Once we had the main pirate garments and hat in place, we started adding different details to the costume to see what worked. The gold earring and eye patch were obvious, but the weapons load out took a little bit of strategizing.
First, I looped two long leather belts together to make an across-the-body holster. A cutlass was just slipped through a loop where the two belts met at the hip. My boyfriend really wanted to strap some pistols to the front of the belt, but I was skeptical until I actually saw the result. They are just held on with black elastic hair bands, but they really add to the overall look of the costume. That pirate looks locked and loaded and ready for action!
Also, he found a heavy leather belt with a big brass buckle in front. The rivets and tooling on the belt, and the brass, add to the pirate look. Overall, I was very pleased with the final effect of the complete pirate costume.
Last year some time, while thrifting, I found the largest toy gun that I had ever seen.
Remember the Space Gun paint job that I did before? I bought this gun, thinking that I would paint it, too, sooner or later. That day has come.
Using the great ideas in the Steam Punk Gun Tutorial (which I previous saved), I set about transforming this amazing weapon.
First step is to photograph every part of the gun. I’ll spare you all those photos.
Then, draw an outline of the gun on cardboard or paper. When you remove a screw, tape it down onto the outline in the location where it belongs. Like this …
As you take the gun apart, continue to photograph it as each piece comes out. I can’t emphasize this enough. I thought that I had taken just about every photo that could possibly be taken of this thing, until I tried to put it back together. Because I was unable to get each piece in place exactly right, it no longer fires, the front end doesn’t come off anymore, the back end is not spring loaded, etc. etc. etc. You can’t take too many photos. Seriously.
The next step is priming this bad boy. I asked my friend, also known as The Handiest Man in the
Universe, what I could use to de-gloss the plastic, he recommended “Self-etching Spray Primer.” I struck out at Home Depot, but did find it at an automotive supply shop. I thought that the best part of this stuff would be that the top coat would stick well, or that the paint wouldn’t come off easily. But no. The best part was that the color was just perfect for a military-style weapon. Perfect.
So I set about painting the disassembled gun. Most of it remained this grey color, but I chose to paint some parts black, and some chrome/silver. There were also a couple of parts that were already grey that came off easily. I didn’t bother painting those. Here is the picture of the first layer of primer.
Finally, I wrestled the whole gun back together again – or almost together again. There were springs that I couldn’t figure out, a barrel that I KNOW I put in backwards, etc. etc. But overall, I’m happy with the results. Here is the final product, plus a before-and-after.
A friend of mine recently posted a series of photos showing how he modified a toy gun to become a “steam punk” gun. It seemed like a good compliment to my Space Gun posting, and I wanted to make sure that I kept his photos so that I could refer back to them in the future. So here they are …
This first picture shows what the original toy gun looked like. Notice that there is a trigger handle thing near the back of the gun, and then a second grip near the front. (My lack of gun terminology is showing, but you get the idea.) In this picture, he is tracing around the gun so that when he disassembles it, he can keep track of which screws go where. (Very smart.)
Here you can see that he has followed through on the idea of keeping track of the screws – taping each one down near the location where it was removed. This is particularly important if the screws are of different lengths or sizes.
Next, you can see the gun after it’s been disassembled. Rather than coming apart in two matching pieces, this one comes apart into two PAIRS of main matching pieces – plus some other parts like grips and what not. And this is where the paint job starts to get really interesting.
Rather than just painting the whole gun a brass or bronze color – which would be a typical steam-punk style thing – he’s chosen to paint some of it a bronze color and some of it a dull steel color. This makes the gun MUCH more visually interesting, and adds to the impression that it’s been crafted out of multiple metallic pieces and parts. Also, by having kept the screws carefully identified, he can choose to paint them to match – or to contrast – because he knows where each screw will go.
Next, he’s found some gear or cog like bits from a necklace at a craft store. Again, very smart. I’m wondering if you couldn’t also find buttons, or game pieces, or cardboard cuts outs that would also work.
He then just sort of sprinkles these gears around the gun to make it look … well … more steam punk. Here’s a picture of the completed gun. You can clearly see the two different metallic spray paints and how that makes the gun look more constructed. And the gears have been added onto contrasting colors, so that they stand out clearly.
I really like the look of this weapon. There are some other things that might be interesting to try – metallic paint pens, perhaps, to add the appearance of more parts. Or perhaps tubing of some sort. Or dials / gauges? I’ve never done anything steam-punk before, but this seems like a pretty straightforward strategy for making a pretty authentic-looking steam-punk weapon.
I’m currently working on a sort of Barbarella-meets-Lara-Croft ensemble, and I will undoubtly show more details for this costume as I put them together. But an intergalactic bounty hunter needs weapons. So at the moment, I’m focusing on those.
I’m always very careful about adding weapons to a costume. One reason I’m careful is because it needs to be pretty clear to everyone who sees a gun that it is NOT a real gun. Otherwise, your Halloween could go south in about a dozen different ways really fast. And I don’t like the orange tips on “real looking” fake guns. It seems like they just scream “It’s not a real gun!” Which is, of course, why they are there. Which then defeats the purpose of carrying them. Same with many threatening looking weapons. If you make them innocent enough that they clearly aren’t threatening … then they don’t work with the costume.
My solution to this? Avoid realistic weapons. Find a way to make the costume work without the weapon – or make the weapon so cartoon-ish that it can never be mistaken for a real gun. Modern mercenary? Strap six, two-liter bottles of coke together with a long pipe and paint the whole thing silver. Make it HUGE. Daniel Boone? Use a wooden pop-gun – the kind with the cork in the barrel. Anything that works with the costume instead of against it.
For this costume, I knew that I wanted guns. But as a futuristic bounty hunter, they would be space weapons. And as such, I had some leeway in what they looked like. I wanted something shiny, silvery and bulbous. Like a squirt gun, only silvery and metallic. The next time I was in the super market, I found these.
While these are totally the wrong color, they are absolutely the right shape. So I bought them, plus a can of silvery spray-paint, and went to work. First, I masked the little details – the yellow tip of the small one, the triggers, the green thingie and the blue swoops on the larger one. Then I put three or four layers of silvery spray-paint on. Here are the results.
I got exactly the result that I was looking for. These are obviously not real weapons – but from a costuming perspective, they play like real weapons. Or at least, real space-gun weapons. Now I just need a way to attach them to the costume.