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Posts Tagged ‘Brass’

Repurposing cardboard into steampunk airship gondolas – Artsmith Craftworks

09 May

One of the major activities I engage in when creating my art is repurposing everyday objects into something else. A couple of the things I repurpose the most are paper and corrugated cardboard…  simple and seemingly utilitarian materials that we all take for granted. Not me. I look at these materials with love and excitement. I’m passionate about art using repurposed materials, but at the very core of my being, I love paper and other materials made with paper, such as cardboard, fiberboard, handmade paper, recycled paper, papier mâché and on and on.

In today’s post, I include a video in which I talk about how I transform scrap corrugated cardboard into the framework of the steampunk Victorian airship gondolas I create. Once these cardboard pieces are put together, I cover them in a variety of outer skins, from wood to copper and brass to steel or other metals. Of course, what I use is not really wood or metals…it’s paper…made to look like metal. That’s just how I roll.

Enjoy!

What materials do you like to use in your art? I’d love to hear your comments! Also, please share these posts with other friends and artists you know. Let’s get a conversation started!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.

 

Airship Christmas ornaments

21 Dec

I recently finished two different sets of little steampunk airship Christmas ornaments for some friends of mine. I had started them awhile ago, then with the other work I was doing, I had put them on the back burner. They turned out even better than I expected and they were a huge hit; so much so that I have orders already for next year. Guess I better get busy. I’ll post links to my Etsy site once I get some finished for 2016. Set #1 is very Victorian looking with red, gold and green colors. In this set, there are two airships and one steampunk hot air balloon.

Photo of a set of three steamunk airship Christmas ornaments. Colors, red, gold and green.

Set #1 Victorian steampunk style in red, green and gold

Set #2 is a bit more grunge steampunk looking, with metallic colors and rigid gondolas…

Photo of a set of three steamunk airship Christmas ornaments. Colors, metallic copper, bronze and brass.

Set #2 Grunge steampunk style in copper, bronze and brass

Needless to say, the sets didn’t last long. They were for a party raffle and were so popular that they were separated into individual pieces, not sets, so that there were 6 prizes instead of two.

As always, I encourage comments and dialogue. Drop me a line to ask questions, make suggestions or order a custom airship of your very own and let me know what you think or the ornaments and if you want a set for next holiday season!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.

 

Medium sized Victorian Steampunk “Maki” airship

09 Sep

I’ve done larger ships and I’ve done smaller ones, but this medium sized, Victorian Steampunk “Maki” airship is a very desirable one. It’s small enough to easily place in a room without special accommodations, yet large enough to make a statement and be the center of an arrangement.

Medium Victorian Steampunk "Maki" airship

Medium Victorian Steampunk “Maki” airship

This piece, as with all my work, uses upcycled, repurposed materials and found objects in its design and construction. It is approximately 36″ long and 22″ deep and 18″ wide. The gondola is my own adaptation of a “pirate ship” profile, with wood plank decking and brass anchors.

Gondola detail

Gondola detail

As always, I encourage comments and dialogue. Drop me a line to ask questions, make suggestions or order a custom airship of your very own!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or by phone at 810-516-7381.

 

18″ Steampunk airship 003

22 Apr

Today’s post is a mid-range size steampunk airship. This dirigible has a more “grunge” gondola with the propeller mounted on it instead of on the airship envelope like others I’ve done. It also has a pillar mount rather than the more Victorian looking netted suspension and the fins are a plate copper design. The overall length is about 18″ due to the propeller being on the gondola.

18" steampunk airship 003.

18″ steampunk airship 003

Gondola detail

Gondola detail

As always, I encourage comments and dialogue. Drop me a line to ask questions, make suggestions or order a custom airship of your very own!

Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and repurposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and upcycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on repurposing/upcycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or by phone at 810-516-7381.

 

Small steampunk gunship #1

03 Dec

This is a 12″ steampunk airship that I built originally for the 2012 World Steam Expo in Dearborn Michigan. I actually built four of them, but this one and one other are the only two I have photos for. I’ve built quite a few at this size, and they are nice, but surprisingly, they seem to be less popular than a version I’m doing lately that’s about 50% larger. I try to build airships that capture a Victorian whimsy or a harder edge steampunk aesthetic, but that always look well used machines, not bright, shiny relics.

12" Steampunk Gunship Airship 01

12″ Steampunk Gunship Airship 01

This airship is a simple Victorian design that, like all my other work, uses recycled, repurposed materials. I save scraps of just about anything to use as raw materials for my sculptures. My wife thinks I teeter on the edge of being a hoarder, but I’m more of a saver of artistic elements, so I guess I hoard with a purpose!

I’d like to say that there is a link for this to my Etsy site for purchase, but alas, this one is sold. If this ship is one that you would like to have built as part of your own home steampunk display, don’t hesitate to email me for details!

What type of features would you like to see on the airships I build? I welcome all comments!

 

The gondola

24 Feb

I’ve made quite a few gondolas that were the typical boat style, but I wanted to do something different for this steampunk diarama. I thought that making something that looked like a tube or bubble would be cool, so I started rummaging through my boxes of pieces and parts to find an object that would be suitable to repurpose. What I came up with was two plastic scoops that came out of a powdered drink mix or something, (I collect anything that’s interesting!). Shown here, I’ve already painted the handles and attached a plastic piece with a spiral as a “bowsprit”.

Plastic scoops as gondola

Plastic scoops as gondola

Here’s a close up of the bowsprit and the front of the gondola.

Bowsprit closeup

Bowsprit closeup

I glued the two scoops to a plastic disc for some visual interest, then added a flat plastic piece in between the handles, (not pictured), then I created a rudder fin to go on the stern of the gondola. I used the same technique as I did for the stabilizer fins.

Rudder fin

Rudder fin

The final gondola was then given an antiquing of patina color where appropriate (brass and copper areas), and attached to the airship body. This attachment required a careful snipping of the paper airship skin so the handles of the scoops could be inserted and glued.

Finished gondola

Finished gondola

Here’s a closeup of the attachment.

Closeup of gondola

Closeup of gondola

Next post, I’ll show how I prepared the “box” part of the diarama. That is certainly an example of recycle, reuse and repurpose! Thank you for your continued interest in my work…

How would you have built the gondola?

 

 

 

 

Airship Anastasia!

17 Nov

Usually I build a larger airship. At least larger in the sculpture sense…something in the neighborhood of 5 feet long, or so. In a room that is larger or when placed in a dedicated display area, they’re fantastic and formidable. In a small area though, they can be a bit tight.

This project, therefore, is much smaller. At about two and a half feet long, the Anastasia is about half the size of the Diabolus and the OTBP airship at Off the Beaten Path in Farmington, Michigan. Those of you who have seen one or both of those airships will be able to visualize the size better. At this size, Anastasia would be at home in even a very small house, apartment or office, (are you picturing a steampunk themed office? Very cool indeed!).

The Airship Anastasia

Anastasia from the starboard

The style is once again, more Victorian whimsey than copper and brass dreadnaught, but the Anastasia is not without her defenses. Small and nimble, the Anastasia would turn more quickly than most larger ships, allowing the bow-mounted plasma generator to take care of frontal and flanking assaults, while a crew member tail gunner moves to defend against attacks from the stern with an aether disruptor cannon.

Anastasia gondola close-up

Propulsion close-up

Next up is another larger airship; similar in style, but a bit heavier in the speed department and bit more armed to match. Watch for it!

I’d also love for you to subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already, and while you’re at it, please wander over to my Facebook Page here and give it a “like”. Thanks!

 

From scrap to steampunk sunglasses

14 Sep

Even though my mainline is steampunk zeppelin airships, one of my latest projects has been to fashion a pair of steampunk sunglasses. Now I know that goggles are a steampunk icon, but I’m a bit of a sunglasses collector, having accumulated about 125 pair over the years. I have new wave and punk rock styles, Buddy Hollys, Venetian blind shades, owls, John Lennons, grannies, hippies and all sorts of themed varieties. What I didn’t have were any that were of a steampunk nature, so I put on my thinking cap and designed a pair. Of course, I had to stay with my mantra of “recycle, re-use and re-purpose”, so I built my sunglasses using materials that would have been junk otherwise. With a little painted patina and antiquing, some suede scraps and a lot of plastic pieces and parts, I was able to fashion a pair of wearable, however somewhat impractical, wild and crazy steampunk fashion sunglasses.

Steampunk sunglasses

Lens detail

Right temple detail

Left temple detail

Lens detail

Most of the pieces are re-purposed plastic pen barrels, odds and ends of metal, brass screws, scraps of suede and toy parts. The lenses are actually welding goggle lenses that have been inserted into vitamin bottle lids.

I’d love to hear your comments! How would you have made these?

 

 

 

 

Steampunk loft

18 Aug

My daughter came hopping up the stairs tonight, bouncing off the walls with excitement at the Yahoo Real Estate article on a Manhattan loft that is steampunk from stem to stern. Complete with zeppelins, gears, portholes and countless other Victorian vintage, this Chelsea apartment is a steampunks dream. Functional levers, gadgets and gizmos in brass, copper and other materials make it interactive as well as charming.

Click here

Visually, the place is so stimulating that I think I’d have a hard time relaxing there, since I’d be too busy looking and playing with all the cool art. Perhaps though, the place could use one more airship piece…

What do you think?

 

Vent tubes

03 Aug

So in case you were wondering how to make a cool and convincing steampunk vent tube that you would see on something mechanical, coal-fired, steam-powered or something lighter-than-air…say like…an AIRSHIP, here’s how I do it. I have a bunch of medical surplus tubing connectors. They use these to connect rubber hoses in ventilators and such. What I do is trim off any sharp edges, which there shouldn’t be too many of if it’s medical supply pieces. Rough it up a bit with a piece of fine sandpaper and then hit it with your favorite metallic brass or copper spray enamel. When it’s dry, add rivets with metallic puffy paint and then patina the piece with some green acrylic paint. What you wind up with is something like this…

Vent tubes

To add these to the Diabolus, I glued pieces of bamboo skewers into them with the sharp ends sticking out. I could then push them into the sides of the airship. Before I did that, I created a flat plate for effect using cardboard with puffy paint rivets as shown.

Flat plates

Once painted and patina antiqued, these become the bases that the vent tubes get pushed into for the final effect shown below.

Vent tube installed

 

Steampunk wristwatch

28 Jul

Along with showing how I build Victorian steampunk airships, I like to post to ArtSmith CraftWorks about other cool steampunk art that I come across from time to time. Actually I run across cool steampunk stuff ALL the time and I’ll start posting about them more here. The latest cool thing I found was actually an “Instructable” that I grabbed the YouTube URL for. A guy who’s deviantArt username is “gogglerman” shows how to custom craft a very cool brass / copper steampunk wristwatch with a mechanical iris covering the face.

What kinds of awesome art have you created? Drop me a comment and let me know. I’d be happy to show it off on this blog!

 

Turret installation

23 Jul

Installing the observation turrets into the sides of the Diabolus first requires cutting a hole in the mâché. Due to the curving shape of the airship’s sides, the hole could not be just a simple circle, but rather a complicated ellipse. I had to hold the turret alongside the airship and lightly and carefully trace its contour into the side, allowing the pencil to follow not only the edge of the turret, but also the contour of the Diabolus. Once the hole was traced and cut, the turret slid in fairly easily and was glued into place.

Observation turret in place

With the turret in place, I bordered around it with brass trim and riveting for a strong finished look.

Turret from below

And with the “brass” trim applied, adding some patina with acrylic paint to the side of the airship gives it a weathered and aged look. Below is another view of the Diabolus showing both turrets and their position relative to the rest of the airship.

Both turrets in an inferior view

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Do you have any cool stuff you like to do with recycled or re-purposed materials?

 

Turret construction

09 Jul

Today, I’m going to show you how I put together the observation turrets that are on the sides of the Diabolus. Believe it or not, I used repurposed pieces for these as well 😉  Really, you say? I don’t believe it!   Well, it’s true…read on to see more!

I started with the bottom of one of those 50 cent gumball machine toy bubbles as shown below…

Gumball toy bubble

In order to make it look like a paneled turret, I need something that not only looks like metal, specifically brass or copper, but also is thin and flexible. I could use thin sheet craft copper, but remember that I like to reuse materials or repurpose things. What I do is to paint tape, then cut it into strips. You’ll also notice that I added “rivets” and patina before peeling up the strips to apply to the bubble.

Painted tape cut into strips

Next, of course, I add the strips to the bubble in a fashion that is reminiscent of the gun turrets on a WWII bomber, or the bridge of the Millennium Falcon, whichever you prefer!

Finished turret

So this is how the finished turret looks. In order to add it to the side of the Diabolus, I need to build a “background”, and I’ll show you how next post!

 

Continuing the Diabolus

04 Jul

Today I’m back to showing the progress of the Diabolus. You’ve all seen the finished product, as I displayed it at the World Steam Expo back at the end of May. I want to finish the progression so you see how it was constructed.

I left off at showing you the fin support construction. I’ll now show you the fin hub which ties all the fins together aft of the propeller. This hub starts with a couple of simple repurposed plastic pieces; in this case, a couple peanut butter jar lids.

Peanut butter jar lids

Followed by a spray paint can lid and a laundry detergent cap…

Lids and caps

Then put together…

Lids and caps assembled

And then painted bronze and patina painted…

Painted fin hub

Finally, put in place and trimmed with stabilizers.

Fin hub with stabilizers

So, once again, finished piece looking nothing like the original repurposed pieces! Next I’ll show how I constructed the observation turrets.

Would you be interested in seeing examples of how to choose items to repurpose?

 

Fin supports

17 May

Now as I continue work on this papier mache airship, I need to add spacers for the back of the fins to attach them to the propeller hub and join them behind the propeller. Because of the multiple angles, I need to cut pieces and glue them to match the contours of the fins and the propeller hub. I would have preferred to use something light weight, but I felt I needed something with a lot of strength in all vectors, so I elected to use scrap repurposed wood.

Cut wooden fin support pieces

Once put together, the wooden pieces take on the shape and angles needed to support the fins.

Glued together wooden fin support

Now I add recycled fiberboard to the ends and add paint rivets…which looks like this…

Fiberboard on the ends, with painted rivets

Next, we paint the pieces with the brass paint.

Painted supports in place holding the fins

This thing just keeps getting better and better! What detailing would you add to make this zeppelin more realistic?

 

Fin attachment

14 May

Now that the fin struts are attached, I add the fins. This is a HUGE step since I have so many places where the fins have to line up, plus drilling out the fins to accept the strut pin, gluing, etc. The effect, however, is quite dramatic!

Fin mounting close-up

There are three places where the fin mounts to the papier mache airship body, then two places aft.

Whole body view of fin attachment

You’ll notice that at first, the aft positions of attachment have a gap to be filled, but you’ll see the reason as we go on.

Aft view of fin construction

Next time, I’ll show you the construction of the aft fin struts and the tail hub. Again, the pieces are recycled/reused/repurposed items of plastic, wood and cardboard, painted with patina antiquing to look like aged brass. We’re in the homestretch of this cool airship now, so stay tuned for more!

 

Adding the fin struts

09 May

OK, so I took a brief hiatus from posting the progress of the steampunk airship I’m working on to post a couple other items of interest. Now I’m back on the schedule and today’s installment is putting the fin struts on the airship body. These are the structures that will support the fins and provide some profile interest to the piece. The struts are made of repurposed materials, as you knew they would be…in this case, scotch tape cores and vitamin bottle lids! I had to cut the cores to match the contour of the zeppelin body ridges, paint them, then push a drilled out and painted vitamin bottle lid into the top of them.

Repurposed pieces for fin strut

Repurposed plastic...stuff you'd usually toss!

By themselves, the pieces of reused plastic don’t look like much, but add some brass color paint and put a green patina on them and they start to look like…well, something. Then add them to the construction of the airship and they start to make a bit more sense.

Lid pressed into core

When these pieces are added to the body of the airship, you can see how they will lift the fin away from the body of the airship and give it a dynamic look.

Fin strut attached to airship body

Three of these struts attached as shown will hold each of the airship fins.

Three fin struts attached in a row

Next we start attaching the fins! Don’t touch that dial!

 

Interview

20 Apr

Today, I’d like to interrupt my airship update to repost an interview that was done on me by Audelia Flint, who is the author of the Steampunk Blog: Trial by Steam. I’ve included the whole interview, but you can also view it in it’s entirety by clicking the headline link below.

An Interview with Stephan J. Smith

Stephan J. Smith is the artist behind Artsmith Craftworks, creates hand made airship models to decorate Steampunk homes and other beautiful works from paper and papier-mâché. I got the opportunity to pull him away from he preparations for the World Steam Expo to tell me a bit about his art.

How did you learn to craft your art?
I’ve been an artist at heart since I was a little kid, but I started formally as a graphic designer – went to Ferris State University in Michigan. Even though that was mainly related to advertising and marketing, I always loved the fine art field as well and have always been fascinated by paper.

How did you decide to craft model airships?
I was commissioned by an interior designer friend of mine, (Betsy Rackliffe), to construct one for a Steampunk bookstore, (Off the Beaten Path), she was designing the interior for. There was such a terrific response and interest that it was suggested that I do others and offer them for sale.

Tell me a bit about Artsmith Craftworks.
Artsmith Craftworks is the name I chose that both reflected my name and the “craft” of art that I do. As I mentioned, I love paper, so anything that involves paper interests me. I like cut paper sculpture, papier mache, hand-cast paper from recycled pulp, and many other paper media. I DO also have a great affinity for mosaic. Ceramic, glass, stone and even paper mosaic…such a beautiful art form! So I guess that’s what Artsmith Craftworks is about.

Tell me more about the importance you place on recycled and repurposed materials.
Well, my own personal “mission” is to create art using something that would have gotten thrown away otherwise. Like I said before, I like making hand-cast sheets of paper using old scrap that I have pulped, thereby making something beautiful and useful out of it again. Papier mache allows me to use scrap paper to built things with “junk” paper. I often do cut paper sculptures using scrap paper company swatch books. I use bottle lids, random plastic pieces, cut foam, wooden dowels, paper and plastic tubes, etc., and I cut them, paint them and they become something else. Most of the mosaics I do use broken tile or glass that was garbage bound and I do scrap paper mosaics as well. It just feels good to do something cool with discarded materials that would have gone into a landfill otherwise.

Any upcoming projects you’d like to tell people about?
I plan to be at the World Steam Expo in Dearborn, Michigan on Memorial Day weekend. I’ll have a couple new large airships as well as some Do-It-Yourself little airship kits. In fact, the plan is that I’ll be running a couple panels showing people how to construct the little airships with the kits I put together. True to form, these kits are made with recycled/repurposed materials! I’ve also been contacted by an independent filmaker who wants me to build an airship for a Steampunk film he’s currently working on. The airship will be shot against green screen with background dropped in during post production…very exciting stuff!

What is your favorite and least favorite medium/material with which to work? Why?
Of course, paper is my favorite and I like tile & stone in mosaic too. I think paper represents something renewable, very earthy and natural and is a very flexible and forgiving medium to work with. I don’t think I have a least favorite. I’ve worked with a lot of different materials, some not my favorites, but none that I dislike really.

What does Steampunk mean to you?
To me, Steampunk represents an exciting age when the possibilities of new materials, energies and knowledge were being discovered and utilized. To us, it represents an age of whimsical innocence, seemingly free of the hustle and bustle of modern life, but brimming with its own gadgets and wonder.

Where can people purchase your art?
Currently, my blog has a page with pieces for sale, but they are sparse at this point as I prepare for World Steam. I plan to have an Etsy store in the not-too-distant future.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Only that I appreciate the warm welcome and reception that I’ve gotten from the Steampunk community. Everyone has been very complimentary and excited when they’ve seen my pieces. And, Audelia, I’d like to invite you and anyone you’re connected with to visit my blog and have a look around and feel free to comment. I’d also like to thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog!

To learn more about Artsmith Craftworks and stay up to date on all of Stephan’s latest activities, please be sure to drop by his website and like him on Facebook!
 

Propeller Assembly

16 Apr

Now we get to see what the propeller assembly looks like all put together. It certainly starts to put things in context. The patina gives the overall aged look to the brass…wait a minute…brass? Remember, this is not metal! It’s reused paper, cardboard and plastic pieces!

Steampunk propeller assembly

Here is the propeller assembly mounted to the housing and then to the body of the steampunk airship itself. Once attached, it’s thrilling to see how it’s taking shape. Pieces look like pieces, but when it all starts to come together……

Propeller assembly attached to airship

And here’s a closer look…

Attached assembly close up

Stay tuned…next time, we’ll take a look at the fin mounts!

 

Propeller painting

07 Apr

Now we brass paint the propeller. Usually I would add rivets before painting, but originally, I wasn’t going to put rivets on the prop, so I went ahead and painted it. When I looked at it afterwards, I decided it would look better with rivets, so I added them over the paint then repainted it again.

Painted propeller with rivets added

After the second brass painting, the prop looks like this.

Repainted propeller

The final step is to patina paint the propeller to give it the proper aged look.

Green patina on the propeller

The results are pretty amazing! Now we have a very steampunk looking propeller for our zeppelin. The rest of the exterior pieces will have this same aged brass look. In the next post, I’ll be showing how the propeller assembly looks after it is attached to the airship, so drop back by and visit soon!