by Penny Blake

Soup Of The Day: Steampunk Adventuring With Bone Shaker Boxes

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 Shannon, creator of the steampunk adventure boxes at Bone Shaker Boxes. Good morning Shannon, 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?

Here is a simple Bean Soup made from an old Ham Bone you can get at the local butcher!

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 8 cups hot water
  • 8 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

  • Melt bacon grease in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in hot bacon grease until vegetables are slightly tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir potatoes into onion mixture; cook and stir until golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir hot water and chicken bouillon together in a large pot until bouillon is dissolved; add onion mixture, ham bone, diced tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, black pepper, and salt.
  • Cook soup for 4 to 6 hours. Remove ham bone from soup and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from ham bone and stir meat into soup.
  • Serve hot with biscuits

 

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 these amazing boxes that you make, have you brought some along to show us today?

Yes I did! I brought along the Tea for One box, the Radio Box, Father Mike’s Vampire Kit, and the Traveling Tea Set so we could share a pot or two, and it serves 6 so if anyone else is about they can join us!

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Oh yes please a cup of tea would be marvellous and I’m sure the urchins would like some to! It is such a brilliant and original concept, do tell me, what inspires you when you begin to create a new box?

I am a very practical person and usually a need is what starts the process. An example would be the Tea for One boxes I make. When you travel, especially here in America, hotels cater to coffee drinkers and if you are a tea drinker you usually have very poor, if any, choices for teas. I decided to make a portable box that if you can get 8 oz. of water you can make a pot of tea anywhere (as long as they allow open flame), so the Tea for One box was born. It comes with its own teapot, cup, stove, and fuel. Then I have created areas to keep tea, sugar, spoons, strainer, and everything else you need to make the perfect pot of tea. Once you set the pot on the flame it takes about 10 minutes for it to reach 185° (F) or 85° (C), the perfect temperature for tea.

I have also created boxes from the story I have about Queen Victoria’s Secret Service. I create the boxes they would need to protect her and her family. The Radio Box and Father Mike’s Vampire Kit is from that series. You can read all about it and the stories that go with the boxes on my website http://www.boneshakerboxes.com/ and go the “About” section.

I try to make the boxes as practical as I can. The radio box has an MP3 player in it and you can listen through the headset or the built in external speakers. Other boxes have been portable bars, backpacks, and lap desks, just to name a few.

My boxes are usually very functional and are built to a quality standard that I expect you to use them and with a minimum of care should last you a lifetime. I want these passed down to your children so they can create their own character or use the same box they grew up watching you use.

I’m sure there are many adventurous souls out there who are already imagining the splendiferousness of toting around their very own Bone Shaker Box! Tell me, do you make each box as a custom order and, if so, how do you work with your clients to get a box that’s ‘just right’ for their Steampunk alter ego?

All of my boxes are one of kind! I will not repeat them, I built it once, why would I want to do it again? Now with that said, I will keep a good design idea (Tea for One boxes), but I always change something including the theme. So you never have to worry about someone having the same item as you. I started out making boxes for myself or for friends and now it is about 50/50 on original design (mine) or custom box for a client’s specific design/need.

I work very close with the individual, I provide pictures and feedback all through the process. Customizing the box to the individual is what makes it fun for me because it usually adds a level of complication. “How am I going to fit this into the box and make it look like it belongs there?” is a question I have asked myself many times.  It all works out in the end and I usually get to see tears when I present the finished project because the person was involved throughout the process and seeing their personal items displayed how they imagined (or close) just brings out all the emotion, and that can’t be priced into any box. Seeing the person fall in love with something that I made, is just the greatest thing.

Besides the boxes themselves, are there other Steampunk props and curios that you create?

Yes, I started out with a jewellery line as well. It was very popular and I got a bunch of complaints when I dropped it, but it was tough to get raw materials in the quality I wanted and keep pricing down. I also do leather work, and have made leather armour, belts, flask holders, restraints. I am a reasonably competent seamstress and have made a few costumes, but the boxes are my passion, I just love making them.

And besides your online store where else can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?

I do have an Etsy shop, and I have been a featured artist at DragonCon’s Altered History Museum for the last 4 yrs. My work has been in multiple blogs and online magazines, plus I was featured in “Just Steampunk” magazine last year. I just filmed an episode of Ghost Finders (My first TV show) that will feature a new box called the Clairvoyant’s Box based on Georgiana Eagle the Queens Clairvoyant. She reportedly did upwards of nine readings with the Queen to try and contact Albert, so I made a box that she could have used during these readings.

I also travel the Southeast U.S. doing different conventions every year and just love meeting people and seeing the reactions when I show them the boxes are actually functional. Plus I have the usual social media sites as well:

https://www.facebook.com/BoneShakerBoxes/

http://boneshakerboxes.tumblr.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/boneshakerboxes/?etslf=8756&eq=bone%20shaker

 

And now the all-important question, on which the fate of the world may hang…  which do you prefer, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

I am a mood person when it comes to hot beverage. If I want to relax or I am feeling a little blue I prefer tea (English Breakfast is my favourite). However I do start every day with a cup of coffee, and both are with cream and sugar.

Splendid! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Shannon, 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?

Thanyou so much for having me here and I am so glad I could help with the children. Hopefully you will have me back again and we can talk more about The Queen’s Secret Service and I may even have a tale or two for the urchins while they eat.

Oh that would be wonderful Shannon, thankyou I… but wait a minute I think… is that an octopus hurrying down the street towards us? Why yes it’s Collin! It’s not like him to leave the parlour without Max I wonder what could be the matter?

Oh dear! Collin informs me that Wizmas – the season of Witch Hunts and ill will to all women over the age of thirty  – has begun! I had no idea! I must find my toupee and false moustache at once, please excuse me, I have a lot of arrangements to make and a large bottle of brandy to buy…. 

blessings on your brew my dears!

 

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