Introduction: Steampunk Goggles - Upcycle (now With Rivets!)

Upcycle a cheap pair of costume store plastic goggles into a fantastic pair of Victorian-era Steampunk goggles. I already had most of the tools and some of the supplies to make these, but if you don't - how about having a Steampunk Maker party and splitting the costs with a few of your friends?

I started with a pair of plastic goggles with an elastic strap from the costume store - the kind with the screw-on lens holder caps (IMPORTANT - test these at the store to make sure both of them screw on and off easily). The pair pictured is made by Forum Novelties and cost me $9.99 at the costume store.

The finished upcycled goggles are painted with a metallic spray paint, have rivets around the lens holders, green lens inserts, stitched leather sides, and leather straps and a buckle. Now with additional pictures attached showing straps riveted together instead of sewn - see pictures at last step.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Here is a list of tools and materials I used to upcycle these goggles:

wire cutters, needle nose pliers, scissors, x-acto knife, tweezers, wooden skewer (or toothpicks), chopstick, small binder clips (for holding glued parts while they dry), rotary cutter (optional + mat), grommet pliers or awl, rivet setting tool (optional).

Glue - I used Fix-All Adhesive by Super Glue that I bought at the dollar store. Look for a gel super glue type adhesive.

Transparent green plastic notebook divider (bought in a pack from the dollar store).

Old brass belt buckle from narrow belt bought at thrift store for $1.

Copper brads from an assorted package of decorative brads found in the scrapbooking section at Joann's for $2.99. I used 16 copper brads. Use your 40% off coupon to get them even cheaper!

Package of scrap leather from Joann's - was $9.99, but I used my 40% off coupon, so only cost me $6. I used a soft, pliable leather for the sides, and a thicker and stiffer leather for the straps.

Rustoleum Metallic spray paint (Aged Copper $6)

Rustoleum Enamel paint (black $4)

Foam sanding block - fine or extra fine grit $4

Rubber gloves

Small foam paint brush

Darning needle and thread (or sewing machine with size 100 jeans or topstitch needle) (optional)

Step 2: Instructions for Prepping and Painting

Consider doing all painting the day before and letting dry overnight.

1. Unscrew lens holders and set aside - we'll come back to these later.

2. Pop off the plastic covers from sides of the goggle frame. Remove elastic band and rubber piece between goggles that goes over the bridge of your nose. (You can save these pieces for another project or discard, either way you won't need them for this project.)

3. Lightly sand the two goggle frames to remove shine and so spray paint will stick. (Do not sand the lens holder caps.)

NOTE: you may want to first primer the goggles frames with a special plastic primer spray paint. I didn't, but the paint I used is an all-in-one primer and paint.

4. In warm, dry, and well-ventilated area, follow instructions on can and spray paint the two goggle frame pieces with the Aged Copper spray paint. (Do not paint the lens holder caps.) Let dry for at least 2 hours or more.

You can work on lens holder caps while the spray paint is drying on the goggle frame pieces.

5. The goggles I purchased had two sets of clear plastic lenses with a rubber ring between them. Use one of the clear plastic lenses as a template to cut out two circles from the green plastic divider.

6. To make the "rivets," use the wire cutters to cut prongs off of the brads. Use the needle nose pliers to gently squish the cut ends into the cap so the cap sits flush. Do this for 16 brads. Using a small amount of adhesive, glue 8 brad caps evenly around each lens holder. Use the tweezers to place the brad caps on the glue. (I used a black marker to make a dot where I wanted to glue each brad cap.) It's ok if the glue kind of blobs out around the sides of the brads, it'll be covered up with the black paint later. Let glue dry at least 1 hour.

7. After painted goggle frame pieces are dry, and glue on the lens holder caps is dry, antique the pieces. Using black enamel paint and foam brush, lightly dab pieces with black paint and quickly wipe off with paper towels or soft rag, allowing some of the black paint to remain in crevices and around brad/rivet details. (I know the pictures show that I antiqued the piece after I added the leather straps, but it's really better to do this before.)

Step 3: Leather Sides and Straps - Finishing

Leather Side Pieces

8. Using soft flexible leather, cut out pieces to fit sides of goggle frames and glue in place. If your goggles don't have removable sides, then glue the leather over the sides. Use the skewer or the chopstick to dab on glue or as a stiletto to push pieces into place.

I tried to indicate stitching lines with a metallic marker, but that didn't look so good. Since I had already glued the side pieces on, I did a row of triple-stitching down the center of a 1/2" wide piece of leather. I cut away the leather on either side of the stitching, leaving the stitching centered on a narrow strip which I then glued around the edge of the side pieces to make them look like they had been stitched on. You could also just stitch around the edges of the leather pieces before gluing, but I didn't think of that until after I had already glued them on. But I think that extra strip of stitching really adds a nice dimensional detail.

If you don't have a sewing machine, you could do some hand stitching along the edges. Or try spacing dots around the edges with a metallic marker to make it look like small rivets.

Leather Straps, Buckle and Nose Piece

9. Use the thicker, sturdier leather. For the nose piece, I cut a strip of the thicker leather 3/8" wide by 2 1/2" long. Thread ends of leather through slots on both sides of frame pieces and bring ends to meet on underside. Adjust for fit, trimming shorter if necessary, and glue ends to back side of leather strip. Use binder clip to hold strap while the glue dries. I also did a little stitching in the center of the strap, but it wasn't easy. You could also affix with rivets*, but I didn't have any at the time. I tried to use grommets, but that didn't work as the leather was too thick.

*See pictures at end of this Instructable of two other pairs of goggles I made using rivets.

10. For the straps you can use an old belt if you have one that will fit. If you want to make your own strap like I did, use the thicker leather and the buckle from an old belt. Cut two strips of leather 1/2" wide by 10" to 12" long. For the buckle side of the strap, fold one end down 1 1/4" and cut a small notch from the fold for the buckle prong (look at one of your belts to see how it's put together). For the strap loop, I cut a piece 3/8" wide by 1 1/2" long and glued it to under side of strap. I inserted the buckle and folded the end to the back side, over the glued ends of the loop, and then stitched the ends on either side of the loop. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can hand stitch, or attach with rivets.*

*See pictures at end of this Instructable of two other pairs of goggles I made using rivets.

Use an awl, grommet pliers, or a rivet punch to punch holes in the other strap end, starting about 1 1/2" from the end and spacing holes every 5/8" or so. Buckle the straps together and feed the ends through the slots on the goggle frames. Adjust for fit, allowing about 1" to overlap on back side of strap. Machine or hand stitch ends, or affix with rivets. I suppose you could glue instead, but I don't know how well that would hold up in the long term.

I trimmed a shallow curve on all cut ends of the straps that would be showing for a more finished look.

Insert the lenses (clear circle, green circle, rubber ring, clear circle) into the lens holder caps and screw onto goggle pieces.


see more steampunk stuff on my blog at

Step 4: Goggles

Pictures of 2 other pairs of steampunk goggles put together with rivets instead of sewing. I used black garment-weight leather from a thrifted jacket to make the one with the yellow lenses, and I used a brown leather belt blank available from Joann's or Michael's on the one with black lenses. For the black garment-weight leather straps, I sewed two layers, wrong-sides-together, to make sturdier straps; for the brown leather straps, I cut the belt blank in half length-wise to make a skinnier strap. Don't forget to add a loop to keep the strap end in place!

Halloween Costume Contest 2015

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest 2015