Steampunk a Bottle and Jar Into Something Extraordinary!




About: Some of my creations are available for sale on Etsy - I am a certified instructor of Jeet Kune Do concepts and Filipino martial arts. I am a home Halloween haunter wi...

Steampunk!  Is anything safe?  Apparently not.
There were a couple local challenges - one to steampunk a bottle and another to 'punk a jar.  Why?  Because you can, of course!  So I set about winning the contests.

I thought about various things I could do, like incorporating them into a ray gun or something, but in the end I thought I'd stick to the fundamental shape of the original items as much as possible and capitalize on their inherent properties.  

This could be two instructables, but the techniques would be the same thing really, so I put them together.  Hope you find it interesting or even useful.

Step 1: The Stuff

OK, I knew my vision - a bottle and jar of unnamed purpose that looked like something H.G. Wells or Jules Verne would look at with a knowing smile.

I looked around and found an empty Star Vinegar bottle, which I thought had the right shape.  I also found a jar that probably held juice.  I call it a jar because like some guys I know but unlike bottles, it has no real neck and a big mouth.  

I needed a lot of stuff to do the 'punking with.

Here's what I used for the two of them, in no particular order:
masking tape
spray paint
bottle caps
hot glue
PVC sprinkler adapters
From Dollar Tree:
     Hair rollers
     LED light
     pressure gauge
     garden hose nozzle
     thumb tacks
     floral wire

Split flexible tubing sold to cover wires for electronics
Miscellaneous Brass bits
Pliers, tin snips.

Step 2: Prepping and Painting

OK, so now we begin.  First, I washed and thoroughly dried the bottles.  Paint and glue will stick to dirt but not to the glass otherwise.

These objects are meant to be seen, not fondled or abused, so I just need the paint to stay on, it need not be scratch proof.

I masked off anything I did not want spray painted with masking tape, naturally.  After that, it was just spraying down a nice base of flat black and then adding the top coat.  I chose a nice silver for the jar and a hammered copper for the bottle.

Nothing special about spray painting the bottles as far as I know - just coat evenly and let dry.  Repeat until it looks good.

Step 3: The Steamy Bits

Well, I had some ideas for what to put on my bottles, mostly culled from my pile of random "steampunk embellishments".  Some of them included caps from water bottles and a couple from prescription medicine bottles.  I like the shape.  Especially after taking the meds!


For the bottle, I spray painted the caps and some Dollar Tree hair rollers. The hair rollers I hot glued to the neck of the bottle and the caps I glued right on the conveniently curved "Star" trademark on on the jar.  To the caps I glued some brass bits I had.

I also took a pressure gauge from the Dollar Tree and, unable to find a suitable place for it, broke the nozzle end off and glued it in the space the hair rollers did not cover.  The same store had these LED lights I thought were cool.  Some are even silver.  They have an arm that goes to a ball and socket joint on a clip.  I did not like that, so I snipped the arm off, flipped it sideways and glued it back.  This fit neatly into some PVC sprinkler adapters, which in turn fit snugly into the bottle.  It was coming together.

For the jar, I glued the tubing around the neck first.  I snipped the pointy bits off the thumb tacks and hot glued those on the jar for visual interest.  Then I hot glued a hose nozzle on to the jar.  I have some copper and gold and silver hot glue sticks I use so I don't have to worry too much about repainting the hot glue, though of course I could use acrylics if I were using ordinary hot glue.

I found some brass thing that had a lever on it which happened to fit right on to the jar.  So things were starting to look steamy now. 

Step 4: Final Details

At this point I applied the final little details.  I used bits of painted hair rollers cut to size as "cages" to some parts on the jar and the bottle.  I took some rusted old screen and cut it so it could be rolled up and inserted into the jar.  I also cut some floral wire to the right length to go around the "neck" and glued that on there too.

I took some green plastic wall anchors and painted them metallic.  Then I cut them in 1/2 and glued them to the jar for visual interest. 

All that remained was the final paint jobs.  I used acrylic paints to add red, brown, or green oxidation wherever it seemed appropriate.  I created a thick wash of brown, slathering it liberally over the jar and then wiping most of it off again, so it accumulated in the ridges and low areas.

I went back over any areas that the green had come off of in the wiping.  Probably should have saved that for last anyway.

Step 5: The End Result

In the end, I got two bottles that can be rather dramatically lit from the top, bottom, or from behind.  

The screen in the jar scatters the light a bit and makes it appear the thing has a real function.  

The bottle I filled with 1 part water and 1 part liquid starch as it makes a nice light scattering effect that does not spoil.

Set the two anywhere you need a little steampunk / mad science flair and enjoy!



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    14 Discussions


    5 years ago

    I'm loving this! Awesome work! would you please provide more info on the starch and water diffusion method?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    There is nothing to it. I just mixed some liquid laundry starch into water until it was sufficiently cloudy.
    The liquid starch is already shelf stable, so no spoilage problem.
    I used it in my bottle and my brain jar, and light diffused nicely.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the idea!!

    This is my first steampunk bottle :-)

    Big Kisses from Rome, Italy

    p.s. I WANT "dollar tree" in Rome :-(((

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am amazed, what a fantastic project, I wonder how it slipped through the cracks, there shold be many people seeing and enjoying this gorgeous project.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Longwinters! I hope you will share it and even vote for it as I put it in a Halloween Decoration contest.