My husband recently mentioned that he wanted to personalize our welding helmets by Airbrushing them. Personally, I am not the greatest at Airbrushing images, but nevertheless still wanted to customize both helmets for him as a surprise. After some consideration over the medium i would use, I decided to try the same techniques i would use to scrapbook and use Mod Podge to complete my project. My hubby is a huge comic book fan also, so when i recently acquired a 'V for Vendetta' anthology, i knew he would fall in love with the overall theme of it once completed.
As we would be using these with the welder regularly, I first tested to ensure the Mod Podge could withstand high heat. **Note: Testing Phase is documented in Step 3
Step 1: Tools & Supplies
- Soap Sponge
- Foam Crafting Sponge
- Mod Podge
- Glue Stick x 2
- Welding Helmet
Step 2: Safety Test
My biggest concerns for safety in making this project were:
- How long would it take for a flame to penetrate the test area?
- Will the Mod Podge actually ignite?
To begin, I adhered a page from the comic book to a wooden surface, covered it with a layer of Mod Podge and waited 15minutes for it to dry. I then took a small heating torch with a maximum output of 1700k and pointed it directly to the test area. After 5 seconds of direct heat, the torch did begin to burn through the page leaving a scorched area, but did not physically ignite or spread.
Step 3: Preparing Your Surface
As the helmet displayed signs of wear and tear, I began by washing the helmets with water. I then added a little bit of soap to the water and washed for a second time to ensure all dirt and debris had been removed.
Its a small step, but will ensure you are starting out with a smooth area to adhere your comics to.
Neglect this step, and you are likely to end up with creases and wrinkles in your final project.
Step 4: Choosing & Cutting Out Pieces
I began by flipping through each page of the comic book and selecting various images I wanted to use. A helmet this size required approximately 60 images, but in finality I had cut out over 200 for both helmets. The large assortment gave me the flexibility to choose the exact shape, size and colour that i wanted to use.
Once you find the desired image you want to use, here are a few different ways you can proceed to cut it out:
- Cutting alongside the pre-printed cells within the comic book
- Cutting across two cells to create one larger image
- Cutting out the image directly
- Cutting out words and phrases into smaller shapes / sizes
Step 5: Sorting Images
Once I was done cutting, I began to organize the images into smaller piles so i could take stock of what I had.
- Textured Images: Images with several patterns or dimensions
- Landscapes: Buildings & Scenic images
- Main Theme: A variety of pictures of "V" (The main character)
- Large Images: Large images that span the length of 3 comic cells
- Small Images: Small Images that can be used to fill in any blank spaces later
- Over-Sized Images: Used to show contrast
- Images with 2+ people: A collection of two or more people
- Images with 1 person: A collection of images with 1 person
- My Favorites: Images I found that i REALLY want to use
It is not imperative that you organize your images beforehand, but found it was a time saver!
Step 6: Gluing Images
I began the helmet by gluing an image from my "Textured" pile and laying it onto the helmet. I found it easiest to start around the border of the helmet and work inwards. Start by gluing the image, adhering to the helmet, and using your finger to prevent any creasing. Keep doing this a few times until you have a small area completed.
**NOTE: Some have recommended that I negate using the glue, and just use Mod Podge to adhere the whole project. I personally like using a Glue Stick first, as it allows you to position and re-position the images if you are not satisfied with there placement. Having moved quite a few pieces around myself, i can tell you the glue stick does not leave a residue either.
In order I completed:
- The Left Side
- The Right Side
- The Bottom
- The Top
Step 7: Tip for Gluing Borders
BORDERS: Cut several images with varying colours and patterns. It will automatically create depth when you layer
Step 8: TIP: Gluing Images Together
Be sure to find unique ways to blend pictures together. Doing so will make the helmet look more attractive.
After reviewing my "1 person" pile, I found two different pictures of a blonde woman and adhered them together along the hairline. The end result created a seamless larger image.
Step 9: TIP: for Gluing Around Curves
Welding helmets have several unique curves in their design. Once i had completed the two sides and top I was left with these large rounded corners. To tackle these, i used 4 images from my "small image" pile, ensuring I took the time to really glue these parts down.
Step 10: Tip: for Gluing People & Fonts
Try placing your image UNDER one piece and OVER another. It will make the image look embedded into the scenery.
Place Fonts / phrases over harsh lines
Step 11: Glue Glue and More Glue
When you have finished covering the entirety of your helmet in images, take the time to review your work and glue down any pieces that you may have missed.
Step 12: Adding Larger Images
Once completed, I took a few images from my "oversized" pile and used them to further decorate the helmet.
The larger black and white images create a striking contrast to the rest of the project and help complete the look.
Step 13: Modge Podge
With all your images securely in place, it is now time to apply the Mod Podge.
I began by dipping my foam sponge into the Mod Podge and wiping the excess off. I then started to brush the Mod Podge onto the helmet in a very thin layer. After that I added a second, third and fourth layer, all with 15min intervals of dry time in between. Mod Podge actually dries clear, so any small amount of spillage around the borders will ultimately disappear. The only area you have to be cautious of is the Welding lens. If you are concerned about gluing it, you can section off with painters tape. You may also want to remove any tightening dials that appear on the side. Mine were slightly raised and large enough to bypass without removing them.
Once complete, I let the entire finished helmet dry for 24hrs.
Step 14: Final
And That's It! You now have a custom, inexpensive, personalized welding helmet.
I love this method as the possibilities are endless. You could just as easily apply this to Sporting helmets, bike helmets, costume parties, comic-cons conventions etc
I Hope you have Enjoyed my Instructable.