DIY Steampunk Costume Pieces

Our summer reading program this year was a Western theme, with a steampunk bent for the teens. One of our featured programs for ages 13 to 17 offered the opportunity to create a hat and a pair of goggles that could be used for cosplay, Halloween or just for fun. 

Using duct tape, hot glue, acrylic paint and embellishments, teens were encouraged to let their creativity fly as they transformed plastic party hats and welding goggles into fantastic works of art. 

Advanced Planning

We created sample hats and goggles two months ahead of the program. This helped us figure out which methods worked best, how long the pieces needed to dry in between steps, and how long the crafts would take overall. 

Luckily our local craft store was having a sale, so we loaded up on feathers, fabric trim, jewelry embellishments, metallic paint and anything else with a steampunk feel. The goggles were purchased in bulk from a warehouse safety retailer, and we bought colored acrylic to use for colored lenses in the goggles. 

The plastic party hats and welding goggles could also easily be purchased in bulk online. 


Our Summer Reading Program was promoted in several school visits within our service area, on our website and Facebook, and through various printed promotional materials that were distributed to local businesses as part of our grassroots marketing efforts.

This program was well attended, with about 50 teens participating across the district.


The overall cost of the program was about $250, covering programs in each of our five branches.

Day-of-event Activity

The program was set up on our meeting room tables, with the decorative items in the middle and printed copies of the instructions at each station. (View step-by-step instructions under Attachments at right). Each teen was supplied their own glue gun (or one to share), a hat and a pair of goggles.

Program Execution

Two staff members were present to assist, and we limited the registration to 10 teens to keep things manageable.

The teens loved this program, and we received glowing evaluations from those who attended. Some of our teens wore their costume pieces to our library’s comic-con event later in the summer.  (View photos of the finished products under Photo Slideshow). 


Bringing a power strip was helpful for plugging in multiple glue guns.

In order to finish both projects in the time allotted for your program, I recommend you do things in the following order:

  1. Sand down the goggles first, then paint and allow them to dry.
  2. While the goggles dry, duct tape the hat and paint it.
  3. While the hat is drying, add embellishments to your goggles, then do the same for the hats.

By switching between the two projects, teens should be able to complete both within a 90-minute time frame, and it also ensures there’s no downtime while literally watching paint dry.

Supporting Materials

Slideshow Images