Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ugly Truth About Conducting Coils

I have found out the hard way that there can be way too much tension created by conductor coils.  I made two different sized coils out of beading wire and attached them to various parts on my goggles.  Later I found that these had twisted around enough to break off at least one of the parts they had been attatched to.  I still like the idea of using these on some of my projects but I think it may be best to add them onto things that are either an original permanent part or to find a better way of securing the ends.  Sorry for the screw up but I guess that is what all of this experimentation is all about.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guns Don't Kill

While making your preparations to go out into the steampunk world I would like for you all to keep in mind some words of wisdom from a friend of mine:

Sage advice I think.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rub-N-Buff Finish

I have read different articles on line about the AMACO brand of Rub-N-Buff finish that can be used to give your experimental sculptures and projects a weathered, metallic look. Although the product was ostensibly created for use on picture frames to lend an old metallic feel this stuff works really, really well on making basically anything look like tarnished metal. It is primarily a wax metallic paste that carries tiny particles of soluble copper and other metals.

This is to be applied either with your finger tip, a cloth or a stiff bristled brush.  The warning on the package says to use small amounts as they dry quickly.  I decided to experiment on something other they either of my main projects first so that I could get used to this new medium that I have never worked with before.  I chose one of the things that I found at one of the local junkyards in an old car, an after market horn assembly.  I removed the large, internal magnet, circuit board and the few other things inside and cleaned the housing really well before getting started. 

Once I broke the seal on the rub-n-buff I got started with a little on my index finger and started painting the back half of the housing.  The warning on the instructions about the stuff drying so quickly does not do justice to how fast this stuff will no longer spread.  I would almost classify it more closely to drying almost instantly.  I also could not resist the urge to really "paint" the plastic surface probably because I am so used to working with canvas rather than plastic.  It turned out to be best to make short quick strokes on the housing and to put larger amounts around the more raised details.  The key way to imagine what you want to accomplish with this is to look at the black base color as the tarnish and everywhere you touch with the rub-n-buff is where the "metal" is cleaner and showing through.

One technique that I was able to bring over from past painting experience is that you should choose a brush stroke to work with as you apply the metallic paste.  When I first started on the back half of the plastic housing I was using a more circular pattern but as I moved around the sides and then on to the front half I realized that I liked it better when I just more dashed on strokes in a single direction.  Plus, it will really help to either paint multiple sections of one item together so the patterns match.  I ended up holding the two sections together at the last and bringing a few lines across both to make sure they looked like they aged together.

Later, when all of this has dried, I will go ahead and coat the housing with my Krylon clear sealant as to make all the new coloration permanent.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Home Made Conductor Coils

One of the things that may be missing from your steampunk project is a healthy set of highly conductive electric coils.  These would be handy for carrying large amounts of power from the radiant matter accelerator cells over to the parabolic aether wave form nets on your hand held powered weapon.  To that end, you can create your very own coils simply and to your own specific lengths.  Just buy some basic metal beading wire which can be found at a craft store in the jewelery section.  This wire is general designed for making various forms of jewelery such as necklaces but it's tensile strength and flexibility are perfect for electronic parts. 

The wire can be wrapped around a small round form which will help to give it the desired coil shape and can then be attatched to some component on your project to help give more detail and realism.  I chose a smaller coil so the form I used was the plastic straw out of a spray bottle.

I was able to make a coil about 3 or 4 inches long that fits well over the top of my goggles and helps promote the look of some of the other electrical components I am using.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vacuum Tubes-The Wave of the Future

I'll have to confess my love for vacuum tubes right now.  They are one of the most beautiful electronic components that were built for functionalty but also turned out to be individual works of art.  The tiny details inside each one of these radio tubes is both other worldly in appearance and seemingly random.  I will most likely be using these beauties as much as possible on my gear whether they actually have anything to do with steam or not. 

I have noticed along my journey that there are a lot of tendencies for other genres to bump up against steampunk and mix a little.  Including the unusual world of Nikola Tesla.  I think that may have alot to do with vacuum tubes and various other electric parts showing up in steampunk because several of these anachronisms come from much later times than the Victorian Era.

That being said, I met a gentleman at one of the flea markets just outside of town who is a former teacher and perveyor of things of the early electronic age.  He sold me several vacuum/radio tubes very reasonably and so I now have quite a good selection to choose from when putting my gear together.

The fellow wasn't sure which ones still work or not but I have seen individual tubes on eBay that sell for more than I paid for the lot pictured above so I think I will be ok with one or two being burnt.  Actually the burnt ones have an interesting look too because of all the silver blown against the inside of the glass.  Now of course that I have these items which connect to specifically shaped plugs, my task will be to make something for them to plug into.  Still, this process of finding things then making them work is turning out to be quite a lot of fun.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time to Get Out the Vote

For the We Love Fine contest for the best steampunk shirt graphic design submitted.  Check it out an vote on all 143 designs.  There is some good stuff in the line up.  The more folks who vote the more the overall prizes increase.  So that's fun.  Click over and take a look.

Steampunk - VOTE NOW on entries!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Test Gauge

This is one of the final test faces that I experimented with using some overlays of different patterns to give the image an older look.  I settled on a rusted background as oppossed to some of the other ones I was working with.  I think it lends a good industrial feel to it.  Now I just have to be able to print this out on a small enough scale to fit into the gauge I bought and keep most of the detail.