Molly II

I’ve been asked to lift my head briefly from this fascinating Botanical Almanack I was reading, to introduce myself to you.

IMG_20220413_104437_resized_20220501_125611650My name is Molly, but since there was a previous proprietor of this little bookshop who went by the same name, the inhabitants of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers call me Molly II, which sounds rather regal, I feel.  Apparently the first Molly was enticed to head off to live in a beautiful home in North Wales with someone everyone here calls ‘Her Ladyship’.  I’ve read her book, naturally.  It’s called ‘Molly, by Herself’ and explains how she took on the job of sitting in the bookshop and encouraging customers at our Steampunk-Shrunk craft stalls to buy some of our books.

Since she left, the little bookshop has been gathering dust and the book sales at craft markets have dwindled.  Apparently customers are less interested in a simple display of books, but enchanted by the idea of purchasing one from Molly’s Book Emporium – probably the smallest functioning bookshop in the world.

So how, I imagine you wondering, did I arrive on the scene?  Well, to be honest, I was one of a large group of 12th scale porcelain orphans who were (oh, the shame!) being auctioned off on a well-known online site.  Mrs S was the successful bidder and we duly arrived at the steps of Steampunk-Shrunk towers in a state of considerable disarray.  Between us, we had an assortment of missing limbs, grubby, torn clothes, matted hair and ugly faces.  Regardless of that, we were all warmly welcomed and given a comfortable home.  Eliza brought us each a toffee apple (except for the babies, of course) and asked whether there was anything we needed.  I asked whether there were any books I could read to the younger ones and Eliza jokingly enquired whether my name was Molly, by any chance.  When I told her it was, she gave a gasp of excitement and bustled off to tell Mrs S.

Can you imagine my excitement and pride when I was taken to the workshop for a makeover and then presented with my very own bookshop, positively bursting with all manner of volumes?  I have a padded chair to sit in, a table with an oil lamp and shelves and boxes filled with all the reading material I could wish for.  I’m allowed to go and read to the little ones whenever I like and my only duty is to work once a month on the market stall.

I attended my first craft and vintage fair last week and sold 27 books!  Everyone was delighted and praised me for being a first class bookseller.  Perhaps it’s my turn to write a book…

Ginger Flies In

IMG_20220213_104455_resized_20220213_105303441That was a close shave!  Just as daylight was fading on Friday night, Mrs S pronounced Ginger Jenkins, our latest arrival, fit to travel with us on the Saturday morning, to the Craft & Vintage Market in Glastonbury Town Hall.

We were a motley crew, but drew many admiring glances – Ginger in his flying leathers, Wizard Widdershins glaring enviously as other wizards’ staffs outshone his own, Eliza the tiny toffee apple seller, the two young glamorous ladies (Holly displaying rather too much of her scarlet fishnet stockings for my liking), dependable George the tinkerer and Cecily and myself – Gwendoline – engaged in a tea duel in our favourite little café.  Mind you, I do think Cecily should cut back on the amount of gin she secretly adds to her tea.

20180206_164936“Just a nip, my dear, to keep me alert,” she insists, but she slid from her chair on numerous occasions.  Rather unseemly.

Still, all in all, it was a delightful affair and Mrs S was very pleased with our takings.

We will be returning to the same venue on March 26th and hope to meet more lovely customers then.  Meanwhile, Mrs S is busy adding Ginger, and a few items of jewellery to the Etsy shop, which you can visit here.

Message in a Bottle

Just a week to go until our first market stall of 2022!

Mrs S has dusted down the wheelie suitcase and the big black bag and we are preparing for the half mile trundle down to the Craft & Vintage Market at Glastonbury Town Hall on Saturday 12th February.

IMG_20220205_103944_resized_20220205_104029899Obviously Valentine goodies will be featured – from steampunky stuffed velvet and leather hearts with keys, clocks, chains and more or less anything else that came to hand, to heart-shaped pendants decorated with cogs or crystals.

Talking of Crystal – our lovely little fortune teller won’t be joining us.  She has left the Towers and should be arriving in Indiana around now to join her new custodian.  Wizard Widdershins has agreed to join us, though (unless the person who has had him in their basket at the Etsy Shop for several weeks now finally heads to the checkout) so there will be a good selection of miniature ladies and gentlemen.

IMG_20220203_140856_resized_20220205_104030215Perhaps under the cover of those mists we mentioned last time, a selection of tiny bottles has washed up on our banks.  (Avalon is, after all, an Isle, if only in name at present.)  Each contains a couple of sparkles or tiny gems and a mysterious message, intended only for the eyes of its new recipient.  That’s if they can manage to get it out of the bottle… not easy but possible.  We’ve tested them.

Some of these items, and more besides, will be making their way across Somerset to the ever-exciting Magpie Vintage shop in Midsomer Norton in the next few days.

Enjoy your week and we hope to see some of you at one of our outlets soon.

Wizard Widdershins

New Year felicitations to all from Steampunk Shrunk Towers.

IMG_20220105_132929_resized_20220105_013402215Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Arborius Widdershins – alchemist, magician, man of letters and all-round white wizard.

Not exactly steampunk, I hear you say.  Well no, perhaps not, but Mrs S has always had a keen interest in all things mystical and when I noted the range of magic books in her little library, I couldn’t resist accepting her invitation to come and stay for a while.

Obviously, in my line of work there is a need for solitude.  Not easy to find here with that tinker chap thumping away on his workbench and all those ladies chattering away, so I asked if any of the towers were vacant.

Fortunately there is one that will be suitable.  Rather small, perhaps, but my skills are such that I should have little difficulty applying the ‘tardisium’ spell to increase its inner dimensions.  I’m sure I can persuade Mr Entwistle to make me a couple of pieces of suitable furniture.  My needs are few.

Meanwhile, a charming young seer by the name of Daphne de Voire has agreed to allow me to use her desk during the night, while she is sleeping.  Most agreeable.

All in all, I think I will enjoy my sojourn at this curious residence.

Watch the Birdie (or the Horse or the Gecko…)

Sincere apologies for not posting an update recently.  Life on the road (or pavement, mainly, as Mrs S tends to walk to our market stalls, dragging us along in a wheelie suitcase or two) has been all-consuming.  

IMG_20211119_100027We have a brief respite now until our last sale of 2021 at Glastonbury Town Hall on December 18th, then a winter break until February.  The Etsy shop, of course, continues to thrive (we’ve just been awarded ‘Star Seller’ status for December!) and we’ve recently re-stocked our shelves at Magpie Vintage and Curiosities in Midsomer Norton.

We’re including a few photos from a recent market.  Meeting real humans again has been a delight and the response to our stalls has been overwhelming.  If you’re one of the people who took our business card and have recently discovered this blog, welcome, by the way.

IMG_20211119_095339Mrs S has enjoyed herself thoroughly and is kept busy creating new stock in between all the sales.  Here she can be seen showing off the Case of the Apothecary’s Shop and some of the Clockton-upon-Teas buildings.  We have a very few of those left for the next stall, then we’ll be raiding the recycling box for more packets and bottles to upcycle ready for next year.

The standout best-sellers on our stalls this season, though, have been the ridiculously eccentric watch-part pendants, badges and brooches.

IMG_20211125_141214_resized_20211202_120636288Having been gifted many boxes of vintage Swiss watch parts – from the days before batteries, back when the clockwork mechanisms were wound by hand – Mrs S spends many happy hours at her desk, picking out one tiny piece after another and deciding what, in that strange mind of hers, they look like.  Here, for example, you might be able to spot a gecko driving a combine harvester, Rudolf the wonky reindeer, a flying griffin, a bird on wheels and a turkey… or not!  It’s very much in the eye of the beholder.  IMG_20211126_131538_893_resized_20211202_120636791Our current favourite is this little horse.  Odd that watch parts lend themselves to such an interesting range of designs, including animals.  Mind you, we’ve recently been asked if there’s an otter… even watch parts have their limits!

If you live in Somerset and want to pay us a visit at the fair, do come and introduce yourself.  Sadly we aren’t planning to do any steampunk conventions or sales further afield in the foreseeable future, but will work hard to keep our other outlets stocked – and to post regularly here.

Wishing all our followers and patrons (and anyone else who stumbled across this site) a joyous festive season and a most auspicious New Year.

 

On the Road Again!

There are just a handful of people left here at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers who remember the touring days.  The rest of us listen with a mixture of respect, envy and terror as they tell us tales of being bubble-wrapped, boxed and thrust into Mrs S’s trusty old wheelie suitcase, then trundled away on journeys lasting many hours.

SITC21.jpg WEB (1)“Ah,” they say, “but when you finally arrive and are unpacked – then it’s all worth it!  You’ll be placed ever so carefully in just the right spot to display your fine costumes and intricate details.  Fairy lights and spotlights will illuminate the stall and people will come to stare, to gasp, to admire… and sometimes to buy and take you off to a new home.”

IMG_20210928_153101_resized_20210928_033607222We had almost given up hope of experiencing a fair ourselves, but now we have FOUR to look forward to before the end of the year!

The months of lockdown in the Towers have been pleasant enough.  The visits from the plague doctors and others were diverting, but to see Mrs S dusting off the suitcase and searching out her stocks of bags and boxes…  Well we can’t deny that we are more than a little excited.

Plague Doctors!

Well, Steampunk-Shrunk Towers has had its fair share of, erm, unusual residents over the years, but when we noticed this group of individuals skulking around Clockton-upon-Teas, we were somewhat alarmed.

Henry, who is a relatively fearless and friendly chap popped down to have a word with them.

Alas, conversation was not easy.  A combination of strong Italian accents and huge masks stuffed with herbs to fend off infection rendered discussion almost impossible.

Gradually, though, he was able to discover that they have arrived here from a far-off city called Roma, where they have been busily administering care and assistance to victims of a dreadful plague.  They commandeered a hot air balloon, in order to offer their particular skills to the people of our country, in this time of need.

Naturally, Henry was keen to inspect their transport, but it seems it has been appropriated by the fourth member of their medical team – one Marco by name – who has travelled on in it to the United States, where he has been hired to provide private medical services.

We could hardly leave the good doctors out in the rain, so they have joined our band of residents.

Certainly they are being most attentive to everyone’s health, although their methods seem to differ quite markedly from those we are used to.  We can’t quite understand why, for example, they need to check Sally and Lucy’s temperatures quite so often, nor why they need the ladies to strip down to their underwear in order for this to be done.  However I’m pleased to report that we are all very healthy at present, and hope that you are as well.

 

Stranger than Fiction

Travel, naturally, is quite out of the question.  Here we were, isolated in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, wondering what to do with ourselves.

Mrs S – who is around the same size as yourselves, dear readers – claims that the building is a small and fairly cramped cottage, but since the rest of us (due to a certain, er, accident involving a spacetime anomaly which we prefer not to mention, Henry…)  currently find ourselves shrunk to one twelfth of normal size, the residence appears positively cavernous.  Walking from one wing to another can easily serve for our daily exercise.

Nevertheless, time had been hanging heavily.

Imagine our delight, then, when Molly hit upon the idea of opening her Literary Emporium to one of us each day.  It is an exceedingly small establishment, so social distancing does not permit more than a single individual to enter the building at any time.  Each of us has been issued with a card stamped with the dates for our visits and everyone is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to peruse the many fascinating volumes available.

Only one thing marred our pleasure.  Several upstanding and usually trustworthy members of our community mentioned catching glimpses of a tall, shadowy figure skulking around the Emporium.  Rumours abounded as to the identity of this personage.  This lockdown seems to make everyone a little jumpier than usual and some had claimed it was a creature conjured up by Dr Kopp, our resident mad scientist, who was recently seen taking an extreme interest in certain passages in the ancient Grimoire.

I didn’t for a moment believe such poppycock.

Oh goodness – manners!  I failed to introduced myself.  Abject apologies.  That is me above and to the right – Gwendoline Thrustington-Clawhammer, tea-duelling district champion 1885, 1887 and 1891.

Yes, I know.

I did mention that it was a spaceTIME anomaly.

Anyway, my turn in the bookshop finally came around.  I became quite mesmerised by the Book of Spells and lost track of the time.  Fearing that I’d be late for an afternoon tea appointment, I rose quickly from my seat and at the same moment heard a definite sound outside the shop.  I had the distinct feeling that someone had been spying on me and that my sudden movement had startled them.

“Ava?”  I called, “Is that you?”  (Madame Ava Brassfeather is most prone to sneaking around the place, so naturally I suspected her.)  Then I recalled the stories about the mysterious stranger.  For a moment, I blush to admit, I considered screaming.  Thankfully I quickly came to my senses and hurried out to see who was there.

I was just in time to see a tall and muscle-bound gentleman trying to duck behind the far wall.

“You there!  Halt at once and reveal yourself!”  I cried, in my most imperious tone, hoping earnestly that he wouldn’t misinterpret my hurried command.

The figure turned to face me and although he cut a commanding presence, I noted that his eyes looked calm and, indeed, rather sad.

“Ah,” he said, softly.  “Ma’am I do hope I didn’t startle you unduly.  Please forgive my intrusion.”

His accent appeared to be that of an American gentleman, from the southern States, I suspected.  His gentle demeanour mollified me somewhat, but the fact remained that he was undoubtedly a trespasser.

In a slightly quieter tone, but still – I hoped – with a certain air of authority, I replied, “I am not easily startled, Sir, but I wish to know how you come to be in this private residence and what your business is.”

“Yes Ma’am, of course,” he responded.  “I can see that my presence here must look most suspicious.  My name is Clark Obadiah Jackson III.  I’m searching for someone who is – very dear to me.  The honest truth is, Ma’am, I can’t rightly explain how I came to be in this building, exactly, unless you are in any way familar with the notions of – uh – time travel and teleportation?”

He was fingering a device attached to his left wrist as he spoke.  I suspected (correctly, it later emerged) that he was considering activating it in some way to vacate our particular time and space if he met with too much hostility.

Now that I studied his face more closely, I realised there was something faintly familiar about it.  I knew he did not belong in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and was fairly certain our paths had never crossed, yet that slight memory or familiarity could not be discounted.  I realised that I did not wish him to leave as suddenly as he had appeared.  On the contrary, I was extremely curious to hear his story.

“I am – unfortunately – more familiar with time travel and teleportation than I would wish to be, Mr Jackson,” I assured him.  “Indeed, all the residents of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers have personal experience of its uses and often rather unfortunate side effects.   I suggest we take a seat in the Emporium whilst you recount your story.”

“Well that’s mighty civil of you, Ma’am, in the circumstances.   I truly do appreciate it.”

He doffed his hat to me in the most charming way and followed me into Molly’s little shop.

I lit the oil lamp and waited with considerable excitement to hear of Mr Clark Obadiah Jackson III’s adventures.

To be continued.

A Tall Dark Handsome Stranger

We get all manner of diminutive characters appearing at the gates of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.  One never knows who will appear next.  So I wasn’t surprised when a rather lovely young lady in a flowing sage green and dusky pink dress with a silk headscarf and dangling earrings arrived.  Initially she introduced herself as Gladys from Glastonbury, but her professional name is – apparently – Psychic Sabrina.
“I thought of spelling it P-s-a-b-r-i-n-a, but I think that’s a bit much, don’t you?”
Yes, I did.

“So you’ll be wanting somewhere to work, um, Sabrina,” I said.

She nodded gratefully.  “Just a very small consulting room.  I could do with a couple of chairs and a little table, if possible, and maybe somewhere to store these.”
As she spoke, she was unpacking a trunk containing the tools of her trade – a dowsing pendulum, a pack of cards, a large golden teapot (“tea leaf readings, my lovely”), and sure enough a china cup and saucer.

“I was drawn here, you know,” she confided. “The cards told me to come.  They showed me – I mean, I know it sounds a little clichéd, but it was so clear – that I’d meet a gentleman here who would be, well, significant in my life.  Tall, dark haired, very good looking.”

I thought about our few remaining gentlemen.  Most had left for America last month.  George Entwistle has almost no hair and can only lay claim to being the 12th scale equivalent of 5ft 9 by wearing his top hat everywhere he goes.   Hugo is certainly a distinguished-looking chap and may have been dark haired once, but he’s been grey for many a year.  That only left oil-smeared Henry and his brother…

“Charles,”  I called,  “Could you give me a hand making a set of shelves for a little room I’m putting together?  A stack of about three, to hang on the wall?  A nice grungy but feminine paint or paper finish, please.”

Charles went to work at once, while I set about covering an old room box with some rather beautiful floral papers and painting oddments of furniture in a mix of brown, anthracite and bronze.

Psychic Sabrina, meanwhile, remained strangely unaware of what was going on around her as she unpacked crystals, a ouija board and a set of tarot cards, lovingly wrapped in a dark silk cloth.  Next came various candles and a bottle of dried berries (“Rowan, for protection, dearie”).  I hoped the shelves would be large enough.

The next day all was ready for Sabrina to move in.  She was delighted with the room and spent some time putting up posters and charts, then began stacking her shelves and arranging the furniture.

It was only natural that Charles would drop by to check on his handiwork and to introduce himself to our latest resident.  He came upon the lady as she was deeply engrossed in a tea leaf reading and his gasp was audible.

Sabrina finally pulled herself out of her state of deep concentration to find him standing there.  She’s a professional, I’ll give her that.  There was the tiniest flicker of recognition in her eyes, as she realised that this was the stranger she had come to meet, but she quickly regained her composure and greeted him with a friendly smile.

“Hello, lovely.  Have you come to have a reading?”

I’ve never seen Charles lost for words before.  His mouth opened and closed a few times before he could trust himself to speak.

“Ahem, well, I actually came to check whether the shelves were suitable for your needs, madam.  A-a reading, you say?  Are you some sort of a fortune teller or something?  Never dabbled in such things before, but…  Well, it couldn’t hurt, could it?”

Sabrina was clearly used to putting anxious customers at their ease.  “Oh, so you’re the gentleman who built these splendid shelves.  Why, they are just perfect for my equipment, thank you.  What a craftsman you are!  Yes, I can tell you about yourself, point you in the direction of the best paths to take for a happy and successful future and answer any questions you have.  Shall we begin with a palm reading?  You just come and take a seat.  I’d like to give you a reading as payment for your hard work on my room.”

Charles nodded meekly and sat down.  He answered Psychic Sabrina’s questions – his name, his circumstances – without once taking his eyes from her face.  She smiled and nodded, studying him just as intently.
“Let’s begin with your right hand, then” she cooed, finally. “Just hold it out for me.  Are you happy for me to hold it?”

“Oh yes, certainly,” Charles replied, a little too eagerly.

Me, I’m no clairvoyant, but I think the writing is on the wall as far as these two are concerned.

 

 

 

Letter From America

The shimmering airship positively purred as it landed in the grounds of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers. Airship, Floating Islands, Sails, Castle

Charles and Henry – the resident tinkers – were almost tripping over one another to reach it first and see it at close quarters.

With a faint hiss of air from a piston somewhere, a ladder descended and a young lady who (Henry later remarked) shimmered almost as beautifully as her ship, climbed down.

She laughed at their expressions and said, “Well, I reckon y’all must be Mister Charles and Mister Henry, from what I’ve heard.”

The brothers looked – if possible – even more astonished.  It was Charles who remembered his manners first.
“Charles Fortescue at your service, Madame,” he said, “And may I introduce my brother Henry?  To what do we owe this honour?”

“Delighted to meet you both, I’m sure,” the pilot smiled. “My name is Leticia. We have a mutual friend, gentlemen – a charming young man called Jasper Coggleford.  He told me that if I flew Bluejay here it would be you who came out to take a closer look.”

“Little Jasper?” spluttered Henry.  “Jeremiah’s boy?  But how…?”

“Jasper and his father have recently moved to my neighbourhood,”  Leticia explained.  “We struck up a conversation and when I mentioned that I was about to fly across to the West of England, Jasper was most insistent that I should come and make your acquaintance.  He said your eyes would pop out of your heads when you saw Bluejay!  Oh, and he also asked me to hand deliver this letter to you.”

To be honest, the Fortescues were so enchanted with both the airship and its pilot, that it was only several hours after Leticia had finally declined any more tea and biscuits and reluctantly headed off to her appointment in Bristol that Charles remembered Jasper’s envelope.  With a pang of guilt, they sat down to read his letter.

Dear Mister Charles and Mister Henry,

I hope you like Miss Leticia and her airship.  I bet you will!

Me and Pa are nicely settled in at our new home in America.  So are Mr Augustus and Mr Bjørn.  The people here are real nice, as they say around here.

There is one problem, though.  It seems part of our work over here involves battling with a Kraken or two.  Pa is being ever so brave, but I can tell he’s nervous and I am terrified.  I mean, we have some woodworking tools, but what we need are proper weapons.  I don’t know anyone as good as you gents at inventing and tinkering, so I thought maybe you could have a try at making some monster-maiming gizmos.

Miss Leticia is coming back at the end of the month, so if you had anything prepared by then, I know she’d be happy to pick it up.

I know you won’t let us down.

Please say hi to everyone there.

Kindest regards,

Jasper Coggleford

“Hi?” muttered Charles.  “The boy is certainly settling in over there.”

“Yes, yes, but the weapons!” exclaimed Henry.  “They need our help.  Let’s make a start at once!”

There was a marked reluctance on Charles’ part, Henry noticed.  He’d rummaged around and found some swords in an attic, so had set about making armoured leather scabbards.  However he spent rather too long admiring himself in the mirror, whilst brandishing one sword after another and shouting things like, “Have at ye!” and “Take that, vile sea dog!”

“Swords!” grumbled Henry.  “You might slice off a leg or two, but the mouth will still be coming at you.  We need something more, ah, mechanical.  Something to blow the creatures to kingdom come.”

He stood for most of the first day surrounded by what you or I might think of as junk, carefully trying out different combinations and attachments.  By the end of the third day there was a veritable arsenal surrounding him.

“Is that one of Mrs S’s Christmas tree baubles?” asked Charles, suspiciously eyeing the end of one of the largest guns.

“That’s tinkering for you,” was all Henry would reply.

“And that thing with the rotary saw -”

“The Sawful. Yes, isn’t she a beauty?”

“Try walking around with that dangling from your shoulder and you’ll slice your own leg off!” Charles snorted.  “Hand it over – carefully, man.  I’ll make it a protective carrying case.”

“Then they’ll need small pistols,” mused Henry.  “They won’t be able to carry these things about all the time.  Young Jasper probably couldn’t even lift one.”

Charles didn’t speak.
Henry looked long and hard at his brother. “You don’t like weapons much, do you, old boy?”

Charles shrugged. “Not a great fan, if I’m honest,” he said quietly.  “I mean the swords are fine, man-to-man combat, fair enough.  But blasting some dumb creature out of existence with one of those – things…  Hardly cricket, is it?”

Henry grinned.  He clapped his brother gently on the back and nodded.  “I do see your point.  The thing is, I don’t think monsters play by MCC Laws.  How would we feel if we heard little Jasper had had his head torn off by some ravaging beast?  We need to give the poor lad a sporting chance.  Suppose you work on making some belts and holsters, if I work out how to make the pistols?”

“Thanks, old chap.  Appreciate it,” nodded Charles and he headed off to find some more leather.

And when everything was finished and safely packaged, ready for its long journey over the ocean, Charles had one final item prepared – a peacock blue pistol with matching holster as a gift for the pilot of the Bluejay,  because, as Charles explained, you just never know when you might need to protect yourself against an attack from some dreadful creature of the skies.