A suitcase??

Keeper of the Hour Glass ModeratorI am mortified.

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

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

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

It was only then that the woman broke the news.

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

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

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

 

A Touch of Fortune

So here’s the thing.

A week or two before I was due to move from my temporary lodging back to Glastonbury, I sold the Fortune Teller’s Table.  It sold to a customer in New York.  I had a million things to do, so I raced down to the post office first thing, sent it off tracked and signed for, as usual, pocketed the receipt and went off to get on with some of those jobs.

You’ve guessed, haven’t you?  When I came to mark the item sent on my Etsy site, the receipt – with that all-important tracking number – had vanished.  I turned out my bag, all pockets and looked inside anything I’d used that day, but it was nowhere to be seen.

“Well,” I thought to myself, “Let’s just hope the parcel doesn’t go missing.”

The day I moved – while I was actually on the journey, in fact  – a message came through from the buyer.  Where was the table?  Why hadn’t I sent the tracking number?  It hadn’t turned up.

I went cold and clammy all over.  Never before had a parcel been lost in the post, so why this one?  All those lovely five star reviews would be worth nothing if just one customer posted a rant about what a careless and unreliable supplier I was.

I came clean, apologised profusely and asked her to wait another week, just in case it was languishing in customs.  After that, I promised, I’d either send her a full refund or attempt to make a close copy as a replacement.  ‘OK,’ she agreed – one week, and she’d prefer to have a replacement to a refund.

SteampunkDollsHouse on EtsySo, with suitcases and packing boxes still unopened, I hunted through my 12th scale furniture stash and – I could hardly believe my luck – found an identical sized desk.  It was brown, rather than black and, unlike its predecessor, it still had some drawers.  Over the following days I studied the photos and worked to reproduce the dowsing pendulum, the tiny pack of cards, the candle, dream divination book, aged scrolls, tray of crystals and fortune telling boards.

It was nearing completion, when another message from the customer arrived.  “It’s here!” she said.  “I haven’t even opened it yet, but it was delivered today!”

Phew.

So I looked at the replica I’d been working on, decided the table top didn’t look mysterious enough, and covered it with a deep blue velvet cloth.  And now, there is another Fortune Teller’s Table for sale in my Etsy shop.

You can take a look at it by clicking this link.

 

 

 

 

Through the Looking-Glass, and how Alice got there

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Alice Alone – Almost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Room of the Unnamed Warrior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Building of The Aronnax – Many Leagues Under the Sea

Not twenty thousand.  I can’t yet lay claim to that.  Yet who can say?  One day, perhaps.

To build a vessel capable of travelling underwater and exploring the depth of the seas has been an ambition of mine since my youth.  In those days, I was fortunate enough to sit at the table of the great Dr Pierre Aronnax himself, while he regaled us with tales of his voyage on the Nautilus, with the strange and troubled Captain Nemo.

How I loved his stories.  How I longed to follow in his footsteps – or in his wake, perhaps.  That I, Maurice Souslesmers, should be able to travel in this way was but a distant dream, until I joined forces with Mrs S, upcycler and creator of weird and wonderful 1:12 scale creations.

“So you want something like The Nautilus?” she asked.  “Sounds an interesting challenge.  Trouble is, I’m flat broke, so the budget for this project is zero.  Everything will have to come from my junk stash.  Agreed?”

No automatic alt text available.What choice did I have?  We explored the pile of objects together:  a cardboard case, a clear plastic lid from a packaging box, some corrugated foil card from a children’s craft set, a finger light left over from last Hallowe’en, a brass radiator key, a small brass bell and whistle, a broken dolls house dressing table, some bits of polymer clay, a blue plastic bag, an empty shower gel bottle, a few watch parts and a jar of nail art gems.

“That should do nicely,”  she said.

I was less than convinced.

Nevertheless, she set to work with coloured nail polish, a dizzying array of adhesives and some very messy burnishing paste.

“See this broken watch part – how it swivels?” she asked excitedly.  “That will make a turntable for your searchlight.  You need to be able to scan around the ocean, looking for creatures, don’t you?”

Before my eyes, the plastic (a strange and rather ugly synthetic substance alien to my era) finger light became a leather and copper-clad lamp on a turning steel base.

No automatic alt text available.I stacked oxygen tanks in the navigation deck’s storage compartments and set about burnishing the huge boiler.

Mrs S found a way to mount the periscope so that it could be raised and lowered and we tested the construction so far.

True, our vessel lacked the opulence of The Nautilus as described by Aronnax – the library and study, the leather armchairs and so forth.  Nevertheless,  I saw that I would finally be able to make my own voyage of discovery, and I was delighted.

No automatic alt text available.

Eagerly, I named my craft after my great hero, and The Aronnax began its journey.

You will see that I am keeping a careful ship’s log and making sketches of the mysterious creatures of the deep I am encountering on my journey.  As for those apparently man-made arches and columns I have encountered in the murky depths…  Might I, like my predecessors have stumbled upon the famed ruins of Atlantis?

 

Should you wish to see The Aronnax, it will be surfacing at the Dollshouse and Miniatures Fair at Rivenhall End in Essex on September 9th 2018 and at the Hastings Steampunk Extravaganza on September 16th.

 

Forward with Fortitude

You may consider, perhaps, that our expressions today are somewhat serious.  This we cannot deny.figures for sale on Steampunk-shrunk stall  Yet we bear temporary setbacks with fortitude and a grim determination to uphold our standards of excellence.

Certainly we are discomforted by the fact that football is no longer ‘cummy nome’, as the denizens of our temporary area of residence have been claiming in their nocturnal carousings.  We are similarly dismayed to discover that a large and curiously orange inhabitant of another land, who appears to lack acceptable levels of gentlemanly reserve and chivalry, is to begin visiting our shores today.

Most distressing of all, though, is Mrs Steampunkle’s assertion that in order to meet people and sell our excellent gadgets, gizmos and other wonders in the part of the country where we now find ourselves (these spacio-temporal disturbances are a regrettable aspect of living in a retro-futuristic time warp) we need to attend miniatures fairs run by a company known as ‘Dolly’s Daydreams’.

“Perhaps,” suggested Mrs S, “this Dolly, whoever she is, secretly daydreams of becoming as splendidly eccentric and individual as your good selves.  Perhaps she would love to embrace the splendour and general spiffingness of steampunk.  Perhaps you will become inspirational figures to Dolly and enable her to embark on a new adventure.”

Thus it is that we move forward with fortitude and embrace the challenges imposed by the temporary exile we face for these next few months in the East of Albion.

steampunk flower in glass domeWe will present ourselves and our unique steampunk items with pride and decorum at the Dollshouse and Miniatures Fair at the Ipswich Hotel, Copdock, Suffolk IP8 3JD on July 22nd, between the hours of 10.30am and 4pm.  We sincerely hope and trust that our patrons and well wishers in the area will come along and pay us a visit.

While residing here, we will also be exhibiting at Rivenhall End, nr Witham, Essex and at a Steampunk Spectacular in Hastings, East Sussex during September.

Fondest regards and felicitations from

Leonora, Lars, Alice, William and Bertie

PS Of course the Steampunk Dolls House, being a shop without a physical location, continues to function as normal, and you will be able to find an ever-growing variety of items there to suit all tastes and price ranges.

 

 

 

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.