Originally, I was making these things as a Christmas present for Dave, but as I got more and more into the creative process, I realized that keeping it all a secret that long would be difficult. When I'm creating, I tend to bend my entire mind towards my goal, and I knew when I suddenly started checking out Steampunk movies, literature, and websites, Dave would be sure to notice. Also, I was almost certain to leave some bit or piece laying around accidentally, or even forget myself and start talking about it in a "what I did today" sort of way. I decided the only way to make sure it had its full impact was to give him the present earlier, for his birthday.
As I see it, every good Steampunker needs a few basic things: stylish clothing, a weapon, an invention, and a interesting talking point.
I thrifted hardcore for a week while Dave was out of town for a cigar convention, and got him a black pinstripe suit and a suitable tie. Not particularly steam-y in itself, but a good base to build on, and besides, it was in his size and the price was right. I called this ensemble "Like A Sir".
But sometimes you want something a bit more casual, and for that, I got him "The Country Squire": striped trousers, a vest, and a cravat that I made myself from a bit of real silk.
Next was the weapon. Without realizing it, I chose a weapon that is so prevalent in Steampunk circles that it is considered a standard: the Nerf Maverick. I sanded off the labeling and gave it a coat of semi-gloss black spray paint, then touched up the barrel and highlights with Antique Gold Rub-n-Buff. This is my new favorite stuff. It's easy to use, gives good results, and cleans up without much fuss. (I added more R-n-B after this pic was taken.)
And I banged out a holster for it using my incredibly basic leatherworking skills and a piece of saddle leather I got from the local tack shop for $15.
The invention took a lot of imagineering, to borrow a term from Disney. I decided that I wanted something clockwork with a specific function. I went to Seventh Sanctum and used one of their generators to come up with a name: the Deflecting Directing Mutant Manipulator. I call it the D2M2 for short. In my mind, it is a household item that can be used to either prevent mutants from approaching, or to coordinate the actions of any that do into something useful, say, doing the dishes or chopping wood. As you can see, it has a small end for single mutant control, or you can use the wide end to work with a larger group.
No Steampunk outfit would be complete without the goggles. I got these at Harbor Freight Tools for five bucks. A bit of black spraypaint, touched with brown to "age" it a bit, and Rub-n-Buff for the accents, and ta-dah! A very cromulent pair of goggles.
Finally, the "talking point" -- a conversation starter, if you will. This is the bit that took the most thought, actually. I had to come up with a plausible reason for Dave to have such an item: where it came from, what it is, all that. So I wrote up a short story from the viewpoint of an old penpal from England who had grown up to become an eminent biologist. He found/captured this in his travels and (after a brief altercation with a covetous colleague) sent it to Dave in America, to keep it from the greedy clutches of his fellow scientists.
Here it is in it's pre-bottled state,
....and here it is after being properly preserved.
Whew! I'm tired after all this creating! I'm gonna go take a nap. Next time, I'll let you read the short story that went with all this. =)