Saturday, December 22, 2012

I know him; Marley's Ghost!

Last year, I showed you this remarkable
Christmas Wreath

Isn't it glorious?

Well, I wanted something similar.

With less bone
more brass.
But the same notion
of capturing
the authentic flavour
of Dicken's 
Christmas Carol.

And accepting that part of Christmas;
is the telling of ghost stories
the wickedness of Krampus,
and the certain knowledge
that hearth and home
is the best place to be.

Here is my effort.

Not as glorious, I know.
But it did only cost me only $2 for the materials
(I can be a bit of a Scrooge
where crafting materials
is concerned)
and he is wearing his spectacles
on his forehead.

Bah! Humbug!

Way back in 
I wanted to enter a competition
hosted by the wonderful
Monster Kookies
whose fabulous steampunk creations

The contest was to design 
or create something
inspired by her polymer clay figures.

Well, I got sidetracked
and I made this, instead.

 just in time for Christmas
I finally finished my 
Steampunk Bird!

Inspired by
Monster Kookies

and influenced by
Russell Crow.

I made my clockwork
Nice-o-meter Finch..

On one side, a gaudy brass
clockwork finch.

On the other,
buttons  and a gauge 
to measure if you've been
naughty or nice!

(Yes, the key turns!
You have to make the
key-turning noise, though.)

It's made from one of those
little feather covered
Dollar Tree birds.
I removed the feathers,
added a new bill.
(Or beak?)
Embellished and gilded
and generally had fun with glue 
and bits and pieces.

Here he is on my tree.

Pick him up,
and he'll tell you if you've been
naughty or nice.

Want to risk it?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Magical, Mysterious Mantelpiece.

 Here, at last
is the faux fireplace
assembled in the 
Steampunk Study.

A blank space.
Nothing here but the
Ugly Wallpaper
and the 
Nasty Paint.

Then, the fireback.
Literally, a piece of drywall,
mounted with a Halloween skull
 propped against the wall.

I'm a Master Builder...

Next, the mantelpiece
and the 'cast iron' fireplace.
It can stand on its own,
but at this stage it's not
terribly stable.

The miraculous
faux fire insert.
The wooden bits are real wood
so it's not that fake.
The plastic looks like real plastic,
for instance.

Finally, the mantelshelf
made of two strips of drywall
glued together with Liquid Nail
(This is a real craftsman's job, boys and girls.)
and painted black.
It helps stabilise the whole structure,
which is good,
because otherwise the whole thing 
was going to tip over.

Hubby is thrilled with it!
I'll have to take another picture of it,
 in all its festive finery.
It's the first time I've had
a mantelpiece to decorate
for years!

For observant fans of 
yes, that is the sword from the
Highland Sextasy 
poster in the corner of the photos.
It was a gift.

Image isn't mine.
Greg Aronowitz.
Proceeds of any sales go to

Monday, December 17, 2012

Building a Christmas Mantelpiece.

 Firstly, I apologise for the sub-par level 
of some of these photographs.
My camera hates indoor shots,
and anything not in
brilliant daylight.

My camera also makes me look like
a middle-aged woman,
which can't be right.

a long time ago I showed you some images
from the on-going project
of Hubby's Steampunk Study.

Started here.
No, I'm not ashamed.

Hubby is now ensconced
in his study and loves it.
He's in there so much,
it scares the heck out of me 
and the dog
when he comes out

What he 
wanted for his study 
was a fireplace.

This house is built of wooden boards 
and plastic strips and so
doesn't have a chimney of any kind
But I found the beginnings of a fireplace
on a neighbour's dump. 


I don't know what it was, originally.

Confession time.
I do know how to do some minor woodwork.
My claim to carpentry skills is that
I used to make rocking horses.

I loved the carving and 
I loved the designing
and  planning.
I hated the sawing and 
screwing gluing.

So I used a sheet of drywall
for my basic construction.

Yes, I have worries, too.
It's really not one of the things
drywall is designed to do.

Anyway, forging ahead in blissful ignorance,
here is my basic design.
An insert, edged with 
moulding for support. 

The little ceramic shield
was a gift from my dear friend Kate.
I'd link her blog but
despite my protests.

Moulding, rondels and little heraldic device
all glued with Liquid Nail. 
This was a real craftsman's job, ladies and gentlemen.

Gluing the fireplace to the mantelpiece.
Of course, what I'm actually doing is gluing the
 PAPER of  the drywall to the mantelpiece.

Paint it black.
The black paint was magic.
It made everything fit together.
It even, (kinda, sorta)
looked like cast iron,
which was what I was going for.

Now, the worrying bit.
Even though I left this glued and drying 
for three days,
I still expected it to fall apart
when I stood it upright.


That, there, is a fake fire.
Fake as a wig,
 fake as a glass eye.
It doesn't even heat up,
it's just a red light bulb
and some split timber.

It's kitsch and tawdry
and perfect for what I needed.


It even crackles like a real fire!

I've made a mantel shelf, by gluing two
boards of the drywall together,
 leaving the finished edges at the front
so that it painted nice and smooth.

And I'm making a fireback,
otherwise the Ugly Wallpaper
will show through and rather spoil the illusion.

Why yes! That is a skull 
with a paint can on its face.
 Long story.


You'll understand my excitement
because, when this is finished,
 I get to decorate a mantelpiece
and hang stockings on a fireplace
for the first time in a decade!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Proof is in the Pudding

 Picture of my Christmas Pudding.

Yes, I made a wish.
(so did Hubby.)
No, it doesn't contain any silver charms.
Yes, I will set it on fire.

For post on the making of

It's really very easy,
and absolutely steamy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Steampunk on Stir-Up Sunday.

How do I like my puddings?


Stir -up Sunday is the day 
for making Christmas pudding.

'Pudding', I hear you say?
Christmas Pudding.
Plum Pudding
Plumb Pudding
Plum Duff

(It doesn't contain any plums, of course,
just as shepherd's pie 
doesn't contain any real shepherds
and toad-in-the-hole
is amphibian-free)

Image from Miss Mary.
If you're British,
or thereabouts,
you'll know about Christmas pudding.

If not, read on.

 Christmas pudding
is a steamed dessert
full of dried fruit and alcohol.
It is ancient and venerable part 
of our culinary history.

Political Cartoon, featuring a plum pudding as the world.

No one actually makes these in the UK
They buy them, all ready to cook
and they nuke them in the microwave for 
2 minutes.
(Or steam them for four hours.
 It depends on their learning curve)

Then, they bring them in great ceremony
to the Christmas table,
set fire to them
and sing to them while they burn.

You think I'm making this up?

Keep yer hands off, sonny!

Stir-Up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent
because of the collect in the Book of Common Prayer
for that day.

'Stir up, we beseech thee, 
O Lord,
the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit
of good works
may of Thee be plenteously rewarded...'

You see the references to 'stir-up' and to 'fruit', right?

For the first few years of living in the USA, 
I pleaded with people to send me puddings, 
or I'd buy them and hoard them in visits to 
Old Blighty.

But now I'm a big girl, and I boil my own.
You can, too.

The problem with most recipes
 is that they make two puddings.
Just halve the amounts 
and roll up the sleeves 
and get to it.

Make a Wish
When the pudding mix is made
and before you pile it into the pudding dish
 to be steamed
everyone has to make a wish.

Just stir the pudding mix three times
with a wooden spoon
and wish.

 Christmas Pudding


 12 oz of dried vine fruit 
(include glace cherries
or nuts if desired.)

Stir in a big glass full  of
rum or brandy 
or whisky or sherry
or red wine or Guinness,
 if that's all you have.

Let this soak for a day,
or a week.

Then add

1 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1  beaten egg (large.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
tsp lemon juice
 1 tbsp warm spices
(cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger
or all-spice. 
If you just have cinnamon,
 that will be fine)

 Stir all this together
all in one go.

Make a wish.
Everyone in the house must make a wish.

Pile all this into a bowl-shaped heat-proof pot.
Seal the top with a sheet of aluminium foil,
tucking it all around.
Put a saucer or a trivet into the bottom of a large pan,
Put the pot into a pan and fill with boiling water, 
so that the water comes half-way up the side 
of the pot full of pudding.

Simmer the pan for five hours.

Five hours.

Check the water periodically
and add more boiling water
when needed.

When the pudding is cooked,
remove the pot from the pan.
and let it cool.

When the pudding is cold
pour some more alcohol into it
a glassful of rum, or brandy,
sherry or whisky.
(You can do this periodically up until Christmas.)
and wrap in clean foil.

 Store until Christmas.

In fact, you can store it until next Christmas.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Steampunk on Sunday: Movers and Shakers.

Two artists whose work I love, 
Mary Ann of
and Kimberly 
are both featured in the magazine
Just Steampunk 
this month.

Mary Ann made the wonderful Russell Crow

And a splendid Steampunk fox.

You can see her page in the magazine here.

when she was covered in an article on Esty,
because her stuff is amazing
and also
 because she's been
able to ditch the day job.

That should give us all hope 

Well done, ladies, and I'm thrilled for you both!

I've had a little modest fame myself.
had a very comprehensive 
and featured my
(or Bug bug, if you will)

Thank you, Megan
Megan's blog is always worth a visit
and that goes double around Halloween.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

This is the punchbag 
in the gym
 that we put facing the door
and dressed up
to scare little kids
into taking our candy.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Steampunk on Sunday: Miss Havisham's Roses.

I have kept every single rose 
Hubby has bought me
over the past eight years.

Not made from coffee filters
I am reluctant to throw them away;
 I'm an old-fashioned girl
about being given flowers.

So, when they fade or droop,
I gather the roses together and 
hang them upside-down, 
letting them dry.

Some dry beautifully,
 papery blooms that smell
faintly of musky sweetness.
Some fall apart.

Red and white roses, blue sea holly

Yes, I hear you say.
All very romantic
and frankly,
a bit creepy.

Miss Havisham

Well, yes.
A bit.

So, I decided to make something
 with the best of them.
and throw the rest away.

So, for
Hubby's Steampunk Study
I made a garland of roses,
blending with it
some sea holly I'd bought
for my wedding.

Sea holly is a symbol of fidelity,
as in this betrothal portrait.

I made the garland the simplest way possible.
A thin grapevine wreath
from the Dollar Tree and hot glue.
It used up most of the roses 
and looks suitably Victorian.

However, it's a absolute cow
to photograph.
So, you'll just have to see details.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Trick And Treat

Just a quickie.

You may remember my post last year 
about the edible Vampire Killing Kit?

The same artist and confectioner 
has opened shop again
for Halloween.

is a Chocolate Shop of Horrors,
 perfect for All Hallow's Eve. 

Or, for added realism, as a gummy?

Cthulhu not your thing?

(See the pun? )
It's delicately flavoured in blood orange.

Want to commune with the Green Fairy?


There are items that are more traditional,

Masterpieces of anatomical design
all in chocolate.

Speaking of anatomical design,
you could always give your beloved



This evil laugh thing is hard on the throat.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Epic Craft Fail and Other Stuff.

First, the Epic Craft Fail.

These are not creepy, newborn conjoined baby mice,
even though conjoined is really big right now.

No, this is my attempt to make 
a pair of hand-dipped candles.

Failure on an epic scale.

Onto something else.

I found this fancy arched shelf
in an antique/junk shop.

It was solid oak and yes,
 I know this grey distressed finish is very attractive,
it just won't go in the Steampunk Study.
I don't want the room to look abandoned.

So I bought it ($20, as you asked)
and took it home and used this stuff on it.
(Warning, product endorsement.
No, they didn't pay me for this.
I'm just trying to justify how much it cost!)

Please note, this isn't your bog-standard orange cleaner
this is specially made for wood furniture.
It has safety warnings all over it and it cost about $5.

Anyway, it's worth every penny
because it  does this.

 See this warm, glowing oak?
See the beautiful grain and the depth of colour?
All I did was squirt and spray, wipe a bit, all done.

(No, you may not paint it white!)

Hubby wants all his little curios and objects d'art
fitted in the arches, maybe with some old postcards. 
There's a groove at the back to support something.
Not plates, the arches are too small.
I do wonder what it was originally made for?

What about the epic craft fail? I hear you say.
How did I recover from such a crushing blow?
I did this.
You can do it, too.

Go to the Dollar Tree
and buy a chunky little clockwork insect.
(I danced about when I saw these!
It's been months since I've seen anything suitable)

Start gluing on stuff.

 What kind of stuff?

Well, here I have; a bit of a plastic doily,(on one wing)
the end of a Worcestershire sauce bottle,(between the jaws)
 half of a plastic compass, 
(hard to see but it's on the head)
an eyelet and a random nut.
(see here more on the delights of
altering clockwork toys and a

Spray the whole thing.
I splashed out and bought a tin of brass spray, 
instead of gold, but gold will do.
Or silver, chrome, oil-rubbed bronze. 

Add more stuff, now in metal so it doesn't need to be sprayed.
Old pens are a good source of small springs.
 You can stretch them out longer, if need be.
Propelling pencils have really long springs.
The glass tube at the back is an inverted fairy light.
Add other colours, if desired.
I used a permanent ink pen for the red enamel.

Fit the plastic compass back together.
I was going to print out a new dial for the compass,
but having directions on the insect made sense 
and the compass rose is nicely printed and vintage-looking.

You can either leave it shiny-new
or you can age the finish with some thinned brown paint.
This also brings out the detail.


Check the clockwork still runs 
every time you add an item or a layer of paint.

It's fun and it's embarrassingly easy
and very gratifying.

Unlike making candles.