Saturday, June 11, 2011

OK-This one is a toy...

I built this one with my six-year old over my shoulder the whole time. I got him to help me paint it and pick out parts for it. When I was done, I gave it to him; he couldn't believe it and spent the day zapping imaginary aliens.

This is mostly a repaint, with a new tip and an antennae thrown in for good measure. It was more an experiment to see what I could do with this base. Have some ideas for future projects later down the road.

Still a pretty smart-looking ray gun...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Ray Gun

This is the newest addition to the arsenal, and is one my favorites. Its mostly a repaint of a toy gun I found at the store, with some additions fastened throughout. I started working on it around the time that I made the first batch of guns, and it looked more like this:

There had been a slit in the back of the casing where a tension lever stuck out to help propel darts. I took the lever out and covered it with electrical tape. I then added adhesive brads to the tape to resemble bolts.By the time I painted it, it looked pretty good. Still pretty cool, but I wanted to add some more to it; the hole in the grip was bugging me a bit.

 The green nodes are screw covers stuck to a decorative coat button, with little metal doodads glued to the ends.

I added a washer and a toy antennae-ish thing to the barrel. I found a cool meshy material that fit over the gap in the handle, and the gun started coming together. There was a fin at the front of the barrel that I shaved off so that it would holster better.

Overall, it came out pretty good.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I call this guy Steamhead, and I built him about a year ago, but just finished the paint job recently. He is truly an assemblage piece, using all sort of plastic odds & ends and mostly held together by a bunch of wire, and some good fortune.

I love the pot-belly stove look and the steampipe for a head. The face came out rather well, and definitely has a victorian gentlemanly look. The mustache cracks me up...

Again, a bunch of random pieces and clippings from other items. The mouthpiece is actually part of a foil doily (I think).The head was originally going to hang from the chest on a rod and look much more menacing. I'm glad I went this way with it though; he looks much cooler like this.

For some reason, I don't have pics of the back. There is keyhole in the back, that actually fits a small key. Sadly, the key doesn't really do anything; you'll just have to use your imagination.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Book Cover Above the Aether...

The premier of my friend Win Strock's steampunk novel is quickly approaching and now has a cover (which sadly, I didn't provide), but it is pretty good nonetheless. Very excited...

He also runs a cool blog as well, and is worth checking out:


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Steampunk Art Groups

I've been on for a while now and some of my work has been added to a couple of retro sci-fi groups; a very awesome community. Some very cool steampunk and related objects of curiosity there. Check them out...


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Retro Rocket

Just came across this in a file on my computer. I did this about four or five years ago as a set of decorations for a kid's room. Thought it appropriate, so here it is...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Now on deviant ART

I now have a gallery on deviant ART. If you're not familiar, this is a great online artistic community and you can spend a lot of time surfing the galleries. I will still post everything here as well, along with other steampunk/ray gun related stuff.

My gallery is at:

Keep zap'n!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Batch

Here are the latest ray guns. Some of these ideas had been rolling around in my head for a while, and was able to finish them during my vacation last week. Also, got a chance to use the new light box my wife got me for Christmas; the quality of photo for these latest customs are undeniably better.

The barrel is put together with some plastic toy parts and a shaped wooden craft dowel. In case you didn't know, it can be very tough to make wood look like metal. Didn't seal the dowel first, which I should have to keep the paint from being absorbed by the grain; but, live and learn. Hit it with multiple coats and it eventually went in the right direction.

Also, tried a new method of adding fins. Instead of anchoring the fin halfway inside the gun base for stability, I created two 1/8 inch tabs at the bottom of the fin while cutting it from the plastic. I drilled two holes at the top of the gun and then glued them together. This worked great, and was a lot easier.

The tricky part here was that the top of the gun was rounded, so I had to keep going back to get the curve at the bottom of the fin right. Also, the tabs have to extend at an angle to compensate for the curve of the gun. I used goop to fill the holes and any gap between the gun and fin, then hit with some dry brushed paint. Came out great.

This gun is all handle. Not a lot to say here, though I was really happy with the result.

I keep coming back to this basic design; I just love the techo-elegence of it. I've added some a few new elements to it, including a movable setting dial (which is kind of hard to make out in this photo) and a cool tesla antennae thingy in the glass chamber (also difficult to make out). Sorry. I will try to get some better photos of this.

This gun is a testament to what you can find in those cardboard drawers at the hardware store, when you have the time to browse.

This is my first time using a cowboy gun base, which can be beautifully ornate and decorated. I fooled around with this one for a while, trying out a few different barrel ideas. It took a while, but the end result was pretty cool.

The biggest triumph here was getting away from gluing everything and using more screws and bolts. Some of the pieces are pretty small, so using hardware can be prohibitive. This one worked out good and is a lot more sturdy than some of the other ray guns.

Its sometimes important to show both sides. I love non-symmetrical design, so you really have to flip a gun around to see all of the features.

That is it for now. There is one more gun from this set that is nearly finished and I will post a pic when its done. Also, the rifle is coming! Hopefully soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More of the Older Pieces

Still working on my new batch of pistols, but here are the last of the first few batches I put together.

The base was a single molded piece, so mostly I just added stuff. I think this was actually my first piece with a homemade gauge, and lots of wire work on the surface.

This was tricky, because I had to create bases for the wires to thread in and out of. Also, as I was seating the wire, everything would shift and turn a bit.

The wire in the top pods were wrapped around crystals, so again there was a lot of shifting. The end result was pretty cool though. I did more brush painting on this one than I normally do, and I was very happy with it in the end.

This one was a variation on a theme. It had a lot of the stuff I had already done on other models laced together in one gun. Tubes are always fun; this one is actually offset from center and has a cool non-symmetrical vibe.

This is better pic of the power setting dial that I've used before. Again, I had to bend the coin to get enough resistance for the dial to not flip around.

I learned a lot from building this model; mostly from the mistakes I made with it. It looks pretty cool, but I didn't have a very clear idea of what I was trying to make, and I settled with some half-baked solutions to putting it together.  All together, there was plenty that I liked about it; I will likely try again, and hope the next gen will be better.

Should have the new work done this week, and hope to post it before the weekend.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adventures Above the Aether

My friend Winfield Strock just signed to publish his steampunk novel and has set up a blog to chronicle his progress. Check it out.

First Works

These are some of the first ray guns that I put together. I would comb dollar stores and junk shops for bases and pieces and then sit at my table trying to make all the parts fit. There were a lot of happy accidents and its amazing where you can find inspiration. I knew from the beginning that I wasn't just going to do simple repaints and that each gun was going to be an assemblage piece.

Funny thing here; getting random parts to fit together is lot easier than getting them to stay together. Making a gun that can stand up to constant handling is always a challenge and I've experimented with lots fasteners and glues. The important thing here is never get comfortable with one way of doing something, and always be willing to change your methods.

This my favorite part of this gun and actually came up with the chamber design in the store as I was filling basket with stuff. I was very happy when it actually worked. Also, a big thing about the steampunk/retro aesthetic (to me, at least) are the little frilly accent designs sitting next to bots and screws, and its awesome when you can find parts that already have these elements.

My wife calls this one the Flash Gordon:

Its more 20th century than the other guns, but I love how thick and heavy it looks.

I tooled around with a lot of random pieces and gun bases, but when I found something that worked, I bought it in bulk and tried to used them as much as possible. Some components show up often in my work (like that bumpy piece at the mouth of the gun), though I try to mix it up as much as possible. The fin on this piece was a lid to a plastic kitchen container (we use to call these Tupper Ware, or something; not sure what it was) and it fit the bill pretty well.

I found the trick to adding pieces like this is to try to anchor in as many ways to the base as possible. As I remember, you are only seeing about 60% of the fin; the rest of it fits inside the gun and I drilled holes so that the screws and tabs that held the body together laced through the plastic fin, holding it in place. I also had to file down where the fin fit so the base would seal properly. Dremmel tools are a big time saver, here; I know this because I didn't use one when I built this gun.

I stated getting tricky with dials, here. Its kind of hard to see in this photo, but there is a dial in that coin, which actually moves. It took a while to find something that the coin could sit in while accommodating the brad that holds the dial in place. The other hurdle to jump here was that the dial didn't want to stay in place; it kept pointing down. I ended up bending the coin slightly so that there was some tension between it and the dial; that worked pretty good-free tip!

My favorite part to work on for these guns are the gauges. So far, I have not found an actual gauge that was of the right size for the right price, and I pretty much just make my own. This works out better in the long run; having too big a gauge (or any part, really) can overpower a model, so its best to go with a solution that stays in scale.

The two gauges above are pirate compasses from a kids birthday party pack. I drafted up the labels (you probably can't read them. One says AETHERIC WAVE PRESS'R and the other says THERMO TRONIC PRESS'R (I think...). The needles are glued in place, and don't move.

Tubes are fun, too. I've seen some models and pictures where there will be a tube with some strange liquid on top of a gun, but I haven't mustered up the courage for that yet...too afraid of a leak. Filling them is neat and challenging; kind'a like building a ship in a bottle. I remember thinking when I started this hobby that the tubes were going to be the most pricing thing to find, but really it hasn't been that way (thankfully, because nothing makes a ray gun pop like a nice 'ol tube on top of it).

Well, this was my first batch. I don't actually have any of these originals any longer. They have been auctioned off, and hopefully being enjoyed by steampunk enthusiast and con-goers, somewhere. I still make some of these models from time to time, and certain elements pop up a lot in my current work, and will continue to (until I run out of those parts...).