Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pot-Belly Ray Gun

I had been kind of dialing back on the details lately, so I wanted to amp it up a bit and go crazy with the flare. This stubby little piece was a bit challenging to figure out, but is probably one of the cutest projects I've put out. I have never put the power gage on the fin before, but think that worked out really cool.

Not sure if you can make out the gears in the window very clearly; it was a cool idea, but the details are not very visible. The do-dads are farther from the window than I would have liked, and there is no alternate light source, so its kinda hard to see. Here is a close-up that shows off the gears a bit better...

I like the kooky layout for the window, and that key actually turns, though it doesn't do anything.

I'm right-handed, and tend to put most the detail on the left side of the gun. This time I tried to share the love and add some cool stuff on the other side, as well.

Again, I worked this out in transparency. I found some cool lightbulb-shaped containers at the craft store, and thought I would see what I could come up with. Here are a couple of WIP pics.

I attached the gears to a square wood dowel that also helped hold on the barrel. I cut the silver gear in half, so that it would fit through the mouth of the bottle better (you really can't see the bottom of it anyway, and it gives depth to the clockwork inside the gun). This was a lot like I imagine building a ship in a bottle would work. If I go down this road again, I will likely split the bottle, add the details and then put it all back together.

The decorative pieces really brought the whole gun together for me. The whole mixture of flare and functionality  is what I consider to be at the heart of the steampunk visual aesthetic, and is what makes this one of my favorite. Hope you like it.

Keep Zap'n!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Crystal" Wand

This one was a for my youngest, and one of my first projects with the plastic "crystals". The challenge here is that when you're building for a kid, you have to build it fast. This one didn't take too long, and the handle was found in the back yard; great piece of wood. I really like how this one came out, and will likely build one like it with some of the lessons I learned along the way.

Hope you like it.

Zap on!!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


So, I guess it was only a matter of time before I combined my ray gun a steampunk wands together. The result is:
The Witch-Pistol. I was checking out some other steampunk art, and thought it would be cool to have wand added bayonette (did I spell that right?) on the barrel. There was a lot of experimentation with this piece, and it almost came out looking totally different.

This was an early progress photo when I was thinking about a top-mounted wand, and a more open mouth. Something didn't look quite right, and some feedback pushed me back in the right direction. I admit, though, I will probably try out that more open mouth look on a later project.

My favorite part is the gears. It was also the hardest to pull off. I'm still not sure if I'm done with securing the glass cover. It is still wobbles a bit.

The wand came out OK. I had a bag of those decorative cylindrical beads and wasn't sure I would ever find a place for them. Happily they fit in just right on this project.

This was a last minute add. I knew I wanted to add something to the top, but wasn't sure what. These were some pieces that I had lying around, and they came together quite nicely. It also helps tie in the chamber and the rear of the gun.

That pod was one of the first parts I built for this piece and looks rather cool; I think. Though this is mostly a toy mod, it is one of my favorite pieces. I may work on more guns like this and form a series. Not sure yet, but hope you like it.

Keep zap'n!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Steampunk Airship- The Cumulus Rex

"Rex" is the person aero-pod for my steampunk character Professor Perilus. This is a model made of polymer clay and measures about three inches long. I made this as a guide for future drawings, to help keep details and proportions straight.
This model is a bit of a sketch itself, and took about 15 minutes to make and a little longer to cook. The painting took about 30 minutes; so about an hour, all together. Here is Rex with the sketch that inspired the model.

I made a few changes, mostly in the color department. Not sure if I prefer the bronze coast vs. gold, but it still has a metallic sheen and shows the highlights properly, so it will do. I opted not to add the bands to the gas envelope on the top of the ship, because it made it look too much like a cockpit, and threw off the design a bit. This also give me a better spot for the Prof's emblem, so its all for the best. There is a light sketch of the Prof next to Rex for proportions, it is actually just a bit bigger than the sketch may suggest, though still pretty closed quarters.

Here are a few pages from the sketchbook to show Rex's evolution:

Above & below: Started off stuck on the idea of Rex being a hanging gondola and looking rather nautical. I had that "seen it all before" feeling, plus I wanted the Prof to have something a little more unique and sci-fi looking.

I eventually got into "pod" territory, but everything kept coming out Nemo.

Eventually, squished it all up and internalized most of the air bag. In all, I thought it was rather sexy and dashing, so this design in the winner. Not sure what I'll do with all of this, but all least its done.

Hope you like it. Keep zap'n!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Steampunk Wand

Here is a new wand, with a design much closer to what I originally had in mind. It is a great deal smaller than the last wand, which I think may have been just a bit too long. Still using the art foil and brads, which add an industrial look to the wand. The base for this piece is a dowel, or something, so not as organic and the previous wand (fashioned from a tree branch).

This model has a tube at the end with a crystal suspended from a cool little antennae-thingy. I had used this idea for a ray gun recently, and really liked the way it turned out. I added a cool cylindrical bead to the mix for good measure. (I had bought a bag of these some time ago and this is the first project that they really fit well in!)

I had toyed with removable tubes, and may build one in time, but not today. This model does have a removable tip, however. I like the idea of a wand base coming with a selection of different tips for different situations. This idea really cracked me up, for some reason; and I think adds a bit of modern sensibility and utilitarianism to an ancient magical tool.  For now, this wand just has the one tip, but it does come with a cool box for safe keeping.

In all, I really like the final outcome of this project and will work on some more.

Keep zap'n!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Steampunk Magic Wand

Interest in the occult was very much alive and well in Victorian England, so it only seems fitting that magical devices would get the steampunk upgrade, as well. I had wanted to work on these for a while now, but just recently got to it. I made a wand last year to see how it would go; it was cool, but my oldest is into Harry Potter, and so absconded with it.

I kept the over all design pretty light (I think) and tried to minimize visual distractions from the exquisite curve of the wand body.

This is actually my first time using heavy-duty art foil. I thought I would give the electrical tape a rest, and try something with a genuine metallic sheen. I thought it might be a hassle to cut, but that was absolutely not the case. I used a bit of glue, and a brad to keep the foil closed and in place.

The crystal chamber and tubing port worked pretty well, though it a appears I have a little surplus glue to cut off once everything is totally dry. I had a lot of fun putting this together and will likely do another soon.

Hope you like it. Keep zap'n!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

More Light-up Ray Gun Action

While I have been tooling around with adding lights for a little while, this is the first trigger-activated light from the workshop.

I went back to the beginning on this one, and you'll notice a lot of the same parts here from my first pieces. I haven't done straight toy mods for a while, but needed the hollow trigger and body for the light. This particular gun has an inner walled chamber that the light fits in pretty well and minimized light bleed around through the gun.

There is literally, a key chain light fixed into place and a small screw on the piece of the trigger inside the gun to press the button. Its pretty low-tech, but it works and the affect is pretty cool. The crystal  really conducts the light well and looks awesome. Don't believe me? Check out the video below:

Other than that, I didn't add too many bells & whistles. I am very fond of the piece on the back, which had been sitting in a bin for a few years now; it ties in really well with the ornate-ness of the barrel, and really ties it together.

Not sure where I'm going with the light thing now, but it is nice to know that I can pull it off with my meager understanding of electronics.

Keep zap'n!!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rough Sketch Ray Gun

So, I've been to adding lights to my current projects (I have an in-progress piece that should be posting soon), and my oldest wanted a light-up gun as well.  This started off as a father/son project, but soon became all dad. I've drawn lots of stuff over the years for him, and one thing I've learned about art projects for kids, is do it quick. Having said that, I would qualify this piece as more of a rough sketch; I skipped a lot of finishing touches on this one, opting for a quick turn-around. Still, it came out pretty cool, and gives me some ideas for future pieces. Hope you like it.

I had my son choose some materials from the parts bins in the shop, but we had some trouble putting them together. I had a number of pieces from unfinished projects handy, so we made some quick replacements. Its hard to see, but there is a blue crystal suspended in the center of the gun.

Here it is lit up. The light is hidden in the barrel piece and is stays on until turned off. There is an opening cut into the bottom of the barrel to access the switch.

Here is a view of the gun on a less busy surface, before staining the handle. I had been toying with a petite handle that had a door in it, to house a setting switch, or dial or something, but it didn't happen, so it was sitting on the work table. It was just the right size for littler hands.

If I wasn't in a hurry, I would have sanded the handle and do some masked painting on the body to limit the light bleed; but all-in-all, it came out pretty cool, and my son was happy, which is really the whole point.

Keep zap'n!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Light-up Ray Gun

I had been wanting to create a piece that lit up for a while now, but was unsure of the best way to do it. I've been picking up various compact lights for a while now and experimenting, and finally came up with a one that I like. Below is a shaky video of the gun with the light on:

I like the way that it cycles through various colors and it has a vary ominous effect. The shape of the clear chamber was in my head for a while, but it took some time to find the right way to frame it. Eventually, I came across some scrapbooking borders that I had bought a while back, and they seemed to work pretty good. I used electrical tape as well, and dressed the whole thing up with some metal brads.

You can see the other side of the brads through the transparent portion, and, at first, I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Eventually, I convinced myself that they look cool like they are. Besides, you can barely see them whe the light is on.

At the early stage of putting this together I had to test the fit and power of the light, with the bottle that makes up the body of the gun. I planned all of the clear and opaque spaces out and then taped everything off accordingly.

I also had to tape off both ends of the bottle, to keep from accidentally getting paint on the inside, and screwing up the clear portions. This was the most nerve-rattling part; with the primer and various paint layers, it was a few days before I could remove the masking tape and test the light. So, the whole time, I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to pull off the effect I was looking for. In the end, though, it worked pretty well, and comes off just the way I had originally imagined.

The light is a short squat hockey puck-shaped item that makes up the back portion of the gun barrel. I was worried that I would ruin the device by spray painting it, but it held up quite well. The switch is on the bottom of the cyliner, so I had to design a new grip to accomodate it.

I love this handle, which was itself kind of a happy accident. It was cut from a larger handle that I had screwed up from another project. I continued to screw it up while cutting, but I really dug the strange organic shape that popped out, so I kept it.

The muzzle and dish were also originally tranparent, and I had toyed with leaving them that way. The light was strong enough to illuminate the whole thing, but in the end I decided to paint them, though I did leave a little clear spot just behind the dish (though you can't make it out in this picture).

One of my favorite parts came out last; the tuning crystal in the tube on the back of the gun. I knew that a tube was going back there when I started, but didn't know what was going in there until the last minute. I just toyed with spare parts until I came up with this.

It  was a vary elegant way of handling the crystal, and imbodies the ornate aethetic that I love so much about steampunk. Hope you like it.

Keep zap'n!!!



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pocket Ray Gun


Though I'd been toying around with a compact pistol for a while, this particular piece didn't take long to make at all. I had wanted to make a pistol where the handle had a door in it, with a setting dial, but I had a lot of trouble making it work. I kept the general grip size and shape, but settled for an inset gage, which I think looks pretty good.

The barrel is a wooden chair leg, with maetal brads and some plastic do-dads glued on.

I tried to keep it pretty simple, but elegant. I have had trouble with smoothing and rounding the edges of the handles using a table sander. On this piece I tried the sandpaper tip for the Dremel and it worked great.


 On the flipside I added some decorative flourish, and...

...some silver foil doiley from decorative trim.
Hope you like it, and keep zap'n!!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Legions Above the Aether

My good friend Winfield Strock has now published his second historicalish/steampunk novel Aether Legion. It currently exists in a reasonably-priced electronic state, but will soon be irrevocably transfixed to paper and bound for your reading enjoyment.

-Good job, Win!
-Enjoy, everybody!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rock'em Sock'em Robot Pin

Made this from a toy ring (well, half of one), based on the famous fighting game. The head doesn't move, but there is a switch on the back that makes the arm spring up.

Here is a close up of the pin. Its about 1 3/4" tall. Thinking about using it as a tie tack. This is one of those "puts a smile on your face projects". Lots of fun to make. Hope you like it.

Keep zap'n (sock'n)...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Silver & Gold

I didn't realize how long this one had been sitting on the self, but apparently I started working on it around Christmas. I had gotten the idea for this ray gun while working on another with a similar body shape. I wanted the end to be a setting dial that you could twist, but I had a hell of a time getting it to work right, so it sat on a shelf until this morning, when I finally figured it out.
Here is the earliest WIP picture. Still using plexiglass for the fin here, though I have tried some other options since. The fin is a good thickness, and pretty tough, but it is a bitch to cut. Using wood for the barrel. I tried sealing the barrel to keep the grain from giving away that its wood, but that didn't work out very well; I eventually just wrapped the big pieces in electrical tape.

Here is a pic with the twisting dial set in the back. I use a template for my wooden grips, but the normal handle style interfered with the dial. So, I had to create a grip that kept the hand off of the dial , but was still organic and comfortable.

Then business as usual; paint-paint-paint, glue-glue-glue, and it was done.

I just could not stop adding gold accents to this peice. The intensiometer was a new direction that I've been wanting to try for a while; I really love the way it came out.

The whole back piece of the body is the setting dial, and it twists under a gold-painted and stylish arrow. The idea for the mechanism is a few months old, but most of the finishing touches were concocted today.

Glad it is finally finished, hope you like it.

Keep zap'n!!!