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.

 

 

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

 

 

Grimoires

Mrs S is away from home at the moment. Leaving Steampunk-Shrunk Towers in the capable hands of Charles and Henry, she has traversed the country once again and is sojourning in the sweltering East.

To keep her occupied in spare moments, she has taken a sheaf of printed covers and pages to construct a plentiful supply of Grimoires – enough to tide us through the plethora of Steampunk-Shrunk stalls coming up this autumn and to cover the inevitable rise in demand at the SteampunkDollsHouse shop around Halloween.

Cutting and glueing the spell books together is the easy part. Each page then needs to be ‘distressed’ to give the appearance of great age.

This is a time-consuming process involving a variety of substances and techniques. Grimoires, after all, must expect to be exposed to all manner of strange environments and materials over the centuries.

Once suitably ancient in appearance, each little volume will be offered for sale. No two are completely alike.

As for the spells, charms and advice hidden within their pages – customers should take these with a large pinch of salt (along with essence of bat wing, scale of newt and a sprinkling of items digg’d in the dark).

Credit must be given to Betsy at www.etsy.com/shop/chocolaterabbit for the excellent covers and illustrations.

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.

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.