Monday, 8 February 2010

Really Easy Beer Goggles, Part II

This is part two of the how-to-make-cheap-brass-goggles-from-stuff-in-the-kitchen chronicle. The first part of that is here.

Yes, that is Claw of the Gods, for those who attend Profound Decisions' lrp event, Maelstrom. There was some belief that we were spawning some sort of motivational poster fodder for the forums, but that's another story.

Caveats and Warnings:

Incidentally, a housemate of mine is embarking on similar goggle-making adventure (whilst eyeing the two other cans of guinness - we had bought a four-pack) and it seems prudent to note that if you decide against making stew, it is inadvisable that you drink your cans of beer immediately before making the goggles.

Yes, these goggles are a bit primitive compared to the much more exciting stuff being made out there. If it's looking like kitchen-alchemy to you, that's because it is. I'm not selling these goggles and I don't presume anyone out there wants to buy them. This is simply a chronicle of how I made of decent-looking prop goggles and since I suck at this sort of crafting, I thought others might benefit (or enjoy mocking) these efforts.

6) Cut out some Lenses

Cut out some lenses out of the plastic ginger beer bottle. If you want clear goggles, use the plastic off a lemonade or similarly uncoloured bottles. Any 2 litre plastic soft drink bottle will do, though it is likely that cheaper drinks will have thinner plastic and is thus easier to shape.

I drew around the larger end of the eyepiece, cut that out and then carefully shaved it down to size. Too big and it'll curve and too small it will slip out (and the gaffer/glue used to attach it will be visible) so whilst there is a margin of error, it is smaller.

7) Gaffer Lens to Eyepiece

I used small pieces of gaffer stick down the lens to the inside of the eyepiece. Check to make sure the gaffer isn't showing too much on the other side. The whole process if fairly forgiving, but I was pedantic. If the lens was cut to fit well, this part would be insanely easier. Otherwise, well, y'know.

You could really use any other tape. I believe Emily used parcel tape. A glue gun would probably also work (though careful of it oozing everywhere). Superglue less so since you need to hold it down whilst it dries.

Rest of tutorial under the cut.

8) Making a Pattern for the Leather Bit

Using paper, I made a pattern for the leather bit of the goggles. This is a pain, but a good idea since paper is cheap and leather slightly less so. This is by far the trickiest part of the whole process. It involved a lot of measuring distances with string and using masking tape to test the pattern around the eyepiece.

Note that the leather bit need to wrap around the eyepiece, so needs to be longer and leave space for attaching the goggle straps.

The Designer thinks I should scan my pattern and share it with all the hypothetical people who would also want beer goggles. I'm probably egotistical enough to do that is due course. So watch this space.

9) Trace Pattern and Cut it Out

Note the little tabs at the end for sewing. Incidentally, scrap leather is very cheap. Ebay, among other places, sell off scraps for a couple of quid per kilogram. For making little projects like this (and pouches, patchwork cloaks and the Designer's infamous codpiece - photos eventually, I'm sure) it's a cheap way to get started.

You'll also need a small bit for the bridge between the eyepieces and long bits for the straps. Strap width is determined by size of buckle, so measure that out. If you're working with fake suede instead of leather, you might need to double it up for greater structural integrity.

The bridge between the eyepieces seems always to be smaller than you think it is. Test it. I had do mine twice and it was still too long and had salvaged by glue gun.

10) Sew the Leather Pieces together

This is where I wished I was working fake suede, since it's much easier to sew. But Gracewing, my housemate, happens to be a ninja with leather, and I borrowed from her a stitch mark wheel, an awl and a leather needle off her. Emily's original (seen on the edge of many of these photos and pictured at the top of part I as well as in the steampunk dress and steampunk skirt photoshoots) used fake suede salvaged off some old cushion covers.

11) Putting in the holes for the rivets

I borrowed the Designer's leather punch, marking the holes with a marker to make sure they're correctly spaced (due to size of buckle, the strap was considerably wider than originally planned and I decided two rivets would look better than one).

Emily's original used spit pins and then she reinforced it with stitching. This is probably the easier option when without convenient leatherworking housemates.

(If you ever intent to invest in a leather punch, by the way, under no circumstances buy one of the hand-held "punch pliers". Get a nice set of hollow ones - see above - that require a block of wood and a hammer to use. The price difference is small and the hollow ones you can use for so very much longer.)

12) Glue it Leather bit around Eyepiece

I glued it all together before attaching the straps. I really don't advise this since riveting would probably have been easier before the eyepieces were glued in.

Using the glue gun, I stuck down the eyepiece to the leather encasing. I did the outside (around the eye) first and then glued down the folded over leather (leaving a bit free for attaching the straps). The glue gun lacked finesse and I touched it up afterwards with a bit of superglue to get the last few stubborn edges that were still sticking up.

13) Rivet the Straps together

Hammering down a riveting takes more force than it looks. Again, I borrowed housemate's rivet anvil. This is roughly where I regret not deciding to use split pins, which would seriously have been easier. It wasn't difficult so much as it was frustrating since I kept thinking I was done and it turns out the rivet was barely, well, squidged. 

14) Attach Buckle and More Punch More Holes into Strap

One can sew on the buckle or rivet it together. This is where Gracewing, at this point in time having breakfast in her dressing gown, took pity on my flailing and swept in. She riveted the buckle in place, shaped the strap and put six holes in before the rest of us could even blink (let alone reach of the camera).

15) Wear

Perhaps unsurprisingly, everyone will want to try them on (see starting picture).

And finally, 
Success! T
he two pairs of goggles in the same photo.

Also, a quick thank you to all my housemates who've made this possible from helping cut out scraps of gaffer to offering opinions on riveting technique to lending me tools.

Update: Pattern for eyepiece finally posted. Can be found here.


  1. Pattern please! I would love to make a pair of these myself. With full credit, of course.

    I absolutely adore your costumes and your DIY. Well done indeed!

  2. Thank you so much for reminding me and am very flattered. I completely forgot and the pattern was languishing on the living room scrap pile for weeks.

    See bottom of above post for link.


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