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I Can See Clearly Now: Making Your Own Steampunk Goggles
Perhaps one of the most iconic accessories in the world of Steampunk is a set of goggles. Worn by scientists and aviators, motorists and adventurers, these items helped shield and protect the eyes against all sorts of environmental problems, dangers and hazards. And for those of you with money who are comfortable dropping a hundred dollars or more on a pair of goggles that's just fine. For those that don't have that sort of money though, there's a cheaper way. And just how cheap you decide to go, well, that's up to you.
Now the easiest possible way to do this is to modify an existing pair of goggles. If you go down to your local hardware store you can find goggles in a variety of shapes and sizes, all of which are functional and which won't cost you more than $10 or $15 (if you get the really high end stuff). A basic set of welding goggles will have screw off caps so that you can change out the lenses, and it will come with two inserts for darkening the light. This essentially provides you with everything you need to start out.
First thing you need to do is unscrew the caps and set them, and the lenses aside. Cut off the band if it's just a small elastic piece. Spray paint the frame of the goggles (or if you want to get fancy get some leather and cover the plastic with it, gluing the leather in place). Tape off the threads for the lens caps, because those have to remain unclogged. You can give the same treatment to the exterior of the lens caps, ensuring that you have a universal look. Once your initial modification is dried, screw the lenses and the lens caps back on so you can be sure there's no problem. Attach a new strap to the goggles, preferably leather or imitation leather, that you can adjust to fit your head. There are various straps that can be found on women's shoes, old leather jackets and a variety of other items. For a fancy look attach a short strap to each side of your goggles, and then attach those straps to a pad that will rest against the back of your head. The pad could be large or small, pirated from a shoulder strap for a camera or messenger bag.
If you prefer to make all your materials from scratch, there are other options. To make a single eye piece you'll need some sort of tube. This can be anything from a length of brass pipe with a threaded end, to the mouth of a Gatorade container. Cut the tube at an angle so that you can wear it against your eye and it's comfortable. Grind off burrs and add padding around the section that will be pressed to your face. Cut lenses from clear plastic and make sure they sit right over the opposite end of the tube, which is where your threads will be. Take a cap for the tube and cut around the top so there's perhaps a quarter inch of overlap to hold the lens down, then screw it onto the tube and over the lens. What you have now is a single lens held in place that you can look out of like a monocle.
Once you have a basic monocle you have a few options. One is to make a second monocle and join them together with a short length of cord or chain over the nose to make a set of goggles and then attach them to a longer strap over the back of the head. Another option, and one seen less frequently, is to take the single monocle and attach it to a strap worn at an angle like an eye patch. Or, alternatively, you could put your monocle on a chain like a jeweler's loupe and wear it in your breast pocket.
After you've made some basic monocle and goggle parts in this fashion you can start experimenting with alternative designs and embroidering what you have. Engraving the brass tubes, burning patterns in the leather, adding studs and attaching additional objects like secondary magnifying lenses are all potential decorations for your lenses. Additionally you can try different methods of holding them together, from lacing leather through pre-drilled holes to strong glue to rivets, there are dozens of different options when it comes to making your own Steampunk goggles and eye wear.
Photo credit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ErihMann
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