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So here’s a small update on my flight mask that I’m making for the Asylum at the end of August.  As you can see I’ve now given this a union jack paint job and started attaching the various elements together.  I really like the way this is looking and I’ll be doing a video build log soon covering the various stages and processes.

The respirator hoses will lead to a chest mounted unit which will house several fans that will circulate air through the mask so it doesn’t get too hot in there and so I can actually breath!

There’re plenty of other elements to add to the mask until it’s done, but things are on track so far :)

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A few months ago I was commissioned to make a steampunk mask and bracer for a musician.  We had abit of a nightmare getting the items to him (he lives in Australia), but they got there in the end!

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I took some models along to the Surrey Steampunk Convivial this weekend.  Here’re some pics ;)

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Here’s a quick sketch I’ve been doing using Chavant Le Beau Touche. I quite like it so I think I might develop it into a bust. I’m going to keep the surface as rough clay so it’s a little more stylistic rather than being a finely honed piece.

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I’ve been having a go at doing some weathering paint techniques, mostly following this video by Scale Model Medic on Youtube.  It involves first painting a layer of rust using an enamel varnish and powder pigments.  You then mask off some of the rust with a layer of latex and paint the top layer.  Once it’s all dry you can peel the latex away to create quite a realistic effect.  You can also go back to the rust layer and reactivate it with a thinner to make it run.

Here’re some pics.

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It’s a nice technique and produces some really realistic results. It’s also pretty easy to do.  If you’re interested, I’m using humbrol weathering powders.

Here’re a few earlier attempts.  I found you’re better off using lighter colours so the rust shows up more clearly.

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I’m using the technique to do some chipped paint on a new piece that I’ve just realised I haven’t mentioned yet – going to be a big corroded robot face that I’m making for the Steampunks in Space event I’m taking part in later in the year.  I’ll stick some pics up soon, but here’s a preview in the meantime ;)

This is in no way finished but I’m imagining this thing was once painted but has spent thousands of years at the bottom of the sea, so there’ll be some trace of the original paint remaining, but it’ll mostly be all corroded and destroyed.

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Here’s the video tutorial I’ve been following.

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I don’t normally do this kind of thing as this blog is all about me, me ME! (I am that self absorbed), but fuck me, check out Kung Fury!!

I’m really impressed with this. It looks great, is hilarious and the FX work is terrific!  I did notice a few Video Copilot elements in there too ;)  This sort of thing makes me feel the need to up my game as it shows what can be done on a budget.  To be fair these guys had a $600,000 budget which is a little higher than mine, but still, you don’t need to be a Hollywood studio to produce something awesome.

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So I’ve finally got round to finishing off the armour.  I’m quite pleased with the result.  This has been something of a learning experience as this is the largest leather piece I’ve ever made so I needed to be very careful in planning what I was doing.  many of the steps involved are ones you can’t easily move back from if you go wrong.

I thought it would be cool to do abit of a walkthrough as to how I went about dying the leather, but first a few pics of the finished piece.

The mechnical detailing was made from various pieces of brass including some gromits for grandfather clocks.  I made the pressure gauge from scratch using transparent acrylic, brass tube and some printed out detailing.  The tubing is scale braided cable from a model making website.

So I used Fiebings leather dye to colour the leather here.  I’ve used it previously but since I’ve no formal training with this stuff I’m sure I’ve been doing it wrong all this time!  I’ve found that my previous attempts have all come out rather dark compared to some leatherwork I’ve seen.

As I’ve been using an airbrush this last year or so which works more in terms of subtle shades and washes rather than one simple layer of colour, I wondered if it would work better if I diluted the dyes and applied them in lots of thin washes rather than one application.

Turns out, it does.

I also wondered if it might work if I actually tried to airbrush the dye onto the leather.  I reckon this would work but I wasn’t willing to try for the first time on this project!  I also wanted some areas of the piece in certain colours, something that (for me at least) would be difficult to accomplish with an airbrush.

I started off by masking off the chainmail section.  I also tested the dye out on some scrap pieces that you can see by the collar. I didn’t want to whack it on without first trying it!

Next step was to wet the leather with water before applying the diluted dye.  I find this helps the dye flow better into the leather.

Here’s one side finished.  It  looks alot brighter than I’d originally envisaged, but I knew it would darken down once I got to the next step.

The next step is to apply a layer of black resolene.  This gives it a sort of ‘antique’ look.  I think you can just use this to give a piece a final finish, but I tend to use it to highlight detailing.  I did this by whacking a load on and then wiping it off with a cloth, leaving it settle into the detailing.

Once I’d done this something wasn’t quite right.  I couldn’t really put my finger on it for a while but I eventually realised that by wiping the resolene away in straight lines it had created to regular a pattern.  I found that spattering some on, a little like spilt ink, and using a cloth to randomise it gave it a more natural look.

Here’s the leather with the first layer of resolene applied.  It does make quite a difference to how it looks.

The final step was to add a layer of clear acrylic resolene to seal the leather.  This is basically a varnish I suppose – it’s a little like a watery PVA glue to be honest.  It does give the leather a nice finish however.

Here’re a load more pics.

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So I ended up in the paper on sunday!

This was part of the steampunk exhibition at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, Longitude Punk’d.  The photo shoot was organised by the fantastic Spy Mistress General, pictured below, and featured in the Independent’s Sunday magazine the New Review.

Here’re some screengrabs of the article.

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I’m continuing to work on the armour.  I’d previously had it held together with some thread and tacked in places with hot glue.  Once I’d worked out all the the sizes I then pulled it apart into it’s individual parts ready for detailing.

Here’s the back piece.  I’ve used rivets to hold the main panels in place but the majority of the pieces will be sewn together.  Rivets are cool but do take up more space than thread.

I’ve needed to plan ahead on this piece, more so than many pieces I’ve made.  I usually let ideas naturally flow as I build, but in this case I need to plan quite meticulously as there are so many pieces.  Additionally I can’t afford to screw up any of the detailing work as if you go wrong with leather it’s very difficult (or usually impossible) to correct.

Here’re some sketches I’ve been working on.  It’s quite unusual for me to draw anything really but it seemed necessary in this case.  I’ve actually quite enjoyed it.  Might have to try and do it abit more often ;)

I also did a quick sculpt to try and figure out how the overall piece would look.  I was finding it very difficult to envisage what the final piece would look, even though I had a rough idea in my head.

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I forgot to say that a friend of mine asked if he could take some pics of some of my stuff for a photography exhibition.  Fenris Oswin is studying a BA Photography course and his final year project covers steampunk.   The pics are pretty cool.  His website is here.

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