TEMP(?) – Pictures from Singapore Vacation

Just a quick post – probably to be deleted later – so that I can share my vacation pictures with a few friends.

While in Singapore, most of the pictures will be about food.  Because the food in Singapore is fabulous.  Then a bunch from Cambodia – which are mostly temples.   Then more Singapore pictures, which are almost all about the tropical fruit that we bought.

We got ice cream while walking down Orchard Road. One option was to get your ice cream – which was cut into rectangles rather than scooped – on bread. My nephew selected red bean ice cream on bread. (I went traditional with mint chocolate chip on a waffle wafer.)
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Clockwise from the top right – meatballs, steamed dumplings and chicken feet.
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Century eggs. They taste earthy like mushrooms, and I found them very tasty, if strongly flavored.
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The Marina Bay Sands – one of the most recognizable buildings of the Singapore skyline and home to a luxury mall, hotel and casino.
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It’s hard to convey how modern and sleek and pretty the nighttime skyline is. The panoramic pics I took would be so tiny on here, and the regular pictures don’t do it justice.
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The Banana Leaf Apolo Restaurant has changed since the last time I was here. Now they put a tray underneath your banana leaf and they give you silverware automatically. It used to be much more basic – banana leaf right on the table as your plate, and you eat with hands. Still, the food was delicious, if a bit too spicy-hot for me.

From the lower left, the dishes are prawns, lamb, stuffed squid, chicken, papadam (the cracker-like wafers), and fish cakes.

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The temple is nestled in a mix of high rise buildings and two-story store fronts. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to find around the next corner in this city.
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Our dinner of Steamboat. Broth on the left is laska-flavored (a local noodle dish) and on the right is chicken broth. Jurin ordered a whole bunch of delicious mushrooms, bean cakes, shrimp and pork balls, and meats that she cooked in the broth. Super yummy.
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Now pictures of our visit to Cambodia, which is mostly about the temples and the night market.
Everyone entering Cambodia needs a visa that you can get when you land at the airport. My passport was handed off between about 15 people, each one of which stamped or signed or dated or glued that visa. Even still, the process only took about five minutes. Even entering the country is a bit of an adventure.
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Diet Coke, in case you couldn’t tell.
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A view from our boat as we toured the floating villages. Each group hires their own boat, so it was just me, Graham, our tour guide (Nol), and the boat driver.
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Up and down the river, children paddled around in cut-off 55-gallon drums. They were really really good at maneuvering around in them, too.
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Our first temple – Pre Rup. Originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, it was later used as a crematorium.
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Banteay Samre. Note the complete absence of other tourists. Remarkable.
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Banteay Srei- the lady temple. Due to the very high quality of the stone, the carvings are particularly detailed and delicate.
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The mini-mart around the corner – a faux Seven-Eleven. Almost every Asian city I’ve been to has at least one Seven-Eleven, so it’s a well known chain here.
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Preah Khan again. This time a close up.
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Preah Khan. This temple was only partially reconstructed and, like most of the temples, is surrounded by a water-filled moat.
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Angkor Wat – the best known of the temples, and the one with the most tourists. But we got there early, and the place is HUGE. By the time we left around 8:30 or 9am, crowds were starting to form. You can climb up to the top level of the main temple and look all around. Oh, and there was a whole monkey family – including some littles ones clinging to their mother, that greeted our arrival.
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While the temples are old and often only partially restored, we saw several monks coming in to pray and tend to little shrines around the temples. Here is a temple that people visit to ask for favors from the God(s) and to thank them when favors are granted. Note the whole, roast pig laying right in front.
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Graham and I in front of one of the faces at Angkor Thom. In high season, such a picture would either be impossible, or would require a long wait while shooing away lots of people. We just waited for one woman to leave and then had the spot to ourselves.
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A view from the top of yet another temple in the Angkor Thom complex. You can see the long causeway leading from one of the temple gates up to the temple itself.
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Yet another view of yet another temple.
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This is The Tomb Raider temple, which (like most of these temples) was over run with large trees. But this one was only partially reconstructed, with some of the most dramatic trees left in place.
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This was another partially reconstructed temple. But this one wasn’t in the guidebook and we had it ALL to ourselves. The moss-covered stones and thick rope-like trees were amazing. Made better by the complete absence of any sound. It was almost as if we had just discovered it ourselves.
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While the tree is dramatic, the most remarkable thing about this picture is actually that there is no one in it aside from me and Graham. Our guide kept saying “In high season? This not possible!”
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From the outside, the night market in Siem Reap looks like an ordinary collection of shops. But there are aisle ways that lead into the depths of the market.
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You can see a jewelry counter, and several displays of scarves, as well as a watch stand. Each of these little stalls is a separate business, with a separate salesperson who calls out to you as you pass. “T-shirt, madam?” “ You need scarf?”
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One of the little stalls in the interior of the market, to show you the colors and visual kaleidoscopic of the shops.
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And here is a stand selling dried fish. A lady was just starting to set up a display of blouses, t-shirts, sarongs and dresses in front of the fish, and the fish stand was starting to close up shop. Apparently, they co-locate.
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This is a glimpse of the wet market buried deep amid the stores.
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This vendor is selling almost exclusively spices and cartons of cigarettes. Not quite sure what the connection is between them, but there you are.
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Amok is the local fish stew served at every restaurant featuring Khmer cuisine. Each version is a bit different, but they all have fish and coconut milk. This one was particularly delicious. Which is good because we had a TON of trouble actually finding the restaurant. After searching the area for at least 30 minutes, we eventually asked the hotel to help us out, and jumped into a tuk-tuk to take us there. (The tuk-tuk set us back $2.)
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My nephew, Graham, took several stunning photos during our stay in Cambodia – so I’ve just put them here without comment.
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Back in Singapore – so more food pictures.
Durian is a very sweet, creamy, pungent fruit.  To me, it smells like rotting onions, and most westerners can’t stand it.   But to the Singaporeans (and to our Cambodian tour guide) it is delicious.  
Here we are at the durian stand. They have a Facebook page, so just look for “Ah Seng Durian” here on FB for more info.  My hostess, Jurin, is a huge durian fan, and was a bit disappointed that they were sold out of the best durian varietal. She assures is, though, that the one we had was still quite good. You can see the whole, spiky fruit on the cutting board, and signs showing the varietals that are currently available
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Here is the fruit. The skin part is very loose over the soft soft custardy inside.
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Snake fruit in the market.  The inside is very firm, almost crispy, but not particularly juicy.  I didn’t care for the taste, which was a bit like a mild durian.
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Some kind of weird fruit that I don’t know what it is.
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Lychee, which is in season and thus juicy and sweet and delicious. The thin but tough skin covers a mild juicy fruit with the consistency of firm melon and a pit on the center. They had free samples so we each ate one.
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Rambutan.  Juicy and like lychee.
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Dragon fruit.
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This is what the red dragon fruit looks like inside.  It’s not got a strong flavor, but is nice and juicy.   The regular dragon fruit is white inside, with the same small black seeds.
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You pop open the thick mangsteen rind by squeezing the fruit. It has a juicy segmented inside – but despite how they look, they aren’t citrus. They are sweet and fleshy.
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In the center of the mangosteen is a pit, covered with a thick gelatinous layer.
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Our Singaporean / Malay desserts. The one on the left is iced kachang.  It’s a HUGE bowl of shaved ice with various syrups and fruit juices poured over it.  Beneath the ice there are cubes of green agar and red beans and corn.
The one on the right is frozen coconut milk with corn, beans and gelatin to stir into it.
Both are delicious, as is everything in Singapore, apparently.
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Steam Punk – the finished costumes

Putting together all the various things that I made (goggles, hats, bracers and weapons), here are the finished costumes.    I’ve included the costumes for me and my boyfriend – and also pictures of a couple of friends who went to the same party, so you can see other takes on the steam punk theme.

For mine, the garments I used were a plain white shirt, a corset, a pair of beige leggings, and some boots.   Plus a ton of belts.  I wrapped belts around the boots.   I used one belt to attach the gun to my waist, and another to hold one to my boot.  I  wore a belt just as decoration.

I was going for a sort of Amelia Earhart thing.     The white blouse had French cuffs, so I made cufflinks with clocks on them.    The corset I already had – I’d found it thrift years ago.    The pants are intended to look sort of like jodhpurs.   And I just lucked into the boots on a thrifting trip.  I was looking for boots with lots of buckles and studs on them.   There were quite a few every time I looked.  It was just lucky that I found them in a light brown color, which worked well for this outfit.

Most of the base garments for Chris were the same ones used for the Mad Hatter outfit:  A white shirt with French cuffs, a vest with pockets, a white suit jacket and black pinstripe pants.

I looked around a TON for a nice brocade vest for him.   I think brocade would have pushed the outfit even more toward the Victoria-era look.   But all the ones I found either looked like old-fashioned sofa fabric, or they didn’t have pockets.   And pockets were essential to this outfit.     We hung a chain to look like a watch fob from one pocket, and he had an odd instrument on a chain poked into another pocket.   He also hung eye glasses from his vest.

Vertical stripes are a very Victorian / Steampunk thing, too.    The pin stripe pants add an old-time formality to the costume.



I made so many hats and goggles and weapons that I had some left over for friends to borrow.   Their costumes, while very Steampunk, are quite different from mine, so I thought I’d show you what they did.

Viva went with a black dress.  Combined with boots, a belt, and a side purse – it makes a much more feminine steampunk look.   Even though the dress wasn’t long, and she didn’t pin up a corner of the skirt (both very common for women’s steam punk outfits) the color, the wide skirt and all the accessories clearly make it “steam punk.”   This is a great example of how a simple simple garment – if it’s the right color and shape – can be used to good effect.

Of course, she also has that really amazing air brushed make up running along her arm and decolletage.    One of my personal guidelines for costumes is “no body paint” but this particular paint was dry and didn’t rub off onto everything.   And because it’s monochromatic in a bronze-y brown color, it really serves to add more of a steam punk flavor to the outfit without over powering the whole look.


My friend Amy also used some very simple foundation garments – a long, ruffled shirt with black leather pants.   And once you throw some body paint and accessories on top, you get another very steam punk outfit.   Again – lots of belts and clocks and gears throughout the ensemble, with simple, old-timey fabric colors.


Steam punk – the guns

Holy Toledo!    I just learned the best trick EVER for making good-looking, aged costume guns.   Maybe I’m late to this party, but I just had my mind BLOWN!

(For details on other parts of the steam punk costume, check out my posts on the bracers, the goggles and the hats.)

I bought a couple of squirt guns that I was going to “steam punk up” by spray painting them and gluing on various bits and pieces.   Here’s the first one – before and after being painted gold.  Painting it gold is NOT the trick.   The trick comes later – stay with me.    (I removed the bulb on the end and separately painted it silver, FYI.)

Then, I learned about Rub n Buff Metallic Wax.    I went to Michaels craft store, and while they didn’t have the Rub n Buff brand, they did have some metallic wax (with one little tin on clearance) so I bought that to try out.

The first step is to paint the gun black.   I masked just a few parts of the gold before painting it black – just in case it didn’t turn out very well.  I also kept the bulb part silver.    I wanted at least SOME variety.

Then, you take a TINY amount of the metallic wax on your finger.   Like, just touch the wax.   You should see the color on your finger tip, but no accumulation of wax.   Like you’re going to taste something with ghost pepper in it.

And you rub the wax on the black gun.   I’d suggest starting with the high points (edges and rims and exposed gun barrels) and stroking along the length of the high point (along the barrel, or around an edge.)    Starting with a black gun, it took me about fifteen minutes – including removing the masking tape from the gold parts and putting the silver bulb back on.  The results are amazing.

The wax paints the gun, but only where you rub it.  So the black parts in the crevices and nooks and crannies stays black – and looks like oxidation.   The metal color looks as though the actual metal of the gun is showing through.

I did this with a TON of other guns – and will show some before and after pictures below.    A few things I learned.

First, I glued gears and springs onto the guns BEFORE I painted them black.   I didn’t like the new/shiny look of the gears, and gluing them before hand worked fine.

Also, I went ahead and bought some silver Rub n Buff – the real stuff.  It was much more concentrated than the wax stuff I bought from the craft store.  And actually a bit more difficult to work with as a result.

I bought some curlers and painted them black.  The outer cage part looked excellent on the guns, especially mounted on the top as a ‘scope or sight.  I painted them black, touched them up with the wax paint and glued them on after the gun was completely done.  Otherwise, I would have had a very flat black area underneath them on the gun (where I couldn’t reach to use the waxy stuff.)

Finally, I used a black permanent marker to correct any small “mistakes” that I made with the wax paint.   I would sometime accidentally put a bit of color where I didn’t want it, and while the  marker didn’t look fantastic, it helped remove the errors and make them much less visible.

Steam punk – The Bracers

One of the things that I noticed when I Googled steampunk costumes is that, in addition to top hats, guns and goggles, many people wore bracers – leather sleeves that wrap around your lower arm.   They were adorned with many of the same things as the hats that I saw – although they tended to look more mechanical and involved.   I wanted to make sure that I crafted at least one.

I went looking for stiff leather.  The leather pants that I bought were soft and flexible.  I wanted something thicker or stiffer that would hold its shape better.   I found a purse that met all my criteria.  It was a) brown or black, b) stiff leather, c) large enough that I could make a full bracer,  and d) less than about $8.  I cut it into four peices – basically just cutting out the four light leather panels, keeping them as large as possible.

Then, we need a way to hold the bracer onto your arm.   For the first two of the bracers, I used grommets and laces.  Very easy and straightforward.

I would recommend finishing up the functional part of the bracer (lacings, for example) before adding any decorations.    Once you have the foundational bracer complete, you know exactly how much room you have available to decorate.   I decorated one of the bracers by riveting (okay, Bedazzling, really) a large panel of soft leather onto it.   I needed to do this first, so my design wouldn’t interfere too much with the look of the rivets.

Also, you’ll want to lace it up before you glue things to it.  Because bracers will be worn wrapped around your arm, a design that works in two dimensions while laying on the table may not work once it’s been curved to fit your forearm.   Lay out a design of various bits and pieces on a table.   But before you glue the items in place, wrap the bracer around a soda or Pringles can so you can see how the pieces might need to twist.

I wanted to bracers to look more functional and mechanical than the hats, so I crafted several little mechanisms using fake clocks, flower vials (with one end cut off), fish tank tubing, springs, and hose clamps.    These are many of the same bits and pieces that I used on the hats, just put together into more complex designs.

Here are pictures of my bracer designs, and you can see the evolution of one of the bracers as the designs progress.  In the first picture, I’ve just laid some dark brown leather over the lighter, stamped leather, and then started putting different elements on top of it.   I’m looking for how the colors go together, what might fit onto the bracer, and how the different elements look side-by-side.

Then here is a picture of a later mock up of the same bracer.    I cut the brown leather to shape – but didn’t yet glue it on.   I constructed the clock / tube / spring mechanism, but didn’t secure it immediately to the bracer.    This is a near-final design, but it still needs to have the darker brown leather tacked on, and all the elements glued down.   Some of the key pieces are actually a) a black camera lens cover with a clock face glued into it, b) a flower vial with the end cut off and caps at both ends, c) fish tank tubing painted copper-colored, then threaded through a spring and the flower vial, d) a poker chip with some locking washers and lock nuts glued to it.


Here is the first bracer, finished and ready to go.  You can see how similar it is to the mock-up above.   Just a few changes before gluing it all together.

By the time I got to the second bracer, I already had a variety of elements and combinations of things that I liked.  So this one went faster.    At first, I’m just checking colors and shapes.   How the brown copper color looks against the light brown leather, for example.    Or whether there are too many (or too few) clocks and gears.

Here’s a later design.   I’ve switched to the textured leather, and I started looking at maybe adding some side panels of dark leather because I didn’t care for how wide the gap along my forearm was when I put the first bracer on.  You can see that I haven’t cut the dark leather to size yet, because I’m still playing with the design.   I just laid it out to see how it all looks together.  At this point, the main clock / tube / clamp / spring mechanism has been glued together, but it’s just sitting on the leather.   Likewise, the gears and the clocks are just laying on the leather, so I can add or subtract things until I like the look of everything.  The next step after this photo would be to attach the darker leather to the sides of the caramel colored leather, cut it to size, and add grommets.

Here is a photo of the finished product.   You can see rivets along the sides.   The rivets are fake.  They are just Bedazzled on, basically.  They make the darker leather looks as though it’s riveted in place – although  the leather panels are actually just glued on.    I did a slight change in the tubing configuration (because one of the ends of tubing would not stay adhered to its hose clamp).   I also put a colored, camera filter on top of the fake clock to make it look more finished.    And I glued the gears (plus a spring or two) onto a fixed metal background for stability.

I’d also seen bracers with a series of buckles, and liked the look of those.   I went thrifting for shoes with at least two functional buckles per shoe, and landed a pair of sandals with three small buckles per shoe for about $5.  Score!    Some challenges with this that I didn’t anticipate.

First, the leather straps on a shoe aren’t straight.  They are curved to go around your ankle.   So they were tricky to wrangle, and I needed to work hard to get them to not curve out in different directions.  In the layout below, the first and last straps were the “real” ones that go around your ankle, and you can see that they are not straight at all.

Second, four of the six buckles, while technically functional, were really meant to be decorative.   Those straps were almost too thick to thread through the buckle, and clearly weren’t meant to be easy to buckle and unbuckle.  In fact, the buckles were SO difficult to work with that this bracer ended up not being worn.   Next time, I’d spring for two or three pairs of buckled shoes and use ONLY the easy-to-buckle parts.   If it’s too hard to put on, it really isn’t useful.

Third, trying to make the buckle design look “clean” was tricky.  I wanted it to fit a wide range of arm sizes, so I needed the leather straps to be fairly long, but also to be able to be buckled to fit a very thin wrist.    I wanted most of the bracer to be decorated with mechanical stuff, not just leather straps, also.     In retrospect, the grommets were much easier, and would suggest going with those if you want something easy.

Here is a picture of the bracer with the straps attached, and an initial design laid out but not yet glued.

And here is the final, completed, 3rd bracer.

Steam punk – The goggle assembly

Using the goggle ingredients, numerous bits and pieces, and the online tutorial, I put the goggles for my steam punk costume together.

I removed the elastic, and then masked the center of the goggles, so that you could see through them if you wanted to.   Then I spray painted them silver.   They are a little sticky, even after the paint dried (which was also a complaint mentioned in the tutorial) and I think that is just the way spray paint behaves on dollar store goggles.   If you plan on repeatedly wearing the goggles on your face, you may want to find a different solution.

I also cut down the salt containers (along with lots of other things) to make tubes, and mocked up the goggles repeatedly, putting different “lenses” on the various cylinders until I got a combination that I liked.   One “lens” was always the lid of a metallic tin, so that I could actually see out of the goggles, if I wore them.   The other was often obscured by different perforated or textured metal (or metal painted plastic).    I kept trying different cylinders of different lengths, and various lens until I was happy with the result.

Once I had a good idea of which pieces were going with which, I spray painted everything silver or gold or copper.


The next step was using hot glue to put it all together.  You should try to be as tidy about this as possible, but I found that strips of leather, or the corrugated headbands off the tiaras, could be wrapped around the goggles afterwards to hide the hot glue joint between the cylinders and the goggles.   You’d do that in two steps – first the glue joint that holds the pieces together, then later hiding the joint by gluing something over it.   In the pictures below, you can see the sloppy hot glue seam between the gold cylinders and the goggles, and then how I’ve covered it over with leather strips that I’ve “bedazzled” with rivets.

Then, I added various finishing touches.    I replaced the elastic strap with a strip of leather.   I drilled holes for the thumb tacks and them glued them on.   I took strips of leather, added studs to them, and used that to mask the messy hot glue joints.   I did the same with the tiara head bands, after cutting them in half.

You can also cut up cheap eyeglasses and add them as loupes.  I didn’t have much success with this – and ended up concocting loupe-like bits using some curtain hardware and window screen.  You can see an example of that in the finished goggles above.

Other parts of the final steam punk costume include hats, bracers, and weapons.

Steam punk – The Goggle Ingredients

A steam punk costume just isn’t complete without goggles, hats, guns, and bracers.  I started with the goggles.

I went looking for a steam punk goggle tutorial online and found a whole bunch – but I was looking to put one together on the cheap.    You can find the tutorial I ultimately used here, unless time has gone by and the link is broken.  (If so, I’m sorry.)    I made quite a few modifications, but true to the original tutorial, most of what I used was procured at the dollar store.

Some of the dollar store items that I picked up include:

Chemical goggles (for $1!  Wow!)

Salt:  The original tutorial used plastic orange juice containers, because the top fit snugly onto the cylinder.  I don’t drink OJ, but found large salt containers that had screw-on tops with a nifty perforated pattern on part of them.  I didn’t end up using the tops – but did use the perforated flap as an extra element.

Magnetic tins:  These were suggested, but not used, in the tutorial.  The tops of the tins fit well over the salt containers, were metal colored, and already had a plastic “lens” in the middle of them.   Perfect.

Tiaras: A fantastic recommendation from the tutorial.  The corrugated headband of these children’s party favors worked very well to wrap around the salt-container cylinders and hid any hot glue mess from the assembly of the goggles.

Thumb tacks:   These serve as good, cheap, fake rivets.  I bought both silver and gold.

Reading glasses:  For $1, these were a good addition.   The thrift shop had some “better” ones – rounder and more antique-looking.   But those screws were hard to get in and out, and the temple pieces of the dollar store glasses were straighter, and easier to manipulate.  I ended up using both kinds in different ways.










I also had some interesting odds and ends lying around.

I had an empty jar of jewelry cleaner that included a lifting-basket.   It turned out to be just the right size to fit onto the end of one of the goggles.   Same goes for the pickle-lifter from the empty jar of gherkins that I had.   I looked for a metal steamer – the kind that opens up like a flower – thinking that I could use one of the “petals” somehow.  But I couldn’t find one.

I stumbled onto a big box of small springs at an estate sale, and pulled some window screen out of the garage.

Finally, I had a box of curtain hardware lying around that had some round curtain clips that I used, with the window screen, to craft little accents that looked like loupes.

I also used a hot glue gun, a ton of spray paint, and leather cut from a cheap pair of leather pants I bought at a thrift store.

Once I had all the goggle ingredients – plus various bits and pieces to add as accents – I was ready to assemble the goggles.

Steam punk – The Hats

Lots of the bits and pieces that I found ended up glued to the hats.  And most of the goggles ended up on hats, too.  I also made bracers and guns for the costumes, which are described in other posts.

I ordered some cheap felt (not plastic) top hats from Windy City Novelties for $4 apiece.  I already had one of their hats, and knew that it was cheap, but also well constructed.  I was concerned that a plastic hat might melt, and I wanted something durable enough that it would last a while.

I also looked at a TON of different steam punk hats on the internet, paying close attention to the elements that I saw, and to things that looked like they were easy enough for me.    In particular, I saw buckles, clocks, keys, gears, key holes, chains, rivet and lacing.

For a couple of the hats, I fashioned a hat band out of leather.  In one case, I used a belt.  In the other, I just glued some of the leather from the leather pants into a band.    I felt it was “safer” to glue things to the band rather the hat.   Also, it means that I can remove the band later, if I want to use the hat for another costume.

Then, I started making little adornments.   Using the bits and pieces, I glues gears and clock faces onto painted poker chips.  I used thumb tacks to hide hot glue, if necessary.   I attached chains to parts of eye glasses.  If I had skeleton keys, I would have incorporated them, too.  (I didn’t have a cheap source of keys, basically.)    I added grommets for lacing and for chains.   I tucked parts of eye glasses into hat bands or grommets.  There really isn’t much more to them than gluing a bunch of different steam punk elements to the hats.

Here are the “finished” hats, along with some close-up details.  I found that, as I went along making the bracers, I kept adding little elements to the hats so I’m not sure at what point, exactly, they were “finished.”

I also thrifted a ton of belts.    Belts with chains on them.   Belts with studs on them.   Belts with grommets in them.    Some of them got cut up for the chains or decorations.   Some got wrapped around boots.   But at least one ended up wrapped around a hat.