Sunday, 7 February 2010

Brass Goggles from Ginger Beer Bottle, Part I


The original and utterly awesome goggles (aka "beer goggles") were made by a friend of mine named Emily for her character at the local larp system (on of the many offshoots of the orignal Treasure Trap). They can be seen into the steampunk skirt and steampunk dress photos. Here is simply a chronicle of my terribly exciting adventure of trying to make something similar (so as not to run off hers and fail to ever give them back).

A word of warning to those who wish to attempt to follow this recipe. These goggles They Do Nothing. Actually, they do even less than nothing. They are prop-quality only and you should avoid wearing them over your eyes in sunglight as the coloured plastic would dilate your pupils, but not protect them from ultraviolet light.

  • 2 beer cans (note the colour of the top rim and its shape)
  • 1 ginger beer bottle (or any large plastic brown-ish coloured bottle)
  • some leather scraps (or suede or fake suede)
  • 1 buckle, two studs, two (or more) eyelets
  • lots of gaffer tape (black)
Notable tools:
  • bull-nosed pliers and tin snips
  • glue gun and glue sticks (or superglue)
  • a pair of scissors (you'll probably want a whetstone at some point to sharpen them)
  • leatherworking tools (if you're using leather; much easier with fake suede where you could just use normal needle and thread)
The Mercenary's goggle-making adventures with many photographs and of dubious excitement value under the cut.

1) Emptying the Bottles

Chop vegetables, brown meat, add beer, make beef-and-Guinness stew. Or just drink it. But stew is tasty.

Rinse out the bottles.

2) Cut Out the Eyepieces from the Beer Cans 

I drew on the approximate shape with a permanent marker first (using the original goggles as a guide).

After making an incision with a relevantly shaped swiss-army knife attachment (old-fashioned tin opener can also be used), I cut up the cans with a pair of scissors. The metal is very thin and easy to cut. I managed to complete the process without accidentally cutting myself. I recommend putting tea towel or newspaper down to catch any stray silvers of metal.

The scissors actually gave much smoother lines than the tin snips at this point.

Note that one side sticks out more than the other so as to push the goggles to face forward when worn (I doubt they'll ever be worn over eyes, but it seems important to make sure it's possible).

I cut from the bottom up in attempt of achieving smoother lines.

3) Gaffer and Shape the Eyepieces

After cutting out the eyepieces, I gaffered over the edges (using small pieces). I was careful to leave the brass-coloured rim exposed.

I learnt that the gaffer makes the scissors slip less, they are easier to shape after you've gaffered over edges.

4) Testing Them on Face

Hold the eyepieces to your face and have a friend check that they're facing forward. This is an imperfect but important process to avoid the goggles from, well, pointing the wrong way.

5) Cutting out the Middle Bit

In Emily's original goggles (see above) the metal has simply been cut out of the centre. I did something different.

Hoping for a smoother line, I've cut out most of the middle bit and then cut little incisions into the remaining metal. Then I used pliers to fold back the metal tabs. This is where the tin snips came in handy, to make the small cuts that are necessary in order to form the small metal tabs that would be folded back.

Afterwards, I gaffered the metal tabs down. There will also be the plastic lens between my eye and the sharp metal bits, but is best to be safe (ish).

The sacred machine oil is in the picture due to one of the pairs of pliers needing oiling. It resulted in a whole barrage of Warhammer 40k jokes.

And there it was, two eyepieces. After that, they are ready to have a lens put in and then attached to straps, all of which will be covered in a different, upcoming post. I think the stew is about done.

To be continued...


  1. I think those are rather splendid and inspired goggles. I followed your link from the "Brass Goggles" forums.

  2. Flattered, though am not responsible for the inspiration. I shall pass the comment on. The stunning and no doubt disappointing conclusion to the tutorial is up. Hurrah for completion!

  3. Followup:


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