#MyrtleMondays: Make your own Victorian Stereoscope


Today’s post is a Making Monday, all about a classic Victorian stay-at-home amusement. My Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries series is about a 12-year-old English girl in 1893, and along the way, I’ll be sharing things that would be familiar to kids of her era.

Throughout the 19th century, people everywhere were enchanted by three-dimensional imagery from around the world. Many middle-class homes sported a stereoscope, a device for viewing three-dimensional photographs (the direct ancestor of the 20th and 21st centuries’ ViewMaster). First invented in the 1850s, the stereoscope and accompanying stereographic images, known as “views,” would enjoy enormous popularity for nearly the next century.

Seaside stereograph view of Southsea, England, 1893 Right-click to view and print at full size.

Thanks to this vast enthusiasm, period stereographs and viewers are still readily available–and reasonably affordable–on the antique market. Pictured below is my own viewer, a 1901 Underwood, and at the bottom of this post are several views from my collection that may be of particular interest to Myrtle fans. (I know of no period crime scene stereographs, although their existence would hardly surprise me!)


In addition to travel photos, images depicting stories were popular—sometimes you can find multiple views from a set. For example, this exquisite image comes from an 1875 French stage production of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon:

You can see  (and print!) the whole series here at borg.

If you don’t happen to have on hand your own Victorian stereographs or viewer, 21st century technology makes it possible for the crafty Maker to easily recreate them at home.

The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History offers a tutorial to build your own viewer from materials you probably have at home, like cardstock, hot glue, and old reading glasses.

Original Stereoscope (left) and DIY replica (right) © Smithsonian; photo by Mary Kate Robbett

The exact dimensions of your stereograph views will depend somewhat on the technical specifications of your viewer, but 19th century stereograph cards were typically a standardized size of 3.5×7″ (some in my collection vary slightly). Of course, a stereoscope viewer isn’t strictly necessary; the London Stereographic Company gives tips on “free viewing” without a device.

Once you have a viewer, you’ll need something to look at!

This terrific video from Make Magazine explains stereopsis, the science behind stereoscopy, and how to take your own stereoscopic photographs:

Astrophysicist and musician Brian May (of Queen fame) has been a lifelong stereography fan, and operates the London Stereoscopic Company, an online clearinghouse of all things stereoscopic—antique, vintage, and modern.

The Library of Congress also maintains an enormous collection of wonderful images (some 5000!) and information on stereography.

And here are some views from my own collection that I’ve selected for you. Right click to view and print at full size. Don’t forget, you can always make your own from your own drawings and photographs, too.

There you go–be like the Victorians, and travel the world without ever leaving your living room!

Happy making!

A #Myrtle Mondays #DoubleMyrtle Cover Reveal!

On this #MyrtleMonday, I’ll be doing a virtual school visit for Liberty Middle School’s Writers Festival, chatting with the kids about writing, Making, and Myrtle!

But for everyone else, I’m so excited to share the amazing (stupendous, glorious, gorgeous, breathtaking, and absolutely magnificent) cover for Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries Book 2: How to Get Away with Myrtle

(Did you scream?! I might have screamed. There might have been Kermit arms.)

I could chatter away for weeks about this, but I’m inches away from my deadline for Book 3, so instead, as Myrtle would say: res ipsa loquitur. It speaks for itself.

But I KNOW you want more details, so head on over to borg for the OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL How to Get Away with Myrtle Cover Reveal. And check out the How to Get Away with Myrtle page to learn more about Myrtle’s second adventure!

Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle are coming your way October 6!

#MyrtleMondays: Premeditated Myrtle Unboxing!

Today’s #MyrtleMondays post is a happy surprise! I had Something Else planned, but you’ll just have to wait (oooh, suspense!), because…

I got my AUTHOR COPIES!!! The shipment almost languished after the abrupt exodus of everyone from my publisher’s physical offices, but an industrious elf (or, most likely, a hardworking team of #Essential Elves) managed the impossible, and got me a box! I’m excited to bring you some glimpses of the beautiful (BEE-YOO-TI-FUL!!) hardcovers of Premeditated Myrtle. My editor was exactly right when she said that the digital images we’d seen heretofore do not do justice to just how amazing these books look in person.*

You can watch the Unboxing Video here:


I wrote the words, and had Thoughts on the cover, but want to call out the incredible design work by the team at Algonquin Young Readers. Jacket design by Laura Williams, cover art by Brett Helquist, title delightfully hand-lettered by Leah Palmer Preiss (go see her wonderful artwork–you will get lost there for hours!). I am enchanted by the whole package of the orangey-yellow (perhaps goldenrod?) cover contrasted with the deep inky purple jacket–it all looks so inviting! I hope you think so, too.

But I think this might be (one of) my favorite part(s):

The series number on the spine!! When I’m pulling mysteries off library shelves, I like to know which one to grab next. Some books make you hunt all over to find out what order they were published in! The Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries can be read in any order you like, but I know some readers prefer to read sequentially. They’ve made it beautifully easy!

The inside of the book is spectacular too, with stunning page layouts, Very Fancy Fonts, and some extra surprises, all designed by Carla Weise. You can tell everyone who worked on these books had a lot of fun.

And we can’t wait for you guys to get Premeditated Myrtle into your hands, too!

*e-book readers, do not despair: The electronic copies are just as gorgeous! I promise. You just can’t stack them up quite as well.