Monday, June 25, 2012

Steampunk on the Cheap - DIY goggles from stuff you have

I just want to provide some more examples of how you don't have spend a great deal of money to put together a Steampunk outfit.  If you're interested in the Steampunk scene, you've probably discovered that it can get expensive putting a 1st costume together, especially if you purchase finished pieces from steampunk artists.  But, even if you decide to DIY but don't possess or have access to a lot of fancy tools for working metal or leather, you still may spend a pretty penny.  The good news is you can fake a lot of this with a bit of glue and patience.  And, the best and most visible accessory to start with is a pair of goggles.

I've posted about our goggle tinkering before here.  But, I wanted to stress that you don't even have to scour flea markets and 2nd hand stores or drop $10 at the hardware store on a pair of welding goggles to make a customize version of this common accessory. I'd like to inspire you to try some other materials you may already have in your possession. Some of the best goggles I've seen around were made from the oddest and most unique materials.  They can be made at next to no costs for supplies from stuff you may have around your house.  (I seem to say this line a LOT on here, don't I?!)

You may have seen my own previous attempts with aluminum cans/bottles and scraps of leather.  I made them from what I had on hand.  Granted I did have a budding leather worker to steal bits from.  (You can read more about the monocle here and the beer goggles here.).  But, say you don't have leather scraps lying around.

Long before my attempts, my own sweety got a wee bit creative on his own with a pair he made out of hearing test headphones, a cheap pair of dollar store plastic binoculars and some other assorted parts.  (I've been meaning to post better pics of these for some time as I'd promised.)  They're my favorite pair of all that we own, and I claimed them to wear on this reshaped old felt cowboy hat.  The brass filigree on these goggles was cut with tin snips from a lamp and the strap and cups around the eyepieces are scrap from a faux leather belt and some elastic.  (See, and at the time these were made, we didn't even have real leather to work with.)  Everything was bent, glued, screwed and sewn on the best he could. 

Gotta be one of the most original pair I've seen, and they were his first pair of goggles and FIRST steampunk accessory!  No previous costuming experience here.

But, you don't have to get this complex with found parts when making your own goggles, either.  If you don't have access to broken clock, lamps and other items you don't HAVE to go shopping.  Just look around for what you DO have.  Open every cluttered draw and dig in every dark corner, closet or even recycle bin.  You never know what is waiting.  Just check out this pair made with Prescription Bottles by Billy Mitchell (Picture courtesy of Christopher Ruth of Gypsies Welcome).

Yes, they're made with these:

..and what looks like some can tabs and a purse strap.  It was such a wonderful idea!  The top of the bottle is a perfect size/shape!  Hat's off to your sir for the genius "upcycler" you are!

But, even if you don't have any of these bottles, there is still hope.

Most recently, I made a pair out of juice jug tops.  Here's a pic of a friend sporting his new juice jug goggles on a hat he made himself.  I used the top portion of two 2 qt. plastic juice bottles (I think these are Northland brand juice).


I cut the top off with a pair of sharp scissors.  Then, trimmed them til they matched and fit the contour of my face.  The strap is simply black waistband elastic.  I didn't get a chance to decorate these with any extras because they were made last minute for an event.  Just gold/bronze spray paint, shoe polish to stain/age them sealed with clear acrylic spray paint and the green 2-liter bottle lenses.  But, I think they look pretty cool on their own.  And, as with the aluminum monacle's brown A&W bottle lenses, which had a screw off lid frame, the lenses are removable.  So, he can change out the color to match his outfit.  :)   If I'd had more time, I probably would have added a molding around the eye pieces on these for better comfort.  But, since they will most likely never leave the crown of the hat to ever be worn on a face, it really isn't necessary.

There are so many materials around the house that can make cool goggle bases.  I've seen other goggles in many different styles made with pipe fittings, old sunglasses, assorted bits of gears and leather.  Smaller caps could be used as vents or smaller lenses.  Plastic can also be cut into shapes like gears that could be attached by melting, glue or even a brass brad fastener. It's fairly easy to work with plastic, too.  You can use sharp scissors, utility knives, or a soldering iron to cut and pierce the plastic and bend it to your will.  It's just up to you and your imagination to make them even better.  Will you be a professor, a mechanic, a pilot, or traveler.  It's all up to you.

I'd like to continue working on yet another pair with a larger round topped juice jug.  (The tops are in the pic above.)  But, first I need to finish up some overdue tutorials and do some much needed cleaning in the craft room, again.  In the meantime, I've got a few posts to make on my sweety's hat making progress and the daughter's sewing projects.


  1. What fun. My daughter and I wanted to make some steampunk pieces and this might be something we can start with.

  2. You sure can, Diane! Have a great time with it! I'd love to see what you two come up with! If you have any questions while working, just ask!


  3. I love the last ones! Did you cut the juice jug caps to put in the lens? If so, how?

  4. Thanks, Violet! Yes, I cut the center out with a jeweler's saw, but there are many other ways to remove it. You could do it using a sharp craft knife and smooth the edge with a file or dremel tool. There is usually a line to follow in the cap.