Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Steamier Raygun Holster

When I created the Raughnold Raygun almost two years ago I made a holster for it with sort of a Buck Rogers look. Futuristic, but not particularly steampunk. Along with gears and goggles, rayguns have become an iconic part of the steampunk atavistic reality, and I started thinking recently how I would like to construct an alternate holster with a steamier look to it.

Original leather holster

The one element that I came up with to accomplish this was to add straps and buckles. Above is my concept sketch.

And here is a full-size paper mock up.

Next I began playing around with how a single piece of leather could incorporate straps that interwove, like clasped fingers.

Here is the pattern I worked out in a heavy paper, before committing the design to leather.

After a few minor alterations I fashioned it in leather. I decided it still needed some changes, including lengthening the straps, and adding a reinforcement around the belt loop opening.

Here then is my final design.

And here is the back view, showing the interlocking straps.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Looking for a Steampunk Art Book?

Well then you're in luck! Or will be in 2011. Just since May of this year I've been asked by six different authors/editors/publishers to include photos of my steamy gas masks, helmets, etc. in their publications. Six! Next year is shaping up to be a banner year for steampunk art books.

Here are several of them:

The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement

Steampunk: Victorian Futurism

1,000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Raven Mask as Fine Art

Kathrin Longhurst of Seaforth, New South Wales, Australia was kind enough to share a painting she did of my raven mask. Cool, eh?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Respirator #4 with Canisters

Last month I started on respirator #4, then had to set it aside while I filled all the Halloween mask orders coming in.

I have at last had time to get back to it. I redesigned the ventilation holes, and constucted the canister, making it smaller than my previous respirator. Pictured above is the undyed leather mask and canister prototype.

Here is the respirator assembled (except for the straps) and dyed and antiqued. I'm hoping to be able to retail this piece for under $100.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lois Lane: Dominatrix

More TV news. On the CW's Smallville (the story of a young Clark Kent), Erica Durance plays the role of Lois Lane. When Lois goes undercover as a dominatrix in order to get a story, she chooses my violet Swirly mask as part of her disguise.

I don't know if I should feel pleased or insulted! This scene unfolds on the episode titled "Supergirl", season 10 episode 3, and can be watched on

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Black Rabbit Mask in Vogue Paris

My Rabbit mask in black leather is featured in the October 2010 issue of Vogue Paris magazine in an article entitled Bal Masqué.

Photo by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott. Modeled by Mariacarla Boscono.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Power of a Photograph to Sell

I have recently begun incorporating professionally shot photos of our masks into our Etsy listings, and in doing so have discovered just what a powerful tool a good photograph can be.

This filigree Hearts mask in red was first offered a year and a half ago. I thought it was a good design, but it barely sold.

A couple of weeks ago WinterWolf Studios took this photo of the Hearts mask, and suddenly sales of it are going through the roof! Same mask, different photo.

In a similar situation, my photo of the Raven mask on a mannequin drew little attention.

However this photo by Anya E Photography has got buyers clamoring for it. Same mask, better looking model!

PS. We are well into our Halloween season for masks, and are super busy, so don't expect too many posts until November.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Respirator #4

As I recall the first steampunk prop I ever made was the bad air transmutator respirator, which I still sell for $225 on Etsy. Ever since then, I've been wanting to design another respirator that I could sell for less. I make both respirators and gas masks, and the distinguishing feature in the nomenclature that I use is that respirators cover just the mouth and nose, whereas gas masks also cover the eyes.

I made a series of sketches to work out the design. I wanted to use mostly rivets in the construction, which is less labor-intensive than either machine- or handsewing.
Initially I wasn't going to provide any resin canisters as another cost savings measure.
Ultimately I decided to add two smaller identical canisters, as functionally it made little sense to have none.
Once I was happy with the pattern I tested it in green paper, and when that looked like it was working I cut it out of leather and riveted it all together. I need to add straps and make a few alterations, but I think it's a good beginning.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Olifant: The Completed Gas Mask

Here are photos of the completed gas mask Olifant, son of Pachydermos.

Made of veg tan leather that's been antiqued black. Hand sewn with waxed thread. Lenses are tinted acrylic. Lens frames and tusk canisters made of cold cast aluminum, steel wire and bolts. Detachable ears are copper and leather. Gauge is a sphygmomanometer. Hose is black neoprene.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WinterWolf Studios Meets the Eyecage Mask...

...and this is the result!

Visit WinterWolf's website to see more of their gorgeous work. The Eyecage mask is for sale at my Etsy store.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Olifant: Neoprene Trunk Hose

The second batch of black neoprene arrived safely, and so I proceeded to build the plaster mold.

First I softened plasticine in the microwave, then built it up around my model. I leveled it out right at midline, and I poured the first half of the mold in plaster.

After curing I removed the plasticine and poured the second half. After letting the mold halves dry for a couple of days I held them together with large rubber bands, and filled the cavity with the liquid neoprene. The plaster absorbed moisture from the rubber and a thin wall of solid material built up.

I emptied out the liquid neoprene and let the casting dry overnight before removing it from the mold. Here I am preparing for the final assembly, with the neoprene hose connecting the leather mask and the pressure gauge.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Zipper Cap >>> High Priest Helmet

I showed the zipper cap to my assistant and she immediately said it looked like a bathing cap from the 1950's. I about died, because I knew she was spot on, and that wasn't the look I was after.

After a bit of thought I decided that if I added a military type neck guard it just might rescue the project from ignominy.

It was important that I kept with the non fastener method of assembly, and so I pondered how I could make the neck guard flaps interlock with the cap I already had. By repeating the lower edge and constructing mountain tabs to interlock I arrived at the pattern shown above.

I dyed the nine neck guard pieces in matching colors and assembled them in groups of three.

And here is the result. After assembly the entire helmet was antiqued black to give it an aged look.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and this model really gives it an other culture look.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Zanni Leather Mask

Here is something a little different for me. A Commedia dell'arte style mask of the long-nosed character Zanni.

Making this mask entails a lot more hand shaping than I normally do.

I have it listed for sale on my Etsy shop.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Zipper Cap Construction

I really appreciate everyone's comments on this mystery project. Now it's time to reveal what I'm making. It's a cap, and totally a conceptual piece. I've been wanting to make a leather cap that was different and unusual, and I realized I could construct one that had no fasteners, and that struck me as a worthy project. Back in January 2009 when I first began my blog I built an experimental leather zipper, shown below.

It consists of two pieces of leather cut with interlocking teeth, which like a zipper will hold the two pieces together with sufficient force to allow it to function as a single piece. The tentacle endings are strictly ornamental.

I had never done anything with this "lipper" until now, when I realized it would work well with a six-panel cap. Shown below is a cap of a similar design that I made several years ago, and it consists of six identical symmetrical panels, each shaped like the bottom of an electric clothes iron (thanks to Craig for that insight).

I started with the six panel pattern, then added the interlocking teeth. I liked the tentacular extensions I had made on the experimental piece (reminiscent of Cthulhu) and so opted to keep them. The tight spiral is intended to provide the longest strip of leather in the smallest amount of space (leather is expensive and I don't want to waste it).

I dyed the panels different colors on the fronts and backs because as the spirals are extended and twisted into tentacles both colors are seen together. Likewise I added the "mountain" cuts so that the leather can be bent down revealing the contrasting inner color as well as providing ventilation. Above I have begun to "zip together" two of the panels.

Here you can see the two panels completely zipped together.

And finally, all six panels are shown zipped together.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zipper Cap Dyed

I cut out six identical pieces in leather, and have dyed them.

On the grain side I dyed it red all over, then faded in black on the tips

On the flesh side I dyed half of them violet, and the other half teal.

Here are all the colors together for comparison. Can anyone tell what single object I'm going to make from these?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Project: Zipper Cap

Here is the start of a new project, and I need help with the backstory. What culture or religion or art style does this appear to come from? Any or all thoughts and comments are appreciated.