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.