Introduction: Gena Rumple's How-To Make an Affordable Steampunk Helmet

Picture of Gena Rumple's How-To Make an Affordable Steampunk Helmet

I have created a penny saving tutorial for everyone to be able to enjoy the wonderful world of Steampunk. Meet… The Helmet.

Step 1: Construction Hard Hat

Picture of Construction Hard Hat

I purchased this Construction Hard Hat at a local Thrift Store for 2 dollars and fifty cents. You are welcome to buy one brand new for less than ten dollars as well. Make sure you take a damp rag and wipe away any dirt.

Step 2: Flat Black Is Greater Than Satin or Gloss

Picture of Flat Black Is Greater Than Satin or Gloss

Remove all the straps and harness that are located inside the helmet and put them aside for later. Spray paint the helmet by using a flat black spray paint. Flat black works better than Satin or Gloss. Tip: I make sure to get the inside of the helmet as well. As I’m spray painting the helmet, I try to hold the spray can a little away from the helmet to prevent the paint from running. Important: Please use spray paint in a well ventilated area (outside is best). And if you don’t like paint on your hands, I recommend wearing rubber gloves.

Step 3: Gather Your Materials

Picture of Gather Your Materials

While your paint is drying, gather up your other materials you will need. I got some stencils, Rub ‘n Buff - Pewter, white colored pencil, half pearl embellishments, a glue gun, and glue sticks.

Step 4: Gears and Cogs

Picture of Gears and Cogs

Once the paint is dry, use a white colored pencil to trace out lines or designs you would like on your helmet. I used cogs and gears as my stencil. Tip: Don’t worry if some of the spray paint comes off when you are drawing your pattern on the helmet.

Step 5: Hot Glue Is Your Friend

Picture of Hot Glue Is Your Friend

Use your glue gun to trace the lines you made with the white colored pencil. Add your embellishments along the lines you made or in the corners. Tip: Make sure to clear away any spiderwebs from your helmet (I call the left over glue spiderwebs).

Step 6: Secret Weapon: Rub 'n Buff

Picture of Secret Weapon: Rub 'n Buff

After all the hot glue cools, take the Rub ‘n Buff - Pewter, add a little to your finger tip, and finger paint the hat. Tip: This is really potent stuff, so a little goes a long way. Once you have painted your helmet to your liking, seal your helmet using a Clear Matte Finishing Spray Paint.  Update:  I just found out that there is the potential for wrinkling to happen when you utilize two different types or brands of paint/clear coat, so if your flat black differs from your clear coat, this can happen.

Step 7: Steampunk Engineer Costume - GO!

Picture of Steampunk Engineer Costume - GO!

Finally place the harness and straps back inside your hard hat and there you have it! The Steampunk Helmet!

You are more than welcome to add other things to your Steampunk Helmet, like goggles, or a head lamp.


Moem (author)2012-06-16

I loved your project so much I made a version of my own. Less sprockets, more LEDs and an ATtiny... this is more of a high-tech helmet.
Since we're not in Rub'N'Buff country, I used silver paint. I used sandpaper on the helmet first, to get a better adhering coat. Then put the hot gle on.Then the flat black went on, over the hot glue.
All my paints are acrylic so they won't bite one another.  I sprayed the silver paint on a small paint roller and rolled it over the flat black, rather sparsely.

The circuit board was sprayed with the same silver paint to make it more one with the helmet. The batteries for the LEDs are on the inside of the helmet. I cut a hole in the helmet that the battery holder fits through.

Folks at my local hackerspace are impressed and want one of their own, so I'll be doing a workshop soon  :-)
Thank you!

Moem made it! (author)2014-11-29

As previously stated: Yes, I made this. (I just wanted to use that button!)

Printy (author)2012-06-25

That's awesome! I absolutely love it !

bajablue (author)2011-10-13

I hope you're entering this Ible into the Halloween Costume Challenge!

Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gena_Rumple (author)bajablue2011-10-17

I made sure to enter other Instructables into the contests. (^_^)b

Thank you for your comment!

herquiltness (author)2011-08-28

Excellent idea - very doable for anyone and can be adapted to other steampunk items, as well.

One question - has the finish felt "secure" (can't think of a better word), or is it starting to flake off? I made my daughter Ruby Slippers wa-ay back in the 80's before you could buy them, and used red patent leather shoes as the base. Various-sized clumps of my glittery ruby application began flake off, and I didn't think about roughing up the patent leather shoes before I sprayed the adhesive on them. I don't know if that would have helped or not, but it seemed like the smooth, glossy surface of the patent leather contributed to the flaking. My thought would be to rough up the surface of the hard hat (after washing it) with a fine grit sandpaper before spraying it with the black matte spray paint.

Now I want to go steampunk something thusly. Thanks for the ible!

Gena_Rumple (author)herquiltness2011-08-29

The finish is secure. I have not had a problem with the paint flaking off.

herquiltness (author)Gena_Rumple2011-08-30

Thanks for your reply! The Rub 'n Buff clearly has more integrity than my spray-adhesive-over-patent-leather glitter shoes!

Gena_Rumple (author)herquiltness2011-10-13

The only thing I can suggest is a stronger/thicker adhesive. Do small sections on the shoes at a time.

Rub N Buff is more of a waxier type of paint, so it spreads and clings very well.

mary candy (author)2011-08-28

Very nice. )

Gena_Rumple (author)mary candy2011-10-13

Thank you!

KwartzKitten (author)2011-08-28

Cheap, simple, effective! Love it!

Gena_Rumple (author)KwartzKitten2011-10-13

Thank you!

middlekid (author)2011-08-28

This looks so realistic, it is almost a letdown that it is actually plastic! I never suspected that it would be made from plastic. It looks easier to make than it looks, also.

Gena_Rumple (author)middlekid2011-10-13

Thank you!

bajablue (author)2011-08-28

THIS is incredibly COOL! 5 Stars!!!

Gena_Rumple (author)bajablue2011-10-13

Thank you!

halzark (author)2011-08-25

Beautifully crafted! I love the welded look! Makes for great details in steampunk costume building. Hot glue used this way looks VERY realistic! EXCELLENT.

Gena_Rumple (author)halzark2011-10-13

Thank you!

NightHawkInLight (author)2011-08-25

This is spectacular, I love it. I do a lot of firework shoots and have been looking for a good way to personalize my helmet. I've got a ton of projects already in the works, but when I get to this I'll be sure to document it on video and credit your work.

Awesome job.

Thank you! I'd love to see pictures of your helmet after it is complete.

ilpug (author)2011-08-24

Well done. I will have to use your Hot-glue-welds idea in the future.

Gena_Rumple (author)ilpug2011-10-13

Thank you! I'd love to see what you make.

enVide neFelibata (author)2011-08-24

The hot glue ends up really looking like the metal had been welded there. Cool stuff to be used on props.

I'd love to see pictures of some of the props you make.

bobby sissom (author)2011-08-24

you half pearl rivots impressed me

Gena_Rumple (author)bobby sissom2011-10-13

Thank you!

Kiteman (author)2011-08-24

That is excellent, and so open to modification.

Gena_Rumple (author)Kiteman2011-10-13

Thank you!

LokeyWindrunner (author)2011-10-11

Wow this is so cool! I love how you used only a construction hat and light materials I want to make this soooo bad. : >

Thank you!

lunatrick2001 (author)2011-10-02

The helmet looks great and the instructions are easy to follow and well detailed :). You are very creative and seem to really enjoy crafting, the attention to detail you use on your crafts shows that.

Thank you!

legomum (author)2011-09-24

I just made this today! I made it for my brother who's in construction. He absolutely loves it! Now my husband wants me to adapt his motorcycle helmet like this too.

There were a few minor hiccups. I will have to download some pictures and comment on the process. In the end we were delighted with the results! Thank you so much for this great concept and tutorial!

legomum (author)legomum2011-09-24

Here are photos taken this evening:

Gena_Rumple (author)legomum2011-09-25

WOW! Your helmet looks awesome! It's seeing pictures like these that makes creating and posting these tutorials completely worth it. Thank you so much for sharing. I love it!

legomum (author)Gena_Rumple2011-09-25

Thank you for replying! I'm so glad you like it. :) All I need to do is post it on Facebook now and start a craze ;)

So maybe I should share things I had to do a little differently and how they worked.

It was extremely hard to find the Rub-N-Buff, but after hours of driving and phoning I found it at Opus Art Supplies. In my city here in Canada, Michael's doesn't carry it; nor do Home Depot, Rona, Home Hardware, Canadian Tire, Walmart, or General Paint.

Also the half-pearl embellishments were terribly expensive at Michaels, besides they were much smaller and fewer of them on the sheets than yours. So I went to the dollar store where they also only had smaller ones, but cheaper. However at that point I'd already bought some half-sphere sticky soft plastic dots for putting under your ornaments to protect your surfaces. I found that neither of them stuck all that well. I am hoping that the clear coat will help keep them on. The large dots were punched out with a die that was too big so they look like washers under each rivet.

You can see the size of the small ones on the little rectangles on the lower sides, just above the ears. I think it would have looked cool too with only the smaller "rivets," a little more subtle.

Also, the black paint was really easy to scratch off. At least during the process, before the clear coat. If one is hoping to wear it a fair bit I'd recommend a specialty paint for plastic, or, even better, find a hard hat that's black already! (if that's even possible.) If I tried to remove a line of glue gun glue, it pulled off the paint too.

We also used a Q-Tip for getting the Rub-N-Buff a little closer to the corners, it didn't look quite right before, but now it may be a little too close.

And the colour and sheen doesn't look like yours, though perhaps that is due to your lighting for your photo vs. mine being daylight. Or did I use too much Rub-N-Buff? I think I should have buffed it with a rag to get some of it off for a more distressed effect. I may have missed that on the directions.

I wondered whether using actual or plastic gears, raised from the surface, would have been better. Real gears would of course not be welded on, as they have to turn. I know I'm being nitpicking because so far no one else has mentioned that! ;) My glue hand was unsteady and the gears were much less neat than yours.

Oh, and I bet this would look fantastic in many of the other Rub-N-Buff colours. I thought I saw a bronzy or coppery colour there in the shop too. If a few friends were doing them it would be great if they were in different "metals," and I note that a lot of steampunk stuff is in brass etc.

Oh, one last thing. My clear coat actually reacted with the black paint when we sprayed the underside and made it all wrinkle up. The exact products were: Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Flat Black (not Ultra Cover as that wasn't in the shop) and Krylon UV-Resistant Matte Clear Acrylic Coating. I will have to ask my brother if it stayed like that though I assume it did.

Anyway, that was probably way too much feedback, but I thought I'd put it in there for any nitpicky creators out there!

Thank you again, Yamiguru! Now I am off to steampunk anything that's not nailed down around here! ;)

Gena_Rumple (author)legomum2011-09-26

Holy Cow, you went to a lot of places to get the rub-n-buff. I got mine on Amazon, however I'm in the US, so it's possibly different there.

In regards to the color and sheen of your helmet, it's probably both differences in the pictures as well as differences in the amount of rub-n-buff. However, it still looks really good in my opinion, as you took the project and made it your own.

In regards to using actual or plastic gears, I found using either a problem to secure, as they kept falling off for me, and as you mentioned peeled off the paint as well. You would have to literally find a way to bolt them on, or use a stronger adhesive (I didn't try using something like crazy glue, or other similar adhesives, as it may have a reaction with the plastic).

In regards to the paint, I asked a friend, and I just found out that there is the potential for wrinkling to happen when you utilize two different types or brands of paint/clear coat, so if your flat black differs from your clear coat, this can happen. I'll make a note on my tutorial regarding this. I didn't know this could happen until now.

Thank you again for the feedback and have fun steampunking everything that's not nailed down. :-)

chefnick (author)2011-08-29

erm. This doesn't look like flat black. Please tell me if I missed something.

Gena_Rumple (author)chefnick2011-08-29

Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover Flat Black is what I used. Ideal for Indoor & Outdoor wood, metal, wicker & more.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a wife, mother & Domestic Goddess. My hobbies are photography, crafts, and cooking. I'm self taught. Most of my projects are experiments at ... More »
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