Uzi for ︻ ƱZ ︻


The idea for this murderous medialon came from the blinged out jewelry that rappers wear which looks really cool and apparently cost a whole lot of money. Yet the number one problem I see with their jewelry is that it does not light up. As a way to see if I had the chops to enter the bling business I went ahead and decided to build a low-fidelity version of an uzi for an artist named ︻ ƱZ ︻. I made this prop as a way to give props to an artist who gives his music away for free on the internet. With less than a week until the show I knew I had to build fast.

As for the supplies I was going to build the necklace out of: foam board, warm white LED strip lighting, red laser diode, six CR 2032 batteries, gold spray paint with a Modge Podge topcoat, gold studs, and a whole lot of hot glue. The foam board I used was ¼” black on black which I have found to quite strong and easy to cut intricate shapes from using only an exacto knife. The warm white LED strip was sourced from China through eBay for something like $16 for 5 meters, which I happened to have on hand. The laser diode was an eBay find and cost around $2; I had been really wanting to use one of these laser diodes for something legit and I figured this project was the perfect opportunity.

The build process was spread across three evenings; cutting, component assembly, and exterior finishing. The first step was to search Google images for “uzi svg”. Using the vector image I played around with sizing to make the handle fit my hand perfectly and then cutting out mock-ups made of cardstock. I then printed out my custom-sized uzi outline and taped the outline to the foam board. For all of the internal supports I measured the width of the LED strip. Since I was unable to find the handle to my exacto knife blades I was forced to cut out the shapes with only an exacto knife blade. Cutting the shape of an uzi out foam board using only exacto knife blade was quite tough on my fingertip. With all of the pieces in hand I soldered all of the wires for all of the light emitting components and began hot-gluing. Nobody ever told me that if you put too much heat on a laser diode that it will melt the optical lense, which will cause a distortion of the beam of light. In this case my overzealous hot glue heat shrinking caused the beam of the laser to become wider and flat with a little curve at the end. It was at this point that I decided that some switches would be needed as a way to conserve energy seeing as how the batteries would be sealed within the medallion and therefore irreplaceable. I chose a single pole dip switch to control the LEDs and a momentary contact push button to trigger to the laser. I ending up mounting the trigger in the actual trigger location and the dip switch one inch in front of the trigger. By the time I went to bed that night I had a working prototype which made me feel like I had came along way since making replica lego guns as a child. The next morning the edges were taped as a way to keep the inner foam layer black while I sprayed two coats of gold spray paint and a top-coat of Modge Podge spray acrylic. I have found the Modge Podge to be crucial for props like this or by the end of the night the foam board is ragged looking. The LED strip was hot-glued, even though they had a sticky backing, as a way to ensure they would stay bonded to the foam board. As a final touch I added some studs to the handle as a way to create a blinged out textured handle. Which as I was stabbing them through I was thinking how the stabby part might cause a short so I chopped the point off and hot glued them to the handle.

Peoples reactions to such an accessory are pretty neat. All of the guys at work who are into guns really dug it and laughed about how much detail I put into a prop when someone would probably be willing to pay me to pimp their gun. At the show the reactions were phenomenal. My favorite thing to do with stuff like this is to get different people to interact with it and try and get them to give me their cell phone to take their picture with it. After ︻ ƱZ ︻ finished playing his set I was positioned stage left where the performers make their exit. With speed and determination I ran up the stairs and managed to force the uzi medallion into his hand. Mission accomplished. I only wish I had placed some sort of marketing of myself on the device as a way to begin a dialog of me producing a high-fidelity version. But I suppose this was my way of keeping it real and saying thank you to a musician who embraces modernness.
2013-03-08 21.08.29

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