Mechanical Miniatures

“It’s been a while since we turned our hands to anything mechanical,” my brother Henry said, rather wistfully.

We started exploring piles of promising-looking items in the workshop.

“Wheels?” I suggested, holding up some circular wooden blanks.  “Hard to get the hole for the axle right in the centre though.”

“Cams!” he replied jubilantly.  “Drill the holes off-centre and we can make some cam-operated wind-ups.”

IMG_20220221_094042_742_resized_20220303_101756693 (1)And that was all it took.  He started to put some sturdy little boxes together, the ladies decorated them and I (Charles) got to work on the cam mechanisms and handles.

The first was a multicoloured dancing tree, made from twisted wires, sequins, beads and charms.  Next we raided the vintage watch parts for some springs and gears to put together with coiled copper wire.  Then we became more ambitious and produced a tiny hot-air balloon, complete with top-hatted magnificent men to fly it.  100% upcycled junk!  An old Christmas tree bauble was covered in plastic mesh which held Mrs S’s garlic, a few beads and jewellery bits added for the basket and the gents were fashioned from cotton bud stalks with tiny shoe eyelets for their hats!  Many hours of exacting work, of course, but we’re very happy with the finished result and now planning a series of dancing birds, octopuses and who knows what…

Proud to say that this week they have been the most viewed item in our Etsy shop.  Here’s a quick link, in case you’d like to take a look.

Heart, Flag, Ukraine, Kyiv, NationalOh, and while you’re on Etsy, we’d recommend searching for printable items produced in Ukraine.  Our fellow sellers there have been forced to shut their regular shops, due to the war, but still receive money direct to their PayPal accounts if we buy their digital artwork.

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.

The Towers in Winter

Few visitors are finding their way to Steampunk-Shrunk Towers at present, shrouded as it is in the mists of Avalon.  Travellers pass by, huddled in their greatcoats, gloves and bobble hats (Why do those hats have bobbles?  Such an odd custom…) but few would guess the hive of activity concealed behind our heavy timber doors.

IMG_20220112_142044_resized_20220112_022338333 (2)No peace for us.  We’ve been busy replenishing stocks – trying hard to remember just how we made those lines that sold out last year and, obviously, inventing new ones.  Once again, we’re happy to announce, there are over 100 lines for sale at the Steampunk Dolls House and more still to fill our market stalls for the coming year.

IMG_20220116_105511_resized_20220116_105704052 (1)The first of those is fast approaching – Saturday 12th February (so just in time for Valentine’s Day!) at the Craft and Vintage Fair in Glastonbury Town Hall, Somerset from 10.30.

Take a look at some of our latest creations – the tiniest pendants decorated with real (but suitably miniature) crystals,  a range of larger heart pendants with our usual steampunk twist and if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart sufficiently on these cold, grey days, take a look at our 1:12 scale fire pits, complete with flickering flames.IMG_20220127_150539_resized_20220129_100109982 (1)

Enjoy browsing the shop, from the comfort of your own living rooms, and we look forward to seeing those of you who live in or close to Somerset very shortly.

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.

Bootiful Miniature Upcycling

Here at Steampunk-Shrunk Towers, we love recycling.  Mrs S is, to quote Shakespeare, ‘a snapper up of unconsidered trifles’.  Junk packaging, broken dolls and furniture, charity shop finds… all are squirrelled away and lovingly upcycled when inspiration arrives.

img_20210920_165032_469IMG_20210916_105712_resized_20210921_110939915Some of our favourite finds are the little packs of boot and shoe eyelets we pick up for a fairly modest price (and an excellent cause) from the local children’s hospice charity shop.  They are leftover stock given to the charity by Clarks – the famous shoe manufacturers a mile or two down the road.

As you can see, the plain round ones make quite perfect camera lenses at 12th scale.

img_20210919_102222_981_resized_20210921_110659377There are all manner of fancy designs, though. It didn’t take us long to realise that they would be ideal as miniature candlesticks.

We hand-roll wax around a length of sewing thread, place them in the eyelets and light them just for a moment to blacken the wick and (if we’re lucky) create a drip.

Tiny Valentines

We have a few suggestions for those of you who would like to give a very small but unique and special gift this Valentine’s Day. 

Here are our top 5 suggestions from the Steampunk Dolls House, our online Etsy shop. 

  1. Miniature wand with crystal   Boxed handmade 12th scale wand image 3An amazingly small magic wand with a real crystal in the handle.  It even comes in its own little gift box!  Each is a one-off design and wands and boxes are all made inhouse.  The wands measure between 1 and 1.5 inches.

 

2. Miniature Book of Spells and Potions  Tiny Leather-bound image 2 Ye Book of Spells and Potions would make a very special present.  Each page of this tiny, leather-bound book has been individually hand-distressed to make it look ancient.  The cover has a metal trim and can be tied shut with the contrasting lace. (You can never be too careful with ancient spell books!)  The spells and recipes can all be read with the aid of a magnifying glass or phone camera zoom.  The book is 1.25 inches tall. 

3.  12th scale Steampunk Tinker's Shelf  Dollhouse Accessory image 0A perfect gift for anyone who dabbles or dreams of dabbling in making steampunk oddities:  A tinker’s shelf, complete with an array of tiny, but very useful, items.  You’ll find a book, a bottle of something interesting, a box of odds and ends, a tool, along with a glue pot and brush.  

 

4. 12th scale Holographic Hand Mirror  Steampunk Dollhouse bronze with top ring The holographic mirrors are always popular.  You can buy them with a ring on the top, for using as a pendant or charm, or without one if you’d prefer to give it as a miniature for a dolls’ house or ornament.  

 

5. If you don’t live in the UK, You may have noticed that the items above can’t be posted abroad at the moment, due to lockdown measures.  However you are not forgotten!  There is an ever-growing range of digital portraits and miniature books which can be downloaded and printed at home.  Then you just need some glue and scissors or craft knife to create a miniature masterpiece for your Valentine.  There are steampunk fashion books for ladies and gentlemen, a time-traveller’s companion, a book of undersea creatures, steampunk stories and much, much more.

Do head across to our shop and have a rummage through the tiny treasures there.

And a very happy Valentines Day.

The Theatres of Clockton

“What Clockton-upon-Teas needs is some culture,” announced Lucy Larks-Thrustington.

Steampunk 12th scale Porcelain Jointed Dollhouse Doll Lady LucyLucy is one of our newest arrivals at Steampunk-Shrunk towers.  She is, by profession, a dancer of some sort.  By Jove, she certainly has the legs for it… Ahem.  Anyway, she was looking at me and my brother Charles as she spoke, as if she expected us to conjure up some kind of performance.

“Not quite our forte, Madam,” I told her.  “Now if it’s a nice device or gadget you’re after – a portable time machine or flux capacitor or something, look no further.  And anyway, theatres are closing down everywhere – all this confounded anti-sociable distancing malarkey.”

All the more reason for us to open a few, then,” she smiled cheerfully.  “Let’s make miniature theatres – with cardboard cut-out characters.  Then we can put on shows for the good people of Clockton; cheer them up a bit, you know?  I’m sure you clever gentlemen would be able to make the performers move around the stage.  You are so gifted.”

Oh, that smile!  Gracious, she is a very persuasive young lady.  Charles was clearly all too keen to help.

“What scale were you thinking of, dear lady?” he asked, eagerly grabbing a notepad and pencil.  “After all, we are already what most would consider to be – ah – miniature.”

(This was said with an accusatory glance at me.  Will I never live down that unfortunate space-time fluctuation which might have been partly due to the malfunction of an early device I built?  I know it led to our population shrinking to one twelfth of our original size and I have apologised repeatedly.  However we are very comfortable here in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and have what many would call an excellent life. thanks to dear Mrs Steampunkle – a normal-sized lady who has opened her home to us.)

“No, darling! Far smaller than us!” exclaimed Lucy.  “Tiny people – about this big?” She indicated approximately an inch with her hands.  “I see them on little stages dancing and perhaps a few trapeze artistes, a tumbler or two and ballet, of course…”

“Well,” I said, slowly, “there’s a pile of box lids in the corner of the workshop, left over from the clockwork bird cases.  They might do for stages.  About the right size…”

“Splendid!” she cried.  “I knew you would be the gentlemen to ask!  I’ll go and cut out some suitable characters and leave the construction work to you.”

Tiny theatre  miniature stage with dancers  moving ballet image 3Charles decorated the stages, creating backdrops, curtains, wings and so forth.  I set to work with copper wire, coffee stirrers, cocktail sticks and pins to create the movement.  Soon we had several little theatres with beechwood sliders to move Lucy’s figures across the stage, rocking swings and even a metal balancing beam for a tumbler to turn around on.

Theatre Model  Mini Stage  Dancing Diorama  OOAK Miniature image 7The good people of Clockton-upon-Teas and all the inhabitants of the Towers came to watch our performances.  Ava found some splendid musical renditions to play on her phonograph and while Charles and I moved the sliders back and forth and twiddled the knobs, the audience gasped and applauded in a most gratifying manner.

 

Should you wish to choreograph your own miniature ballet or create a circus performance of your own, do head across to the SteampunkDollsHouse, where our creations can be purchased.  You will discover there that Lucy, too, has her price.  I suspect she is that sort of dancer…