Friday, January 30, 2009

Pachyderm: Tusk transmutators

I ordered a life-size man head several days ago so that I can build my gasmask on it, and properly place the copper ears. While waiting for that to arrive I finished the two tusks. Functionally they are bad air transmutators, which convert foul gases to something breathable. In other words, the working end of the gas mask. They just happen to bear an uncanny resemblance to elephantine tusks when juxtaposed with the pressure hose and sound amplifiers.

The picture shows my construction of various plastic and metal parts on the left, which I molded in silicone rubber, then cast in cold cast bronze (a mixture of urethane resin and atomized bronze and brass). The finished transmutator is on the right.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life's Latest Lesson

Today I learned that if you take an elephant and make his ears round and move them to the top of his head he turns into a large rodent. A cartoon mouse even. Who knew! In the illustration the drawing on the left represents the original pachyderm gas mask concept. The drawing on the right is what the mask currently resembles. Clearly I need a model of a full-sized human head on which to make my patterns. Guessing—the technique I have been using up to this point—doesn't always work. OK, there is any easy enough workaround for this, and that is to take the strap that the ears are attached to and lengthen it so that the ears hang a bit lower. Hopefully, the elephant will then return!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pachyderm: Making the Eardrums

I blogged about making the copper steampunk gasmask pachyderm ears here , but I’m still missing the center piece which I’ll call the eardrum. I am just about done with them, and here is how I went about doing it.

My first thought was to make a resin piece that would just fit into the opening of the copper ear. My concerns were how to attach the ear and the eardrum to the strap which will fasten to the mask itself with snaps, and how to keep the weight down. A mask of this size can get heavy pretty fast, and be uncomfortable to wear. I was planning on bolting the eardrum through the ear and through the strap, but this presented the problem of hiding the bolt head on the front of the eardrum, and also on the bottom side of the leather strap where it could rub against the wearer’s skin.

After deciding that a resin piece would be too difficult to attach and too heavy, I considered a wire screen or other thin metal dome. Given that I don’t have many metalworking skills, I eventually opted for making the eardrum out of formed leather.

I knew I wanted the eardrum to be domed to give it a little class, so all I needed was a form over which I could shape the vegetable tanned leather. I looked around my shop for a suitable something—I was thinking of a bottle lid—to no avail. I thought perhaps a drawer pull would have the right shape to it if I could find one with the right diameter. Going to my local hardware store I quickly found just the knob I needed. The first picture shows the copper ear, the knob, and a piece of plywood ready for attaching the knob to.

I carefully measured the opening in the copper ear, and cut a hole the same size into a piece of ¼” acrylic plastic. I added a second piece of wood on top of the plywood to reduce the height of the knob, thus completing my forming jig, as shown in the third picture.

I then cut out a circular piece of oversized leather with the ventilation holes already cut, and soaked it in water to make it plastic. I laid the damp leather over the knob, and forced the acrylic piece down over the leather and knob, stretching the leather and conforming it smoothly to the knob. I held the forming jig together with two clamps as shown, and let the leather dry.

The fifth picture shows the before and after of the leather circle. After dying the eardrum black, I inserted it into the copper ear. Now I just have to attach them both to the leather strap.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pachyderm: Covering the Trunk Hose

To Elizabethan costumers, trunk hose means something totally different. Here it refers to the part of the steampunk gas mask which resembles an elephant's trunk, and consists of a vacuum cleaner hose covered with leather. The top picture shows the before and after. I chose lambskin for the leather as it is very fine, and conforms readily to what it's wrapped around. I put the suede side showing, as it seemed more 19th century to me. The leather was stitched onto the hose, then wrapped along its length with waxed thread. One end of the hose will attach to the leather mask, and the other to a pressure gauge.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Faerie Magazine Mask Article

Two of my leather masks featured in Faerie Magazine's Winter 2009 edition.

And The Winner Is......

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!

You guys are just too smart. I thought it was going to be harder than this. It is indeed a leather fastener, and our winner is Noemi aka Ravenshold, who said “It looks like a fastener of some sort.”

Holly got very close when she said “A take on a leather zipper”. In fact, it does zip apart, though putting it back together is quite a bit more work. I have referred to it as a “lipper”, short for leather zipper.

I conceived of it while searching for a way to fasten leather pieces together without using thread, rivets or glue. The twisty things are just decorative, specifically designed to use on a cephalopod steampunk respirator. Kind of tentacle-like.

The pictures show the two pieces of leather separated, and the reverse side when fastened with it’s clean lines.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Noemi, I will be contacting you shortly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Contest! You could win!

What is this?

Guess what is pictured here. It is out of leather and I made it, but why? If you are the first person to answer correctly what the heck this is you will win a leather mask, pictured below. This mask sells for $39 plus shipping on my Etsy shop

Enter your answer (or best guess) as a comment. Winner will be announced here at the end of the contest. C'mon, what have you got to lose? Vote early, vote often.

The prize: A leather black bird mask

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Steampunk Doodling

Some steampunk mask and helmet ideas from the old sketchbook.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Gauges Arrive

The sphygmomanometer gauges arrived today. In the photo I've attached one to the vacuum cleaner hose which will serve as the lower trunk. How many people know what a sphygmomanometer is?

Bulldog Leather Mask & Pattern

This is one of the first leather masks I made, and I'm quite pleased with how it came out. I made it as part of a leather project exchange on the forum. Feel free to make your own from the pattern.

Pachyderm Leather Trunk Stitching

This is the back view of the folded over leather upper trunk, showing the hand-stitching.

Leather Pachyderm Trunk pattern

The leather trunk shown in the previous post looks like it is made up of four pieces of leather. In fact it is a single piece that has been folded back upon itself. Drafting the pattern turned out to be more difficult than I expected (as was hand-stitching it together). Here it is, with the green lines folding one way, the violet lines folding the other way, and the red lines being my cut lines.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Leather Upper Trunk

Here is what the upper leather trunk looks like. The eye openings will have lenses and steampunk surrounds. Notice the worn appearance of the leather finish, and the ventilation holes for breathing. The leather folded back over itself was inspired by Chinese paper masks.

Copper Pachyderm Ears

I was at the local thrift shop looking for vacuum cleaner hoses to use as the lower trunk when I stumbled across these copper lamp reflectors. Now, I am comfortable working with leather and resin, but I have little experience working with metal. As a utilitarian sound enhancer, metal would probably function better than leather, but I didn’t know a way to form it and have it look good.

So when I saw these reflectors at the thrift shop, and a scratch test revealed them to be copper, I knew that they might serve me very well. As I mulled over how to adapt them to the pachyderm project, I realized that there were five criteria by which to judge them.

1) Would they look historically correct i.e. fit into the 19th century.
2) Would they be believable as a functioning sound amplifier.
3) Would they have an element of fantasy that was steampunk, and not just Victorian.
4) Would they integrate well with the rest of the mask, and
5) Would they in some way resemble elephant ears.

I felt that I could accomplish all of this by just a few steps: Stripping away the brushed antique finish, polish the copper, cover the crimped outer edge with “bomber brown” leather, and antique the whole thing.

All in all I think it works. The leather trim hides the 1960’s looking crimped edge, plus the brown color matches the rest of the mask. I am torn at this point whether to leave the copper polished or to tarnish it with copper sulfate, but I can decide that later, after I see all the parts together.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pachyderm gas mask plans

Here is my concept of the pachyderm gas mask. I have most of the leather parts handstitched together. I'm still working on the copper ears and the eyes. And I'm waiting for my pressure gauges to arrive. I've dyed the leather dark brown, antiqued to look like an old bomber jacket.

American Dragoon helmet tutorial

Here is a tutorial on my website on making this American dragoon leather helmet.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm going to blog about my leatherworking here. I'm currently working on a steampunk pachyderm gas mask. Don't ask. It will make sense as I get further along. Right at this moment I am handstitching leather trim onto the second copper ear. I like stitching. I find it relaxing.