Tuesday, November 29, 2016

1312 - "The Homemade Tricorder"

My wife followed through with her project to make a Star Trek Tricorder purse for herself.  The great thing about a tricorder purse is that it looks like a Star Trek tricorder, but it can also hold things like car keys and show tickets, things that we primitives need back in the year 2016.  

She has already posted some great images of her new purse on Facebook, but I don't believe she went into any detail on how the purse was made.  First of all, we were truly lucky that our friend Moose already had a black leather purse that was precisely the same dimensions as a tricorder.  That bode well!  All we had to do was to modify it to Starfleet specifications.

My wife first moved the strap rings so that the purse would hand vertically.  Sewing the leather turned out to be really difficult as the folds became too thick for our sewing machine to handle.  Then she added a leather flap to simulate the closeable display cover on the tricorder.  

I bulked out the interior of the tricorder with a complicated  cardboard internal buttress system that I mounted internally.  In her wisdom, my wife promptly ripped out my carefully-measured work, and replaced it with the bottom from a salvaged box of lasagne noodles which fit a lot better and left much more room inside.  

Once my wife had finished manufacturing the main body of the tricorder, I was put in charge of decorating it.  

Moose had some odds and ends that I could use to make pieces for the tricorder, particularly some aluminum grating used for shaping plaster casts.  This thin metal I could cut and form with scissors and so I built these into computer outputs.  I housed the round grille in a keychain ring.  

The viewscreen is an old plastic computer card case with holographic tape inside and a bit of line work with coloured Sharpie pens.  The remaining lights were jewelled rhinestones left over from Venetian mask crafts.  I recalled that the original Star Trek props that weren't intended for camera close-ups used similar plastic jewels to simulate lights.  These days we do have tiny LED bulbs with wiring that could illuminate the tricorder, but rhinestones don't require batteries.  All these bits were fastened to the tricorder using Gorilla Glue. 

The final step was to add the silver details.  A silver Sharpie pen worked extremely well.  The Sharpie ink will rub off leather if the tricorder is handled a lot.  For the occasional night out, though, Sharpie ink is durable.  I considered spraying acrylic fixative to make the Sharpie ink truly permanent, but I read that fixative will flake off of leather and it smells bad besides.  


 Up close, it's easy to tell that our tricorder is a home-made purse.  From around ten feet away or more, though, the thing looks real.  Check out my wife in her Starfleet Science uniform: she looks like she could have stepped off the set of the latest Star Trek movie or beamed down from the USS Enterprise!