Friday, May 22, 2009

Underground Explorer: Oxygen Canister

I have had a good response to my writing competition. Seems like there are a lot of writers happy for an excuse to create a short steampunk story.

The final piece of the undeground explorer helmet is the oxygen canister which connects to the leather snout. Pictured below is the antiqued canister with rubber tubing and the connection at the other end.

Still to construct is the leather strapping which will allow the canister to be worn on the back or over the shoulder. Brownie points to anyone who can identify the original item from which the canister was made.

I leave for Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA exactly one week from today, and the finished helmet will be the centerpiece of my display.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Steampunk Writing Competition

I am holding a competition to write the back story that will accompany my Underground Explorer helmet. I am looking for an original and creative tale of a steampunk genre that explains who the owner of the helmet is, and how the helmet came to be. Most if not all of the helmet’s features should be touched upon: The goggles, the respirator (snout), the comb with attached headlamp, and the attached breathing device.

The helmet as pictured is almost but not quite complete. The explorer will have an oxygen canister which connects to the respirator with a black corrugated rubber hose. The canister can be worn on the back or over the shoulder.

This story will be used to promote the sale of the helmet, and will be seen on Etsy, Flickr, and DeviantArt as well as being posted on my blog. The one element that must be adhered to is that the helmet is for underground exploration. It is made almost entirely of leather. The lamp is positionally adjustable. The goggles have dark lenses. The respirator has two side faux metal pieces in addition to the hose that connects to the oxygen canister. Both the goggles and the respirator are detachable.

The competition will run from now until May 31. I alone will be the judge and will determine the winner, who will be announced on June 1. The winner will receive a prize which consists of a $39 credit at my Etsy store, plus shipping. Most all of my cut out masks sell for $39, so think of it as your choice of a mask, although the winner can apply it anyway they want.

Please make your story between 300 and 500 words. You may submit more than one entry. Have fun and start writing! Get as crazy as you like. If you have any questions post them here on this blog. For your finished entry please email it to tom (at) tombanwell (dot) com.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Underground Explorer: Goggles

With every additional piece (snout, comb, lamp and goggles) added to the helmet the weight increases, and along with it the pressure applied from gravity. At this late stage of construction I know of no way to stiffen the leather itself to better support this weight, and so I decided to build a fiberglass inner shell.

Since the original plastic astronaut helmet is made out of poyethylene--a rather slippery synthetic--I figured I could make the fiberglass directly over it. I took a piece of 5" wide nylon stockinette and it just stretched over the plastic helmet. Then I saturated it with polyester resin and after curing I had a thin strong form that matched the inside of the Explorer's helmet.

I cut the fiberglass shell in half, removed it from the form, and trimmed it down to fit my leather helmet. Above you can see it being contact cemented into the helmet.

Next I attached the recently completed goggles, which can easily be removed. The photos show it with the optional snout removed, so that we can see the face inside.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Underground Explorer: Designing the Goggles

These giant sized paper glasses are my beginning attempt to work out the pattern for the goggles. This is going to take a lot of trial and error to get it right.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Underground Explorer: Lamp Comb is Finished

After focusing on the whale tooth for awhile I have returned my attentions to the Underground Explorer's helmet. Yesterday I reworked the comb pattern and remade it to fit properly, then I cut out the leather and hand-stitched it over the acrylic comb form. Today I painted it black, and antiqued it brown to give it that old look. After drying, I bolted and riveted the comb to the leather helm, and attached the lamp to the front.

I have decided on all of the design elements of the helmet, and have just two more to complete: The eyecover/goggles, and the oxygen canister which will hook up to the snout. With this equipment our intrepid explorer will be protected from extremes in pressure and temperature, as well as falling rocks. They will also have a bright light to see what lies before them, and have a fresh supply of oxygen to weather the pockets of foul air. Hopefully this will protect them from all unforseen dangers that might lurk ahead.