Homemade World War 1 German Picklehaube Helmets




I am currently working on a short film I wrote called Skeletons; a psychological drama set in the bleak trappings of World War one. I had secured most of the props and costumes needed for my actors (British and Canadian militaria is relatively easy to find), but there always remained the problem of finding Picklehaubs, those spiky (and very cool) signature helmets worn for the better part of the war by the Germanic forces. So my girlfriend and I finally decided to make them. It should take you half-a-day-equivalent or less to make these.

The look we were going for as the WWI early-years, when German/Prussian troops began to "hood" their ornate helmets for tactical purposes.

This is my first instructable, so please forgive any lack of decorum.


- A box/sheet of turbo cast; a plastic material used for prosthetics or orthopedics. You can naturally substitute this with any type of cheap material that can be bent into shape (such as cardboard).
- Podiaflex for the brims on the front and rear of the helmet, although you can use cardboard again or just trim a couple off of some old baseball caps.
- Contact cement (or any super glue)
- Fabric scraps (preferably earth-toned)
- A sewing machine/kit (for some simple weaving)
- A piece of cardboard and scissors (to make stencils/shapes)
- Can of black paint-spray

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Step 1: Creating the Base/shape of the Helmet

As you can see, we used a box full of turbo cast fragments, as opposed to a full sheet, which can be on the expensive side. Try orthopedic stores for scraps and bits.

Step 1 involves establishing the base of the helmet. If your familiar with turbo cast, you know that it is a rigid plastic material, until it is heat/steam activated. The best way to do this is to steam the turbo cast with an iron (we used an industrial one, but a household one should do).

You should try to find something to mold your turbo cast on, such as a hat stand, mannequin head, or even a soccer ball. For best results, have someone get your head measurements and then try to approximate the size of the helmet base.

When your base is done, just cut out some brim shapes from your podiaflex or cardboard, and glue them to the rims of the front and rear of the helmet base. If you use the suggested materials, they actually allow for sutures, and therefore you can actually sew the brims on for added stability.

Step 2: Making the Spikes

Creating the signature spikes of the Picklehaub helmets is probably the easiest step. You just go down to your local art supply store and pick up some FIMO, a great plasticine-type material that can be molded into any shape and solidified by cooking the molds in an oven.

Once you have shaped the FIMO, just add some grooves to the bottom so the glue will be able to better seep in when you are ready to set them on the helmet base.

As you can see, we put the molded FIMO spikes into an aluminum dish and cooked them at a moderate temperature for about 35 min. You should monitor your cooking phase every 10-15 min. to make sure you don't burn your molds. Use caution (and oven gloves!)

Once your spikes are cooked, let them cool off and solidify for about 20mins. in the freezer. Then you can grab your contact cement and set them on your helmet base.

Step 3: Dressing the Helmets

This is where the helmets really start to come together.

Once the glue has settled and dried on your spikes (we recommend extra solidifying by running a thin screw through the roof of the helmet base, into the spike itself), you are now ready to dress the helmets.

We found some scraps from an old army coat that did the job famously. Just cut up the scraps and cover your helmets in 2 phases. First cover your main helmet, then create a sheaf-like cone piece for the spikes.

You can secure the fabric under the helmet with some glue or with a little patience, sew them to the interior for a tighter it.

Step 4: Decorations

This is the final step and where you can have the most fun.

Simply decide on the kind of shapes numbers you want to emblazon the helmets with, then just cut them out of cardboard and use a can of spray-paint to get the desired effect.

Presto, you are done!


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    16 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Azulao,
    can you share me the information where to buy the Podiaflex and the turbo cast?



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I cannot upload the film as it is currently being shopped in the short film circuit, but you can find some stills here.



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Wow those stills are awesome! You have a really great talent for this kind of work!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Badass, I suggest you make the spikes a little shorter than the ones in our instructables (it was our trial run), and you might want to add a chin-strap as well for added mobility (if you want to shoot some actions scenes). Best of luck! J


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    True, definitely too long. But as you so graciously put it, not bad for a first attempt. thx

    Generic Eric

    10 years ago on Introduction

    What is that stand called? Is it a specific tool used to make hats, or is something you threw together? Thanks

    1 reply
    AzulaoGeneric Eric

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, it`s basically a heated hat molder, used to get hats into the right shape. We didn`t heat it for the helmets however, just used steam from our industrial iron to soften up the turbo cast. Thanks J