This simple instructable will show you how to decorate an iPod case, to give your MP3 player a steampunk flare.
I have to give some credit where credit is due, to a few other Instructables; the Steampunk iPod Portable Rig, and the Steampunk Discman.
My final product is not nearly as impressive as the genuine wood and brass iPod created by Brass Eyes, but it's also not nearly as labor or skill intensive. And whereas Evinfire used a foil with a wood finish, I went with the cheaper and easier to use contact paper, but still the same principle and desired effect.
I'm pleased with my final product, and after more than month of daily use, it has held up nicely.
• iPod Classic
• iPod Classic hard plastic case
• Wood print contact paper
• Gold appliques
• Gold metallic paint
• Clear nail polish ( or shellac)
• Copper metallic spray paint
Step 1: Prepare Case
This 30GB state-of-the-art iPod Classic (circa 2005;-), is certainly a bit of a dinosaur in 2012, in the age of the iPhone and iPad, but certainly not too old to be beyond useful. This iPod was a gift from my septuagenarian mother, who hasn't quite gotten the hang of MP3's or podcasts. It came with the hard plastic case made by Speck Products, but I'm sure there are a variety of similar products from other vendors.
You could probably use the techniques described below to decorate the actual iPod, but it won't be nearly as well protected from wear-and-tear or impact damage. The other benefit of decorating the case rather than the iPod itself, is if you don't like it, you can replace it.
The tricky part was removing the case from the iPod without damaging either. If you have an iPod like this that's already in the case, force a thin tool, maybe a credit card, into one corner, and gently apply pressure until the case pops open, and then clean the case with some rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or cotton ball.
Step 2: Cut and Apply Contact Paper
I picked up a roll of contact paper at my local 99 cent store, which has a variety of prints available. I chose a dark reddish oak print.
Cut a piece of contact paper to roughly the size of your case, then place the case over the cut piece of contact paper, and draw an outline on the paper backing.
With an exacto knife or razor blade, cut the contact paper to size. Once you have it cut to size, place the cut piece face up on the plastic case, and use the back of your exacto blade (or a similar tool) to press around the inner dimension of the screen portion of your case. This will make it easier to cut at the window for your screen.
The last cut is the round whole for the control disk of your iPod. Carefully remove the paper from the back of your contact paper, and apply to the face of your case. Trim any excess.
Once you have the front of the case covered, flip it over and use your blade to cut out the circle for the control disk.
Step 3: Treat With Nail Polish
This step serves a dual purpose: Coating the contact paper with nail polish will increase the longevity of the veneer paper, and it also serves to make this cheap contact paper actually look like varnished wood.
I used nail polish because I didn't have any clear shellac, polyurethane or varnish available, and also because it was cheap. (also just a buck at my local 99 cent store;-)
Step 4: Apply Appliques
I looked at a lot of different options for giving the front cover a bit of brass steampunk flare, and finally decided to go with a few gold paper corner appliques, that came with a set I bought at a craft store for another project. If you can't find something like these, use your imagination!
After you've applied your decorative trim, give it another once-over with nail polish to give it a bit of a shine.
Step 5: Spray Paint Back Case
I used a metallic copper spray paint for the back case. My original intention was to have a smooth copper metallic look. But as the paint started to dry, it also started to coagulate, creating an unintended craquelure effect. Completely unintentionally, I think this looks even "steampunkier", giving an added antiquated effect.
Step 6: Paint Edges
After the front and back are finished, you may want to add a bit of metallic paint (I used gold), to cover up the last few exposed bits of plastic. In retrospect, it would have been easier to do this before applying the contact paper.
With a small brush and some metallic paint, carefully paint the edges of the front case (the ones that will be exposed), and the inner lip of the round disk where the controls will show through.
Step 7: Finished!
Above is a photo of the finished product, as well as the iPod Classic installed in the case.
The photos above also show a glimpse of my Retro Stereo Patch Cable, which goes nicely with this case.
If you like this Instructable, also take a look at my Steampunk iPod Classic stand and Decopunk iPod rig.