The Astrologium

How kind people can be.

Mrs S, like Shakespeare’s Autolycus, is ‘a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles’.  Not, we hasten to add, that she is a petty thief.  Quite the reverse, in fact.  Friends and acquaintances approach her, proffering handfuls of strange, broken or discarded trinkets in the hope that we will be able to upcycle them and produced new miniature wonders.

“Ah,” she said, spreading one of the latest collections on the desk.  “We appear to have an astrological theme emerging here. Could someone send for Evadne?”

The tall and haughty figure of Miss Capricornius was seen hurrying along the corridor moments later.  For a millisecond her eyes travelled to the items on the desk, but she quickly re-fixed her gaze upon the middle distance and trilled, “I came as soon as I was summoned, my dear.  I have no idea why I was called, of course, but Jupiter’s aspect in my chart today suggests a gift or opportunity of some kind.  Not that I would presume to suggest the two facts are in any way connected…”

“Quite,” said Mrs S, shortly.  “However, by chance, a few objects have come into our possession which may be of use to you.”

Evadne continued to stare ahead, waving a hand dramatically before her face, as if trying to remove a cobweb.

“I see the sun!” she exclaimed.  “Yet how could I receive the sun?  How strange these visions are!  And – could it be the constellation of libra?  Surely not!  Why and now the planets are showing me -”

“Yes, yes.  No doubt they’re indicating an amber pointer,” Mrs S sighed, glancing down at the desk.  “If you can make something interesting with these, Evadne, then take them.  I’m sure the brothers will be on hand to help with construction, should they be needed.”

She then left hastily, before Miss Capricornius could feign amazement at ‘discovering’ the trinkets.

Needless to say, my brother and myself were commanded to construct all manner of working parts for the ‘Astrologium’ she had decided to create.

“A rotating disc, darlings, about so big … no, not like that!  Tilted but roughly horizontal, obviously!  And this bead to turn it.  Why, it so clearly resembles a galaxy, don’t you think?  The holographic clock will require two more hands, in addition to this stunning pointer.  They must be huge and magnificent.  Bronze, perhaps and silver.  Oh, and a decorative but sturdy set of railings across the front.  Children can be so irritatingly curious!”IMG_20220530_145039_resized_20220530_025129821

So it went on for days, but I have to say, Charles and I are very impressed with the result.   To be honest, we did all the work.  ‘Her majesty’, as she’s come to be known, simply handed out the orders and then settled to write a book about her creation.  And do we get a mention in it?  Well I’m sure you can guess the answer to that.

Molly informs us that Miss Capricornius has been ordering more astrology-related items.  It sounds as if she’s decided to create a whole series of astrologiums.

Maybe mercury will go retrograde and her order won’t arrive…

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.

Robot Rebellion

Poor Augustus.  He looks very apologetic and slightly alarmed.  He holds himself entirely responsible for the furious beeping and light-flashing, not to mention the broken crockery and so forth, but it really isn’t entirely his fault.

You see, when one is a serial collector of all manner of unconsidered trifles, as Shakespeare would have it, there comes a time when a major clear-out must occur.  This was just such a time.

I used vast quantities of broken jewellery, charms and other pleasingly-shaped objects to create some of our Wild and Wonky seasonal tree decorations.   However there is a limit to what can be suspended from a Christmas tree.

I felt that the football boot studs, the broken plastic wind instruments, the polystyrene packaging, the various bottle caps and the two broken toy motorcycles would be a step too far, so I did what I usually do at such times.  I handed them over to the highly enterprising Augustus Robottom and suggested he make some more of his very popular junk robots.

True to form, Gus produced some little wonders.  There was a small butler bot holding a goblet of wine, a robot maid with teapot and cup, several messengers, guard bots and a very cute little handyman with screwdriver, drill and assorted useful bits and bobs.

Then the trouble started.

junk robot bikersGus began to transform the motorbikes.

They had been in a sorry state when I first found them in the 50p box of a local charity shop, but once Augustus had worked his magic and added in some rather unlikely components, he produced a couple of quite extraordinary biker bots.

The paintwork was transformed with glittery nail varnish and metallic wax.  Huge exaust pipes were fashioned from a plastic trumpet and saxophone.  An action figure’s mask became a grille on the front of one.  A plastic drinking straw became a huge steam funnel on the other.  The little robot drivers were fixed into place – one leaning forward eagerly, the other a rather laid-back easy rider.

Gus pronounced himself pleased with the result.

Then the trouble started.

the robots spot the bikerThe smaller robots caught sight of Robot G on his gleaming copper and gold motorbike.  Pandemonium broke out.

Remember R2-D2 at its most animated and loud?  Multiply that by eight and add in the smashing of household items and you’ll have some idea of the hubub caused by the consternation of the jealous little robots.

I’m not sure what that butler was offering me in his jewelled goblet, but it looked rather more like a poisoned chalice than a glass of wine.   Beaded arms and fists were raised and each mouth spewed unbridled fury.  They encircled poor Augustus, each demanding a shiny set of wheels for themselves.  Alas, I had to admit I’d only been able to aquire two bikes.

We both felt it best they didn’t meet Robot I, the second biker.  Fortunately, he was quickly snapped up by a collector in the United States, so their paths will not need to cross.

“Perhaps,” I suggested later, “it would be better to make your next batch of robots without emotion chips.”

Sadly, Augustus agreed.

The remaining robots will be on sale at the Folk Art Market in the Assembly Rooms, Glastonbury, Somerset on Saturday 16th November 2019.  Any who are left will move to one of our Somerset outlets – Magpie Vintage in Midsomer Norton or Street Emporium.  Interested customers who live further afield can contact us via the form on the home page of this website.

 

The Clock Case Begins…

“Pa!” yelled young Jasper Coggleford, racing into the workshop and almost tripping on his apron in his haste.  “You have to come and see our new project.  It’s huge!”
Jeremiah, the senior partner of Coggleford & Son, Purveyors of Fine Furniture to the Gentry, smiled.  “Not another dresser, is it?  If so, we need to build up your muscles if you’re to help me move it.”
“No, Pa, much bigger than that.  Just come and see.”

Jasper led his father to the largest room in Steampunk-Shrunk Towers.

I should explain here that all but one of the inhabitants of this residence are at one twelfth the size of you or I.  This is due to a space-time anomaly caused by a time machine malfunction which I don’t have the energy to go into right now.

Only Mrs S, the owner of said residence, is what we would consider normal sized.  It was she who had acquired the object that had so excited Jasper’s imagination.

“Gracious heavens!” cried Jeremiah, as he surveyed the edifice that stood before them.
It was a vintage clock case, now empty except for some curious markings on the back wall and a small spring protruding from one side. The internal space was more than a foot tall, although quite narrow.

“Told you it was big, Pa,” Jasper declared, quite unnecessarily. “Mrs S says we can make what we like with it, once we’ve cleaned it up and restored it. She says her son and his partner found it for a fiver in an antique shop. They thought it would interest us.”

Jeremiah scratched his head. “We’re furniture restorers, lad, not house builders. Don’t you think it’s rather a lot for us to take on?”
“‘Course not, Pa,” grinned the boy. “If we put in a new ceiling and a ladder, we can have a room with an attic above it. I’m sure Mister Charles and Mister Henry will lend a hand.”

“Well, I suppose they would,” Coggleford Senior agreed slowly.

He continued with his careful inspection of the clock case.
“The structure is sound, and the woodwork will come up lovely with a bit of attention. Just look at those pillars – real beauties.”
“I knew you’d love it Pa,” laughed the boy. “Shall we get started?”
“I think we’d better, son. This is going to be a long job.”

And so the clock case restoration begins.