Last year I was the costume designer for a youth theater production of The Wizard of Oz. The production team made the artistic decision to steampunk the sets and costumes to a moderate degree. This was a lot of fun. In addition to gears, mini top hats, goggles, boots, and corset belts, I decided to costume the lullaby league as wind-up steampunk ballerinas.
But I really wanted that key in the back. It didn't have to be functional, it just needed to look like it was. I thought of several potential ways to do this- all complicated, and hard to attach to a child, until one day I had that Eureka moment.
While searching for an easy way to make 20+ pairs of steampunk goggles, I came across a video on making realistic looking goggles out of craft foam. Seriously, craft foam? I ended up buying his pattern and was very glad I did. I made up a sample pair to show to my helpers, and they made the rest. His blend of craft paint and liquid latex totally altered the strength and consistency of the craft foam, and the brass over black paint blending actually made them look like distressed metal. You can watch the video by Lost Wax here.
The goggles were my inspiration for the ballerina keys. I cut and glued two figure eight key tops out of craft foam together for each key I needed. I made the shaft out of a piece of craft foam that I rolled up with glue inside, secured in place until the glue was dry. I then cut a slit, inserted the key top and glued it in place.
The shaft was inserted into a piece of pillow foam cut to the right shape and size. It was painted copper and sandwiched between gears cut from heavy metallic colored vinyl. I mounted them on front laced corset belts, so that the key would stand out straight when the belt was tied tightly.
They worked beautifully. And the girls were really cute.