This series of posts will showcase some props I crafted for L’Exposition Extraordinaire d’Aven, a Swiss steampunk larp organised by S.T.I.M. in July 2011. The setting went from 18th century to early 20th century, hence my rather lacepunk outfit. My character was Llomand Crosley, captain of the Luciole Sereine, the game world’s first zeppelin. Part of the Chaîne des Cités Franches faction, the airship’s main purpose was trading, but it did indulge in a little bit of mercenary work. The video below is inspired by the character’s actual sales pitch during the game, and was made as a possible sequel to the larp. As Llomand saw his first kinograph during the exhibit, he figured out a commercial application. This was a one-shot craft project, I do not sell props and will not make more, but will try to explain how you can make them on this blog. And no, my real accent isn’t that bad.
When I first saw the Crosley Revolution, both its looks and its features just screamed “mad retrofuturistic science”, hence steampunk. I bought a beige version and sprayed it dark gold (make sure you protect clear parts, buttons and the needle). I then covered parts of it in fake-wood sticker paper, and “aged and greased” the whole thing with black acrylic paint.
Make sure you leave the various plugs and buttons accessible by cutting the sticker accordingly.
I think a key component of steampunk props it that they should actually release smoke, as real steam may be difficult for safety reasons. I designed a smoke input by screwing a gold L-shape plumbing pipe thingie from the local hardware store onto the turntable’s cover. Make sure you pick small screws so that they don’t block the turntable’s arm.
The flexible piping is a blue ribbed tube designed to contain electric wires, also available at your local hardware store, sprayed dark gold and aged as above.
The rest of the tubing is silicone tubing, this is very important because the smoke machine generates a lot of heat and it will melt the blue tube for example. The main problem of silicone tubing is that paint just doesn’t hold on to it. Because of its airtight properties, silicone tubing was also used to connect the ribbed, rigid end of the blue tube to the mini gramophone replica pavillon I bought on eBay. I ordered the silicone tubing online from a German company.
The sound volume is in no way tied to the smoke output, so make sure you roleplay it well to maintain suspension of disbelief.
I fixed the tube onto a leather baldric (“Doran” crossbelt from Mytholon) that I had bought the year before at Conquest of Mythodea to carry my latex saber. It’s very important to prevent the tube from being pinched by the gold wire fixing it to the baldric as this will block airflow out of the smoke machine and potentially damage it.
The “pressure regulator” is a compass replica bought on eBay
And the smoke machine is Tiny F07 by Look Solutions. They don’t seem to make it anymore, but for fluid capacity reasons this was the model I needed for another project, and the separate components nicely fit the steampunk concept. For the larp, I secured them tightly to the baldric with golden wire, but had to do it “quick & dirty” for the video shoot.
The external speaker was an Altec Lansing inMotion iM600 iPod dock I was not using anymore. I just realized it actually features an FM antenna and the Crosley Revolution features an FM transmitter, meaning I actually didn’t need an audio cable to connect them. Since the paint I used on the cable never dried and left gold traces on most of the components, I really wish I’d have thought of this before the game.
There you are: that item was renamed “Instrument Phonographique Omni-Déplaçable”, aka the Crosley. Larpers among you may freak out about the fact that I named my character due to the out-of-character prop’s brand, and Firefly fans will catch how I used the name to convey subliminal meaning about the character.
Next up: clothes, including the acetyled tricorn!
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