Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Website, New Blog

I have a totally redone website where I will be posting all new blog entries. You can follow my future adventures there.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Brass Steampunk Helmet Design

I have just completed designing a steampunk "Adventurer's Helmet". Hopefully this will soon become available for purchase. It will be made overseas. It is made primarily of brass and leather.

It has a double row of aether collectors on the crest that feed energy to the storage batteries around the back, which run the Alien Life Form detector in the front. It also has an auditory amplifier brass horn that feeds sounds to the left ear. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Plague Doctor Hat

I have made a leather hat based on the 1656 engraving by Paul Fürst, the only contemporary picture of a plague doctor that I have been able to find.
You can see that it has a wide brim that slopes downward, and a short crown that is wider at the top than the bottom.
Here is my finished hat made of black vegetable tanned cowhide with a deerskin sweatband. The biggest challenge in making such a hat is shaping the crown.
Traditionally hats that are wider at the top than the bottom are shaped on hat blocks that break down into several pieces. A single block could not be removed from the finished crown, but the multiple smaller pieces can be extracted one at a time. Above is pictured the crown and brim blocks, shown together.
I made the plague doctor hat block using this technique, but I took it one step further. Since any cracks between the individual hat block parts would transfer to the wet leather, I covered the hat block with a layer of silicone rubber. In this photo the pale blue silicone cover is sitting atop the pink hat block pieces.
Here is the five-part hat block turned upside down, and without the rubber cover.
Here you can see the five individual pieces. I made these out of urethane resin filled with air-filled glass micro-balloons to make it lighter in weight and easier to sand.
To assemble the hat block the silicone cover is inserted into the dampened leather crown (not shown). The front section of hat block is placed into the cover.
Followed by the back section.
Next the ride side.....
...and then the left side.
Finally the center section is put into place. Notice how the center section is tapered on all four sides, so that it is easy to remove.
When the damp leather dries it shrinks, and can tighten down on the hat block, thus the taper is an important element.

I have listed the plague doctor hat for sale at my Etsy store.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Schnabel Competition Winners

The voting is over, and the winners are decided. First place, with 72 votes, goes to Liz Katz, who will receive the mask in the photos. Liz has a choice of black with gray lenses or white with red lenses.

Second place, with 57 votes, goes to Irene Keller who wins a Falconer prototype.

And third place, with 49 votes,  goes to Serena Morcinek, who also wins a Falconer prototype.

Many thanks to all who entered and also to all who voted. Winners, please email me your mailing addresses.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vote For Your Favorite Schnabel Photo

The Schnabel Competition is over, and I received 20 entries. With so many good pictures I've decided to turn the voting over to you, my reading public. Please go to my Flickr site to view the entries. Then return here and cast your votes, using the poll on the right side of this page. Select your favorite three entries.

Three prizes will be awarded. First place receives the Schnabel mask in your choice of black (with gray lenses) or white (with red lenses). Second and third place will each receive a prototype variation of my Falconer mask.

The voting will end one week from today on March 28th.



Monday, February 18, 2013

Schnabel Photo Manipulation Competition

Announcing a competition in photo manipulation using images of my steampunk plague doctor mask Schnabel. I am providing twenty three high resolution photos of the Schnabel mask from varying angles and in a variety of lighting, all shot on a white background to make them easily extractable. 
 Your job is to choose one or more of the images and incorporate it into a photograph that will showcase the beauty of the mask.

I will be using the image to advertise the Schnabel mask, which I sell at my Etsy store. What I’m looking for is originality and drama. Think of it as an advertising poster that grabs the viewer’s attention and promotes the Schnabel mask.

The competition will run through March 20, 2013 after which I will choose a winner. The prize is a Schnabel mask (your choice of black or white) valued at $215.  Each entry must contain the word “Schnabel” in the image. Minimum size of submissions is 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels. You can make it horizontal or vertical in any ratio. Feel free to add your own watermark. Multiple entries are welcome.

By submitting photos to me you assure me that you own all rights to the images and are granting me the right to use them on my blog, Etsy store and wherever else I like. I am providing these extractable images for use in this competition only, and for no other use. You are free to publish your submitted images online as long as you give me credit for the mask.

The images are located in a zip file here: 

Email me your submissions here using the subject "Schnabel entry".

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Meet Bob Basset

Many steampunk fans are familiar with the name Bob Basset and associate it with crazy wonderful leather and brass masks. What some don't realize however, is that Bob Basset is not an individual, but rather a group of leather workers in the Ukraine.

Brothers Oleg (top photo) and Sergey (second photo) Petrov had worked in leather since the 1980's, but only years later got serious with the establishment of Bob Basset. Soon they were working with several associates (between three and seven at any given time) making beautiful steampunk masks, bags, and other leather accessories, which they sell primarily on eBay under the name zvenig.

Sadly, Oleg died suddenly in April 2011 of cardiac arrest, but the other talented leather craftsmen have continued on. Their workshop is in the town of Kharkiv, Ukraine, about 30 miles from the Russian border.
Their leatherwork has been an inspiration to me ever since I discovered them, as well as many others.  One of their masks was recently copied in a scaled-down sculpture by a Chinese company, and sold through the mail order catalog of Design Toscano. Many of Bob Basset's fans complained about this, and Design Toscano quickly worked out an arrangement for compensation with the artists.
More of their work can be seen at the Bob Basset website.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crixus Photos

Here are two photos from a recent photo shoot with the Crixus mask.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lantern City -- A Steampunk TV Show

I've had the honor of having been asked to be one of the designers for a new upcoming television show. The new Steampunk show Lantern City, from executive producer Bruce Boxleitner, is an exciting foray into fan-inspired and fan-created television. It combines with first-rate storytelling, innovative production design, and a rich world that fans will fall in love with. Even though it will blend great science fiction with dynamic storylines, at its heart the show asks two questions: how far would you go to be with the person you love and what lengths would you go to in order to survive?
Bruce Boxleitner
Lantern City highlights the steampunk genre to create a one-of-a-kind television experience. Other properties have had Steampunk elements, but this is the first mainstream television show to proudly wear the label of Steampunk. Current fans of the subgenre will not be disappointed and it will attract a much wider audience to the long neglected world of Steampunk. The show is unique in that it allows viewers to be involved in the process – a first for any television show.
Read all about it here: Lantern City

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Uncle Charlie Becomes Crixus

In the two weeks since I lasted posted about the Uncle Charlie mask, I have been tweaking the pattern and adding bits and bobs. I felt that the forehead piece lay too flat, and so redesigned it to stand up more.
I realized that the center seam between the eyes--while helping the skull look--was unnecessary and if I eliminated it I could add a row of spikes there. I changed the leather pattern enough so that I needed to remake the prototype from scratch. And I gave the leather a nice rusty iron coloring.
Even though the mask was done (except for the straps), and I liked it, I didn't have a clear idea what it was. It wasn't until I spent a couple of days studying it that I realized that it was both protective and scary.
It dawned on me that it resembled nothing so much as a gladiator's mask, and so thus was born Crixus, the steampunk gladiator. After all, no one would take Uncle Charlie the Gladiator seriously.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Uncle Charlie: Testing the Pattern

Continuing with the leatherwork, I cut and stitched on the three trim pieces, two for the eyes and one for the muzzle.
Stitching on the Trim

Here it is with the trim all on and the three cold cast pieces in place.
Once the leather is dry I will try it on to see if the straps are placed correctly. Then I will decide what else I want to do to it. I'm considering spikes and decorative straps.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Uncle Charlie: Creating the Pattern

Once I finished shaping the plasticine clay for the Uncle Charlie mask I coated it with urethane resin so that the masking tape could adhere.
Clay Sculpt with Markings
I used a grease pencil to mark where the seams and straps would go.
Covered in Masking Tape
Next I covered it all with painter's masking tape, taking care to copy the seam lines in a felt marker.
Cutting Off the Tape
Here I have just finished cutting off the masking tape patterns.
The Masking Tape Patterns
And these are the three pattern pieces laid out flat. The small one is the forehead.
First Leather Piece Cut
After scanning the patterns into Corel Draw, and adjusting them as needed, and adding in stitching marks, I laser cut the vegetable tanned leather.
Stitching the Leather Pieces
I used black waxed thread to stitch the mask together.
Face Pieces All Stitched Together
Here it is with the front parts stitched together and fitted over the clay and hardware. It's looking like a grasshopper at this point!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pestis: Plague Dr. Beak

Introducing the latest in my line of plague doctor masks. Pestis is a half mask, leaving the eyes uncovered. It can easily be accessorized with goggles and hood or hat. Made with the same quality and fine materials as my other plague doctor masks.

Pestis Plague Doctor Mask: $89

Welding Goggles: $15

Balaclava: $6

Entire Plague Doctor Outfit: Priceless

The mask is now available at an introductory price of $79 at our Etsy store. I am not selling any of the accessories, just the Pestis mask. Perfect for those (like myself) who wear glasses. Pestis is made of top grain veg tan leather and rivets with an adjustable elastic band.

Pestis Out at Night

Pestis with a Hood

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Skull Mask

I had the idea of making a mask that would be reminiscent of a human skull. Below is my first sketch.
First sketch of skull mask

I had already made up some eyecages, similar to the ones used in the Ragnarok mask, only larger, and I decided to use them for this mask.
First idea translated into clay
I wasn't sure at this point how I would make the teeth, but I was thinking of fabricating the part out of acrylic sheet and then casting it in cold cast aluminum, to match the eyecages.
Dog muzzle
After further consideration, I decided to look through my many boxes of yard sales finds, in the hopes of encountering a part already made that could be adapted to the teeth. When I came across the dog muzzle I realized I could dip it in wax to thicken up the wires, and give it a similar look to the eyecages.
Pot of melted wax

Muzzle after being dipped in wax
I heated the wax to around 220° F and dipped the wire muzzle into the molten wax, and let it cool down. Dipping it two more times gave it a nice thickness.
Muzzle casting
After molding it in silicone RTV rubber, I cast just the top part of the muzzle in urethane resin.
Muzzle casting in mounting base
Then I scanned the bottom of the casting, and laser cut several pieces of sheet acrylic to match. I used epoxy to stick all the pieces together, and filled in the hollows with modeling clay.
Clay sculpt with eyecages and muzzle
I remolded the muzzle, and cast the finished part in a pink urethane resin, suitable for sculpting the final clay shape. Once I am satisfied with the shape of the clay I will take a pattern from it and then make the mask out of leather. It bears little resemblance to a skull now, but I am liking the look and am tentatively calling it "Uncle Charlie".