Between dreams and reality exist whole dimensions.

Posts tagged “Crafts

Steampunk Pistol

My wife and I have had 2 Nerf Maverick pistols for a while now, and they are a lot of fun. They have an awesome design, but they look ridiculous in the neon Nerf colors.

So, we decided they could do with some modifications. A little time with a dremel to sand off the logos and lettering, some metallic paints and PVC, and voila.  I decided to go with a Steampunk aesthetic (which is apparently quite popular for these guns), and she’s aiming a little more future-sci-fi.

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I finished mine pretty quickly, a few hours tops. But she’s doing some internal modding with LEDs and such. I promise to post as soon as she’s finished. In the mean time…. I’m going to go play with my awesome new dart gun!

 


More Mead!

 I had some free time and birthday money on Sunday, so I decided to brew up some more mead. This was an ambitious and experimental brewing for me. I’ve brewed 2 previous batches of mead, as you may recall. The first batch had a low honey/water ratio and a Champagne Yeast, and came out strong and very, very dry. The second I used a slightly higher honey/water ratio and an ale yeast; which came out slightly stronger than beer with a sweet, rich flavor. Both times I used local Wildflower Honey bought in bulk (5lbs jugs). This time I actually made 3 different batches.

I made a 1 gallon batch using local Clover Honey and the Ale yeast. This should come out pretty sweet, and I am very interested to taste test it against the Wildflower Honey batch, as I used the same yeast and approximately the same honey/water ratio.  The 2nd batch I made using the Champagne Yeast and  Wildflower Honey at about a double honey/water ratio of the Christmas batch (about 6lbs per gallon). My hope is for a strong, sweet mead; one that’s closer to the alcohol content of strong wine, but with a gentler flavor than the Christmas batch. Again, this was a simple mead (or Show Mead as plain honey meads are called now days), no spices or other additions.

                             It takes a lot of stuff to brew properly.

 The last batch I made is the most interesting. I used a mix of the 2 musts (though heavier on the Wildflower Honey) and re-brewed them with dried Elderberry and Cloves. Elderberry is an interesting fruit: it has a long held tradition in Europe as a healing plant, especially useful for respitory infections, and is often brewed into a wine with grapes and cloves. Elderberry cannot be eaten raw though, and must be cooked thoroughly otherwise it is actually poisoness. So I was sure to let the batch boil extra long before cooling. It has a very pleasent scent, fruity sweet from the Elderberry and honey, spicey from the Cloves. I’m using the Champagne Yeast, so it should come out pretty strong. I’ve decided to call it my Rainy-Day Melotheglin, and I can’t wait to try it when it finishes fermenting.

The dark one on the left is the Rainy-Day Melotheglin, the middle batch is the Wildflower strong batch, and the lighter one on the right is the Clover sweet batch. Mmmmmmmmmmm!

 


Brewing and Bottling

Sunday was a big day.

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First I bottled my batch of Christmas Metheglin: 8 bottles total. I tried some before bottling; it’s very dry, with a spicy aroma and a bit of bite in the flavor. It seems to be pretty high gravity; but my hydrometer broke so I can’t be certain.

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Next we brewed up a fresh batch of rootbeer. This time we just used some extract and a little (seriously, like 1 TSP per gallon) molasses, plus a lot of sugar. Our first batch with the actual roots we used an ale yeast, which has a lower alcohol tolerance and consumes the sugar more slowly. This time we used a champagne yeast which will pressurize it quickly, since we’ll be bottling right away.

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We got thirteen standard beer bottles of root beer, and two larger hinge-cork bottles. The bottle capper is a lot of fun for some reason. We don’t have labels yet, but we might get some printed up later this week, not certain about that yet.

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After the rootbeer was boiled, cooled, and bottled, I started a new (smaller) batch of Mead. This will be a plain Mead, no spices or anything but honey. I used a little higher honey to water ratio, and the ale yeast instead of champagne yeast so this batch should be sweeter than the Metheglin, and without that bite. I also didn’t use a yeast nutrient, which supposedly can affect the flavor a bit, but instead used some of the yeast sediment from the Metheglin batch as a nutrient starter.

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Only a gallon for this batch, but I think that in a month or two when I rerack this to a different carboy I’ll start another 2 gallon batch, and soon I’ll have Mead for all occasions, year round!


Dragon’s almost done!

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Behold!

Ok, so I’ve been slacking on posting anything. It’s getting towards the end of the semester, and work is killing me until I finish transitioning to a new client, so the slacking will probably continue till early December. But for now I thought I’d update you all on my next metal project. Behold:

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The top half still needs teeth, but is almost done.

 

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The bottom is pretty much done, just needs 2 more teeth. Incidentally, those teeth are hand forged, which is a serious pain in the ass. But I think it'll pay off once it's all put together.


Teaser

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Here’s a quick look at my next project. I’m not gonna say what it is yet, but in a day or two it should be pretty obvious.


Steel Rose

I finished my assigned project: the Steel Rose. This is the entire process I went through to make it. Took me about 1 week of class (5 hours or so). Because this is long with a lot of pictures I am going to us a little different format, with less writing.  Without further ado here you are:

First it's back to the trusty plasma-cutter to cut the petals.


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And now we have 4 pieces to be bent into petals, and 1 for that little green bit roses have on the bottom.

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As you can see the cutting process leaves a big bur on the steel, and doesn't eliminate the rust, so we grind them down nicely.

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Steel Sunflower – Finished

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Ok, so I have been gone a while. Never fear, I have not perished. Really, I swear I’m not currently writing you as an undead. The sunflower is finished. Has actually been finished a while, and is now happily residing in my mother’s front yard. But more on that in a moment.

In my last post I promised to show a picture of the back of the sunflower so you can see how it’s all welded on. Basically I cut a circle with the plasma cutter, and then used the oxy-acetylene torch to punch a hole in the center. I then welded one layer of  petals around the outer edge. Next I took the domed circle for the center of the flower and welded the front layer of petals to the edge, being sure that all the welds were on the inside. Then I positioned the two pieces together as evenly as possible and tacked the front layer to the back between the petals of the back layer. It’s not a solid enough weld to really support a lot of weight, but unless my family has to fend off looters using it as a weapon it should hold together pretty well. Lastly I put the round bar through the hole and welded it on. That weld is pretty solid and should withstand plenty of looter beating.

Below I have two pictures of the finished flower. I was originally planning on just putting up the one of it in its new home, but it was morning and the lighting isn’t too great so I have also included the one from my back yard with better lighting. The petals aren’t as shiny as I had hoped, they are already starting to rust a little, but that shouldn’t be a problem unless it gets seriously soaked long-term. So there you have it. I’m working on my steel rose now (which is an assigned project, though a pretty one) I’m mostly done with that already and I’ll post some stuff about it either tonight or tomorrow. After that it’s back to my own projects.

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Almost Done – Steel Sunflower update

3 Leaves to go.

So I’m almost done with the sunflower. I thought I’d finish today, but the leaves didn’t feel like cooperating and were very hard to get welded on. The flower itself wasn’t too hard to get put together, and was in fact super easy to attach to the stem.  I didn’t get the petals lined up as neatly as I’d hoped, due the way I decided to weld in order to keep the front of the flower free of welds. But I actually kinda like it, it looks more real and less fabricated. I’ll get a picture from the back on Monday so you can see how it’s held together BTW. Also, the petals are a lot shinier than they look in this pic, the lighting in the storage room just sucks. It should be positively blinding when the sun hits it right. I bent the round bar  for the stem using this crazy lever/pivot contraption that I don’t know the name of, and it was surprisingly easy considering I was doing it essentially by hand. Did all the welding on this piece with the MIG Welder (also known as a wire-feed welder), rather than oxy-acetylene. It was way easier because MIG can weld at angles and in tighter spaces a lot more efficiently, and you don’t have to worry about filler rod, the wire feed handles that for you. Anyway, that’s all for this update; I’m swamped this weekend with reviewing submissions for SLCC’s Lit Mag: Folio (I’m on the staff). I should have more updates on the flower next week as well as the next Company of the Damned post.


Progress – Steel Sunflower Update

Ok, so things are going a little more slowly than I planned on my sunflower. Due in large part to the fact that the Plasma Cutter is in high demand right now, since the rest of my class is working on their steel roses. I would cut the flower by hand, but I know I wouldn’t be able to make a good circle, and I want the petals to be pretty much identical, which certainly wouldn’t happen.

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The Plasma Cutter at work.

Another contributing factor is that I underestimated the number of petals I’d need. Below is the flower with the 16 petals I’d originally calculated for. Looks kind lame doesn’t it?

So I decided to double it up to 32. I have 22 cut currently. Once you’re set up, using the plasma cutter is pretty quick, at least in my case since I’m only using one pattern. Having to change patterns can be tough since you have to recheck the cutter’s position at each edge of the pattern whenever you change it. With a set pattern you just move the metal into position and don’t worry much. If I can get the plasma cutter early tomorrow I should be able to finish cutting pretty quickly. Then the real work begins. Before I can start welding I have 2 major things I need to do. First I need to grind the petals clean. I decided that I like the rusty-brown look for the center and the leaves, but I want the petals to stand out.

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Here's how the petals will be configured when I'm done.

Grinding really makes a difference in appearance.

And grinding them down is a lot of work. Because of the size and shape of the petals I’m using a handheld grinder to smooth the edges and shine the rust off. It takes about 5 minute a petal, which really adds up. But I think it’s going to look a lot better with shiny petals. I originally was going to braze them (with brass), but I suck at brazing so I think being ground to a shine should be good enough. Once the petals are polished I then have to bend my round-bar so it looks more like a flower stem and less like a steel rod, and then I can actually start welding.

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And this is the handheld grinder I'm using. You should see the sparks fly when it's going!