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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Homemade Halloween Headwear from Bicycle Helmet

It's getting to be that time of the year when we need some stylish yet functional headwear. By stylish I mean no one else will show up at the party with one like yours and by headwear, I mean it sits on your head or quite possibly is glued to it! What I decided to do to make something new and trendsetting is buy one of those inexpensive children's bike helmets you get from Target or Wal-Mart. I'm sure you have seen them if you walk down the bicycle accessory isle. These are the ones that cost around $10.00 or so and are not much more than a foam core with a thin layer of hard plastic glued to the outside and a couple of chin / head straps attached. I picked one up along with some of that "spray - insulation - in - a - can" that you get in the tools department. Just to be sure I was going to be able to color coordinate my helmet later with my jacked I bought some spray paint.

After getting home and of course before trying on the newly purchased helmet I started to pull it apart. I didn't want to post a picture of the new helmet as some people don't like to see new stuff torn apart. Oh well...I bought it! So I can do what I want with it ;-) To give you an idea of what kind of helmet I am talking about HERE are similar helmets...

One thing I think I should mention is that any helmet once modified in any way is no longer useful as a safety device in any way. If you cut it, sand it, paint it or in any way modify it don't ever use it again for safety. What I am describing in this blog is for costume use only - only for looks in other words!!!

So... after separating the the shell from the foam core of the helmet I cut the shell into pieces and glued them to the foam core in new places. I wanted the helmet to appear to come down over the chin and cover the sides of the head a bit. Once glued in place I filled in all the spaces with the "spray - insulation - in - a - can" stuff.

At this point the helmet looked something like the picture above and so did I. That "spray - insulation - in - a - can" stuff is sticky, noxious and goes everywhere fast - really fast. Don't underestimate the power of that stuff or it's adhesive qualities. I got some on my pants and it will not come out. I haven't tried too hard to get it out of my pants because I'm still trying to get it off my forearms!! I wore gloves and old pants but as I mentioned that stuff goes everywhere!!!

After giving the insulation stuff time to dry I got a knife and a very coarse wood rasp. One of those rasps that looks like a cheese grater seems to work pretty good at removing insulation in key areas and shaping the helmet down to something that looks like a helmet and not a frog with warts. Once the general shape was the way I wanted it I sprayed on some bright red spray paint. It takes a bunch of light coats to really cover the foam because it is so porous.

The red is intended only as a undercoat because this in not a "4 alarm fire hydrant helmet" I'll cover the construction of one of those in the summer months when the weather is hotter. So in keeping with the stylish yet functional headwear goal I sprayed a swatch of green above the brow as can be seen in the picture. This looked good and would be even better with some black!!

I applied several coats of very light green and very light black from various angles over the red base coat being careful not to fill in the pores of the foam. I wanted those to have some red left in them. Once there was more green and black than red left showing I let it dry overnight. The next day with all the paint good and dry there was quite a texture contrast between the shaped foam areas and the smooth hard plastic areas. To give it a more even look and texture I got a generic spray bottle and filled it with water. I set the nozzle to mist and sprayed the helmet until little drops of water formed on the smooth surfaces of the helmet.

Before the water had time to dry I sprayed the entire thing with several very light coats black spray paint. The very light coats is done to not have the spray paint blow the water drops all over the place. The several coats is to get a bunch of paint on the water drops and more importantly between the water drops. So the paint sticks to the areas between the water drops and not to the drops. I set the helmet in the sun and let it dry about 15 minutes or so.

With a dry cloth I very lightly wiped the water off picking up the black paint that was in the water along with it. What was left was the paint in between the water drops. I placed the helmet back in the sun for a couple of hours to dry it off really well. Then once it was really dry....

I did the same water mist treatment and spray paint coats but this time with green, let it sit, wiped it off, then  back into the sun for a couple of hours to dry it off really well. Then once it was really dry....

I did the same water mist treatment and spray paint coats but with the black paint. You get the idea here I hope. Each time the water mist covers the surfaces the drops are in different places so each coat of paint sticks in different areas. Once you have done this a bunch of times you get a really random and coarse looking surface. This is a technique that is easy to do and on a helmet that begs for the natural and worn look is fine. I have seen cars painted with this water technique and they look great - but to refine it to that level takes a lot of practice.

Anyway before I get off topic with the paint thought that is the home made do it yourself  Halloween helmet made from a bicycle helmet.

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