To begin on Avoree’s Steampunk arm project, I first had to look at the picture and determine two things: What will the challenges of this project be, and what materials would I like to use?
In keeping with the spirit of the arm, I identified two challenges right off the bat. First of all, I’ve never created an articulated (which means moving) elbow piece before. And while I’ve managed to create articulated knee cops and pauldrons, I doubted that Avoree would be interested in the “clamshell” design which worked so well with my Ari armor set.
Another challenge I identified was the shape of the shoulder piece itself. Again, in keeping with the spirit of the original drawing, the Steampunk arm calls for at rounded or at least semi-rounded pauldron. However, as well all know, aluminum doesn’t like to do the “round thing”. In fact, the last time I tried to bump out aluminum into a shape (a breastplate) I ended up destroying a $20 piece of metal.
Artistically, however, choosing the look of the Steampunk arm was much easier for me. In my mind, when I think of Steampunk, I think of copper, brass, and leather. I also think of the antique, and the Victorian. So it was practically a no-brainer that I’d like to create something out of copper. Because it really is lovely.
Here’s the problem, though. Did you know that copper is actually super expensive? It’s true! In fact, copper is worth more than gold on the metal market right now, currently leading the way with $3.59 on the pound (I think. I’m no stock wizard, after all). If you need further proof, take a walk into Home Depot. Go to the roof flashing section. You have two options: Aluminum and copper. However, whereas I was picking up 1’x10′ lengths of aluminum for around $7, a roll of copper in the same size can cost upwards around $100. Seriously.
Since I don’t want to spend a fortune (and since I doubt Avoree wants to, either), this meant that I had to find an alternative. I want the look of copper. But without the pricetag. And without the green oxidation risk would be great, too.
Enter, my two solutions to some of the above problems. As soon as I got the commission and began to think about the project, I set out in search of… a bowl. That’s right. Just a plain, metal bowl. Though something fancy would have been preferable. Why a bowl, you ask? Well, I thought that a small, already semi-rounded bowl would be perfect for at least one part of the armor: The pauldron. And in fact, after a bit of searching (ie, five stores later) I came across pretty much exactly what I was looking for. While browsing the local Goodwill store, a tarnished, silver ashtray with scrollwork on the side caught my eye. It fits my shoulder like a glove (a rather flattened glove). And I can’t wait to take a ball peen (rounded) hammer to it to give it that “dish” shape I’m after. Huzzah!
The second find, right across the aisle, as a matter of fact, was a cake pan. Or a jello mold. I’m not really sure. Either way, it was copper colored and very ornate, and I immediately saw it as working in with the arm somehow. After much thought, I think that a side of it is going to make up part of the gauntlet portion of the arm, while the rest of the mold will make very nice (and inexpensive) accent pieces and, I’m thinking, finger plates. So copper: Check.
But this is just the beginning. Last night, I also ordered my new set of rivets, which will be a nickel color, at Avoree’s request. We both agreed that the nickel will really stand out against the other colors of the metals I’d like to use. I also ordered a length of chestnut colored leather strapping, which will be used to create a strap to attach the arm to Avoree’s torso. And, since I bough the strapping, I figured that I might as well buy the buckles that I needed in order to make it into a belt, so I got those, too. I’m pretty sure I ordered an antique brass color.
So, now I’m off to find a hammer….