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During the year, at various Steampunk Festivals and ComicCons, it’s always been the Steam, Smoke & Mirrors plan to pitch up with a new Steampunk prop - something to freshen the look of our stand. The set up is ‘designed’ (well, more cobbled together) to give the appearance of a Victorian era/Steampunk office. I’ve always been mindful that even with the best will in the world a bookstand promoting a few books can look fairly dull. Especially with me standing behind the counter.

Which is why we have the Steampunk Spectrascopic Babbage Computer on display, scrolling through a slideshow of relevant images, and the wired-up Garrideb skull flashing his eyes at passers-by and the  copper pipes spelling out ‘Steam, Smoke & Mirrors’ emblazoned on the board across the front.

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All of which I’ve made, in traditional Steampunk-style, from discarded off-cuts, scraps and recycled bits and bobs.

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The latest addition to our display was a Steampunk Telescope; inspired by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, the setting of the baffling murders Michael and Phoebe investigate in ‘The Nostradamus Curiosity’.

The starting point was a beautifully made but totally unused plastic telescope we bought SteamMark 1 years ago when he was at school.

On that first evening I helped him set up the precision instrument outside so we could sit and study the stars. Unfortunately, it was a particularly chilly night. We stayed out there for 15 minutes, decided astronomy was more a warm weather hobby and came back inside. The telescope was then slipped back in its box.

And never came out again.

Until I had an idea…

A Steampunk Telescope.          



Now, rather than simply spray paint it brass or bronze or whatever, I figured the ‘scope needed a whole bunch of features of interest. Following the advice of legendary Steampunk droid builder Chris Osborne, I thought I’d try using Crafting Foam to give the barrels a bit of relief and detail. But Crafting Foam is a bugger to use because no matter how accurately you measure a length to shape and size, it will always shrink and come out too short. Or stretch and make itself too long, or too wide. It has a cunning, mind-of-its-own nature does Crafting Foam. To make matters even more annoying, in addition to regular sheet Foam, I threw in a bit of webbing design Foam, which Chris gave me, and a few obligatory cogs and rivets.

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I glued a few strips of regular Foam to the lens shield and the finding scope.

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I then gingered up the Foam by patiently (!!) supergluing half-bead shapes to give the impression of rivets. The webbing Foam I wrapped around the top and bottom ends of the main tube.

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I also offered up the chain as a little extra detail to see if it added much visually.

Next job was to work on the black plastic legs which formed the ‘scope’s tripod. I wanted to give the locking mechanisms and support brackets a brassy metallic look, and the leg struts a mahogany-wood finish. A matt gold spray and dipping into a half-used tin of Dulux ‘Conker’ coloured gloss paint kind of worked.

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The various smaller parts of the ‘scope, the altazimuth clamp, the finderscope clamp, the eyepiece, focussing knobs and the accessory tripod, took a spray coat of matt black primer before the final full-bling matt gold colours were applied.

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Because I wanted to retain the integrity of ‘scope as a practical instrument, in the unlikely event we ever got the urge to going stargazing again, I masked all the lenses before priming and spraying a coat of rose gold.  Hence the not very professional but nevertheless effective method of shoving a rag down the ends.

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Here’s the lens shield and lens cap detail before priming, along with the finished result.

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And once the instrument was put together it looked like this…

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I know. It still needs extra detail work for interest and to industrialise it further, but here’s the Smoke & Mirrors Steampunk Telescope making its debut at the National Space Centre in Leicester during the magnificent event: ‘Steampunks in Space 2019’!

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