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.

 

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.

A Somewhat Vulgar Piece of Self-Promotion

Goodness!  My heart almost fails me in this endeavour and I shrink from such activity, but needs must…

Despite being far happier tinkering away in my studio, creating miniature wonders, the time has come to mention that the Virtual Shop has reopened for business, with a slightly altered appearance and all new stock.

Like Steampunk itself, this enterprise does not have a physical existence.  It is more conceptual in nature.  Nevertheless, the items it sells are real enough, and a small but growing cluster of our Steampunk Dolls House characters and accessories are now available at the Etsy Shop.  Here is the link: www.etsy.com/shop/SteampunkDollsHouse.

Josephine hurrying to greet her brother-in-law

Do pop along to take a look.  You may even consider placing a small token of your affection next to your favourite item, just to let us know we are appreciated.

Kindest regards from all at Steampunk-Shrunk and The Steampunk Dolls House

Upping the Date

Greetings to all from the grey, damp and murky land of Avalon, where life, myth and mystery combine curiously amongst the swirling mists (well, actually thundering hail storms at the moment, but that’s a temporary glitch, I’m sure).

We felt the arrival of a new year merited an update on how things are progressing here at Steampunk-Shrunk HQ.  When I say ‘we’ I refer to myself – a slightly eccentric but mostly harmless white-haired writer-and-educator-turned-miniaturist – and the cluster of (far more eccentric) 1/12 scale figures who share this compact and slowly sinking residence.
Yes, it is indeed sinking. It used to be level with the road outside when it was built, a mere three-hundred-and-something years ago. Alas, it has failed to keep pace with the world around it and is now reached by stepping down from the pavement into our semi-subterranean world. It all adds to the general weirdness…

We are currently working alone, since the Steampunk Dolls’ House – our fellow enterprise based in Shropshire – almost sold out over Christmas and its few remaining residents are in the process of moving to new premises.  Nothing daunted, and buoyed up by moderate successes last year, we have decided to take to the road this year and flaunt our wares in far-flung areas of the United Kingdom.

Sadly, we possess only two vehicles between us, and both of those are at 1/12 scale.  Determined not to allow that to dissuade us, however, we have purchased a suitcase of gargantuan proportions and one of those magical devices for taking card payments from customers.  Many hours perusing bus and train timetables and hunting out bargain-priced accommodation means that we are about to commence our Grand Tour.

Messrs Crackington and Balsover are busily creating an emporium filled with a host of cunning contrivances and devious devices, which will be available for purchase at our forthcoming sales.

Some of their wonders, including the mysterious Oracular Device and the dangerous-looking Phosphorus Pump are displayed here.

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting more of the delights you can expect to discover on the Steampunk-Shrunk stalls which will be appearing around the land.

Our first venue will be the Thame Miniatures Fair (in Oxfordshire) on Saturday 17th February,  followed by a weekend Steampunk Convention on March 24th and 25th in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

We’d be delighted to meet you at one of these events and hope you’ll be able to join us.

 

 

 

 

 

Heart of Glass – Part 1

Steampunk Anomaly 'Bjorn the Heart of Glass' Dollshouse Scale 1/12thI am Bjørn.  People call me Heart of Glass.  People pity me.  Or they are fearful.  Or disgusted.  A few show curiosity tinged with admiration.
“How does it feel,” they ask, “to be part man, part machine?  Do you have feelings?  Do you hate your employer for what he has done to you?  Do you seek revenge?  But then, do you have powers and skills the rest of us lack?  Is it glorious to become part machine?”
So the questions go on, and I am grateful to the enquirers. They are better than the ones who simply shudder and turn away, shaking their heads.

Let me tell you the story – my story – from the start.

Fire, Steamboat, Stoker, Boiler RoomI encountered Doctor Kopp when he saved my life.  I was a boiler-man on an icebreaker in the Northern seas.  For long, long shifts I shovelled coal into the great, ravenous furnace that powered the ship.  The owners worked me hard and my body – always thin and long and rather weak – was close to breaking point.

This day I was shovelling, then there was blackness and the next thing I knew was the Doctor bending over me anxiously, pushing up and down on my chest and giving a triumphant cry of “Ja!” as I blearily looked up at him.

It seemed I’d lost consciousness.  The chief stoker had run onto the deck and asked if there was a doctor amongst the passengers.  Doctor Kopp had rushed to my aid.  He tells me that without his intervention, I would have died then and there.

They wanted to put me back to work, but the good Doctor insisted I was to be allowed to rest for some days, until he pronounced me fit to work.  He had my meagre possessions moved to his cabin from my hammock in the engine room.  He cared for me, fed me and mixed potions to strengthen my body.

Dr Oskar Kopp

Soon I began to feel better, but still he would not let me return to work.
“Your heart, my boy!” he would exclaim. “It is sickly. It is not fitted for zis verk. Leave zis ship. I vill give you verk. You vill be mein assistant! You vill say yes!”

I did say yes.  Of course I did.  I had the chance to stop shovelling coal into that great gaping hell hole of a furnace; to become assistant to an eminent doctor.  I owed this man my life, and now he was offering me the opportunity to work with him.  Maybe I could learn from him, study hard, gain qualifications…  I could not express my gratitude and delight.

So when the ship docked at Newcastle, I left beside the doctor and travelled with him to his laboratory.

My jobs were menial, it’s true.  I cleaned his equipment, ran errands, acted as receptionist for his patients.  All this I did without complaint.  Also I saw the amazing work he did – creating mechanical limbs, weapons that were grafted onto the very bodies of their operators, even clockwork mechanisms to regulate irregular hearts.  The man was a genius!  Also I occasionally glimpsed the work he did in his private study after dark – the alchemy from that ancient grimoire, but this he tried to hide from me.

Ah!  But now I must stop!  The Doctor has retired to bed.  I have no need of sleep.  I too have secret work to do at night, so excuse me now.  I will continue my story soon.

 

Bjørn is available at the Steampunk Dolls’House,  along with many other figures and items from these stories.

  Steampunk Dolls House online Etsy shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alchemy

Vell I ask you, if you were to come into possession of an ancient grimoire vhich contained (along wiz ze normal recipes for creating ze philosophers’ stone und cures for varts) a spell entitled ‘How to Traverse Time’, vouldn’t you be a little intrigued?  Vouldn’t you give up a successful career to explore ze secrets it offers?

Of course you vould.  Just as I did.

I had a huge laboratory, back in zose days.  Mechanical construction vas my bread-und-butter.  Alvays zer ver young men vanting automatons, adjustments to zer contraptions and votnots.  Fraulein Vorzington, my young assistant, vas quite excellent at such sings.  I left her to it.  For me, reading ancient texts vas far more important.  I had zis strong feeling zat vun day, I vould discover zat for vich I searched.  Und here it is – ein dusty old volume, standing on my small table in my tiny, dark garret.  Viz zis book, I vill conquer time itself!

Doctor Oskar Kopp and his alchemist’s study is one of my favourite 1/12 scale creations.  It started as a simple cardboard case, less than the length of a 12 inch/ 30 cm ruler, but now contains his glass and copper still (much distillation goes on in alchemy), arcane diagrams and jottings, a shelf filled with dusty jars of dubious substances and a table which holds his microscope, apparatus and more bottles.  Then, of course, there is the doctor himself, with his plasma- and aether-sensitive binocular eyepiece, not to mention the infamous grimoire.  Yes, it does contain that spell, although you might have difficulty reading it, since the pages are less than 2 x 3 cm.  I’d also advise caution, should you manage to read it.  The ancient book uses Roman numerals, you see, so if you were to attempt to consume one hundred and eleven of the mushrooms, for example, rather than the specified three, the results could be catastrophic.  In fact, even three is pushing things rather…

The Case of the Alchemist’s Study will be on display on my stall at the Glastonbury Craft and Vintage Fair on Saturday 29th April, 2017.  Other Steampunk – Shrunk figures, rooms and accessories are available at Rune Smith of Glastonbury, at 1 Monarch Way, off Glastonbury High Street and online at the Steampunk Dolls’ House (where you can find Dr Kopp’s erstwhile assistant, Lucy Worthington and one of her automatons).  The jar labels, posters and cover for the spell book are courtesy of the wonderful Betsy at Chocolate Rabbit Graphics. 

It’s all in the detail

“Steampunked?” snorted the gentleman.  “What kind of word is that?  I don’t like the sound of it one little bit.  Nor does my good lady wife or our maidservant, either.  We are respectable people, I’ll have you know.  ”
His two female companions nodded in anxious agreement.

I smiled sympathetically.  These characters had only just arrived at the Steampunk-Shrunk workshop, wrenched (literally – their feet had been glued down) from a deceased elderly lady’s dolls’ house when her family were clearing out.

“I realise it must be very confusing for you. This not the most organised of places, but I promise you the end result will be worth it and you’re going to love your new look. It will certainly be more exciting than standing in a dolls’ house for decades.”

“There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with the clothes we are wearing,” he insisted.

“Well they look just fine from a distance,” I said carefully, “but – well, not to put too fine a point on it, they are glued to you! Your shirt, if you’ll forgive me, is a strip of poor quality fabric wrapped round your shoulders and stuck to your back. You have no waistcoat, no pockets, no hat…”

“May I be so bold as to ask what your plans are, ma’am?” asked the maid, dropping a slight curtsy.

“I will be hand-stitching all your clothes – even the shirts and the ladies’ undergarments.  Only the leather coats are glued, as stitching makes them too bulky, but they will open and have pockets you can use.  I love to include as much detail as possible.  Let me introduce you to some of the other people who have been transformed.”

First they met Isambard.
“Take a look beneath his greatcoat,” I suggested.

Their gasps as they saw his glass buttoned cotton lawn shirt and brocade waistcoat suggested that I might be winning the argument.  They noticed the gold watch chain and stared in amazement as I pulled his fob watch from the satin-trimmed waistcoat pocket.  Next I took the brass binoculars from his neck for them to examine and emptied the contents of his inch long leather shoulder bag on to the table.  There was a folded, rather battered set of engineering plans, the pipe Isambard can never bear to be without and a tiny leather pouch containing tobacco (made from shredded leather).

“Each of my Steampunk-Shrunk characters has one or two details like that,” I explained.  “Mercurius has binocular goggles, a map of the Antarctic in his coat pocket and a casket and key hidden under his coat.   Eve has a clockwork mechanism set into her back, although from the front you would never guess that she is an automaton.  Bella has an intricate mask made of watch parts, wires and black lace.  Why, even young Ruby has a tiny ticket to the steampunk fair tucked into the band of her hat.”

“I see,” said the gentleman, quietly, as he looked down at his own clothes.

“When do you think you can start to, ah, ‘Steampunk’ me?” enquired his wife.

“And me, ma’am?” whispered the maid, eagerly.

 

Some of the characters mentioned can be found at the Steampunk Dolls House if you click on their names.  Isambard and Ruby will be attending the Craft and Vintage Fair at the Town Hall, here in Glastonbury, UK on April 29th 2017.
As for the new characters, I’m sure they will enjoy their transformation as much as I will.

 

 

Ruby

Hi, I’m Ruby.  They’ve asked me to explain to you what steampunk is, because loads of people are like, ‘What’s that?’

Well don’t be put off by the long words (‘cos I learned them specially, lol) but it’s a kind of retro-futurism.  Yeah, I know.  Took me a while to get my head around it, but there’s these old stories that were written like years and years ago, by Victorians and that.  HG Wells and Jules Verne and people.  And although they’re set in those times, they’re about the future – things like exploring to the centre of the earth or time travel and cool stuff like that.

Well some modern people thought it would be fun to imagine a world like those old people wrote about was really coming true.  It’s as if time took a different turn and instead of us getting into nuclear power and smart phones and everything, people had found clever ways to use the olden days technology like steam and clockwork.  I think it’s dead cool.

Those old stories I was talking about, yeah?  Well they had all sorts of terrifying monsters and stuff that the heroes had to battle against with their amazing steam-powered weapons, so steampunk is into that, too.  Loads of the guys go and buy nerf guns and do them up so they’re metallic and look really awesome, to protect themselves against all the evil stuff.  I know – bit weird – but boys and their toys, y’know?

Steampunk isn’t much like real Victorians, because they were quite dodgy really – no women’s rights and like exploiting the working classes and anyone who wasn’t British.  We learned about them in history.  So steampunk people have a motto about being splendid to everyone.  We kind of take the best of Victorians (like how good they were at inventing and building awesome machines and everything) and ignore all the bad bits.

I got into it when I read Northern Lights.  That’s by Philip Pullman and it’s what The Golden Compass film is based on, but I liked the book better.  And now there are loads of good steampunk writers about and we have conventions and festivals and balls and everything.  You might want to try reading stories by Nimue Brown or Phoebe Darqueling or go to some blogs like The Curious Adventures of Messrs Smith and Skarry or Cogpunk Steamscribe.

Anyhow, got to rush.  I’m off to a steampunk fair with Charles.  His costume looks awesome.  Oh, and if you want to check up on some of the others, go to The Steampunk Dolls House.  I might join them there sometime.