Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Steampunked Nerf Gun

UPDATE: Instructable on making this here.

I caught a cold while I was in SF, so there hasn't been much sewing going on here. I know from past experience that if I try to sew while I'm stuffed up and drippy-nosed (at the same time! How is that even possible?!), I'll make some terrible mistake, like sewing the side back piece to the center front piece. So I've been working on another project from my list instead. That list is really so useful. It keeps me focused, otherwise I just think I want to try everything and anything and I never get anything done at all. I'm all about taking on other projects to give myself a break while I'm working on something else, so at least this way they're all projects I know I wanted to do. For example, I started working on the Little Prince quilt, but then took a break from it with fabric printing, then took a break from that with a halter dress I'm working on, and now I'm taking a break from that dress with this project. Oh, and somewhere in there, in a fit of creating, I also sewed my Art Nouveau Party Dress. Gosh, it's a wonder I ever accomplish anything.

Anyway. I wanted a gun to go with the steampunk-ish costume I'm working on, because, inspired by Zoe, Saffron, and even Inara from Firefly, I believe that every lady should be able to shoot. Kaylee is great and all, but she was kind of useless during the War Stories episode. So I started with the cheapy Nerf gun that my husband bought two years ago for a youth group game, originally $8.99 at Target.
Before, minus the red laser.

I started with cleaning off all the dust, then painting it with the 69¢ bottles of acrylic paint that I have leftover from oh, eight years ago. To cover all the bright orange and yellow took two coats of paint (I used Pure Gold, Raw Sienna, and Slate Grey coated with Metallic Silver). It wasn't too difficult; just time consuming getting into all those little nooks and crannies and using a really tiny paintbrush to get the lines perfect.
Walnut investigates.
Very nice. A little too nice.

It was starting to look pretty good, but not authentically used, you know, like it had been through gunfights and all. To give it some texture and character, and to mimic the look of actual wood and metal (not just plastic painted with acrylic), I "glazed" it. This was done very scientifically by mixing a little black paint and water, and using my fingers to rub the mixture all over the gun and then wipe it off quickly before it dried. That gave it the nice streaky look that highlighted my brush strokes, but also made it look more real at the same time.

Much better. This baby has been through some real tough times.

Look, those fake nails have dirt accumulated in them from years of shooting.

Then I decided that I needed to embellish it a little and cover up that very un-steampunky Nerf sign, so I raided my button stash for appropriate elements. I found these two large buttons that fit right over it, and proceeded to hammer at the back to break off the button-thing so that they would have flat backs.

I chose two other buttons for the front of the gun, a wing-looking one and a wood-ish one. I also painted the stick-part of one of those cheap plastic paintbrushes for kids and hot-glued it to the top, then added a brass cap nut to the end. After all this, I showed my masterpiece to my husband, who said "I thought it looked fine with the orange." I wanted to scream and laugh at the same time, but opted for trying to explain that steampunk is not about orange plastic.

This gun is still functional! Although I won't be shooting it anytime soon, since the part of the loading mechanism that's still hidden remains bright orange.

You can still see the original safety warning, because safety is very important.

Tomorrow: steampunk lab goggles!


  1. A-MAZING!! Wow! I love that you gave the gun some wear and tear! It looks so authentic. My favorite part, though, is the moonstone-looking button covering the Nerf sign!

  2. Wow! It looks fantastic. I will have to keep this in mind for my steampunk costumes.

  3. Whoa! What a transformation! If you hadn't mentioned that it was a nerf gun, I would have never guessed. Great job! :)

  4. Thanks, everyone! It was surprisingly easy to paint, but it definitely took a lot of time and patience!

  5. I just stumbled on your site and I absolutely love this steampunk nerf gun! Even before the steampunkification is complete, it looks awesome with NERF on. I don't know if you've heard of a computer game called Fallout (classic post-apocalyptic RPG), but this would fit right in!

  6. when i first saw a picture of it on Craft, I thought it was carved out of wood! Excellent work!!

  7. Oh, this is great work - with great stories attached to it. :-)


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