Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tauruscat: Tubing Question

Professor Tauruscat left scant record of what connected the eleven brainwave sensors to the processor on top of the helmet. In looking for a period material I felt that latex tubing would be an ideal choice, and easy to work with. It would also provide a somewhat comical effect by providing bounce (when the wearer perambulated) which I could not resist.

However once my latex surgical tubing arrived and I fitted it onto the barbed end of the sensor, I immediately realized it would not work, as it simply did not look right. See top of photo below.

I briefly considered aging the latex—darkening it and giving it cracks—but still I felt this would fall short of the look I was after. After much research I came upon a braided sleeve (at the bottom of the photo) which seems appropriate. Not only does it look Victorian to me, but the black color blends in with the other dark colors of the leather and the sensors.

Now I am looking for a metal finding (or other piece of hardware) to finish off the braid and prevent it from fraying.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gas Masks & Face Masks

Here is a glimpse of my collection of gas masks, paintball face masks, and respirators. These are what I base my steampunk leather and resin creations on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tauruscat: Crest Design

I am now in the early stages of working out the design and construction of the helmet crest (shown here in black and white), which will serve as the central processing engine. I am staying with the general shape of the brass Bavarian helmet which served as Professor Tauruscat's starting point.

Each of the eleven sensors will connect to the processor by means of a hose. How the professor ever slept in this thing I can't imagine! He must have worn it only while dozing upright in a chair.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tauruscat: Sweatband & Webbing

To make the Tauruscat helmet fit different sized heads I have borrowed from a system that I've seen used in hardhats. You start with a sweatband large enough to accommodate the biggest head you want to fit, then add what I'm calling webbing, with a lace running through it that can be tightened up for smaller heads.

The top of this photo shows the pattern pieces for both the sweatband and the webbing, and at the bottom is the two parts stitched together, viewed from the top.

This is how it looks inserted into the helmet. The sweatband will get riveted to the skull to keep it in place.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tauruscat: The Sensors

Now it is time to fill those eleven holes in the Tauruscat helmet with brain wave sensors. I dug through my somewhat extensive collection of yard sale finds looking for something appropriate, and found a cast iron lamp part (I think). It has a certain Victorian look to it, and so I'm using it as my base. Attached to it (on the left in the photo) is a short pipe (on the bottom) and a barbed brass hose fitting (on the top).

I filled the holes in the bottom of the iron casting with steel ball bearings, and fabricated a black acrylic collar (towards the top) that will fit over the rubber tubing. I then molded the whole thing in silicone rubber, and cast the parts in black urethane (middle of photo). For the final look I antiqued it in the fruitwood wood stain (on the right) so that it would resemble rusty cast iron.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tauruscat: Ready for Dying

All stitched together, the Tauruscat dream helmet, aka thinking cap, is ready for some color.

I have chosen two colors of wood stain to do the deed, a fruitwood base, and over that a brown mahogany.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tauruscat: Stitching the Leather

After cutting out the skull patterns in 5-6 oz leather, I handstitched the pieces together using waxed thread. After wetting it I pulled the skull over the head form to let it dry in the right shape.

Here is a rear view of the skull with the stitching almost complete.

After drafting the pattern for the brim, I cut it out and stitched it onto the skull. Then to make it a bit stiffer (and to give it a finished look) I sewed on leather piping (shown here partially done).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tauruscat: The Pattern

I have enough of an idea as to how the helmet should look to move forward on this, and so I have begun making the patterns. First I had to create a head form over which to shape the cased leather helmet. To do this I bought a used hardhat and filled it with a harder version of plaster, and stuck a pipe into it so I could mount it in a vise. Then, after popping it out of the hardhat, I shaped the head form with a Surform® (a hand tool which is a combination of rasp and plane) until it resembled my Bavarian helmet.

Next I had to enlarge it so that one size would fit all, which I accomplished by fiberglassing over the plaster with stockinette and polyester resin. The fiberglass was rough and uneven, and so I smeared Bondo™ all over it to fill in the gaps. After sanding it smooth the pink resin and whitish Bondo left a mottled look.

First with a pencil, and then with a Sharpie®, I drew out the patterns. Professor Tauruscat had a strong belief in numerology, with both seven and eleven having a strong significance to him, so I made the skull pattern with seven panels, which will be pierced by eleven holes for mounting the sensors.

Then I laid masking tape over the form, and traced my pattern lines onto the surface so that I could cut them off. The pattern piece on top will be covered with a resin central processing engine as described in the letter. After laying the individual pieces of tape down on cardstock, I will have my patterns, and can then transfer them to the leather.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tauruscat: Design Possibilities

After careful perusal of some of the Professor's scribbles and notes I've been sketching design ideas for how his helmet may have looked.

Below is a Bavarian helmet from the time that Professor Tauruscat would have been designing his "dream helmet", and which I have reason to believe from his notes was the basic shape that he started with.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Prof. Tauruscat's Helmet: The Letter

I am most happy to report that I have a transcription of Professor Tauruscat's letter to the Baron, although only the first page has been found. It does reveal much about the purpose of the helmet, and it was found with several pages of scribbled notes and sketches seemingly related to the design of said helmet. I am now thinking that I might be able to build a reconstruction of this wondrous device, based upon this information.

I present the letter herewith.

Baron Henry Balzerhaught
Oberbayem Castle
München, Upper Bavaria

My dear sir,

It is with some reticence that I take pen to paper in response to your last missive, not because of any reluctance to share with you—my esteemed benefactor—the information that you have requested, but solely due to my awkwardness in putting my thoughts down on paper. I will be forever grateful sir, for your generous monthly allowance, which enables me to spend time doing the research necessary to the pursuit of applying my discoveries to practical knowledge and the constructing of machines and mechanical devices which can be utilized to further your explorations and other adventures.

Specifically, you have asked about my helmet, and I will attempt to provide you with a detailed perspicuous response. I recognized many years ago that my most creative ideas and thoughts came to me while in a state of light sleep. While others are dreaming, I surmised, I was imagining unknown worlds with wondrous machines. But upon awakening I encountered great difficulty in fully recovering all of my thoughts, and this was most frustrating to me. And so I set out to find a way to amplify and clarify my nocturnal and crepuscular visions so as to be able to bring forth those ideas into my waking world.

I did succeed, as I am sure you recognize, in accomplishing my goal, by constructing a leather helmet which contains multiple sensors that read the magnetic impulses of my brainwaves. These are connected to a central processing engine of my own design which I shall not attempt to explain, other than to say that it draws energy from the aether. Upon awakening I am able to fully remember all of my visions and thoughts as if I had experienced them but yesterday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

RHINO Gas Mask: The Poster

My latest steampunk gas mask is now available as a poster on Zazzle. Many of my other steampunk creations are available as posters on Zazzle as well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Prehistoric Creature Leg Cup

I recently discovered that my old friend Jodi Creager has a blog. I have known Jodi and her husband Richard for over 25 years, and I watched them go from selling soft sculpture witches (and other characters) to being among the world's best doll artists.

Creager Studios

As I browsed Jodi's blog I came across this photo of a miniature troll's foot umbrella stand, shown above (sculpted by Richard). I was enchanted by it, and thought of how cool it would be to build something like that on a full-size scale. Very Victorian, very steampunk!

It reminded me of a pair of dragon feet that I had sculpted in 2002 as a base for a fused glass bowl that I had made (shown above). I decided that making an umbrella stand was a bit ambitious, and so scaled my plans down to building a modest pencil cup.

We know that the Victorian's had a time machine (after all, H.G. Wells wrote about it), and assuming that they must have traveled back in time, and would have encountered dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, it is not unreasonable to surmise that the big game hunter mentality would have kicked in, and they would have brought back some souvenirs. A T. Rex head might not fit within the time machine compartment, but smaller body parts would have. And so, it is perfectly plausible to expect to find a steampunk dinosuar leg cup amongst a gentleman's collection of knick-knacks.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Prof. Tauruscat's Helmet

Baron Henry Balzerhaught

As many of my long time readers may recall, I have been keenly investigating the Gryphon Interplanetary Aeroship Expedition in an attempt to verify its fabled journey to Mars and Venus, as well as other planets. There has been much speculation over the years over not only the expedition but also its sponsor, Baron Henry Balzerhaught of Upper Bavaria and his brilliant scientist/inventor Professor H. Tauruscat.

Little is known about this secretive project, and there are few facts that can be proven with any certainty. Many incredible tales regarding the expedition have circulated for years without any substantive backing.

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I was recently contacted by the archivist of the late Baron's estate with news that a letter apparently handwritten by the professor himself to his patron had been discovered! Although I have yet to see the correspondence in question, I have been told that Tauruscat describes a leather helmet which he constructed and wore for the purpose of enhancing his mental faculties.

I do recollect that many years ago I read of such a device being invented by the professor. As I recall, the writer referred to it mockingly as a thinking cap. I am hoping and praying that the newly discovered letter reveals sufficient details about the helmet to provide us with some understanding of its purpose and functioning. Is it possible that the engraving of the Baron (shown above) could be him wearing said cap?