Monday, March 30, 2009

Space Helmet: It Ain't What it Seams

I have now cut and stitched together the four main parts of the helmet, and then shaped the wet leather over the yard sale plastic original. The toy astronaut helmet serves not only as a pattern source, but also as a shaping form. It reminds me of the underwater helmets worn by the crew of the Nautilus, with its roundedness.

At the end of yesterday's blog I decided that the plain exposed seam I had tried (and was planning for the entire helmet) wasn't the best choice, so I ripped out the one seam that I had done, and restitched it.

I replaced the side seams with overlapping seams, and for the center seam I chose a butt seam (since an overlapping seam has to favor one side or the other, and won't be symmetrical).
There are three different types of handsewn seams that I use in my leatherwork: Overlap, butt and plain. Below are the three types illustrated.

The plain seam can add structural strength and really emphasize the seam line, as can be seen on my firemaster's helmet. It is the historically traditional seam for firefighter's helmets, but it requires more effort to shape. On my steampunk gas mask you can see examples of the butt seam and the overlap seam.
Once the wet-formed helmet has dried, I will figure out the removable front piece that will cover the mouth, and also design a piece with a lense to cover the eyes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Designing a Steampunk Spaceman's Helmet

Today, Sunday, my wife and I went to some yard sales. Now sometimes you find nothing, and other times you find one gem. Just as we were about to leave one sale emptyhanded, I spotted a plastic astronaut's helmet. When I inquired about the price, the seller said $1--uh, 50¢--fearing I wouldn't cough up a whole dollar for this plastic helmet that was missing the visor. Of course, I saw much more in it. I knew I could pull a pattern off of it and remake it as a steampunk leather helmet!

Here is the plastic helmet as I bought it.

After thinking about how to break it up into separate leather pieces, I taped it all over with duct tape to make the patterns, and marked the divisions.

Here I've cut off the duct tape using an Xacto knife, and laid it down on heavy paper.

Next I've smoothed out the lines, removed the duct tape, and cut out the heavy paper patterns.

Next using the patterns I cut out the leather pieces, and punched the stitching holes, along with snap and buckle holes. I am leaving the front piece that covers the mouth removable so that the wearer can take it off for eating, etc.

Here I've stitched together the left center piece and the left side piece to see if it will work. I used a seam that exposes the edges, but after seeing it I think I'll remove the thread and do it over with an overlapping seam so that it will lie flat.
I will post more later as I progress on this project.

Flea Market Raygun Finds

Twas a beautiful Spring day, and I went to a local flea market searching for raygun components. Here is what I found.

From top to bottom: A toy cap pistol with good metal parts and a very crude wooden handle; a timing light, all shiney chrome; and an old water sprayer. With a little bit of fixing up and love, these can be made into rayguns. The top one will make a nice air pirate pistol, and the timing light will make a nice futuristic firearm.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Five New Leather Masks

I have designed five new cut out masks for Spring 2009, and I'm selling them all at my Etsy shop for $10 off the regular price. I'm offering them all in several colors.
This is called cut out Fans in gold. It has a bit of an ancient Egyptian look to me.

This one is called cut out Hearts in red.

This one as you might guess is called cut out Stars in silver.

This one I've called cut out Totem, as it looks organic yet mystical to me at the same time.

And lastly, and this one is my current favorite, we have Muse, because it reminds me of ancient Greece.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Designing a New Leather Mask

Spring is almost upon us, and leather mask sales should pick up as buyers think about what they're going to wear at music festivals. Above is my first sketch of an idea for a new mask, consisting of a whole bunch of cut out hearts. I drew this right before turning out the lights for bed. The star means I think it's a good design.

This is the next sketch the following day, seeing how it would work to have the eye openings be larger hearts, with other hearts around it. In designing a mask, the eye openings are critical.
Here I have fleshed out the idea, and after penciling in all the hearts on one half of the face, I have inked them in. Next I scanned this image and brought it into Corel Draw, where I fine-tuned it and mirrored it for the other half of the face.

And here is the finished mask, after cutting out the pattern in leather, shaping it to my face form, and painting it red. Lastly, I've listed it the Cut Out Hearts mask on Etsy, where I hope it will quickly sell!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Leather Wedding Photo Album

My son and daughter-in-law got married last Spring, and I finally finished a leather photo album for them. There is a baby coming this Summer, and I'm planning on making an album for him too. The floral design on the cover—as well as all the lettering—was laser engraved into vegetable tanned leather that I painted white for contrast.

White Rabbit Mask Makes it in the Pictures

Boudoir photographer Andrea Hausmann has purchased one of my white rabbit masks for use as a prop in her photographs. Hiding coquettishly behind the mask is burlesque cabaret showgirl Coco Framboise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Custom Leather Mask for Rhymefest

I just finished a custom half-mask for Grammy Award winning hip-hop artist Che Smith, aka Rhymefest. His logo of a stylized R and F is in burgundy on a black background. Watch for him to wear it while he performs!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Raygun 66: Shaping the Grip

The grip model (black and white on the left) was molded and cast in resin (gray on the right). I wanted the top of the grip to be narrower than the bottom, so I bandsawed the casting right down the middle and sanded a bevel onto both halves. Then I glued the two parts together, and filled in the crack with Bondo™. I'm still trying to figure out what carved design I will inset into the sides of the grip.