Introduction: Diving Suit

This suit, (or at least the helmet part) takes about three weeks to make.


I decided to make a Diver's Suit for the annual Hallowe'en party at Terryglass, Co Tipperary. The most difficult bit was the helmet, which is (loosely) modelled on the US Navy Mark V helmet of which there are millions of photos online.

I started with a 350mm (14") diameter paper globe lampshade which cost about 8 Euro and layered on about 8 layers of torn newspaper with thinly applied wallpaper paste, each taking about one day to dry over a warm oven. Allow more time to air dry.

The neck was a real pain. It is not symmetrical front to back although I think real helmets are. The neck had to be much longer at the front on order to get the helmet to sit right. i.e vertical or upright. The curved part that sits on the shoulders is made of two pieces of oval shaped stiff card with a big, (300mm or 1 ft) hole cut in the middle. I used a wire clothes hanger, with the hook cut off bent over my shoulders, and sandwiched between the two pieces of card to get the correct curve. However, that didn't really work, and I used duct tape to temporarily hold the curve while I applied more layers of newspaper to this part. I then added the vertical bits of the collar, longer at the front and tapering down to nearly nothing at the shoulders, left and right. The whole thing used copious amounts of duct tape, all coved in layers of torn newspaper.

The grilles, front side, are made of of 5mm foamboard, cut with a very sharp scalpel, with an inner diameter of 125mm and outer diameter of 175mm. I was going to use acetate for the glass but decided not to bother as you can hear better without it and it doesn't get so hot inside. I used real nut and bolts for the front grille. I sprayed the helmet copper and the grilles gold. Note, car-spray melts the foam core of foam board. In any case, the grilles won't sit tight to the helmet so I covered the gap with a strip of gold sprayed paper held in place with brass drawing pins. The twelve bolt-heads around the collar are sprayed plastic things from a hardware store, while the bigger things on the collar are leftover plastic cores from plotter paper. The hose coming out the back is dishwasher hose, sprayed. I had an idea that it would go up vertically and be held by a stiff wire, but it got too complicated. The boilersuit was unexpectedly difficult to find and is a high quality brown boiler suit from some UK overalls manufacturers. A paper suit might do just as well. I made badges, including the US Navy Helmet mark V badge and stuck them on as appropriate. The belt is a black webbing utility belt, with black nylon braces clipped on. The flag is the international code flag "A" for diver down, and I made the knife and scabbard out of cardboard and taped it with black duct tape to my leg. I made the fish out of stryrofoam covered in silver duct tape, and used a sharpened 10mm wooden dowel as the spear. The lead weights are styrofoam with silver duct tape, taped onto the belt, and the shoes have a sole shaped layer of 50mm (2") wall insulation taped on with silver duct tape The fish and the net were very expensive and really unnecessary props from a UK company called "Props 4 U " or something similar. I got really very smelly, salty and sandy seaweed from the local beach, and had a Bluetooth loudspeaker on my belt which could be operated by phone and played either the theme from Jaws or "Beautiful Briny Sea" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, or an excellent scuba diving sound effect with heavy breathing and bubbles

An unexpected bonus of the whole outfit was that I could drink pints of beer through the front opening with out the need for a straw. Another essential of any fancy dress is the ability to have a pee without totally disrobing.

And I won first prize!

Good Luck.