Apr 302015

We finally got around to building Isaac’s shoulderpads for this convention. And it was a lot easier than we expected! We bought some wonderflex, which is a polymer material made by the same people that make the fosshape I adore so much for ears. It’s super easy to work with now that we’ve bought a heat gun.

Step one: Chaos made a mold out of poster board that fit his shoulders correctly and had the right amount of curl to it.

Step two: Chaos draped the wonderflex over the mold, heating it with the heat gun until it softened. It was super important here to keep the mold bent; laying it out flat would let it flatten out and not give the correct shape, so he ended up hanging it to keep the right bow shape. A more sturdy mold would have worked better, but we were experimenting here.

Step three: Now you have shoulder pads:

The spine, resting in my lap

The spine, resting in my lap


Edge-on view to show the bowing

So it’s time to cover them with something! We could have painted them for a metal look, but we decided to cover them in faux leather instead. I traced the posterboard molds onto the faux leather, added about half an inch all around, then cut four pieces. I stitched pairs together to make a pocket, then used hot glue to anchor them onto the spines (to ensure they curved correctly) and seal the seam.


Shoulder pad

Shoulder pad

I then took some more of the faux leather and, having measured the length from shoulder to hip on Chaos and cut out four wide strips. I then folded each strap in half, stitching it shut, then stitched the straps at right angles at the hip. Finally, I glued the tops to the shoulder pads (you can’t stitch through wonderflex).


The strap


Step Four: I stitched on some quick pockets so he could hold his wallet 🙂




I had him try them on over the robe from last year’s con:


Armor over the robe

Armor over the robe

Just like the spec… but way too ren faire. Not nearly steampunk enough! We ran out and scrounged up some other pieces in a last-minute shopping flurry. I think the result works well, don’t you?



Apr 282015

Laika’s ears have never worked when we arrived at a convention. So we’ve decided to redo her hat as a standalone item — complete with a soft circuit stitched in.

What’s a soft circuit, you ask? Basically, like a regular circuit, but with conductive thread in place of wires. Instead of pins, there’s pads, which I can stitch around with the conductive thread, to both hold the items in place and connect them. It’s actually pretty cool.

We bought an Adafruit Gemma, the smaller of their two wearable microcontroller platforms, and devised a circuit:

2015-04-02 17.59.07

Those aren’t sparks; that’s conductive thread catching the light from my flash

2015-04-02 17.59.23

You can see the circuits heading to the breadboard, where the servo leads are going to be soldered in

Unfortunately, the battery pack — a neat little job that holds two d-cell batteries — could provide enough voltage, but not nearly enough amps to power the Gemma and two servos. After doing some research, we purchased a rechargeable battery pack that could do plenty of amps — but not enough volts. So we also had to get a booster that would up-step the voltage to 5V, which would be enough for the servos. 

That got us almost all the way to where we wanted to go, but that’s when we discovered another problem: one of the two servos was misbehaving. Instead of going from 0 to 90 and back, it was rotating slightly backward, then rotating 180 degrees. Clearly that wasn’t going to work for the ears; however, we spent ages hunting down potential shorts, taking measurements with our multimeter, editing the servo library, and generally trying to figure out what was wrong before we finally figured it out: we needed a capacitor. The power draw from both servos together was just too much for the circuit.

But we finally got it working!

laika hat 2

May 132014

Hey, have you guys heard about Parade The Circle? The Cleveland Zeppelin Union is totally going to be at Parade the Circle! If you’re coming here because you’ve been linked to this tutorial by the CZU and you haven’t been in touch with anyone but you want to attend, go to that event page right this minute and contact them, young man or lady! Time is running short!

The theme we’re planning to do involves wind-up toys, so we got together for a work session this past weekend to make wind-up keys we can attach to our backs so we’ll all match more or less while still being able to put together our own unique costumes. To that end, I’ve put together a tutorial for those who couldn’t attend the work session, and I thought I’d share it here in public so other people might get ideas on how easy and cheap it can be to put something like this together 🙂

Please forgive the image quality, I only had a cellphone to take pictures with.

Let’s start with your basic materials:


Any cardboard will do, but this tutorial is going to use the simplest option: a box, already made and about the right size.


These clackers cost about 60 cents at a party store. You hold them by the plastic stem and spin them to make clacking noises.

Not shown: Paint, tape or glue or both, and a belt.


Step 1: Compose your structure

If you’re not starting with a kleenex box, you’ll want to get your base into some kind of box shape. Most of us also decided to cut a keyhole in the box for decoration, but that’s not strictly necessary. You also want to attach the clacker to the box in such a way that the handle sticks out so you can attach things to it. This is the simplest way to achieve that given our tutorial materials:


…but other designs got more sophisticated with it.

Step 2: Paint the box

If your base material is plastic, you’ll want to use Krylon Fusion or another plastic-bonding paint as a base layer. For cardboard, almost anything works.


I did have some trouble with the textured paint I tried to use, so I did a base coat of black and then re-applied the textured paint.


Nice and rusty-looking

Step 3: Make a Key

This is your basic wind-up key shape:

But it’s steampunk, so feel free to go wild! Here’s a pretty straightforward one made of cardboard and a cardboard tube:

IMG_20140510_154317097You can see how tape was used to attach it to the clacker, but what you can’t see is the layers of cardboard stuffed in tube for stability and to help it grip the clacker firmly enough so that turning the key would turn the clacker’s stick, making the noise. That’s going to be the trickiest part.

Of course you want to paint that too:


Step 4: Assemble!

modellingSome of us talked about attaching to belts, while others were going to experiment with backpacks or harness systems. It’s up to you what will work with your costume best. You could even glue on some fabric and stitch it to your costume I suppose!

Here’s a gallery of some variants we came up with, to spark some ideas:

May 122014

Hey Everybody, I’m Chaos and I am a terrible Hatter.

Well, alright, I’m not a terrible hatter. I’d have to probably have made a hat to count as one to begin with. This is all probably very confusing, so I’ll start over from the beginning.

As you all probably saw a couple of weeks ago, there was a new costume that got shown off at the Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio. By the way, if you’re in Ohio and can make it, it’s a blast. Lots of nice people and great steampunk music. Anyway, one of the bigger pieces that we were working on for the Laika costume was the huge hat.

Well to Met You

See? Big Hat.

So, the first thing I realized when we started was that we needed a big hat. Well, Yami realized we needed a big hat for the wig and I added on that we needed it larger for the bits that went inside. (Yes, the ears are supposed to move. More on that in another post) Going online, we found there weren’t a lot of designs for hats that we could use. A lot of them were just way too small for what we wanted. Yami decided to find some tutorials online so we could just make a hat. I found out that this is actually VERY difficult, especially when you start off making a hat block.

For those that don’t know. A hat block is what you make a hat around. It’s usually made out of a sturdy material in the shape that you want to make your hat into. We decided we were going to make a felt hat, as felt is easy to work with and we found some good tutorials on how to do it. If you wanna take a look at them, they are:

We also got assistance from the 1:6 warrior message boards on different ways you can make hat blocks before we decided on our method.

Speaking of method, we decided to go with using Styrofoam and wood filler to make our hat block.

Nice big foam cylinders

Nice big foam cylinders

Our first problem was that we really didn’t have a good way of cutting down the two cylinders for the size hat we wanted. It needed to be big, but not quite as big as the cylinders we had. Which meant we needed to find some way of drawing the circle we wanted on top of it and cutting it down. This proved to be a lot tougher than we thought. The trick with tying string to a thumbtack had the problem of the string not being the exact length we needed and having a hard time making a perfect circle. So then we moved to trying to print out a guide circle to trace.

Should be easy, right?

Should be easy, right?

Of course, both guide circles had the wrong radius when we printed. Yami is still not sure why, but I believe that her image editing software is posessed and was mocking us. Eventually, we managed to make a series of small marks in a circle by measuring from the center outwards at several points and then just making a dotted line to cut around. This worked pretty well and then we just needed to glue the cut-down cylinders together to make a hat block. Easy as pie. Next, we started covering the glued Styrofoam in wood filler.


The tutorials mentioned using a putty knife to just smooth. When I was making the box, I ended up using a paint brush. DO NOT DO THIS! That took a large amount of time and I’m sure it would have ended up a lot smoother. Also check to see how much wood filler you’re using, because you can run into the situation I had where I needed to go out and buy more.

At this point I ran out of wood filler.

At this point I ran out of wood filler.

Having gotten more wood filler, I start on the bottom. You should also check that the wood filler you get is the same color.

Having gotten more wood filler, I start on the bottom. You should also check that the wood filler you get is the same color.




So far so good! Had a few setbacks, but we were confident this would work. The next step was painting over the entire thing with a sealant so that it’ll be better perserved. Also, the reason why we didn’t just paint sealant onto the Styrofoam was because it’ll dissolve it and that makes for a very poor hat box.

Now here’s where things actually went bad. We needed to now work with the felt. And how do you get the felt to mold to the hat block? Why, you boil a lot of hot water and dunk it in.

Watch out.

Watch out!

You’re only supposed to put it in there for a short time, but the stuff still gets REALLY hot. Then, you take the still-hot felt and stretch it over the hat block.

We covered ours in plastic wrap to help protect it.

We covered ours in plastic wrap to help protect it.

So….Ideally, we would stretch it over the block real tight and pin it. That would make the felt take on that shape and we’d just have to add a brim once it was set. And that’s not what happened at all. We pulled the felt tight and used several different methods, but all the results were the same.

Method 1: The Side Pull

Method 1: The Side Pull


Method 2: Twist Pull

Method 2: Twist Pull

We even tried bracing it against the table and I put all my weight on it, but that was a bit embarassing to see. Anyway, after all was said and done, the felt looked like this.

Looks promising, right?

Looks promising, right?

WRONG! Collapses the instant it's not on the hat block.

WRONG! Collapses the instant it’s not on the hat block.

Now, it’s more likely that we simply messed up. We tried this for several hours in an evening and every time the felt would just not stay. Later on, we looked into other possibilities and found that it could have been the felt itself. See, when we got the felt, we got it from Wal-Mart and apparently synthetic felt doesn’t stiffen and take on shapes like what we were trying to do. So maybe this all could have worked, but so many things happened in making it that we, ultimately, had to go with another idea so the costume would be ready for the convention. That and I wanted to set the block on fire, so another attempt was not in the cards at the time.

And that’s our adventures into making our own hat. It was…interesting, and I may try it again, but to anyone that makes hats for a living, I salute you. It is not an easy feat.

Mar 192014

Hello everyone, Yami and Chaos here. Today we’re debuting some information on Top Secret Project #1: a joint build we’ve been working on together.

Later this week you’ll see one of the more costumey pieces of the build, but today we’re debuting the central piece, the brain that makes it all run. Yes, that’s right: we’ve gotten into electronics. Woo!

More importantly, we’ve gotten into electronics that we have to assemble ourselves. Which is equal parts, exciting, interesting and dangerous.

The number one name in hobbyist electronics is, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the Arduino. The Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform; there are dozens of variants of the boards, including the Uno, which you can buy at Radio Shack *shameless plug* (I was shocked, too, I thought they ditched all that in favor of cellphones). We went with an Uno-like variant that’s meant to slot on top of the Raspberry Pi called the “AlaMode”.

Which is called that because someone thought they were clever. It connects to pins on the top of the board and it tends to be white, so it’s like ice cream on a pie.

See? Sit's right on top

See? Sit’s right on top

It comes unassembled, so we had to solder the servo pins, analog pins, and GPIO headers. We also soldered in the digital pins, but turned out not to need them just yet. If you want to get into soldering, get some instruction, because it’s really dangerous, but you’ll want the following:

Soldering iron:

Stand and sponge:


Patience also helps, but we couldn’t find an image. So, obligatory safety spiel: be VERY careful with soldering irons. They get really hot and you will know very quickly if you’re touching anything you shouldn’t. You also want to make sure you wash your hands, as most solder you buy has lead in it. You can buy lead-less solder, but it’s harder to work with, and you can be perfectly safe with the normal solder as long as you wash your hands.

So…how do you actually solder electronics? Well, the idea is that you heat up the area you want to connect and you melt the solder into the connection, allowing electricity to flow through. In our case, we wanted to attach the pins through some of the holes in the Arduino.

You can tell where you solder since those holes have metal on the sides.

You can tell where you solder since those holes have metal on the sides.

First, make sure that you have the pins oriented the right way. Look at your board and think about how the connection should look like when you’re done. This will save you a lot of headaches later.
Make sure you have all pieces flush against the board, that way you’ll know that the connection will be good and you’ll only have to do this once.
Take the soldering iron and press the tip so that it touches the metal around the hole and the pin you have going through. You’ll want to hold it there for about 2 seconds, leaving enough space so that you can get the solder a little into the hole and to the iron.
Take the piece of solder and carefully touch it to the iron while getting as much of it over the gap in the hole as you can. The solder is going to melt pretty quickly so you won’t have to do this part long.
Once you have a bead-sized bit of solder, pull the solder away, but leave the soldering iron there for another two seconds. This will allow the solder to flow into the hole, making a full connection.
Pull the iron away and dab the tip in the wet sponge. Also, make sure that it’s actually a wet sponge, since sponges are actually pretty flammable and you really don’t want to start a fire in your workspace.

And there you have it! That’s basically how you solder electronics. It’s not nearly as scary as it seems, but with some practice you’ll find it easy. Yami found a nice little comic that gives the beginner’s run-through of how to solder in case you want some more detailed instructions. A couple more pieces of advice: when you’re first soldering several pins, after the first one check to see if your connection is straight. It is a LOT easier to remove the solder from one pin than it is to do several and it will save you a lot of time, frustrations, and possibly burnt fingers. Also, if you have the parts that will be connecting to your pins, you can plug it into the loose pins as you solder it. That way if it’s only a little off, the connections should still work.

As far as my first adventure into hobby electronics, the Arduino is pretty good. The board has a lot of labels so you know what is going where, and it’s pretty easy to put together. If you take your time and make sure you understand what’s going where, you’ll have an easy time putting it together. The actual programming of the Arduino is also pretty simple, but I’ll let the more experienced programmer go over that.

There will be more parts in this series, rest assured, because we only have half the build working so far. The Arduino IDE allows you to program the Arduino in C, using special Arduino libraries, and upload the resulting bytecode to the board. Since I’m the only one in our household who knows any C, that’s where I come in 🙂 We ran through a number of sample sketches to ensure that we’d hooked up our pieces correctly, and then I wrote the final sketch.

First, we hooked up a servo and a potentiometer, verifying that we could read from one and write to the other using the Sweep and Knob sample sketches. Then, I wrote the following sketch:

#include <Servo.h>
Servo myservo; 

int pos = 0;
int potpin = 0; //the pin that the potentiometer is attached to
int val;

void setup()
    myservo.attach(3); //the pin the servo is attached to
    myservo.write(0); //resets the position after the power has been lost
    delay(5); //wait for servo to reach position

void loop()
    val = analogRead(potpin); //Read the potentiometer's value, which will be between 0 and 1023
    if (val < 700) { //700 is the cutoff for when we stop the sweep, as the potentiometer never seems to send the max value
        val = map(val, 0, 700, 5, 30); //scale it to be between 5 and 30 instead
} //The loop function will loop infinitely on its own

void doSweep(int delayVal) {
    //sweep one way
    for (pos = 0; pos < 180; pos += 1) {
        delay(delayval); //this controls the speed of sweeping
    //then sweep back
    for (pos = 180; pos >= 1; pos -= 1) {

This allows the potentiometer to control the speed of the sweeping servo, rather than the angle. The servo will waggle back and forth, though it can be stopped by turning the potentiometer all the way to one side. You’ll want to fine-tune the magic numbers in the above sketch to your potentiometer and servo; we found that our potentiometer doesn’t actually send the full range of potential inputs reliably, so we set our threshold for turning it off to be much lower than the top potential input. We also fine-tuned the speed of the servo using the map parameters; too fast and we’d break the motor, but too slow and it’d look wrong.

Now that we had the electronics working, it was time to build the actual moving piece: Laika Leonne’s tail.

We’ll be devising a cover for the tail so it doesn’t look so naked, and we’re considering lengthening it by adding some bare wire and maybe a weight on the end so it sways right, but that’s all fine-tuning and will have to wait until we get back from our vacation and have time to finish the build. This is all due at the end of April, and we still have to hook up the ears, so we’ll need to work fast, but I feel confident we can do it. The end is in sight!

Mar 072014

It seemed so perfect.

When I found the idea on facebook, reblogged from Pinterest, I was excited. A simple little craft I could do, with cheap ingredients, something simple but fun I could knock out in an afternoon and have another post for this month. It was foolproof: some glue and paint and I’d have myself some fake sea-glass bottles.

But then, of course, I’m used to winging it, scrounging for replacement supplies to do something on the cheap instead of following instructions. In this case, I hit the dollar store and replaced just about everything: cheap plastic travel bottles instead of glass, off-brand glue, and tiny pots of paint (having mis-remembered the instructions saying paint rather than food coloring).

Tools of the Trade

On a side note, aren’t those little notebooks cute? I grabbed them just for kicks.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the lack of wide, spongey brush. All I had to work with was that tiny paintbrush.

Just a Dab'll do Ya

I had to use a cut-down plastic cup to mix in, that’s how underprepared I was

I tried mixing the paint and glue in varying consistencies, but nothing seemed to work. The tiny paintbrush left streaks, and the mixture just wasn’t going on right: too gloppy or too runny, never just right.

Layered Green

Dab by DabEcto-PlasmThat’s when I re-read the instructions and realized my mistake. Oh well, I had plenty of glue. I grabbed the only food coloring we had in the house — red — and got to work again on bottle number two:

Thinned Red Vamp Blood

As you can see, it’s not much better, though it’s a lot closer. The finished, failed product:

Day AfterWill I try again? Maybe. The sponge brush might make a difference on plastic, but then again, the plastic could have been part of the problem, as it didn’t seem to be adhering well. It was just a whim anyway, not an important piece of the project. Today’s lesson, as many of my lessons this year seem to be, is that it’s okay to fail at something.  Things will turn out alright 🙂

Con build status: I knew trying to do two ambitious builds for April’s Symposium was iffy when I planned it back in June, and now that it’s March I feel semi-confident that I can have one of the two done if I abandon the other until summer. But this one build is going to be so dope ya’ll. So dope.

Jan 052014

Remember way back when when we were gathering inspiration for a christmas wreath?

Well we’d planned to get it done before Christmas, but…. moving happened. Lots of moving. Our home is still in boxes! I had to buy a new gluegun because we simply could not find my old trusty blue one >.>

But nevertheless, we bundled up into the snow and stopped by the local Michaels craft store and bought ourselves a fake wreath, something like this:

bare wreathAnd a handful of trinkets, like so:

wreath trinkets

A little craft magic in the gallery below…

Special thanks to Chaos for doing all the gluing. I escaped with only one minor burn this time!

wreath in progress

And voila! It was done!

display the wreath

Of course, after this was taken, Kae and Chaos noted that it would fit around my neck, so I put my best “bling” face on and gave it a shot…

bling the wreath

My brother, the rapper, would be ashamed of my bling face.

One last shot to close on:

finished wreath

Dec 042013

Hey everyone. Chaos here, and I wanted to welcome everyone to the new site layout. Hopefully if you’re new here you’ll take this chance to look through some of the older posts and catch yourself up. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

*crickets chirp*

Alright, great. Now that you’re caught up I’ll go ahead and introduce myself for those that didn’t look at the backlogs and are just going ahead with this. I’m the prop builder of the group, in so much that they let me paint over nerf guns and make interesting things that may or may not light up and make sound. I modify pieces or items we can find to fit characters (mostly weapons at this point) and in some cases I’ve even created bits from scratch. I kinda fell into the job since I’m going to school for an Engineering Master’s degree and I really can’t make costumes, but it’s actually been a lot of fun.

Bob- Gun and Holster

The gun was modded personally, but the holster was purchased.

I’ve done a few posts on what I think about when coming up with pieces for character costumes, but this is actually something that I ran into when going over my next project. I was talking with Yami about some of the ideas I had and she mentioned that it wouldn’t really work because if someone WAS wearing said prop as a real thing, it would be really hot and probably burn whoever was wearing it. I countered that Steampunk is somewhat fantastical so I didn’t see what the problem was, but she insisted that it didn’t make sense. We eventually settled on another design for the prop that worked with something less problematic, but it got me thinking. How much do the props we wear in Steampunk have to worry about real-world physics?

Not a clue what's it's for, exactly, but who cares? For SCIENCE!

Not a clue what’s it’s for, exactly, but who cares? For SCIENCE!

There’s some merit in not worrying about how props would actually work in the real world. There are a lot of props that you see at Steampunk conventions wouldn’t really work by the strictest sense of science, but they have enough grounding in them that you can see how they work with just that dash of outlandish that makes them interesting. Personally, I’ve always liked science fiction and the more outlandish the design, the more interesting I find it. I always find my mind wondering how such a device would work. Could you make something that actually functioned like that, and what sorts of science would have to be changed just for that one piece to work. It could just be my years of being facinated with sci-fi and robots and ray guns and all that stuff that makes me worry more about ‘what would look interesting’ rather than ‘what makes sense for the characters and setting’. Not that you can just ignore setting or characterization if you’re trying to make a coherent world.


This is Lucas Warren. He’s my steampunk character and is something of an amoral businessman. He’s high class and does everything he can to keep it that way. Lucas knows all the right parties to attend, the right people to impress, and the good business sense to press an advantage when he has one. He has his prejudices, but they’re mostly to those he would find useless to his goals. If you provide him with an advantage, he has little qualms with what else you do. If you become a hinderance, he will not hesitate to cut you off and cast you aside. If you have something he requires, he will find every way to relieve you of it, and it will all be done with business deals and subordinates.

Lucas is a very particular character with a set of goals, characterizations, traits, and themes and while I’d love to give him something like a steampunk crossbow or some sort of mechanical display that hangs from his hat, I wouldn’t because it doesn’t fit his character. I think it would be cool, but it would just clash with everything that the character presents. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some interesting additions to the props later (mostly once I get a bit more time) but anything he has needs to fit his character and theme. You have to strike a balance between ‘what looks interesting’ and ‘what fits the character’. It helps with making pieces that ‘fit’ a character rather than making a prop and trying to jam a character around it.

Ultimatly, it comes down to the goal of a prop. I think that if it’s something that’s supposed to go with a character, you need to keep the prop within the bounds of what the character would carry around. If you’re making a prop to just go ‘hey, that’s an interesting idea’ then I’d say the sky is the limit. Let your imagination run wild and see what sort of contraptions you could make.

I’d like to welcome anyone to give me their take on the topic. Do you think that props have to be bound to a specific set of rules or can they be completely unbound from any one interpretation of Steampunk? Do you think it can be both? Do you want to just share some ideas you might have on props you are/would like to make? Go ahead and leave a comment with your ideas and here’s hoping you’ve all enjoyed my little introduction to my side of the group.

Oct 062013

I have achieved the previously unthinkable: I have purchased a corset that is too LARGE for me.

I know, right?!

A replacement is on its way, may or may not arrive before the convention though. In the meantime, the colors are perfect and I’m very pleased with how well the corset matches the skirt, so I’m holding out hope for the outfit 🙂 In the meantime, this post is sponsored by Rap Is A Man’s Soul:

Nah, just kidding. It’s actually sponsored by Chicago The Musical:

Okay, I know, I know, you just want the pictures right? Well, without further ado:

I did take a few photos with my real corset underneath, in case that helped. It didn’t, much; this corset shows too much of the white underneath.


I’m tired of corset shenanigans, but at least the dip is gone.


I’d braided my hair from boredom, and now I felt like Alice, so a curtsy it is.


Unfortunately, the lack of modesty panel makes the back look bizarre.

What do you think? Chic, no?


Oct 012013


I really thought by the time I started this, I’d have something to say about canes that didn’t come off as weird. I blame my inability to take topics seriously for long periods of time. Makes you wonder why I’m the one playing the amoral business man and not something more whimsical. Mostly my build…that and I like the character.

Speaking of the character, Lucas is the type that is worried most about his public perception. This is different than his image in that not everything that he wants the public to perceive is true. He would have them believe the gentlemanly, sportsmanlike, smiling face that they see at high profile galas and balls was the real him, while making sure his competitors knew he was a shrewd businessman with a particularly good public face. To this end, he keeps himself up to date on the latest trends and fashions, including cane fashion.

When we were first coming up with Lucas’s costume, I didn’t really think about a cane. In my mind, Lucas would think that canes were a show of weakness. How could you be a man unto yourself if you couldn’t stand under your own power? Then I really started running out of ideas for props for the character, and I started looking into things I could do with a cane prop, so I started thinking of a way to incorporate one without taking away from the character concept.

Here’s the deal, though. Usually when I think ‘cane’ all I get for a mental image is a long piece of wood with stuff on the part you hold sometimes. I know that’s not all that goes into a cane, but it seems like a minor thing from a purely design standpoint. Not only would I need to get around the ‘painted hunk of wood’ idea, but I’d have to make it something practical. Something that gave the feel of ‘I understand that this is a fashion accessory, but that doesn’t mean it should be useless.’ What I really needed was an idea.

So, like any good researcher, I immediately started looking at everyone else’s ideas. I also rapidly came to the conclusion that canes all look like supervillians would use them. Take this one for instance:

From Dark Knight Armory

Points for being able to store your alcohol in it, but the skull’s not what I’m looking for. Actually, there are quite a few canes that store alcohol. I get the novelty, but you’d think most people would just have hip flasks. What was I talking about again? Right! Canes for Lucas. He wouldn’t be caught dead with something as gaudy as a skull cane and even less so if it was used to hold alcohol. Not that he doesn’t drink, just that he wouldn’t need to carry his alcohol around with him like that. Maybe something with a bit more utility than that?

Image from Squidoo.com

I’ll admit, I mostly like this for a captain on a ship or an adventurer. Someone that would get some use out of both a cane and a spyglass and might have their hands occupied, and while it’s practical in some aspects, it’s nothing that Lucas would use. He has people to drive his airships and deal with unsavory characters for him. Although, he wouldn’t want to be defenseless…maybe something like this would be more his pace:

Image from Medievalcollectables.com

This cane actually has moving bits! You can pull the hammer back and pull the trigger and it’s just REALLY cool…and while I’d love to make something like that, it’s still not quite right. It lacks a level of subtle for the character to carry around. Though I may end up using it for another character that I’ll be making props for later. Now, I’m sure everyone is probably asking me “Well, why not a sword cane?” Well, for one, it would look like a regular cane at a convention since they’d have to be peace-bonded. Second…well, it just doesn’t seem quite right. Sure, sword-fighting was thought to be an elegant combat sport for those with a quick mind and quicker reflexes but it lacks the sort of style I’d want the character to have. So maybe I leave that idea alone and start looking at simpler designs again. Less is sometimes more after all:

Image from borispalatnik.com

Now this…this could work. While it lacks the utility of cane-with-thing-inside designs, I like the overall simplistic design along with the animal head looks pretty classy. I might actually get this as a backup cane in case something with the prop I want to make goes south. The animal head is still a little…blatantly evil-looking, but I don’t think I can get around that with canes. I mean, some of the coolest designs look like this:

Image from Medievalcollectibles.com

That’s right, it’s a metallic dragon head staff. Unfortunately, that has the same ‘evil’ problem. I mean, it looks like the person walking around with that will either summon demons at the drop of a hat or wants to show you his latest slow-moving death trap and while Lucas isn’t exactly nice he would put himself above that sort of thing. While nice, this design’s still going too far.

Okay, I think there’s enough examples that I know what I’d like to do. Ideally, I’d want to make some sort of weapon cane, but for it to be subtle, I’d probably have to make that myself from scratch. In the short run, I think I’ll go with a simpler design with metal finish for the head. It still looks classy without being too plain and if I can find a design that meshes well with the character.  For those of you interested in seeing some more examples as well as tutorials for making your own canes, please look at the links below:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Walking-Cane-Steampunk-Fashion/ (This one is pretty cool looking and seems easy to make)

http://thesteamemporium.com/maets-gallery/artifacts-wearable/canes-walking-sticks (lots of different cane head styles. Definitely going to try some of them later)

http://www.fashionablecanes.com/Gadget_Walking_Canes.html (I really used to think it was just swords that people put in canes)

I’ll be keeping you guys informed on what I actually build based on the stuff I was looking through, as well as if I come up with anything original (Which I really hope I do. I had one idea but it’d require some materials and tools I don’t have access to yet. All the more reason to get new things, right? 🙂 ) but for now, I’ll leave it here. If you have any of your own ideas or just wanna talk about canes as props, please go ahead and comment below. I promise we don’t bite in any way that leaves lasting marks.