Yes, I’m newly in love with Steampunk costuming. What’s a Steampunk costume without Steampunk accessories? Don’t know Steampunk? Read my post about how to make Steampunk costumes for beginners for people who don’t know Steampunk.
Steampunk Accessories: Ray Gun
Time travel is an integral part of Steampunk. Combine the scientific look of the future with the romantic Victorian and Edwardian wardrobe with this DIY ray gun and you’re an instant time traveler!
Think of the image you want or the character you’re creating. I wanted a high class lady turned adventurer. She needed a weapon to fight off the aliens in her off-world travels.
1. Step One: Steal stuff from your kid
If you don’t have a kid, don’t worry. The local dollar stores are full of water guns and bubble guns for cheap and easy steampunk accessories.
Spray painting helps create faux metal because you don’t see brush strokes. Choose an all purpose primer in either black or grey. The grey I had on hand effectively covered the bright orange plastic in one coat. Don’t forget to spray in a well ventilated area, away from anything that will come into contact with your insides. Spray one side at a time, allowing for drying in-between. When dry, turn it over in your hands, checking all surfaces!
NOTE: if you already know what extra bits you’re going to attach to your Steampunk accessories, then glue them on first. Cover areas you don’t want painted with low tack tape. It’s more likely that the epoxy or hot glue will have problems with sticking to the painted surfaces. I made up this project as I went along, so I glued after painting. I was gentle with my gun (with the glue added onto the painted surfaces) and it survived the entire night.
2. Apply an undercoat of black paint
I chose a black spray paint with a matte finish for the undercoat. Black helps the metallic paints look more realistic.
3. Apply acrylic paints in a mix of wood and metal
I painted the handle with a brown acrylic paint and highlighted the middle with white paint (which I pearlized later for fake pearl). It looked like a wood and pearl handle. It’s OK to mix your metals in Steampunk accessories: gold, silver, bronze, and copper.
I didn’t have bronze or copper paint when I started. I felt that the gold I applied was too “new” looking. It lacked depth. I brushed a thin layer of dark brown over the gold, adding extra deposits into the grooves and I removed any excess which blocked the gold colour. This technique aged the gold closer to a bronze/antique gold.
4. Find crap to glue on your gun.
Seriously, anything can be made to look like the functional parts of Steampunk accessories. I emptied the contents of a Tassimo disc and cleaned it out. I painted the inside to give it some flair. At first I didn’t like the blue colour I used. However, I liked the look of the big disk on the gun. I tried again with a yellow to orange to red stain of colour on the inside (like a gauge). Then it struck me that the translucence of the Tassmio disc could be used for a neat special effect. I kept that till last (see point #6 below).
I applied a marker lid, a pen lid, my son’s Buzz Lightyear’s toy sword (I cut it in half, applying hilt and blade separately) and the anchor sleeves for glow in the dark bracelets. I hot glued them strategically to the gun both on the side of the gun and at the circles where bubbles should come out. I also applied one half of pre-made eyelets to the projecting pieces for an additional futuristic look.
5. Steampunk means gears and rivets
Gears and rivets typify the look of Steampunk accessories, even though they both pre-date the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Rivets are fasteners used to hold two surfaces together. In Steampunk costuming, rivets are commonplace on real or simulated metal and leather surfaces. Both gears and rivets can be applied for a functional or decorative appearance. Use liberally!
When searching for costume pieces in thrift shops, I didn’t think to look for old clocks and appliances with removable parts for making Steampunk accessories. Instead, I bought craft gears from Michaels. I created rivets from round puffy stickers. At first, I applied them before painting the stickers. Painting them afterwards was a bit trickier. It’s easier to paint them first. I also used both halves of clothing eyelets which I already owned (featured on the Tassimo disc in the final photo).
6. Add lights or glow sticks for an extra effect
If you know how to rig up LED lights and battery powered effects, more power to you! I used a glow in the dark bracelet inside the Tassimo disc secured with hot glue. It’s a one time special effect, but it worked all night.
Feel free to share your Steampunk accessories and ideas below!