Saturday, February 28, 2009

Raygun 66: Molding the Grip

The acrylic sheet and Bondo™ construct of the grip is ready to mold for casting. The popcorn cup will get hot-glued down around the grip to hold in the liquid silicone rubber. The wooden dowel and clay below the grip will form an opening in the mold called the gate, through which the rubber will be poured (the mold is made upside down). I will leave it overnight, then cut the mold apart using an Xacto™ knife.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Starting a Second Raygun

After having so much fun making my first raygun—the Raughnold Model 81—I have decided to put together a second one.

These are the parts I'm starting off with: A meat grinder part (bottom), a floral candleholder end (center) (I'm guessing), and a chromed drink pour spout (left). For the grip I've decided to fabricate my own and cast it in resin pieces(right). Each side will have a faux ivory carving inset into the dark colored base. I've made the rough model of the grip by cutting black acrylic sheet and gluing several layers together. To round it off a bit I've filled in the cracks with pink Bondo™ body putty and sanded it down. Next I will make a rubber mold of the grip, then cast it in resin and rework that to get the final shape.

My inspiration came from the pocket pistols of the 19th century, that ladies (and gents) could carry unobtrusively. I love the grips that have the fancy carving on them, and thought of how it would be relatively easy—with my experience working with resin—to construct a nice one in the Steampunk style. Also when I found the pour spout I felt it would make a great middle section of the raygun. Notice some of my sketches for this project.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Raygun: We have a winner!

We have a winner! Congratulations to Lauren who guessed (

Hey Tom, here's my guess:Particle Accelerator- air nozzel

Pulse Detineator- body of a lamp

Leather Grip/Handle- sink faucet

Exahst Port- trophy base and a chess piece/rook

The object that no one had guessed was the trophy part. My clue "The one found object that no one has yet identified will be recognized by winners." referred to winners of competitions would recognize a trophy part.

Thank you to all who entered. It's been fun for me, and I hope for you. Congratulations to Lauren for the correct guess!

Above are the found objects in context. Faucet, trophy part, rook, lamp part, and air nozzle.

Raygun Contest: One more clue

Fourth Clue

The one found object that no one has yet identified will be recognized by winners. Above is a photo of the original parts after molding. Careful study could yield a lightbulb moment. Earlier clues (and guesses by readers) and the original contest listing with rules should be read by anyone venturing a guess. Good luck! I expect a winner soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today's Yard Sale Finds

My wife and I went yard saling again today (yard sailing?), and I had a most wonderful score. Raygun grips, alien robot parts, steampunk goggles, etc. And all of this for just $5.50!
Pictured are a video game controller, kerosene lamp top, sprinkler head, small cordless drill, welding goggles, slingshot, water sprayer, ornamental eagle finial, and best of all--a crosssbow with darts! Wowzer, what a haul!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pachydermos: The Photos

My lovely and patient wife agreed to model the mask. Above are the results.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pachydermos is finished

The crazy steampunk gas mask that I've been working on for months is complete. Now I just need to get some good photos. Its official name is Pachydermos, which is Greek for wrinkled skin.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pachyderm Update

We last left our feckless hero, the Pachyderm, waiting for a styrofoam head to arrive, in order to correct his Mickey Mouse ears. Not being able to work on the elephantine gas mask, I turned to other pursuits, namely creating my first raygun. I am now pleased to report that the man head has arrived, and much progress has been made on the mask. The ear straps have been completely redesigned so that the ears are not quite so comical.

The acorn nuts holding the bad air transmutators onto the leather mask were a bright brass, and needed to be subdued. By searching online I discovered liver of sulphur, a chemical used to tarnish brass and bronze, and proceeded to purchase a small bottle. The results are lovely! I also fabricated the eyepiece out of acrylic sheet, then molded it in silicone rubber and cast two of them in a faux copper. The results are splendid, with its rivets making it look rather like a porthole from Capt. Nemo's Nautilus.

The only step left is to buy and install some small rivets to hold the trunk in place. I will photograph the mask and post pictures here in a couple of days.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Win a Raygun: More Clues

There have been some good guesses, but no one has nailed all five found objects yet. Today I will post three clues, which should make it considerably easier. My first contest was won almost immediately, so I wanted this one to be a little more difficult.
First Clue
When I first announced the raygun contest (refer to it for more photos), I wrote "In the model 81 there are five objects that I can identify." As many of you have noticed, there are actually six found objects, but one of them I cannot identify, so it is not included as something to name. It is the silver colored power generator shown above. It has been guessed as a part of a flashlight, a television knob, a dial from a stove, etc. Please ignore it in your guesses. It is a collar of some sort as it had a large bolt sticking out of it, but exactly what it is I do not know.

So the parts you are guessing are the particle accelerator, pulse delineator, grip, and two pieces making up the exhaust port.

Second Clue
None of the objects is made of wood.
Third Clue
Many of the objects have been guessed correctly, but there is one item that no one has guessed. Think of something other than any of the previous guesses. Good luck!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rayguns: Stitching on the Leather Grip

The leather grip covering the raygun handle is stitched on by hand. First the leather is cut out and the stitching holes are made using a pronged stitching chisel. The grip is dyed black, then soaked in warm water. This makes the leather plastic and able to conform to the shape of the handle.

Then the seam is sewn together using two needles and waxed thread. The wax keeps the stitches from coming loose. The needles go through the same hole in opposite directions, and the thread is pulled tight after each stitch. I started at the butt end, and worked up to the top where I tied the thread off.

Friday, February 13, 2009

And now, a Dancing Doll Video!

Here is a little entertainment for you. A video of a dancing doll that I made. The puppet doll is operated by means of a brass rod sliding inside a brass tube.

The United Federation of Doll Collectors invited me to submit a design for a souvenir doll for one of their upcoming conventions. The "Dancing Doll" was my submission. Apparently it was not what they were looking for.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rayguns: Holster for Model 81

After the raygun was finished, I started designing the leather holster. I began by studying existing holsters online. I knew that a traditional technique was to wet form vegetable tanned leather around the gun, which has the effect of stretching the leather a bit and creating a custom fit. After sketching out the basic idea I wrapped a paper towel around the gun and marked out the rough shape.

I then made a pattern using heavy cardstock. By stapling the pattern together I was able to carefully fit the gun into the paper holster and make corrections as I saw them. This picture shows the four different patterns I made, starting at the left and working to the right. I decided to make some decorative cut-outs in the leather. I chose diamonds as a larger version of the pattern on the grip, and the zig zags, which reflect the shape of the dorsal fin on the gun.

The final pattern fit to my liking, so I then cut it out of the 5-6 oz leather. Designing the pattern in cardstock is a whole lot cheaper than experimenting directly with the leather. Cardstock is stiffer than leather, so it doesn’t behave exactly the same, but it worked out well enough.

The previous photo shows the raw leather pieces cut out, with holes punched for rivets and snaps. Next I dyed the leather black, and began attaching the pieces together, both by sewing and riveting.

Once that was all finished, I soaked the leather holster in warm water. I dried it off as much as possible, then inserted the raygun into it, stretching the leather just a bit to create a snug fit. I left it overnight in a warm place to dry out. Next day I sprayed the holster with an acrylic sealer to maintain its shape.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raygun sketch

Thinking up new designs for rayguns. Such fun!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Raygun Contest!

Every boy dreams of owning a raygun, and as a soon-to-be grandfather, I have tapped back into my boyhood fantasies. I decided I had to build my own rayguns after being inspired by the works of Tinkerbots and Greg Broadmore of WETA Workshop. The Raughnold Model 81 is my first gun.

Following Tinkerbots example, I have created the raygun by assembling found objects, along with some parts I’ve fabricated. It is a marvelously challenging art form: Bringing together disparate objects into something new—a process through which the individual parts disappear into the whole. Part of making it all work together for me is adding bits and pieces to help disguise the original parts so that there is no distraction.

The Contest

I have intentionally not shown the gun in progress as I wanted to hold a contest in which you, the viewers, attempt to guess which found objects I used. In the model 81 there are five objects that I can identify. All were acquired at either a yard sale or a thrift shop. The first person who can correctly identify all five objects will win one of the rayguns, which I am selling on Etsy for $95.

Anyone can participate. Submit the list of your five objects as a comment. If after one week no one has correctly identified all five objects, then I will give out a clue. Each week that passes without a winner will lead to another clue. Please submit only one guess per week. After I have given a clue you are welcome to guess again. The contest will continue until someone correctly guesses the five objects.

Clue #1: None of the objects are gears, nuts, bolts etc.

The Story

We have here an extremely rare raygun manufactured in the late 19th century by the Swedish manufacturer Raughnold. This is their model 81, famous for its sleek lines and fine balance, coupled with its extremely effective vaporizing ray. The functioning of the raygun is not well understood, but we do know that the power generator in the center of the gun sends a ray through the pulse delineator which is amplified by the particle accelerator.

Measuring over 14” long, this beauty is solidly built, yet light enough to be handled even by those of the feminine persuasion. From the particle accelerator nozzle all the way to the rear exhaust port, this raygun exudes quality. The gun is cast in resin, with a hand-stitched leather grip. A custom wet-formed leather holster will be available soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Raygun Model 81 plans

My first raygun, Model 81 by the Swedish manufacturer Raughnold is nearing completion. Due to its unusual method of production (which involves assembling junk and other found objects) I will not be showing photos of the work in progress. Instead I will post a finished picture once it is complete. To whet your appetite, here are the plans so far. This will be a full-size, nicely weighted weapon capable of destroying all of the bearer's problems with a single blast. And a beautiful leather holster will be made to house it. This gun and holster will be produced in a small quantity and made available for purchase.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ray Guns

I spent most of today working on a ray gun. Much fun. Here are the leftover parts I had to choose from, after I mostly assembled it. I find almost all the parts at yard sales and thrift shops. The weather has been so mild here in California the last two weekends that people are actually holding yard sales in January!