Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Replacing Finials

I had a dueling raygun set at Dragon*Con art show this year, the "Honor of Coronado" set. When making the pieces, I was faced with one of my recurring problems with working with found objects, mainly that I never found some of the bits that I wanted to complete the piece as originally envisioned. Julie had acquired a set of red crystals, and we embedded them into the end of the rayguns. The pieces worked as part of the sailpunk theme of the pieces, but I was afraid that a buyer would drop one of the rayguns at some point, and chip one of the crystals.

The set didn't sell at the convention, but when wrapping them up to ship back home, I discovered that both of the crystals were chipped.

When I am out and about, one of my background tasks is to raygun parts. During the summer and fall, I would go to the Berlin Farmer's Market on the weekend, when they would have a flea market (or 'swap meet', as we called them on the west coast). Being easily distracted by all of the wonderous bounty surrounding me, I would need to chant "raygunraygunraygunraygun...." as I went through each booth, to maintain my focus. Sometimes I would find a bit of brass, like a cheap candle snuffer, where I would cut off the last inch of the handle and mount it in a raygun. Other times, I would bring home a brass bell, with small brass carosel horse mounted on a spindle with a brass ball on the end, and decide that the piece was too cute to sacrifice to my art.

Stephanie and I were at a hobby store a few weekends ago, finding balsa wood for her to build one of her gliders (a dragon this time), when I found an odd source of brass finials for the rayguns. I bought a number of them, and added them to my raygun stock boxes (where all of the raygun and raygun-like bits are kept).

In a bit of free time two weekends ago, I pulled the broken crystals out of the rayguns (one broke off short, and I had to alternately heat it with a torch and plunge it in water to thermal
shock it to pieces). This last weekend, I was able to remove the mounting adheasives that had fixed the crystal in place, and clean the surface in preparation for the new finials. Last night, I was able to solder the new finials in place. I applied flux to all of the surfaces, melted a few drops of solder into the barrel, heated everything up, and then postitioned the pieces together with two pairs of pliers until the solder solidified. I had to reheat twice to get the placement correct on the first one, but was able to get the matching piece on the first try.

The rayguns are back together, and in their display case. Julie is going to take a few pictures for me to post on the net.