The Art of Darkness

Steampunk Heels

February 13th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Steampunk Heels

Now here’s an interesting DIY project: Steampunk-esque heels, complete with LEDs.

These are the work of the now-defunct Etsy shop HotAirBalloonRide; Fashionably Geek has several photos taken from different angles.

These really wouldn’t be too hard to replicate. The gears are just clock parts, which are pretty easy to find: There are pre-packaged collections available from Amazon, and you can also find loose gears (often advertised as “steampunk”) on eBay. A much cheaper eBay option, however, is to look for clock movements and then take them apart yourself (watch out for the mainspring!). That way you get a lot of interesting bits besides just gears, like lever arms and tiny screws and whatnot. If there’s a clock-repair shop in your area, you can also check there for leftover or non-functional parts.

The little glass tubes on the back are just vacuum tubes. You can find plenty of those in many different sizes at specialty vendors like Tube Depot, or at Amazon. They’re still used in professional audio equipment, so you can also check at electronics repair shops to see if they have any burnt-out ones (since they’re just for decoration they don’t need to be functional). The tubes appear to be seated in a bit of copper pipe of the sort used for plumbing: That’s available at any hardware store.

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but I think the LEDs are a single strip (sometimes called rope- or ribbon lights), which can be purchased in custom lengths. If you want a little more flexibility in light placement, it’s easy to wire up single LEDs to a small, flat battery. Evil Mad Scientist Labs has a large selection of LEDs and their blog is a great source of information about wiring and using them. (There’s also a nice beginner’s guide here.)

There’s a lot of fairly heavy stuff on these shoes (although you could cheat a little and use plastic gears spray-painted metallic), so you’d need to choose a style that’s fairly sturdy; the ones in the photos appear to have thick wedge-type heels. You’d also need a heavy-duty adhesive; something like Gorilla Glue might work, but epoxy or Sugru are other options. Be careful to attach the batteries to the shoes in a way that allow them to be replaced when they run out (not to mention be unhooked or switched off when not being worn).

Fill in leftover space with metal studs, chains (both available at craft stores), and anything interesting-looking from the hardware store. For extra credit, decorate a matching purse. They’ll certainly get you noticed.

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