Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lip-foliage Shenanigans…

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Ah, the moustache! Friend, comforter, the sentry that stands guard over the portal to your innermost self. Where Man is, there is Moustache. Indeed, in some cultures, the hirsute appendage is seen on both men and women, and why not? Why should a woman not sport magnificent lipholstery if she wishes? Why should a man not adorn himself in a fetching cobalt gown and jewelled slippers, and…

I digress. Moustaches are splendid. People wearing moustaches (unless they are scoundrels) are splendid. Household pets wearing moustaches are splendid. A moustache on a flea would be quite hard to see, but I’d tender a fee to see one on a bee. I confess, though, I’m mightily puzzled by the current preoccupation with slapping moustaches onto anything that can’t get up and walk away.

I can understand the logic behind a moustache cup. No, not one of these:


A Royal Crown Derby cup with a moustache guard

Moustache Cup from Royal Crown Derby


…although that really is rather glorious. No, this sort of thing:


White mug with a moustache print and a lid shaped like a bowler hat

Moustache mug with sugar bowl-er hat


You lift it to your lips and — Hurrah! — instant moustache. But who, honestly, looked at their breakfast egg and thought This would taste ever so much better if it could be cooked into the shape of facial hair


Picture of moustache shaped egg fryer

Moustache egg frying mould from Island Dogs


Likewise, I have never enquired of a stranger as to the hour and then rejected their answer because their watch was moustacheless.


Silver coloured pocket watch with embossed moustache

Pewter moustache pocket watch by AE Williams Pewter


Moustaches are absorbent — they can hold up to one-fifth of their weight in water. Yet I’ve never been tempted to emerge from a relaxing bath into the embrace of anything like this:


White bath towel with printed moustaches

Moustache bath towel available on Zazzle


You might accuse me of being curmudgeonly. I’m sure there’s a great demand for moustache metronomes and moustache carpet-beaters and moustache toenail clippers. Still, I maintain that there is only one place where a moustache truly belongs:


Close-up of a male face with the word 'here' above the upper lip

This is not the same as having a word on the tip of your tongue.


So let us spare a thought for those who yearn to feel the soft caress of elegant, well-groomed follicle foliage nestling snugly beneath their noses. Those with unfurnished philtra, who must endure the ordeal of rain lashing their shivering upper lips, ignorant of the marvellous ease and reassurance of that sheltering canopy of keratinous delight.

Must it be borne?



Newspaper clipping of an advert for moustache substitutes

The Strangeness and Charm Moustache Substitute System


Look at this fine fellow, proudly displaying his magnificent appendage for all to admire! How dapper! How suave! ‘That’s all very well,’ I hear you cry. ‘But how can we be sure that the image in the article is a faithful representation? What if an unscrupulous lithographer were to tamper with it?’ Well, worry no longer. Our clients are literally singing our praises!


(Clip courtesy of Mr Benjamin Ripley — writer, comedian, blogger and dashed good fellow)


I couldn’t have put it better myself.



“…wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass.”

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Good old Ralph Waldo Emerson – he did have a way with words. In his book Society and Solitude, he suggests that a quality to be greatly admired is the ability to turn insubstantial thought into physical reality. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in the inventions of steampunk folk, who take mundane objects and raw materials, and transform them into mechanical marvels and other objects of delight. By way of illustration, let me show you the work of Chris Harris, of Scrap Mental Designs.

Chris Harris with some of his creations.

Chris Harris of Scrap Mental Designs.

Chris, pictured here with some of his wonderful creations, is a quietly-spoken man who seemed – when we met – to be slightly bemused at the attention and fascination his table was attracting. I was fortunate enough to spend a short while talking to him about his work, and it was clear from the start that he makes things for the sheer pleasure of invention, for finding a new purpose for this or that oddly-shaped piece of metal.

I should state from the outset that these pieces are not currently for sale; he was invited to the Steampunk Solstice market purely as an exhibitor. And what exhibits!

Steampunk weapons and gadgets.

Some of Chris’ creations.

I think this is what one would call ‘an embarrassment of riches’. In the forefront of this image, you can see a sonic weapon – the control pack is the small leather satchel on the edge of the table, and is operated by digito-hyaline interface*. The ornamented box with the crystal skull decoration is a working amplifier. Chris’ creativity extends not only to weapons…

Close up of the sonic gun.

A beautifully decorated sonic gun.

…and walking sticks (and oh, how I coveted his modified sword cane, which I foolishly neglected to photograph)…

Close up of a decorated walking stick.

A copper-handled walking stick.

…but he also adds a touch of idiosyncratic steampunk style to objects such as this jetpack-equipped duck.

Duck statue with a copper top hat and jet pack.

A dapper duck statue.

I would call these things works of art, but art is such a divisive subject – instead, I’ll stick to what I know and say that Chris Harris produces works of craft. I don’t blame him for not selling them – I think if I’d made them, I’d be reluctant to let them go, too. They are unique, beautiful and entirely worthy of all the admiration they receive.

Assorted steampunk weapons and devices

More of Chris’ work.

As we entered on an Emerson quote, I’ll close with another.

“Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him.”

I hope that Chris’ creations inspire readers to try their hand at making something new. I certainly hope he will continue to share his ingenuity with the world of steampunk.

*Touch-screen to the uninitiated.

Welcome to the Strangeness & Charm Steampunk Miscellany

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Welcome gentlefolk and adventurers, vagabonds and urchins, chaps, chapesses and all those Between and Beyond, to the Strangeness and Charm Steampunk Miscellany, a travelling collection of curiosities and marvels, oddities and accoutrements for the steampunk aficionado.

Azephelus is my name, my parents having something of an odd sense of humour, and somewhere around you will find Iolanthe, she of the churchwarden pipe and piercing eyes. I do advise you not to attempt to stroke her parrot, as it saves us all a lot of time looking on the floor for lost fingers.

Feel at leisure to browse or simply pull up a chair and reminisce about that time you beat the High Priest of the Venusian Frog-People at strip-backgammon. Incidentally, what a very lovely hat you have on. Is it new? It’s your hair, you say? Isn’t it marvellous what they can do with glue these days. Do ignore the strange noises coming from upstairs – it’s very probably nothing to worry about.

Strangeness & Charm

The things that we make,
Are one of a kind.
They're out of our heads,
We're out of our mind.
We live on a boat
With dragonfly wings -
We're Strangeness & Charm,
We make shiny things!