Monthly Archives: July 2012

Yardwork: What I Do and How I Do It

I bought my house 18 months ago. I’ve not done much to the indoor decor beyond painting two rooms and pushing around furniture. Most of the work has been outside in the yard.

One of the first things I did after I moved in was rip out what my sister-in-law calls “snake bushes.” They’re these low slung evergreen bushes that were a prominent part of the yard when I bought the house. Grass has been a challenge to grow in the front yard – the soil is very sandy, and there’s a big oak tree that shades half of the yard. I like the shade of the oak tree, but grass likes sunlight. I did compare a picture taken last year to one taken now, and the grass does look much improved, though. I’ve tried using the Scott’s Turf Builder EZ Seed, but the oak tree shade isn’t a friend to the bermuda grass, it seems.

I’m pretty old school when it comes to taking care of the yard. I use a push reel mower from Craftsman. It was one of my first purchases for the new home – I bought it on sale at Sears for less than $100. I like it a lot. It’s not perfect – it takes more work to get the yard mowed than it would with a gas powered mower, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s a bit of a workout. But the best thing is that it’s quiet. I wake up fairly early, even on weekends, so it’s nice that I can get up and mow the lawn when it’s still cool in the morning, even in the Florida summers, without bothering neighbors. I don’t really care that I might have to go over thick spots twice.

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Make a Steampunk Raygun

I admit it, I like the steampunk aesthetic. I like the copper and wood and the fun gadgetry. I’ve never made anything steampunky though, and I wanted to give it a try. Some of my inspiration came from the cool raygun that Jen made over at Epbot here: That woman’s got mad skills.

While my son and I were out and about today, we stopped in at the Dollar Tree and found this three pack of raygun squirt guns. Three for a dollar is definitely a foot in the door to some experimentation. I chose the orange gun to modify, since it was the simplest to modify, and my son used the yellow. His has a fin and stylized lightning bolts, really fitting a 1950’s “atomic punk” kind of Buck Rogers sensibility, so I’m not showing it here.

I started off by painting the grip with brown acrylic paint, using a stiff brush to capture the brushstrokes in a faux wood grain. I let that dry and then I added some black in the same way, adding knots and more texture. After that, I went back over with brown, which hid some of the black, making it look more like part of the wood. It was quick and dirty, but I covered most of the grip with little mosaic tile stickers, which I think look pretty good.

Here’s my first real tip when doing this: Have a hair dryer ready. On the warm setting, with a low blow, it will speed your drying time like woah, letting you complete a project very quickly. Don’t do it too hot, or set it too strong, or it will make a mess.

After the stock, I started painting the rest of the gun mostly a copper color. The paint is actually called “Worn Penny.” I left the tip and the rings the orange color, thinking I would add a light inside, though in the end, I left it a functioning water pistol. The end of the gun, I painted black, and then brushed silver so it looks tarnished and worn. I added some silver highlights in seam areas, and then added a crown embellishment on the end, and a couple of fleur de lis on the sides. The water plug got a brad that had the end like a phillips head screw.

On top of the raygun, I added a case that held mechanical pencil lead and erasers. It looks somewhat scope-ish, or maybe a way to add energy pellets for the raygun or something like that. The ends swing open, which is kinda fun, and I painted the ends copper, too.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good for my first try at steampunking something. It was a nice little afternoon craft for my son and I.

What do you think?