelope, with impressive presence of mind.  “Thank you so much, Miss, er, Mistress Fleabane.”

Hugo strode forward and took the volume from her hand.  If he was scared that it might explode on impact, he showed no sign of it, although we noticed that he used his mechanical hand to take it.

A long and awkward silence followed.

“Well then,” the woman said at length, “I’d best be gettin’ back to them bats.  Got loads to de-wing before midnight.  I’ll bid you good day.”  And she left as suddenly as she had arrived.

A collective shudder travelled around the room but in spite of our trepidations, we were all keen to read the spells in her book.

Here is what we read:

BOOK OF SPELLS

SPELL TO VIEW PHANTASMS from other dimensions

Hold a holographic mirror before your face and turn towards the direction from which you suspect the creature to be approaching.  NB: This can normally be ascertained by sounds or odours emanating from the beast.

Stamp your left foot upon the ground three times and say,  “Reveal thyself, foul being,” loudly and clearly.

A clear image of the phantasm should become visible in the glass.

You would be wise to hold some means of self defence in your other hand, with which to protect yourself if the being should be of an aggressive nature.  However you will now know exactly what manner of creature you are dealing with.

SPELL TO PROTECT THE TRAVELLER FROM TIME SICKNESS 

When engaging in temporal voyages, the time traveller will often experience unpleasant side effects and become disorientated.  Protect yourself with this spell.

The night before the journey, which should preferably be whilst the moon is waning, smear a generous quantity of octopus slime (available from all reputable apothecaries) over your head, paying particular attention to the area behind and beneath the ears, and recite this chant whilst drinking a strong cup of tea:

“May the e’er-moving oceans instill into me, their calmness in motion as I sup this tea.”

This should enable you to enjoy your time-travelling.

SPELL TO ASSIST THE USER IN MAINTAINING BALANCE AND POISE (particularly useful before a tea duel)

Prepare a concoction composed of equal parts brain juice and broomstick fleas.  Spread it over the part of parts of the body in which you wish the balance to be most evident.  If this is legs and feet, perform the ceremony standing on one leg.  If it is hands and arms hold a moderately heavy object in one hand and attempt to keep it as still as possible.  

Repeat the words, “By brain and broom balanced be,” three times.

You should notice a definite improvement as you speak these words for the final time.

SPELL TO INCREASE STRENGTH AND VITALITY

This spell is best performed in an extremely hot and steamy envirnment, such as an engine room or in the vicinity of any steam-powered contraption.  Light a red candle and place it on the ground.  Allow it to burn while performing the spell.  Remove any particularly restricting or flammable items of clothing (allowing modesty to be your ultimate arbiter when making choices), run in a circle around the candle seven times and then leap over the flame, repeating the words:

“_____________ (insert name) be nimble,  _____________ (insert name) be quick,  _____________ (insert name) jump over the candlestick.”

This may be redolent of a child’s rhyme, but it is in fact a powerful charm which, when used in the manner described imbues the individual with extreme power and fortitude and allows him (or her) to indulge in such onerous and exhausting tasks as are deemed necessary for life.

Ensure that any resultant burning or smouldering garments or soft furnishings are extinguished without delay.

SPELL TO ENCOURAGE GROWTH OF FACIAL HAIR

Should any gentleman feel himself to be lacking a full and lustrous beard, extravagantly bushy side burns or an elegantly waxed moustache, he is advised to perform the following spell:  Vigortously rub a mixture of steam engine oil and tarantula hair (both freely available from reputable apothecaries’ stores) into the requisite area of the face while repeating the words:

“Grow, you fine whiskery protuberances, grow!”

Repeat as required over the next several days.  

Please note: It is not advisable for ladies to use this spell unless they wish to undertake a career in a travelling show or circus.

 

We stared at one another in total astonishment.

“Steampunk witchcraft?” muttered Henry.  “Didn’t know that was a thing.”
“More like a thinly veiled advertisement for the items in their shop,” snorted Hugo.

However many hands thumbed those pages throughout the following days….

Should you wish to procure a copy of this volume, a downloadable version is available from the SteampunkDollsHouse

 

 

Covering All Bases – and Consequently Confused

What are we, exactly – we strange inhabitants of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers?

To be honest, we fall between many cracks.  Miniaturists?  Dollshouse suppliers?  Craftspeople?  Artists?  Steampunk?  Perhaps all of these, and a little more.

This mild existential crisis was brought about when we were invited to sell our wares at a Halloween Spooktacular (sic).

“But we don’t do spooky stuff,” Mrs S protested, having just returned from a highly successful steampunk rally where the retro-futuristic gizmos, gadgets, clockwork devices and watch cog jewellery had gone down splendidly.

“Ahem, miniatures jars of vampire repellent, banshee bane, undead eradicator and other such poisons and potions; carved skull holders with tiny red wax candles; scrying mirrors; grimoires; a selection of black and silver tables and cabinets, crammed with all manner of weird devices and artefacts…  You even have a fortune teller’s table,”  she was reminded.

“Oh, well yes.  When you put it like that, I suppose we are, um, slightly dark in places,”  she admitted.  “Fine.  We’ll do the Hallowe’en sale.

Before that, though, we have a dollshouse and miniatures fair to do in Weston-super-Mare, where we will mingle with purveyors of shabby chic 12th scale bedroom suites, impossibly tiny polymer clay foodstuffs and little pots of artificial flowers.  Bemused ladies of a certain age will politely enquire as to what, exactly, steampunk is, while long-suffering husbands will pause and stare in wonder into our turbine room or at our little time machines, and perhaps contemplate collecting a few miniatures themselves.

Next spring, we’ll be showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry involved in creating miniature wonders at the Best of Somerset Show in the appropriately diminutive city of Wells.

No wonder we – and many of our customers – are slightly confused at times.  Only that very rare and precious breed of steampunk dollshouse enthusiasts truly ‘get’ us, but that doesn’t stop the wider public from coming along to take a look and discovering utterly useless little treasures that they suddenly find they simply can’t live without.

If you pop across to the HOME page you’ll find details of the upcoming Steampunk-Shrunk stalls.

If you find yourself in the lovely county of Somerset, you can pop along to the wonderful Crispin Emporium in the town of Street, where you can view a selection of our wares from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9.30-4.

And finally, if you live further afield, a selection of our wares can be bought from our online Etsy shop and shipped worldwide.

 

 

Professor Erazmus’s Patented Holographic Mirrors

Good day to you.  Apologies for the long absence.  I’ve been holed up in my garret at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and rather engrossed in watching over my many wards, who are spread around the world these days, by means of my clockwork powered holographic global viewing lens.

Fortunately, most of them seem to be settling down now, and require a little less attention than was the case a year or so back.  That means I’ve been able to turn my mind to other things.

Several of my steampunk colleagues here have expressed interest in my holographic viewing technology (although a few are uncivil enough to call it ‘spying’).  They have asked whether I can provide them with a version of my viewing lens that does not involve such a cumbersome system of levers, pulleys and cogs as my own device.

I’m pleased to say, I have been able to oblige.  As I’m sure you are aware, we inhabit a holographic universe, and once an initial connection has been made, we are free to visit any part of it that interests us.  My device is the master machine and it has been a relatively simple task to clone the technology to handheld devices.  These are very attractive hand mirrors (available in our Etsy shop – The SteampunkDollsHouse) and wall mounted mirrors which will soon be available on our stalls at upcoming events.

Now anyone who purchases one will be able to use my technology to connect with any location – past, present or future, through staring into the holographic mirror with sufficient concentration and focus.

I, of course, will be able to follow all their observations from my master machine, but that is a small price for any customer to pay.  Their data will, of course, be quite safe with me…

Jeremiah Coggleford & Son – Purveyors of Fine Furniture to the Gentry

“You’re somewhat younger than I expected, Mr Coggleford, if you don’t mind me saying,” announced Mrs S when we finally met.  “Are you father or son?”
I assured her that I was Coggleford senior.
“Then what age is your son?” she asked.
I smiled. “Jasper is still a boy, Madam, but he’s a hard little worker and a quick learner. I’m training him up and he’s so set on following in my footsteps that I decided to make him my business partner when he was eight.”
She was quiet for a moment.  “And so now he is…?”
I took a breath.  “He’s ten, Ma’am.”

I could understand her concern.  She’d told me she had a large consignment of furniture, all of which needed renovation.  She’d clearly been expecting a two-man team.

“Very well,” she said at length.  “I’ll give you a chance.  There’s a broken cabinet amongst the pieces I have.  If you and your child can make a good job of that within the week, I’ll take you on as my furniture restorers.  I’m giving you carte blanche.  Do with it as you will, but I need an interesting and inspiring result.”

The following morning, it arrived at our workshop.  The glass was missing, as was the base drawer and part of a door frame.  It was badly finished with uneven orange varnish.

“Right then Jasper,” I said.  “What needs doing?”

“Sand the whole thing down. Cut and shape a piece of wood to repair that door frame.  If we’ve only got a week, leave the drawer and use the opening as a shelf,” he said quickly.
“Good man,” I said. “But that’s just the start.”
“I know. The finish is what matters. I’ve got an idea, Pa.”

Well, I set about the sanding and joinery, while Jasper rumaged around the store room.  I could hear the clanking of metal and the clunking of paint pots, but I left him to it.  You see I’m a good enough workman, but the boy is just brimming over with ideas.  He’s original, the way I’ll never be.

He didn’t disappoint.  First a coat of matt black paint.  Then we had to lay the cabinet on its side and lift some rusty old cogs he’d found on to it.
“Are these to be attached, son?” I asked.
“No, Pa. Just leave them there for a bit.”

He sprayed silver paint across the cabinet.  Not too much.  Just a dusting, and when we removed the cogs, the design looked splendid.

I replaced the glass panels and Jasper – such a perfectionist – decided to fill the cabinet with bits and pieces, ‘So that the lady can see it as a working piece.’

I hardly need to tell you that Mrs S was mightily impressed.  She hired us on the spot and we now work for her full time, restoring what she calls her ‘Oxfam bag of dollshouse junk’ and creating beautiful pieces of furniture for the discerning customer.

You can find various pieces for sale here or by clicking on the photos.

Monty admiring the map chest.large cabinet and chair

Jasper with the small cabinet

The Smallest and Dodgiest Dispensing Apothecary

It all started when I allowed Molly to set up her own miniature book emporium on the Steampunk-Shrunk stalls.  That, of course, has been a great success.  People seem to enjoy perusing her little shop’s booklist and I have fun extracting the volumes they want with my tweezers.

Then I was aproached by the apothecary.  He wondered whether I could accomodate his shop on my stalls as well.

I have mixed feelings about the cures and potions, although I have to confess, they do sell rather well.

My first issue with them is that they’re not very ‘steampunk’.  More witchy, really.  I asked whether he’d consider selling engine oils and axle grease, but he wasn’t interested.
“People crave my potions,” he wheedled. “They simply can’t get enough of them.”
And that leads me to my second issue with his goods:  I’ve encountered several customers who expect them to work!

Oh dear.  I simply don’t know how best to react when an adult customer selects a minute bottle of glitter or cork chippings labelled ”Undead Exterminator” and asks in-depth questions about how to use it as protection from zombies.  Such things have happened several times.

So let me make it quite clear, here and now, that although this is probably the world’s smallest dispensing apothecary’s shop, and although the bottles look very attractive, are reasonably priced, and the bottom shelf has an ongoing buy-one-get-one-free promotion, they simply DO NOT WORK.

I have agreed include his little shop on my stalls but have made it clear in my labelling that it is an extremely dodgy establishment.  I also inform any potential customers that the contents of the jars are guaranteed not to work on anyone over 6 inches tall.

The apothecary seems quite happy with this, and his bottles continue to sell, so I suppose all is well.

 

Many of the labels, by the way, which make this shop so enticing are created by the quite brilliant Betsy at an Etsy shop called Chocolate Rabbit.

Crispin and Crispian

As regular readers will know, we recently took ourselves off on a jaunt to the Shrewsbury Steampunk Spectacular.

Now Shrewsbury is a delightful town and, the weather being very pleasant, we spent the day after the Spectacular exploring its nooks and crannies.

Imagine our delight at discovering an ancient gateway which – in a surprising way – links two of our sales outlets together.

In a garden known as The Quarry, we found a gate with this sign.

On closer inspection, we noticed that the ironwork on the gate was decorated with the shapes of shoes.

By an amazing coincidence, as well as taking Steampunk-Shrunk stalls to Shrewsbury and other steampunk venues, we also trade from a shop called The Crispin Emporium, in the Somerset town of Street.  This town is the home of Clarks Shoes and the name Crispin pops up everywhere there.

Now it all made sense and we decided to commemorate the patron saints of shoemakers (who rather appropriately come as a pair!) in one of our miniature books, so that the good people of Street and visitors to the town can learn about Crispin and his brother.

For those of you who are interested, the text of the book appears below.

Crispin and Crispian

Allow me to introduce Crispin and his brother (or some say best friend) Crispian.  Whether you are a local or a visitor to the town of Street in Somerset, you will probably have noticed that the name Crispin abounds in the town.  There is a Crispin School, a Crispin Hall and of course the notable and quite excellent Crispin Emporium.  You may even have wondered why.

These gentlemen lived in Rome, in the 3rd century AD. They were Christians, which was not an entirely safe thing to be at that time.  Realising that they were likely to end up as a star attraction in the Colloseum, but not in a good way, they decided to flee the city and headed off to Gaul (modern day France).  Once there, they decided to preach to the locals.  Of course, they needed to sustain themselves, and hit upon the idea of making shoes by night in order to fund their daytime preaching. 

Now, perhaps, you are beginning to see why Crispin is connected to Street.  Let’s finish their story first, though.

Crispin and Crispian became highly successful  shoemakers.  They made enough money for their own food and lodging, and found they had a surplus, which they used to help the poor.

Soon word spread and increasing numbers of people came to listen to the Christian cobblers.  They finally came to the attention of the Roman governor of Gaul.  He had them thrown into a river, with millstones tied around their necks.

That would be enough to finish most people off, but our heroes miraculously survived. Sadly, the Emporor was not put off so easily.  He had them beheaded, which not even Crispin and Crispian could survive.  They became the patron saints of shoemakers and leatherworkers.

Of course, Street is  the home of Clarks shoes and has its own shoe museum. It is hardly surprising, then, that one of the brothers is commemorated in this town. 

St Crispin’s Day is 25th October, the day on which the Battle of Agincourt was fought.

Illustrated copies of the little book will soon be on sale at The Crispin Emporium, Street, Somerset, in our usual 12th scale.

 

 

 

Molly’s Literary Emporium

I’m told that today is World Book Day, and to me that sounds like quite the most wonderful type of day to have.

by herselfAs you may remember, books have long been a passion of mine, and as a very small girl, I was given my ideal job – sitting on Mrs S’s Steampunk-Shrunk stalls reading one of her miniature books.  She said I encouraged customers to do likewise.

Now I am older, though, I decided I wanted to open my own bookshop.  I put the idea to Mrs S and she thought about it.
“So yours would be a little ‘shop-in-shop’, Molly? Your emporium would sit in a corner of my stall and you could sell your books from there. Is that what you had in mind?”

“Yes,”  I said.  I’d like rows of bookshelves and a little table with a reading lamp and…”

“And I think that is all we would manage to fit into it, Molly,” she said, firmly.

I had been going to ask for one of those sliding ladders and some stained glass windows, but something in her face told me that I was lucky to be getting a shop at all, so I smiled politely and thanked her.

The outside viewNow it’s finished, I have to say I’m truly delighted with my Literary Emporium.  It’s been built in one of those storage boxes that are made to look like books.

Inside, though, it looks quite opulent, with a carved wood ceiling and a big mirror to reflect the flickering oil lamp, as well as all those shelves of books.  The inside viewThe picture here was taken before I’d finished stacking the shelves, but you’ll get the general idea.  Mrs S put one of her pencils up against the side of the shop, so that you can see the size of it.

She was so pleased with the result that she used a photo of it to sell copies of the books at her Etsy shop.  (If you click on one of these pictures, you should be whisked straight there.)

For me, though, The best part will be opening my shop in person at our next market stall.  You can see where that is on the HOME page of this website.

If you come along, I’ll be delighted to sell you a volume or two.  We even have some magnifying book-reading devices, for those of you who struggle with the print.

The Hybrid K Time Machine

Well Mrs S was somewhat displeased when her aged printer finally gave up the ghost.

Charles was delighted, though, and had soon extracted something called a circuit board from the defunct machine.

“Take a look, Henry,” he said. “Spiffing base for another time machine!”

I had to agree, so we have a new model incorporating this futuristic technology with good old steampunk tradition.

Instead of a steering column, there’s something called a control deck. It pulses with multicoloured lights, naturally, and has a clock and time warp repeat button. (Well, someone might understand why…)

I left Charles to fiddle with the pod things that power it, but I insisted on installing a traditional safety valve.

For the comfort of our customers, we added a padded velvet cushion and a steel luggage rack. There is also a handy claxon which sounds automatically to warn anyone in the vicinity when the vessel is due to stop.

Not our most aesthetically pleasing craft, perhaps, but an intriguing machine, nonetheless.

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.