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!

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