Go-go gadgetometers: New Windsor couple create steampunk-inspired crafts

During the recent craft fair at Liberty High School, visitors could choose from such items as handmade scented soaps, crocheted scarves, Christmas ornaments and gadgetometers.



"Our items are a little different," said Robert Becraft, of New Windsor.

Gadgetometers come from the minds of Robert and his wife Laura, and are sold by way of their traveling store, Professor S.T. Punk's Emporium, and their online store,

The Becrafts describe their business as "steampunk-centric, Victorian science fiction-inspired crafts." Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs which are inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Think the 1960s television series "The Wild Wild West."

The Becrafts items are not necessarily your grandmother's crafts, though she would probably recognize and appreciate many of them.

"People come by the stand and start reminiscing," Laura said. "We take items that may be thrown away or discarded and reimagine them."

For example, pieces of an antique manual typewriter, such as the typebars, are transformed into a necklace.

The fantasy and vintage-themed inventions and products include not only gadgetometers, but shoulder cannons, jetpacks, goggles, hats, jewelry, remembrances made from antique pocket watch cases, and salvaged tea cups that are filled with scented candle wax, among other items.

Gadgetometers are unique to the Professor S.T. Punk Emporium and its website, with Robert creating them and Laura coining the term gadgetometers — "It's a gadget that can measure anything you can imagine," she explained.

A handy tool, say, for an adventurer, gadgetometers are made from wood with added features of metal, leather, hand-built gauges, levers, gears and other components "that make them look like they really work," Robert said. "Each one has its own design and components and is the only one like it in the whole world."

The gadgetometers as well as other products are often designed to complement costumes or to be used as a piece of artwork.

Some of the "gadgetometers" for sale at the Professor S.T. Punk Emporium booth at the Liberty High School craft fair are shown.
Some of the "gadgetometers" for sale at the Professor S.T. Punk Emporium booth at the Liberty High School craft fair are shown.

The Becrafts officially turned their passion for reimagining and repurposing into a business two years ago. In their other lives, Robert is a data analyst for Capital One and Laura is retired from working in a dental office. It all began quite by accident, they say, with Robert tinkering in the garage.

"I would hear him laughing to himself as he was working," Laura said. "And then he's showing me these things, and I'm thinking these are pretty cool."

Many of their customers are engaged in cosplay, the practice of dressing up as a characters from a movie, book or video game.

"You are taking on a different persona," said Laura.


As do Robert and Laura when attending events to sale their wares. The Becrafts dress in Victorian-inspired clothing, becoming Professor S.T. Punk, an adventurer and time traveler who brings back exotic goods and treasures to sell in his emporium, and Beatrix Punk, the proprietress of the emporium who accompanies the professor on his adventures.

"We have a lot of fun with this," Laura said.

The couple, who met as Medieval reenactors, have also always enjoyed going to flea markets, yard sales and antique malls.

"The treasure hunt is the best part," Laura said.

When their children were small, it was a family affair.

"We went camping a lot with the kids," Laura said. "And during the day we would all go to antique malls or flea markets." That's when the fun began. "We would give each of them $3," explained Robert, "and then give them a challenge."

The three children would be instructed to find the ugliest, most useless, scariest or even furriest item.

"Then we would come back to camp at night and sit around the camp fire and vote," Robert said.

Their children are now grown, but their "treasures" still have a place of honor in the Becraft home.

"These are not just items we found but memories we created with our children," said Laura, picking up a furry-looking critter of unknown origin. "What is better than that?"

The Becrafts see the value in items that may seem useless to others.

"I hate to see things thrown out and discarded because you don't have a use for them," Laura said. "Someone does."

Take the steampunk nutcracker, for example. Standing proud, he is decked out with goggles, a pocket watch and wind-up key. He is a different kind of Christmas gift.

"When we found him he was beat up and missing limbs," Laura said. "We try to take things someone has put time into because there is an art to a lot of vintage items that we have around.

"We want to honor and remember the beautiful timeless pieces that meant something to someone at one point. We want to make them into a piece that you would then want to hand down to your own children. There is a history there."

Those stopping to shop at the stand at the Liberty High craft fair were certainly intrigued even if some weren't familiar with the term "steampunk."

"You're finding interesting and unusual pieces that you don't usually see," said Judy Carton, of Clarksville, as she tried on a pair of opera glasses. "It's thinking outside the box."

Judy Carton, of Clarksville, tries on a pair of opera glasses at the Professor S.T. Punk Emporium booth at Liberty High School's craft fair last month.
Judy Carton, of Clarksville, tries on a pair of opera glasses at the Professor S.T. Punk Emporium booth at Liberty High School's craft fair last month.

And those purchasing items such as a gadgetometer can certainly be unique in their reasoning for doing so. Robert and Laura enjoy telling the story of a teacher who taught fifth- and sixth-graders.

"He bought a gadgetometer and said, 'This is the perfect tool for my classroom,'" Robert recalled. "We said, 'Really, why?' He said, 'You know how nobody ever has their homework? Well, this is my B.S.-ometer. It's a great thing to have on my desk. I'll let them know the meter's running.'"

"These items are as good as your own imagination," said Robert, chuckling to himself.

For more information about Professor S.T. Punk's Emporium visit or contact Robert and Laura Becraft at