The Steam Punkin' is yet another tribute to everyone's favorite motif. The Steam Punkin' is a veritable multimedia extravaganza of crafty techniques and nifty materials that come together to produce a fun filled steam-spewing masterpiece for your porch. No particular part of the project is remarkably difficult or indispensable so this is a great project for kids or other beginners; however some steps could cause harm if not done with proper caution, so always remember: your brain is your most important tool.
Step 1: Parts and Materials
The Steam Punkin' consists of a simple jack-o-lantern and three types of parts that you make; there are PVC pipe bits, cardboard gears, and a hat. I also unscrewed a pressure gauge from a tire inflater and attached it with double sided carpet tape to serve as a nose; but that hardly counts, now does it? If you need to know how to carve a pumpkin try here.
This whole project uses several "metallic" spray paints, steel (flat, gray and metallic), brass and copper(shiny and smooth), and hammered bronze(which dries to a rippled surface giving the appearance of forged or beaten metal). I also used flat black spray paint, aluminum foil, electrical tape, 3M spray glue, hot melt glue and PVC cement. Tools used were scissors, Xacto knife, a hand saw, and a power drill with various large bits. I also bought a commercial LED light to use instead of a candle.
The hat is based on a cheap plastic party hat from the party store, the gears on it were also cheap plastic salvaged from a Gearation toy. The cardboard gears are made from heavy poster board.
The PVC bits were made from a 2 ft. length of inch and three-quarters pipe, a 2 ft. length of three-quarter inch pipe, 2 inch and three- quarter end caps, 1 inch and three-quarters 45 degree elbow, 1three-quarter inch t join, 2 three-quarter inch right elbows, and 2 two and a quarter inch straight adapters, as well as a garden faucet handle, a small bungie cord and a couple feet of ultra-cheap swag chain.
The smoke coming out the chimney is caused by placing dry ice in warm water. Dry ice has several dangerous properties with which you should be familiar before you attempt to handle it. THIS STUFF CAN MAIM OR KILL YOU!! But only if you are stupid and don't know what you are doing. See the above comment about your Brain.
Step 2: The Hat
This photo gives you a good idea of the various paints used on the project. The hole in the top allows the pumpkin's stem to poke through. It seemed easier than sawing off the tough old stem from the pumpkin. Looked better too. The "rivets" around the "join areas" are just blobs of hot glue placed on the hat before painting. This process produced a lot of hot glue threads, most of which were easily brushed away, but i did receive a compliment on the "curlie cue decorations" on the top, which were just firmly stuck and so painted over. The gears were painted separately and attached with more hot glue. Be careful when spray painting plastics, some will dissolve or deform when painted. This can be minimized by spraying from a distance so that the paint is almost dry on contact. Use several light coats to achieve good coverage.
Step 3: Cardboard Gears
I did not feel up to drawing the gears myself so I reworked the templates from Jake von Slate's Stratocaster.- What can I say, I only steal from the best. (Thanks Jake!!)
I printed several copies, cut them apart and reassembled them to form the pieces I wanted.
For the side piece I made 4 copies of my final design, glued the copies to poster-board and and cut out four different layers with an Xacto knife, each of which was painted separately and then glued back together. The toothless wheel looks bronze due to the light, however it was actually made by spray gluing aluminum foil to the cardboard before cutting it out, and so was nearly mirror bright. It is also worth noting that there are several "errors" such as missing gear teeth, but nobody noticed those so I guess the overall effect was good enough. I left two tabs sticking off the design proper so that I could cut matching slits into the pumpkin's side and wedge the piece into position for the night.
The mouth gearchain was made by folding a paper in half and cutting one side of the pattern, then opening up the paper to get a good symmetry. The pattern was glued to the poster-board cut out with the Xacto knife and painted black. It was simply wedged into position for the night from the inside of the pumpkin.
Step 4: The Emergency Shutoff Valve
The emergency shutoff valve was painted with the hammered bronze paint. The entire assembly is about 9 inches long and 4 inches wide. You probably do not want to glue it as that would be a waste of glue and flexibility. Use any handsaw to cut the sections to length and press fit them together. Drill a hole opposite the opening of the T fitting and thread a thin two-inch long bolt through it. Test fit the garden faucet handle and cap the bolt with an acorn nut. Once you are satisfied with the piece, remove the faucet handle and replace the acorn nut. Thread a loop of string through the piece, hang it up and spray paint it; be careful to coat all areas thoroughly. When it is dry replace the faucet handle and use the piece to mark the pumpkin, then use the drill to make the appropriate holes in the side of the pumpkin for installation.
Step 5: It's Not Steampunk Without Goggles
Paint the 2 and 3/4 inch adapter fittings bronze. Small holes are drilled at 10 and 8 o'clock for the right and 2 and 4 for the left. (Or is it the other way 'round? Never mind!) The ends of the swag chain are straightened into little hooks. Black electrical tape forms the nosepeice and runs around the inside of the adapter to hold the nosepiece and hooks in place. The mini-bungie provides the tension to hold the whole thing together. Total time: 15 minutes once the paint's dry.
Step 6: The Smokestack
Cut two 8-inch lengths from the two-foot section of 1 3/4 inch pipe and use the PVC cement to glue them into the 45-degree elbow. Drill a one-inch hole off center (off center almost always looks better.) in one of the end caps. Stick a short length of the 3/4 inch PVC pipe into the hole. Use hot glue to hold it in place and then coat liberally with PVC cement to seal. Press fit the endcaps and then paint half the assembly with the hammered bronze. Use the drill and/or a knife to cut a close fitting (2 inch) hole in the pumpkin. Be sure to angle the hole 45 degrees to vertical so the smokestack will be properly vertical. It is good to make the hole slightly too small and insert the smokestack by removing the bottom endcap, forcing the pipe through the hole and then replacing the endcap. Be sure the endcap is seated as firmly and deeply as possible then remove the top endcap and pour in 2 cups of very warm water add a handful of dry ice (You are wearing gloves aren't you? You must be because otherwise you would be yelling and jumping around.). Replace the top end cap and enjoy all the steamy goodness. The steam can be replenished for some time by dropping small pieces of dry ice through the three-quarter inch pipe. You will eventually need to change the water. This can be done by removing the upper endcap, leaning the pumpkin forward and to the side about 45 degrees each and rotating the smokestack down around its 45 degree axis as far as possible. Most of the water will drain out and can be replaced with new hot water. Repeat as needed.