I figured if masks are going to be required to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic, I might as well gear up and build masks into our costumes this year. I’ve always wanted to create a steampunk costume, and what better year to 3D print masks, pipes, gears, and much more to incorporate into our plague doctor and mad scientist costumes. Our costumes were a hit at the 2020 STL Renaissance Festival, taking 1st and 2nd place in the Steampunk costume competition!
Plague doctors treated victims during the bubonic plague, and wore long cloaks and a beak-like mask filled with aromatics to protect them from putrid air. This was the perfect costume to bring back for the pandemic to “protect” Scott from COVID. It was an extremely popular costume at the Ren Faire – we saw over 10 other plague doctors.
The Beaked Mask
The plague mask was quite a process that evolved with each piece. Here are the steps followed:
- 3D printed the full mask with black PLA+ (125% scale, 0.2mm resolution, 10% infill, raft, supports, 31.5hrs, 198g). This was my longest print to-date!
- After seeing the size of the beak, decided to make the beak more prominent; created an extended beak as a remix of another mask and 3D printed (0.2mm resolution, 5% infill, raft, supports, 6hrs, 34g).
- Heated up the full mask and beak in boiled water; molded the mask to fit Scott’s face and the beak to fit perfectly on the end.
- Simplified steampunk goggles in Tinkercad and 3D printed them. Heated goggles in boiled water to mold them to fit the mask. Ordered 52mm UV filter lens, which snapped perfectly into the goggles.
- Fine sanded the mask and beak.
- Dabbed acrylic black paint on the mask with crumpled paper to make it look more leathery.
- Rub ‘n Buffed the beak, goggles, and mask seams/rivets with Spanish copper. Super glued the beak and goggles onto the mask.
- Free hand drew then cut some some craft foam pieces to attach to the beak. Served to secure the connection and add a nice leather-look to the upper nose portion. Ironed the foam with crumpled aluminum foil to make it look like leather, dab painted with black acrylic, and super glued them on.
- Created rivet ends in Tinkercad, 3D printed in PLA+, Rub ‘n Buffed with Spanish copper, and super glued onto the craft foam. Super glued some metal gears to the pleather parts as well.
- Used some old pleather to create the mask straps. Bought various parts for leather / pleather working (buckles, Chicago screw rivets, and grommets/eyelets), which were used for these straps and all the other leather applications.
Winged Hourglass Cane
The “winged hourglass” cane was a common tool used by the plague doctor to keep diseased victims at a distance to avoid catching the plague. I wanted a large cane to keep a 6 foot social distance so created a customized remix of a winged hourglass topper that would fit a 3/4 inch diameter dowel rod. Created a cane cap in Tinkercad to fancy up the other end as well. Printed both with black PLA+ at 0.12mm resolution, 30% infill, and 60 degree supports. Fine sanded the parts and Rub ‘n Buffed with antique gold.
Gear Slinging Gun
No steampunk costume is complete without an antique gun. I discovered Rub ‘n Buff (silver leaf, antique gold, gold leaf, Spanish copper, and ebony), which is amazing for aging steampunk gear! Spray painted a Proton nerf gun (from Goodwill) black, and then Rub ‘n Buffed with various colors. Added extra gears, gauges, clocks, wings, keys, etc. to really steampunk it out. 3D printed some gears the same size as the nerf discs that fit inside the gun to make it a real gear slinger.
A lantern is an essential plague doctor prop to ensure he can see all the diseased victims as he’s making house calls at night. 3D printed this antique kerosene lamp with the following PLA and settings:
- Lamp cover using clear PETG (0.2mm, 5% infill, brim, 3hrs, 23g)
- Copper parts using silk copper PLA (0.2mm, 20% infill, 60 degree concentric supports, 15hrs, 124g),
- Black parts using PLA+ (0.2mm, 20% infill, 60 degree concentric supports, 4hrs, 34g).
Rub ‘n Buffed all the copper parts with ebony and black parts with silver leaf. Painted the black stripe on the lamp cover with black acrylic. Super glued all the parts together. Placed a tea light under the lamp cover.
A cross necklace seemed appropriate for a plague doctor to wear to also fend off evil spirits (including vampires). 3D printed this celtic cross with eSun black PLA+ (0.12mm, 20%infill, 215C, 3hrs, 6g). Rub ‘n Buffed the cross with antique gold, and strung it on an old gold chain aged with black acrylic paint.
Created a customized antique steampunk stethoscope as a remix of a fetoscope (pinard horn), and 3D printed with black PLA+ (0.2mm resolution, 20% infill, 2h, 15g). Found a toy stethoscope at Goodwill, removed the end, and added the custom printed part. Rub ‘n Buffed all the parts with ebony, Spanish copper, and antique gold to age them; added a spring.
Attire – Cloak, Neck Cover, Bracers, Hat
Luckily I found a black cloak at Goodwill that was perfect. We had a V for Vendetta costume that had the perfect hat, which I steampunked with some gears. We used black bracers from my Daenerys costume.
Created the neck cover out of craft foam cut in a circle (free hand drew and tested hole size around Scott’s head). Pleathered by ironing with aluminum foil and dabbing with black acrylic paint. Sewed seems all around, and brought in the shoulders so it sat flat. Hot glued on a collar with scrap pieces. Put stringed laced seams on the front and back so it would lay flat and be easy to put on. Punched holes on both sides, added bronze grommets/eyelets, and laced with black string (repurposed from an old drawstring bag).
Frogs, garlic, and herbs were all techniques plague doctors used to combat the bubonic plague. They placed frogs or leaches on buboes (large painful swellings or lumps) of the patient to “re-balance these four humors”. Garlic and herbs were used to combat the plague “miasma” (odor) and the garlic also likely served as an antimicrobial. Strung garlic with twine, hung glass vials on a chain, and filled a tea infuser with herbs. Hung all these on the belt. 3D printed a cute frog with green color changing PLA (0.12mm, 20%infill, 210C, 1.5hrs, 6g) and put him in the doctor’s bag.
I have always wanted to cosplay a mad scientist, and a gas mask (steampunk version) was perfect to go with the plague doctor. I incorporated many wacky science and engineering gadgets including gas respirator mask, tank, biohazard flask, test tubes, vials, syringes, gloves, pipes, wrenches, and gauges. My frizzy hair, black skirt, and radioactive “glowing vial of radium” were a tribute to Marie Curie.
The Gas Mask
This mask was also quite a process that I developed with several prototypes for the mask and filter covers. Here are the steps I followed:
- From a normal respirator, created a remix with extra holes to connect pipes/tubes and straps. This was my first 3D print in flexible TPU (0.2mm resolution, 20% gyroid infill, 60 degree concentric supports, 8.5hrs, 55g). This material is amazing – sturdy and flexible to fit my face perfectly! Printed 3 different prototypes until settling on the final version.
- Created filter covers with gears in Tinkercad, and 3D printed with black PLA+ (0.12mm resolution, 10% infill, 210 C, 60 degree concentric supports). Went through several types of gears and filter height/diameter, but settled on a standard gear for both that had a hole big enough to fit flexible tubing.
- Rub ‘n Buffed mask, gear covers, and black corrugated tubing with Spanish copper.
- Glued real mask material inside the covers and superglued all the parts onto the mask.
- Repurposed some black pleather and elastic for the straps.
Repurposed a water gun into my mad scientist gun – the green water canister was perfect. Spray painted the gun black. Then Rub ‘n Buffed with silver leaf, antique gold, gold leaf, Spanish copper, and ebony. Added some LED lights in the green canister to illuminate the end. Added extra gears, gauges, clocks, green bubble level/round bullseye, etc. to steampunk & science it up. Created a simple holster out of brown leather to attached to my belt.
The Pipes and Radioactive Tank
3D printed all the pipes and fittings using silk copper PLA with STL files from Thingiverse: 1/2 NPT pipes and valves (0.2mm resolution, 10-100% infill, 220 C). Purchased gauges from Goodwill and Amazon. Had an old clear plastic dispenser that was the perfect size for a radioactive tank (sized everything to fit around this). Aged pipes, valves, tank, gauges, and other parts with black acrylic paint. Attached the tank into the pipes via tightening flanges on top/bottom (this allowed for easy removal to refill). Used pieces of an old brown leather belt around the tank, and brown leather straps to carry on my back (the weight of the tank was fully on my back and not the pipes). Since the tank was screwed into the pipes and straps attached to the tank then strung through the pipes, this also secured the pipes to my back. The pipes were extremely light since they were 3D printed 🙂 Fill the tank and flasks with a lime green concoction (Mountain Dew or green punch).
Science Gear: Test Tube Belt, Vial Bracer, and Flask
For the test tube belt, ordered 20 – 10 mL plastic test tubes with corks, found a perfect brown belt at Goodwill, and used some black pleather from an old purse strap. Drilled holes in the belt and black strap and attached together with Chicago screw rivets. Filled the test tubes with various concoctions and herbs.
For the vial bracer, ordered 1 mL mini glass corked vials and used scrap brown/black leather pieces from an old belt and purse. Like the test tube belt, drilled holes in both pieces and attached with Chicago screw rivets. Attached the bracer to the armor via rivets. Filled the vials with various liquids/herbs.
Created a custom cork stopper for my flask in Tinkercad to fit my two liquid tubes for sucking out liquid via my mask and transferring liquid from the radioactive tank. Inserted a clear tube inside a corrugated black tube that fit in the bottom of my mask. This allowed me to drink in a fully contained flask as well as create fun bubbles in the flask when blowing. Gravity worked perfectly to transfer liquid from my tank when my flask got empty and kept the dip tube feeding to my mouth from spilling into my mask when I didn’t want to drink. Created the flask holder that looped through my belt with brown leather and Chicago screw rivet (ensured to make it really tight around the neck so the flask wouldn’t slip out).
Here’s a demo of refilling the flask from the tank!
Started off planning to make the armor out of craft foam, and free hand drew /cut out 5 pieces. Added grommets/eyelets and attached to the corset jacket with Chicago screw rivets. While trying it on, the foam tore so decided to 3D print the pieces in PLA. Took pictures of each craft foam piece with Adobe Capture and converted them to SVG files (thanks Scott for helping me discover this great way to convert pictures to SVGs!). Uploaded to Tinkercad and converted them to STL files. 3D printed the pieces on my Ender 3 Pro (eSun black PLA+, 0.2mm resolution, 20% infill). Fine sanded and shaped each to fit my arm (by heating in boiled water). Spray painted armor with copper spray paint, and fine sanded to rough/age them. Added a gauge, gears, corrugated tubing (Rub ‘n Buffed with Spanish copper), and the vial bracer. Attached armor to the primary leather bracer with brown leather and buckles.
Steam Engine Armor
Saw a model steam engine and thought it would be awesome to incorporate into my costume. 3D printed with black eSun PLA+ (0.2mm resolution, 20% infill, supports, rafts). Rub ‘n Buffed with mainly silver (added other colors after-the-fact). Added a few pieces of 3D printed PLA armor to the left arm with holes added to connect the engine lower frame. Sanded, molded, and painted same as other armor. Attached corrugated tubing to the hose barb and connected to a hose barb on the back piping. The engine is actually supposed to be able to operate with an air compressor (unfortunately couldn’t incorporate this into the costume).
Generated several steampunk gear keys in Tinkercad (remixed from various keys and gears) and 3D printed with black PLA+ (0.2mm resolution, 20% infill, 210 C, supports). Rub ‘n Buffed with antique gold.
Attire – Corset, Skirt, Bracers, Goggles
Purchased the corset, skirt, bracers, and goggles from Amazon. It was fun to weave various tools through the bracer laces. Already had some strappy brown boots that matched my corset. For my hair, frizzed/teased it and added a piece of foam under my hair for a mad scientist look similar to Dr. Octopus or Marie Curie. Smudged some black face paint on my forehead/cheeks to make it look like I’d been tinkering with steam engines.
Had some fun repurposing old pens by spray painting black and Rub ‘n Buffing with various colors. The slender ones even look like antique needles, and looked neat dangling on our costumes.
Other Science/Engineer Props – Pipettes, Syringe, Gloves, Wrenches, Tools
Most of these other props I actually already had lying around the house. Aged/antiqued the wrenches, syringe, and pipettes with black acrylic paint/Rub ‘n Buff. Dangled them every which way on my costume.
Made a few other Steampunk items just for fun 🙂
My first attempt at using Rub ‘N Buff was with a small plastic revolver I had sitting around. It was a really fun learning experience!
3D printed this awesome cryptex with black PLA+ (0.2mm resolution, 20% infill, 210 C). Rub ‘n Buffed with Spanish copper. Of course I made the code “ScottSarah” 🙂 This will be super fun to use for a scavenger hunt or mystery party.