Saturday, November 19

Ray-Gun Tutorial, part 2

So, in part 1 I put together the tank and barrel pieces for my ray-gun . . .

But how to hold it?

I still wanted the pistol style grip, even with the much longer barrel. My hope was to find a wooden rubber band or pop gun at a thrift shop or yard sale. Nope. So, online or in a local store . . . only if I was willing to pay $15 - $20, before shipping. I wasn’t. Could I have made my own? Probably, but with my limited access to my own tools (which do not include a scroll saw) and the craziness of actually getting to work on things that comes from having as many little ones underfoot as I do . . . not so much.

Fine . . . I guess I have to go with plastic.

Now, many people choose to repaint plastic guns (the Nerf ones in particular are quite popular and look very striking when painted out), but I was hoping for not just the look but the weight of a wood stock to help counter balance the length. I still hope to find one so I can trade the plastic one out in the future.

Back to the plastic guns . . . . After searching high and low at every discount, thrift and dollar store in my area, I ran across a cheap plastic gun at Wal-Mart. It was ugly. Boy was it ever ugly. A transparent neon green with blue accents and electric orange suction darts (I tried to find a picture, but apparently no one is willing to admit they have one).
But it had the shape I needed, with a grip and a clip set forward like a cross between a Glock and an AK-47 with a number of futuristic details and most importantly a flat top.
Once I painted it silver (love that enamel paint) and detailed it in gold, it actually looked like it would work.

I even had some cool brass cabinet hinges that looked vintage in my junk drawer that could hold the pieces together. It was finally coming together!

Then I tried to put it together . . . and learned that my hinges would NOT stay half-cocked at the angle I needed for long enough for the super glue to set. Which, as it turned out, the glue never did. To be fair, this was some cheap off-brand glue my mom had picked up for me, and some glues just don’t cure on certain types of plastic. So I had to scratch the hinge idea. After repainting (the glue did mar the finish) I used zip ties to hold the pieces together and craft glued the heck out of them. Once it had cured (overnight at least) I removed the zip ties and wrapped the tank onto the barrel using more of the gold floral wire (I made the coils out of this too).

Remember the threaded rod I scavenged from the old light fixture? After deciding how I would be wearing the gun (on my right hip) I used some silver craft wire to add the rod over the glued seam between the barrel and tank. I took a compass rose pendant and a plastic gear from a clock my boys broke, and made a sight that I glued on top of the tank. After looking at it, I decided the silver was too overwhelming and painted a large section of the grip a dark brown. I also touched up any glue points to look like silver solder.

So, here it is in all its finished glory. What do you think?

Hubby is so impressed with how it came out he plans to hang it on the wall with his Kit Rae Swords in the office.

I think he might be right . . . .

Next Time: my very first giveaway!

Saturday, November 12

Ray-Gun Tutorial, part 1

I liked the idea of getting to carry a weapon (since I’m usually pushing the stroller or holding little hands, spending Halloween armed had the draw of novelty) so I decided to make myself a ray gun.

Once again I was inspired by Jen of and her lovely gun made from an old candlestick and an art glass bottle. But she had been too crazy busy to post her tutorial (it’s finally up now), and as she is on a cross country book tour currently I think I’ll forgive her for the delay . . . Even if she isn’t coming out anywhere near me.

So I spent an afternoon browsing a local thrift store and found an interesting brass candlestick which broke down into 3 nice easy pieces. I could not find a colored glass bottle the right size (or a clear one for that matter), but I did have some other odds and ends lying around. I spent a long time looking for an aluminum bottle (or compressed CO2 canister) that fit my $5-or-less budget with no luck, only to run into a heavy PVC water bottle for $2 at my local Target.

It wasn’t perfect, but it would work. I put on a base coat of gray acrylic paint and then used some more of my metallic enamel paint (found in the model car and plane section of most craft stores) to give it the look of brushed metal. Things began to come together.

My original idea had been for a pistol, but as I was rummaging for odds and ends I ran across a metal pipe from a towel rack. Not only would this be a nice way to extend the barrel, it would give me an easier attachment point for the nozzle (inverted candlestick base). The stem of my candlestick was a long plain rod so I grabbed some fender washers and nylon spacers . . .

I was able to thread one washer onto the candlestick between the stem and the base. Then I alternated spacers and larger fender washers (gluing with craft glue as I went) down onto the stem to give a better transition and to give my gun a more retro ‘Buck Rodgers’ ray gun look. I didn’t have any spacers that would fit inside the barrel (and didn’t want to return to Depot to find any), but I did have strapping tape (duct tape would have worked, too). After the glue dried, I wrapped the far end and midpoint of the stem with enough strapping tape so that it would fit snuggly inside the towel bar (this took some trial and error), and glued it inside. I wrapped the seam with another layer of tape to hide it, and painted the tape, spacers and washers until I liked the effect.

But what, you ask, about the other end of the barrel? After playing around with some different odds and ends I decided to use it to attach the obligatory coiled wires from the end of the tank (PVC bottle). To do this, I got a plastic pipe cap

And used a nail heated over a gas burner to melt a hole big enough to put the end of the wires through. I bent the ends in place and hot glued them into the inside of the plug, and put a thin coat of craft glue on the top and slightly up the wires to give it the look (once I painted it silver) of a soldered joint. I hot glued the other end of the wires into the top portion of my candlestick (where the stem would have connected) and glued the cap from my bottle into the other side (where the candle would normally sit). I wasn’t thrilled about the flat bottom of the bottle but as I had just swapped out an old light fixture, I had the attachment pieces to rummage through. I was able to snag a threaded rod (added for looks latter) as well as the bottom cap and little ball finial all in an old weathered brass. Some wood craft discs, glue and silver paint later and my bottle had become a respectable ray gun tank.

More to come . . . .

Next time: Part 2 of my Ray-Gun tutorial,

and coming soon my very first give away!