The Book of Potions

Greetings again from Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.

Imagine, dear reader, the bats wheeling and swirling overhead and an incalculable quantity of spiders spinning their webs to coat each corner and dangle from every vaulted ceiling.  Little light penetrates the ivy-clad windows at this time of year and even the log fire hisses and smokes as the damp permeates every part of our ancient building.

Does that set the scene nicely for what follows?

We noticed that we have not yet provided the full text for our rather popular little Book of Potions.  We consider it to be perfectly readable, but there are those who complain that the print is rather small, so here follows a complete transcript for your edification.

 

TO ENABLE SILENT MOVEMENT

Place into a cauldron a quart of ditch water, collected in the dark of the moon.  To this add the following:

– a pinch of broomstick fleas

– 4 bats’ wings

– a scoop of octopus slime

– 2 pinches of tarantula hair

Allow to steep for at least 7 days.
Light a fire beneath the cauldron and boil vigorously for several hours, until a yellow film covers the potion and the mixture is thick.
Strain it into jars and allow to stand for some several days until well congealed.

To use:
Rub the potion all over your body and allow to dry before dressing.  You will now be able to sneak up on your enemies or prey.

HEARING POWDER

When old age, or a strong fascination with heavy metal music has rendered you less able to hear clearly, you will find this substance of great assistance.

Crush the following items together in a pestle and mortar:

– 1 ounce of pickled beetles,

– 3 fly agaric mushrooms

a scoop of brain juice

– 7 camomile flowers

Once you have a smooth powder, bind it together with the whites of as many larks’ eggs as needed to make a firm paste.
Leave to dry until hard, then crumble the mixture into jars or bottles.
A small quantity should be placed into each ear.  The effects will last for approximately 12 hours

POTION TO REPEL THE UNDEAD

Prepare a concoction composed of equal parts  wild garlic, hemlock, sumac, mouldy cheese and dried warts.
This substance will prove quite irresistible to your victim and will draw it to sample the potion.
The active ingredient, however, which will drive all zombies away, never to return, is a plant known commonly as Angel’s Tears. This you must dry and crush very finely, combining it with the other ingredients so that the undead do not perceive it.
Steep this mixture in gin for some thirty days, then pour into shot glasses and leave in places where you suspect the undead will gather or approach.

POTION TO INCREASE LIFE EXPECTANCY

While no potion is proof against natural disasters, mob violence or angry villagers with long pointed sticks, this potion is proven to otherwise extend life to the age of at least 350 years. Indeed, Mistress Althemia Potentate claims to have been alive for 487 years after taking a teaspoonful a day for most of her life.

To a pint of cider vinegar (with the mother), add:

– 17 goji berries

– 3 ounces of rolled oats

– 5 eagle toes

– 6 dead men’s teeth (powdered)

– a sprig of rosemary

– a tablespoon of hearing powder (see earlier recipe)

– a slug of sloe gin

– one cup of cold tea

This should be stirred thoroughly and placed overnight in the light of a full moon before straining and bottling it.

One teaspoon a week, diluted in shark blood if preferred, should be sufficient to prolong your life to a considerable degree. However if you wish to enter the Irish Stout Book of Records or decorate your home with cards of congratulation  from many successive monarchs, you could try taking a teaspoon each day.

INVISIBILITY POTION

No book of potion recipes would be complete without one to render you invisible from other humans.  Be warned, however, that you will still be visible to certain creatures, particularly hobgoblins, elves, banshees, sprites, trolls and vampires.

To your cauldron add a pint of spring water and the following ingredients:

– 14 moth wings (any variety)

– 3 desiccated spiders

– 2 grams of powdered bat wings

– an ounce of eagle fat

– a pinch of thyme

– a few drops of octopus ink

Boil vigorously until dark brown in colour and of a treacle-like consistency.
Take a tablespoon an hour before you require invisibility.
NB Effects wear off quickly.

We are sure you will recognise how useful it would be to have your own copy of this invaluable volume.  Fortunately, you can purchases it for a trifling amount from any of the following outlets:

  • The SteampunkDollsHouse Etsy shop (either as a ready-made book or a printable DIY version) with 20% off during October 2019
  • The Crispin Emorium in Street, Somerset, UK as a ready-made book
  • Magpie Vintage in Midsomer Norton (see previous post for location details) as a ready-made book
  • Steampunk-Shrunk stalls, in both formats.  The next one is the Wells Spooktacular in Wells Town Hall, Somerset on October 26th.

 

 

Steaming off to the Seaside

Well no, sadly we won’t be steaming.  there are some quite splendid steam railways around these parts, but our journey this weekend takes us on a couple of buses instead.

We will be journeying through picturesque hillside villages in the Mendips and ending up on the esplanade of the delightful resort of Weston-super-Mare.  Only Mrs S will be able to enjoy the scenery, of course.  The rest of us will be squashed into that suitcase of hers.  Even more annoyingly, she has decided to bring along Mistress Ectophemia Fleabane and her hovel.  The smell is quite distasteful, to say the least.  It is best not to know what she is brewing in that caudron.

There is quite a little party of us, though.  Mr Coggleford and his remarkable son Jasper are coming along for the first time and little Alice will be putting in an appearance, as well myself, Lady Cristabel, Grace Pendleton and the distinguished inventor Augustus Robottom.  We will endeavour to stay as far from that creature as possible, and hope that she finds a new home to plague enjoy.

Coggleford & Son are bringing along a selection of their beautifully restored furniture and there is a slightly alarming ‘spooky section’, influenced, no doubt, by you-know-who.

 

I have to admit, though, the display is going to look quite striking with all those purple lights shining up through the potion bottles and amulets.  Not to mention the creepy cabinets!

All in all, we should have a very inviting stall at the Dollshouse and Miniatures Fair being held at the rather impressive Royal Hotel on Sunday 22nd September from 10am – 4pm.

Do hope some of you will be able to visit, and please buy that Fleabane woman  yourselves some delightful miniature treasures.

Kind regards,

Delilah Camshaft

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.