Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “crafting

Soup of the day: With Steampunk treasures from Jamlincrow

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Joe, creator of the beautiful steampunk inspired jewellery  at Jamlincrow. Good morning Joe, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

I’m rather partial to a good vegetable soup, until recently I had always dipped lightly buttered bread in my soup. However, the other day I hollowed out the top of a baguette and filled it with cheese and shoved it in the oven as a little experiment. Hot crusty bread with lashings of melted cheese was quite the treat to accompany my soup. So that is what I have brought with me today! 🙂


Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at some of your lovely creations, have you brought some along to show us today?

Well, let’s see, what have we got…… ah yes I have this magical key necklace featuring some splendiferous clockwork watch mechanics from a bygone era. Also a sprinkling of Amethyst to mesmerise all that gaze upon it!



What else can I rummage up? How about these cufflinks, with some rather special Tissot watch movements. Quite the extravagance for the discerning gentleman!



Or maybe a tie bar would be more the ticket…



A lady such as yourself would look rather fetching with a colourful dragonfly fluttering around your neck. Careful, not to dangle him in the soup though!



They really  are  marvellous, I especially like the key and dragonfly necklaces! How long have you been in the business of making steampunk jewellery?

Thank you so much for your kind words! People do seem fond of my dragonflies and keys…. I think being able to customise by choosing their own colours adds to the attraction 🙂

I reckon I must have been steampunking around with jewellery for about 5 years now. It doesn’t feel that long, time flies when you’re working with watch parts and winged insects 😉


Oh yes I suppose it must! And what inspires you when you set about making a new design?


I’m lucky enough to have found my soulmate, who is a constant source of inspiration to me. In fact she is the reason I started my Jamlincrow journey in the first place!
So my work is often guided by insightful mutterings from my better half 🙂


Oh what a beautiful story! Now then, you have a lovely range of jewellery in your shop but if a customer wanted something special do you take custom orders?


Yes indeed! I get all sorts of requests, so people only need tap at my chamber door and ask the question…… don’t be shy.

A lot of my custom requests are for steampunk plug earrings (for people who have stretched ears). I seem to have carved out a little niche for myself making those.



Goodness! Whatever next! And, where can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?


Although I always have plans to get my website up and running, I would say my Etsy shop should be your first port of call for now 🙂

I am also an official supplier to the National Maritime Museum who stock some of my items, including my watch mechanism cufflinks at The Royal Observatory in Greenwich.


You can also keep an eye on what I’m up to on my Facebook page!

And finally, the all important question, on which the fate of the world may hang…  the kettle is sing so which is the brew that inspires you more when you are creating, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

TEA?!?! Yuck! What a disgusting thought. I’m all about the coffee 😛
Usually an Americano or two in the morning, moving on to a Cappuccino as an afternoon treat, each with 1 and a half spoons of sugar. Wow, no wonder I don’t sleep well :/

Coffee? I think I do have a little jar around somewhere, yes here we go…

Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Joe, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

Most definitely. We can’t sit around here nattering all day when their are empty bellies to feed!


Thankyou so much for joining us in the soup kitchen today,I hope to see you all again next week when another exciting guest will be helping me dish up some tasty soup so, until then

Blessings on your brew my dears!











Morning Cuppa: A World Of Temperance

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s flamboyantly flowery and lavishly leaf-laden parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a hot house of scandal where faded blooms wilt amid the floral chintzes and vile things blossom like fungi but we consider that such people are merely inextricably stuck up their own tea spouts.

Well, as they say, there certainly is no place like home! Running from irate farmers after one has accidentally set fire to their barn used to be an easy thing apparently, a ‘merry childhood pursuit’ Max called it. Hmph. Not so in these days of weaponised automaton farm workers… we didn’t make it back to Lancaster until after the curfew and for a dreadful moment, as the flock of flesh eating Liver Birds descended, I really didn’t think Max was going to muster the strength to carry both me and our ill-gotten-gains the last few miles to safety. But luckily, he was wearing his spot-of-bother-boots which come equipped with tiny vials of super-strength lapsang for just such emergencies and with me wielding the ray gun in one tentacle and clinging to Max’s head for dear life with the other seven, we managed to escape relatively unscathed.

And so here we are, having deflowered the countryside and brought it all home to brighten up our dear little parlour, and now we are in desperate need of a splendid cup of something and some marvellous literature to accompany it… and of course we have both…

Our tea this morning is this beautiful summer flower tea from Chloe’s Helpful Herbs

And our book is one we have been eager to get our tentacles into for a while now…



Another splendid helping of steampunk insanity from mr ichabod temperance and miss Persephone plumtartt, this second adventure is even more action packed than the first with more parody, pastiche, punning and political pandemonium than you can shake your top hat at! (Max has decided to read the entire book again from the beginning and note down every hat-tip to L Frank Baum)

It took us a few pages to really get into this adventure as a lot of back story was fed into a short space but on the plus side if you have not read the first book that means you will swiftly pick up on the facts needed to enjoy this next episode.

And what an episode! The revelationary comet that sparked off episodes of genius in the human population during book one has now caused the same phenomenon in the animal kingdoms and they have decided they don,t much like being hunted into extinction and have begun to fight back, but will they decide to help or hinder our heroes in their battle to save humanity from its own evil inclinations? Another splendid steampunk romp that had us shedding tears of laughter throughout and we shall definitely be reading and reviewing the next book in the series soon.


Now then, our souls revived, our oracular pet is straining to be released so let us put him into his tea cup and see what his far seeing tentacles have plucked from the aether for us this morning…


Hm, now what is the little villain trying to insinuate? You know I really wish sometimes we had never picked it up off that beach, its sense of humour is suspicious and disturbing. Hm? What’s that? Oh… Max says it is probably trying to be helpful, well, we shall see Max, we shall see…

In the meantime we wish you all a blooming marvellous morning and hope you will join us tomorrow for elevenses when we will be finding useful things to do with all these flowers and reading a splendid steampunk short story from Amy Kuivalainen so until then please be always

utterly yourself.



Soup of the day:Kaydance Heggarty

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, I do apologise for my absence the past two weeks, I have been lending my culinary skills to help the orphans of Hopeless Maine and you can read all about my terrifying adventures on that strange gothic island right HERE.

But thankfully I managed to escape and helping me this morning in the soup kitchen is Steampunk crafter Kaydance Heggarty , a very good morning to you, my dear, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, may I take your hat and coat? I’m afraid the fog is awful again this morning!

Ah yes, a real pea-souper (groans at own joke)

Indeed! Now do please have a seat here by the fire and I will put the kettle on. I hope your journey to our dimension was a good one, you did not encounter any skywaymen in this dreadful fog?

Indeed not, I was most fortunate.  But perhaps you refer to my somewhat dishevelled and ragged appearance? No, no,  please do not concern yourself!  This is just a small disguise to persuade the skywaymen that I’m much too poor to warrant their attention.  Seems to have worked admirably although I must admit the smell emitting from this clothing is a little distracting….

Oh I see! What a marvellous idea! Well now before we take a look at all your lovely trinkets and curios, tell me, have you brought some soup to share with the orphans?

I’ve brought this scrummy vegetarian potato and cheese soup. I came across the recipe on  my travels.  It is absolutely delicious and very filling, I do hope the orphans like it?

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you show me some of your wonderful creations?

Some of these items are already available from my Etsy shop, other items will be coming in the next month or so although already available upon enquiry via my facebook page.

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They really are marvellous, I especially love the tempus fugit necklaces, and the little Nemo’s Nemesis pendants! Have you always been interested in crafting ?

Why thank you, that’s most kind of you.  But to answer your question, crafting was something I enjoyed immensely as a child.  I’m afraid as an adult I let adult concerns consume me and forgot the joy achieved from creating items for oneself.  It was therefore with immense pleasure that I discovered Steampunk and its inherent creativity which reawakened my interest in crafting (although I have moved on somewhat from using toilet rolls and sticky back plastic).

And what attracted you to Steampunk in particular?

I’ve always had a love for Victoriana, particularly Victorian gothic decor and architecture but it wasn’t until my brother pointed out to me that some of my ‘tat’ (as he likes to refer to my various knick knacks) smacked of Steampunk that I ever heard of it.  It was a revelation and I voraciously searched out sources of Steampunk literature, music and fashion.  Then with a little Dutch courage under my belt I took my fate in my hands and joined a local steampunk group.  Serendipitously, I already had a considerable number of rather gorgeous military style jackets and natty little lace up boots which fitted the bill perfectly.  I think steampunk was simply something for which I had been unconsciously searching and once I had discovered it I couldn’t get enough.  The inherent creativity of the genre was simply an added (if rather large) bonus.

I see, and where do you draw your creative inspiration from for each new piece?

Numerous ways, sometimes a phrase will suggest an item such as the Tempus Fugit (Time Flies) necklace, other times I see an item and immediately see the use they can be put to and come up with a name later such as Nemo’s nemises  lockets (incidentally I must point out no Kraken were hurt in the creation of these little lockets).  Usually, it is just trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.  Often it is just a case of seeing something that catches the eye and thinking I could do that but with ‘this twist’ or ‘that twist’, or ‘can I stick a gauge on that?’  It’s just a different way of bringing the individual components available together in what to my eye is a pleasing manner.

Yes Collin the octopus was a little concerned when he saw those tentacles… so if you do not use live specimens how do you source your materials?

Some of the rarer items are sourced from the black market, other items are scavenged from local establishments that deal in second-hand goods.  Occasionally an item falls off the back of a passing airship (wink wink) but the majority of the constituent items are imported from the Far East via the aethernet.

Oh not to worry my dear your secrets are safe with me, I am certainly no friend of Her Majesty’s Good Folk! Now then, if a customer wanted something particular, do you take custom orders?

Of course, and it has lead to some interesting conversations.  In particular I remember a request for an altitude gauge for a pair of fairy wings and the ensuing conversation as to the relative safe heights at which fairies are able to fly.

And, whilst I currently mostly my jewellery just at markets I always have my tools on hand in case anybody wants to place a ‘special request’.  I am hoping to expand the jewellery range listed on my online shop in the next few months.

Ah, now the kettle is boiled, can I offer you both a hot beverage? What is your poison and how do you take it?

Oh lovely, thank you.  A lovely cup of tea please (English breakfast if you have it?) with a moderate dash of milk.  Mmmm….. lovely.  Look, I’ve brought some Malted Milk with me for us to share.

Here you are, now do tell me, where can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?

Thank you.  I currently have a little virtual shop under Etsy but as I previously stated I’m also very happy to take orders and enquiries via my facebook page.


Wonderful! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

Oh yes, then I really must dash as I have some urgent orders waiting for me back at my workshop.  But I must say it’s been absolutely lovely to join you today….

Marvellous, thankyou all for joining us in the kitchen today and I hope you will come and visit me again next week,until then,

blessings on your brew my dears!



Morning Cuppa: Safe Haven

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s awe-inspiringly amorous and remorselessly romantic parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a dark-hearted affair riddled with unrequited fancies but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning waltzing around the parlour, tripping over eachother’s tentacles and generally getting our heads in a giddy spin because this week, here in The Scattered Isles of Ire, we are celebrating the ‘ festival of (almost) unconditional love’ during which all citizens (well, all those who value their necks so that’s us obviously) make an ostentatious show of celebrating the love that Wiz has shown to us all by doing all he can to prevent us frenziedly nomming ourselves into early graves (ie, banning tea, cake and magic from being consumed by  the general populous) …a-hem.


And to kick off this week long love-fest we have this adorable Lovers’ Tea by Rooted Earth and to accompany it, this sweet steampunk romance…


Safe Haven is the prequel book in Margaret McGaffey Fisk’s Steamship Chronicles and if you are looking for a book that is heavy on the steampunk with an interesting love story intertwined with the plot (and without any unwarranted bodice ripping or token macho-chaps sticking their pistols where they aren’t wanted) then we think you will adore this book as much as we did.

When Lily’s father dies the responsibility of caring for her younger sister, Sam, falls to Lily. But Sam is a Natural – someone who understands the dreams of machines…and in order to keep society safe, the law decrees that all Naturals must be locked up.

Henry is desperate to carry on the high principles and altruistic achievements of his predecessors and although his job in the local police force doesn’t quite provide him with the opportunities he craves to do this, he is certainly doing his best to be a champion of the poor, combat these lunatic Naturals and keep innocent citizens safe from their monstrous creations.

Will Henry’s burning desire to ‘do the right thing’ and Lily’s commitment to protect her sister be the tools which drive them apart or bond them together?

We loved the steampunk world offered in this book and the originality and ‘freshness’ of the plot. The characters were adorable and we will definitely be reading the next book to see what happens to them all next.

Now then, time to pop our oracular pet into his cup and see if it has any ideas for celebrating the love of our kind and benevolent dictator…


Splendid! We wish you all a very splendid morning filled with amorous suitors and absinthe flavoured hearts and we invite you to join us tomorrow for elevenses so, until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself



Soup of the day: With Darq ‘the doll with a blog’

Oh my goodness! Um…Greetings my dears! Do please excuse me…if you could just avert your eyes for a moment, I am just changing back into my usual attire…



Wizmas is a very dangerous time to be a witch. That’s  why I have had to put on my false moustache and toupee and pretend to be my non-existent husband, Albert, to avoid awkward questions!

Nevertheless, to celebrate the fact that Wizmas is now over we’re cooking up a secret feast for all the little orphans here in the soup kitchen. Helping me this afternoon is a lady of extraordinarily adventurous inclination and impeccable fashion sense…


My guest has a most unusual name—Darq. No last name, but she’s a titled lady on her homeworld. Those titles are—

– Princess of the Misted Moon
– Warrior-Huntress of the Mayahi Dyn
– First Daughter of Pyhanni of the White Grasses
– Granddaughter of Zukaltay of the Octal-Ute Dyn, and an esteemed Naren (a chieftain)

Darq is also the twenty-fourth daughter of the late (deceased) statesman of the Chimalli Ishi Nation. His name was Gidwi. Definitely Darq is a lady not of our world but of the Wysotti nation, a matriarchal planet in a distant solar system. Darq is also a much-decorated Wysotti starfighter pilot, the heroine of her homeworld, and it is her avatar who is my guest today! Please welcome— Darq, the doll with a blog!


Hello Darq, it is so marvellous to have you here in Lancaster today, have you brought some cake to share?

Hello, Mrs. Baker, and yes, I’ve brought you my Fruity Cake.


Fruit Cake? Oh, my dear, no, surely not fruit cake!

(Darq chuckles.) No, no. Fruity Cake. It’s nothing like that atrocious stuff you Earth people make at Christmas and Wizmas, which is only good for use as a fighter plane’s stop-block. Here, look at the recipe and you’ll see.


Darq’s Fruity Cake
by Author Catherine E. McLean @2012

4 eggs
1 stick of butter (softened)
one 14.5 oz can of Delmonte “no sugar added very cherry fruit mix” – not drained
one 8 oz. can of pineapple tidbits, drained
3/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1 carrot cake mix (cake can be made from scratch)

Into a bowl, pour in the cake mix, then add all the other ingredients and beat until well blended. Pour into a greased bundt pan or bundt mold. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 45-55 minutes (or until knife comes out clean). If using a 9×13 cake pan, bake for approx. 30-40 minutes.
Serve warm with ice cream or pudding.
May be cooled and coated with confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) or Cream Cheese Frosting with a fresh fruit topper (mandarin oranges, sliced strawberries, blueberries, etc.)

Oh, yes, I see. Simple, quick . . . sweet . . . fruity . . . Shall we make some for the orphans?

(Darq chuckles again.) Yes. The MIBs said you liked to cook with your guests, so I brought my apron.

Lovely, now while that bakes, let’s sit and have a spot of tea. Do you have a favourite blend my dear?

I do. It’s called Xaaykop.
Xaaykop? I’m afraid I’ve never heard of it…

It’s from my home world. As a friendship gift, I brought you some.


Oh, my, such a lovely tea chest! Thankyou!

The artificial flowers on top of the chest are just like the real ones on my planet. Like the leaves, when the seed pods ripen, they are so dark a green they appear black. You grind and brew the tea like any regular Earth tea…

But? I hear a but.

I have to warn you, the longer you brew it, the higher the caffeine content.

Yes we do have to be careful, caffeine is strictly rationed here in The New World! Although, I have never been one to abide by rules and dictates so, how long do you like yours brewed my dear?

Until it’s darkest mahogany, and I take it with six sugars.

Hot, highly caffeinated, and sweet?

(Darq nods.) Some say the caffeine at that darkness has a kick is as powerful as a Ky starfighter at full throttle.

Well, I’ll have to take your word for that since I’ve never ridden in any starship. Now, my dear, as we have a little time while that is brewing, you can tell me about your home planet. Is it similar to ours?

In many ways. It’s what you humans call a Class M Planet. Thankfully, it’s still orbiting its sun-star.

I heard rumours of some type of doomsday curse your people were under.

That’s right. One of my ancient ancestors visited Earth and destroyed the Mayans. For that we Wysotti were cursed so that when the five thousandth year of the Mayan calendar ended, our planet and all its people were to be annihilated.

But you’re here. Alive and all is well.

And the tale of how that came to be can be found in the novel JEWELS OF THE SKY, by author Catherine E. McLean.

jewels-of-sky-frnt-preview10. BOOK

And what of these mysterious men in black you mentioned earlier? They’re not Wizards are they?

No. But the weapons the Men In Black have, and the alien beings they monitor, well, sometimes the technology and science seems like magic. If you are able to peer into the future, their story is accurately portrayed in the movies, which are titled Men In Black.

My, my, you lead such an interesting and exciting life. Can you tell us a little about your latest adventure?

(Darq laughs.) I’m now a doll with a blog, who is also considered a fashionista! And before you ask, the premise of my being on Earth is to act as an ambassador at large for my homeworld. My very first outing on your planet had me traveling to a cave in Mexico to be interviewed by Father Dragon (a very old Fire Dragon) who’s elves were quite the video crew.

In other words, I stay with the JEWELS OF THE SKY author, and periodically I go to events, like parties.

Parties! I’ve heard about some of those parties. Particularly this October’s Halloween party at Dracula’s Castle.

(Darq nods.) Yes, that was fun, particularly my steampunk costume. But, Mrs. Baker, parties are actually social events where more diplomacy goes on than one realizes. Yet, there are also dangers. One is that I cannot make headlines. And the paparazzi are a constant threat, so I’m always accompanied by a team of Men In Black who whisk me to exotic and clandestine locations.

Lancaster can be a dangerous place, too, what with the flesh-eating Liver Birds Lord Ashton employs.

Liver Birds!?

Yes, they keep the streets free of what the Tea Time Lords would call ‘vagrants’. If you are travelling home late tonight or planning to visit Peril again in his Lovely Library, I hope you have brought something to protect yourself with?

(Darq grins, and then, from her apron pocket, produces a small pistol)


Mrs. Baker, meet the Noisy Cricket.

That tiny thing? Oh, no, my dear, that will never, never do!

Don’t let the size fool you. This weapon has more power, and one helluva mule-kick when fired, than The Jackhammer, a tri-barrel plasma gun, which is a staple in the MIB arsenal. The Jackhammer is a type of raygun. So is this Noisy Cricket.

 Oh, yes, well, a raygun! Of course, Max has something similar which seems to work perfectly well. Yes, that should certainly put pay to any nocturnal attackers, be they Liver Birds, Lemonade Dealers, or Skywaymen! I now have no fears of you reaching the Skyway station in safety. More tea, my dear?


Now then,  moving on to more pleasant things, I greatly admire those wonderful outfits you’re photographed in at your blog. Do you have any favourites?

If you asked me that before Halloween, I would have unequivocally said my top pick was the witch Evenora emerald green dress. Followed by Catherine’s favorite, the white and silver 1920’s Erte gown.

But now? Some other outfit is now your favourite?

Yes. The Steampunk Halloween Costume I wore in October.

And, my dear, I hear you have a bit of a passion for shoes as well?

(Darq laughs.) You could say I’m a shoeaholic!


That is certainly an impressive collection my dear! You must drop by and see Max and Collin while you are in town. Max can show you the infamous ‘spot of bother boots’ and Collin will be so envious of your shoe collection as, of course, tentacles do not lend themselves readily to footwear!

So, the MIB have told me!

Ah, I believe it is time for the cake to come out…


There now, that’s the cake ready, we’ll just let that cool.

(Darq looks at her hat’s timepiece, then at Mrs. B.) The hour grows late. I can’t stay but a quarter of an hour more or the MIBs will come pounding on your door to get me. The time portal doesn’t stay open forever.

So true. Well, my dear, thank you so much for helping me prepare this wonderful Fruity Cake for the orphans and for the tea and chat. As soon as the cake cools, I’ll slice it up and serve it to the orphans.

And don’t forget the ice cream.

Ice Cream, my dear? What Ice Cream?

(Darq grins.) The barrel of vanilla ice cream that I brought and which the Men In Black, with Collin and Max’s help, were hefting into your cold cellar so the ice cream wouldn’t melt. Not that it would melt with the frigid night air, but we couldn’t let a barrel just set on your doorstep, now could we?

No indeed! If The Good Folk of Her Majesty’s Revenue thought I was serving Ice Cream they’d have my head! I..oh, wait, what is that?

(There comes the sound of the door knocker rapping and a voice calls “Good Folk on patrol Mrs B, thought you’d like to know!”)

Oh, dear me . . . Darq, you had better fly and I must hide all this evidence! But my dear, you surely cannot run in that skirt!

Never fear, Mrs. Baker, I came prepared for all contingencies, including ninja stars disguised as gears on my sleeve cuff and daggers sheathed in the key-holders on my unmentionables.(Darq hugs Mrs. Baker.)


Thank you so much for inviting me to cook for the orphans. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

It is I who thank you for stopping by, Darq. And I look forward to seeing your Valentine’s Day outfit and reading your blog, we must certainly do this again some time, but now farewell and blessings on your brew my dear!


Oh my goodness, I must quickly hide all this sugar…and the tea! Do please excuse me my dears, and do please join me here next week when Captain Piper and her trade ship The Mischief will be dropping in to help me with the soup kitchen.

Blessings on your brew my dears!


A note from Penny…  All of the amazing photographs, dolls clothes and accessories used in this blog post were put together by Catherine E Mclean, I use them here with her kind permission.


Mrs Bakers script was written by myself and Darq’s speach by Catherine. I have never interviewed  a doll before! Thankyou Catherine for a heartily enjoyable and amusing experience!