Thursday, October 20

Steampunk Goggles

I first saw handmade goggles on (run by the incredibly funny Jen Yates of She and her husband put together some really fantastic pairs using plumbing supplies and some scrap leather (and has a great tutorial on her site). Hers used brass pipe fittings for the eye pieces, but as I do not have access to a Dremel tool (although it is high on the wish list) I had to find something else. After some web searching I realized I really just needed something round that was the right scale that I could glue the leather onto.

And so the search began. I looked for anything with a rim . . . Mason jar rings, PVC couplings, what I really wanted were wedding favor tins that had clear plastic viewing windows built into the lids. And after a long and fruitless search I followed an online lead to a local dollar store. I didn’t find the favor tins . . . but I did find these:

I don’t use bronzer as a general rule, and this was certainly not my shade, but the plastic lids had the right diameter, built-in heavy plastic ‘lenses’, and were a metallic aged silver color. Also they were only $1 each and I still had the makeup and brushes if I wanted them. Score! One problem . . . each lens had a small ‘etched’ leaf printed in the center. Scotch tape to the rescue! The slightly opaque tape completely obscured the leaf, but it left lines where the edges met.

So . . . colored lenses.

I had read online about a number of different lens inserts, everything from cellophane to pelxi-glass to plastic from 2ltr bottles. I live off the caffeine in soda and my stimulant of choice is Mt. Dew, so I had green plastic bottles in plenty.

I snapped the lids off the make-up cases, broke off any sharp pointy bits, and popped the lenses out. I then traced them onto some clean plastic, and realized they curled.

Problem . . . big problem. I was using craft glue (as hot glue and small children don’t mix very well) and the bend in the plastic was not allowing the glue to hold the lenses in place.

Fine, wait ‘til the kids are in bed and break out the glue gun. Same problem.
Back to the drawing board.

Maybe if I heat up the plastic I could flatten it enough to make them work . . . Brilliant! So I turned on one burner on my stove and held the plastic above the flame. It worked like a charm, until it started warping the plastic.

So . . . how does one make colored lenses for these stupid m@)*$^@*^ing goggles?!
Then I remembered having paint for plastic sun-catchers in my craft kit. Perfect!
I picked the color I liked (still went with Mt. Dew bottle green, as it went with my accents) and after gluing the lenses back into the frames, poured and spread a large blob of paint into each one.

Now that the lenses were finished I had to make the eye cups. I made a template out of construction paper (wrapped the paper to get the length and drew a curve for the outer edge of the eye cup), I then put it up to my face to adjust for the fit I wanted and when I liked it I traced it onto some scrap leather (you could use vinyl or even heavy felt if you really wanted to) leaving enough of an overlap to rivet the ends together and connect the nose piece. I glued the leather onto the frames with craft glue (for longer time to line up edges) and used large rubber bands to hold it on while the glue dried.

Once the pieces were dry, I decided how far apart I wanted them and cut a small rectangle of leather for the nose piece. Because I decided to rivet the leather instead of sewing it together (easy if you have a machine that will do it, long and tedious if you have to do it by hand) I cut my rectangle about ½ an inch longer than the distance I wanted between the eyes. This gave me room for the rivets (both front and back).

Now all I had to do was add a strap . . . .

Unfortunately none of my scrap pieces were long enough for a solid strap nor did I have enough to cut 2 long pieces and buckle them in the back.

So, how to attach it?

I had enough length for 1 long strap and a couple of shorter straps . . . Eureka! I put a buckle on either end of my long strap and attached the smaller leather pieces to the outside of each eye to buckle it into. But that would leave me with rough edges to camouflage. I had an ugly purple belt that I had picked up for 90% off on clearance (purchased only for the buckle) that was only about ½ inch wide and could be painted to look like a brass rim. So I cut down and painted out 2 sections of belt and glued them and the 2 side pieces onto the rim of the eye cups, once again employing rubber bands while the glue set.

Once they were dry I riveted down the side pieces and cut tabs and punched holes for later use with the buckles. I even glued on some metal filigree trim pieces I had gotten to make into jewelry. Because I wanted a contrast on the finish (read as some of the glue dried on the leather and made it shiny, and I didn’t feel like taking it off) I spread a thin layer of craft glue on some of the pieces of leather (the gold rims, the side pieces and the nose piece) which made gave them a nice polished shine.

And here they are . . . my very own pair of goggles. I can even see through them.

Next Time . . . Steam Punk Ray-Gun Tutorial!

Tuesday, October 18


What happened when Goths discovered the color brown?


It’s a design and art style that asks the question:
If Jules Verne or H. G. Wells crash landed in your backyard, how would they redesign our modern technology to recreate it in their time?

Steampunk (also called Neo-Victorian) is a fun way of looking at the world, a world run by pistons and gears and moved by airships, jetpacks and clockwork devices. And a world that values individual craftsmanship and ingenuity over sleek plastic mass production.
For someone like me, it is a beautiful way to be creative and work with real materials on a very small budget.

My Halloween costume (and potentially a convention costume) is almost entirely from my own closet and the accessories have cost about $15 thus far to produce. Now to be fair, this cost does not include items already in my possession or left over from other projects. So for someone who doesn’t keep scrap leather for projects or have an enormous stash of old shoes hiding in the garage, making your own might cost a little more. I am planning on a couple of tutorials based on what I have put together so far. Here’s a picture of the main elements:

Want to make your own? I have tutorials for each of these pieces, and I'll start with the cuff bracelets . . . .

Cuff Tutorial

The cuff bracelets were made of an old belt (the metal work was part of its closure) a couple of mirror rosettes (from Depot)and some big economy buckles from a leather supplier (thrift store belts work well if you don’t care if things match).

First I removed all the hardware from the old belt (it had a tie closure so no holes or buckles). Then I cut the belt down to size for my wrists (plus a few inches overlap). Next I attached the buckles, and decided on the placement of the decorative pieces.

Then I riveted the metal work and rosettes onto the pieces of belt, and punched holes for the tongues of the buckles.

I achieved the multi-metal look by painting accents on the metal (and rivets) using metallic enamel paint (used for models and miniatures, sold in most craft stores) and playing with the shading until I liked the effect. Behold, my finished cuffs:

Next time . . . make your own Steampunk Goggle Tutorial!