Friday, April 20, 2012

DIY "Upcycled" Costume Medals

This past week I've been working on some more medals for my Major General Steampunk Character (cuz you can never have too many, right?).  I've shared a few back when I posted about them on my jacket here. Just had to revisit these.  It's too much fun rummaging through my junk jewelry stash for this.  Here are some of my favorites so far:

These are pretty simple to put together.  The funnest part is finding the faux medals in the form of old necklace pendants, earrings, keychains and other odd junk.   The ribbon portion is made with 1 1/2" wide scraps of grosgrain ribbon (mostly from old hatbands and dress ties my daughter discards).  I colored a few ribbons (like the 2nd one in the bottom row) with permanent marker just to give them a bit of variety. To attach the medals to the ribbon, I made my jump rings from scrap wire or salvaged them old jewelry.  A marker barrel works well for wrapping the jump rings on.   

And now for the backs, which I'm most proud of.  The photo just above is a comparison of the back of an old marching band medal I purchased at the flea market  (left) and my homemade version (right).  So professional looking, right?  ;)  I took care to make my ribbons sturdier like these band medals. I'll tell you why...

Another pic of the backs.  Originally, I was just going to just glue the ribbon down over the pin backs, but I prefer to avoid using glue whenever I can.  I've seen some medals on and other site where they just hot glued the pin backs on.  From my own experience, I KNOW that won't hold up long.  So, I'll share the secret with you, in case you want to make some.

I used the leftover aluminum from the bottle used on my monocle here to secure the ribbon to the pin backs, but any thin copper, brass, tin metal scraps could work.  The bottle is a really thick aluminum (not the type used in the ordinary beverage cans).  To tell you how thick it is, I have to use pliers to bend a sharp corner on it.
  • I cut 2 pieces of the aluminum just short (8th of an inch) of the width of the ribbon.  One is about 7/16th" long and the other 3/4".  
  • I used a vise to bend the edges on the 3/4" piece into a bracket, "]", shape so that the length is now at 1/2".  
  • Then, I punched holes in the smaller piece with a nail punch and inserted the pin back into it. 
  • To attach the ribbon, I wrap the edges of the ribbon over the wider piece of aluminum.  The smaller piece sorta snaps or slides into the wider one with the ribbon trapped under it.  
  • I use some pliers to smash the edges of the wider piece down over the smaller one til it's nice and tight. 
They go together practically in seconds.

So, all in all, these were made with all "upcycled" parts.  Didn't have to purchase anything.  LOVE projects like that. Don't you?  These would be great to make if you belong to a steampunk airship or other group that wants to identify themselves.  Medals can be made of just about anything you can imagine.  I plan to make some more until I either run out of aluminum or jewelry parts.  I also plan to make a sash to wear some of these on for the Steampunk Invasion at Scarborough Ren Faire the last weekend of April.  Though, I'm sure many of these medals will have to stay home.  :)

I still plan to post more about the progress on the "bustle bar" here in the near future.  Just have to get some good pics.  I'll try to get some while at Scarby.  So, stay tuned for more costuming posts.


Leah said...

They look great and so much fun! They add so much to the costume! Love seeing all the gadgets you come up with.

mieljolie said...

Thanks, Leah! They are fun! I've just finished one inspired kinda by St. George, the Dragon Slayer. Well, I had white ribbon, a greek cross and a dragon pendant, so it all just came together that way. But, I imagine the medal would be more about aiding in defeating myths about "dragons" being evil. I happen to like reptiles, myself. :)

Thanks for stopping in to comment, too!


The Cardboard Crafter said...

I've always loved medals, since back before the marching band days ;) They really add to your costume. Great job figuring out a way to make them so they won't fall apart the first time you wear them! Love it :)

mieljolie said...

Me, too. Though I was never in marching band, I did play (or should I say squeaked) clarinet up til high school. I got my few medals in nerdy things like math. :D


That Girl Ang said...

You are amazing. Very cool~

Momfishx2 said...

These are awesome, I'm trying some of my own. How did you get the points so nicely done?

And: I see a few Girl Scout pins mixed in there. I call that using resources wisely>

mieljolie said...

Sorry, Momfishx2. I somehow missed your question. To get the ribbon to cooperate, I just finger-pressed where I wanted the folds. (Dampening your finger just a little can help.) But, the large ring of the pendant around the ribbon is mainly what keeps it in place.

Anonymous said...

Whrere did you buy the ribbon ?

mieljolie said...

Most of these ribbons were reclaimed from old hat bands and dress ties. But, you can find suitable 1 1/2 inch ribbon at craft stores. Occasionally, ribbons like these are also used to wrap gifts.