The “Discreet Companion”
A pocket butane raygun for steampunky cosplay. [by molly friedrich]
First invented in 1885 for use by the
daring ladies of the Cloud Frontier,
the Discreet Companion has been a staple
of purses and garter belts ever since.
Torch lighters are handy, cheap, and easy to find.
They come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, so
there’s room for customizing to your personal taste.
I normally modify mine with antique parts, but
here I chose parts that you can get in most hardware and home stores. The finished raygun works
well as a prop; simply pull the “trigger,” and an inch
or so of fire shoots out the barrel!
This project uses a $10 Dodo brand lighter. If you
use a different lighter, you may need to change the
size of the pattern to accommodate it. You need to
use a lighter that, when installed into the barrel of
the raygun, will shoot forward.
Some point in other directions — obviously, avoid
these, unless you specifically want a booby-trapped gun!
You might try a different ornate coat hook for a
different-looking handle. The handle can also be
mounted forward or backward.
The lamp parts are easy to customize — you
can change the look just by using different finials
and other decorative elements — and the design
on the front of the barrel can be almost any shape
This project is fairly easy to do, takes a few
hours, and costs about $30–$40 in parts (less if
you have some stuff already on hand).
In this dimension, Molly “Porkshanks” Friedrich is a
freelance costume, prop, and jewelry designer. She’s also an
infamous pan-dimensional smuggler and freelance artist.
Photograph by John Keately
76 Make: Volume 17