[2005-05-01] Ray gun number one
I've loved toy guns since I was a kid. I think they have positive aesthetic qualities. You could argue all day about the questionable taste of regarding a gun as an art object, but the fact of the market is that sexier-looking guns sell better, and besides, archaic weapons such as swords are commonly regarded and traded as art objects today, despite the fact that their purpose, in their day, was no less abhorrent than that of a shotgun. One could even argue that a sword is morally uglier than a shotgun; after all, no one hunts with a sword. Ray guns, in particular, are highly fanciful. Their purpose is to stimulate the imagination. It is perhaps unfortunate that real firearms are looking more and more like ray guns every day, but I'm not going to lose my interest in ray guns and what they represent because of it.
I tried collecting ray guns for awhile, but soon discovered that buying, as usual, is an inadequate mode of self-expression, so I decided to try my hand at making one. What you see on this page is the result. It is made entirely from found objects, mostly odds and ends from my junk box. Some of the bits deserve special mention, if only because they illustrate what a crazy pack-rat I can be.
- The couch leg, conduit strap, cymbal stand part, tire lug nut, buckle, and mystery part (?????) are all objects I found lying in the street, somewhere, while I was out walking. I collect bits of interesting junk almost obsessively when I see them; it was nice to be able to put a few of them to use.
- The lamp parts which make up a large portion of the gun are taken from a cheap floor lamp I found abandoned by the dumpster at my apartment complex. My junk-obsession is not above the occasional dumpster-dive.
- In my teens I was a drummer. I had an old trap set my folks bought for me, used, when I was 14. It had composite shells covered with a cheap blue laminate and was of the somewhat notorious "Reuther" brand. After I had it a couple of years I got sick of listening to the other guys on the drum line tease me about it, so I decided to fix it up. I bought new, clean, undrilled maple-ply shells, drilled and finished them by hand, and transferred all the hardware from the cheap kit to them. The results looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. Anyway, the shells came with new metallic vent-hole grommets, but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to throw the old ones away. Fifteen years later, two of them ended up in the handle of this ray gun.
- The handle is cut from the leftovers of an oak plank from which I cut a replica training knife during my martial arts years. I traced out a pattern and shaped it on a router table. Many times the handle chipped and large parts of the pattern were knocked off, but I went with the flow and made it work anyway.
- The black rubber grommets in the barrel and other places on the gun were part of a set I took out of a take-something/leave-something bucket that passed through my hands as part of an exercise in Ms. Maggie Whitt's epistemology class at Richardson High School in 1994.
Cost to manufacture: $0.00. Overall length: 10.5". Total weight: 1.5 lbs. All parts are wood, metal, or synthetic rubber.
last modified 2005-05-01