The Iceborn Helmet, taken from game to reality:
Step 1: Paper Mock-Up
Make a paper mock-up.
Believe it or not, this is usually one of the longest steps in making a new leather helmet.
Don't waste leather: Look closely at your sketches or the inspiration. How is this going to work in three-dimensional reality?
Before I begin a single piece, I know exactly how it is going to look at the end, and every step in between...
In this case, I have stayed true to the lines and form of the WOW design. To my delight, the game's pattern is quite functional!
Play with paper and posters until you have something that makes you glad. These pictures show what I came up with. Shown are a few stages of tweaking the forms. I always collect used posters from the trash at commercial stores exactly for this purpose.
It is a matter of taking flat, 2-D material (leather) and making it something with body, tactile, beautiful and effective.
Step 2: Try With Cardboard
Optional, but recommended:
Take your paper patterns and try them out with cardboard.
Does the piece still work with thicker material? Notice anything that should be changed?
Next time, it is permanent. And if your pattern is good, these cardboard peices can be saved to replicate the helmet many more times!
Step 3: Trace and Cut
Cut out the pieces!
You have done your homework, and now is time to bring the helmet to life!
It is a personal matter how you will approach cutting out of your hide...
I think of a couple things:
What is the nicest part of the hide?
What are the parts I want to avoid?
How can I reduce waste spaces between pattern places?
Do I want thicker or thinner leather?
What else (what other projects) could these better or worse pieces of leather be used for besides this project?
I prefer to consider these things, but I don't waste time doing it... 5 minutes?
Trace with pen or pencil on the shiny or ruff side. Most people recommend tracing on the flesh side (rough) so there are no marks if you slip. But I choose to trace right on the good side, for a number of reasons...
Photographed are the pattern pieces, refined during the paper process. The fifth image shows all of the major parts after trace and cutting.
Step 4: Punch All Holes
I already know that I will be stitching everything together, in accordance with the game's design (Iceborn Helmet), so everywhere that two pieces will join, I have punched out holes to stich.
Before you begin this step, ensure that you are using a good sized hole for your lace. Take a piece of scrap and put in a hole or two that you think will work. If it is difficult to get your lace through (too small) then you will go from a 20minute lacing job to an hour (or an impossible job, which you'll have to re-punch). If the holes are too big, then the lacing will be loose and the helmet unstable. Snug lace/holes is best, that can be comfortably stitched.
Additionally: For best results, there should be the same number of holes on each piece of leather that is being attached to a partner piece. This does not necessarily mean that the holes have to be the same DISTANCE apart on each piece, though. (((For example, If a 20 cm long piece is going to be attached to a 30cm piece, then you can have either ~30 holes on the 30cmside @ ~1cm each and ~30hole at ~0.75cm on the 20cm side OR 20 1cm holes on the 20 side and 20 1.25cm holes on the 30 cm side!!)))
If you have a good hand and even better eyes, then you can wing it (without measurements) and pop these out without measurments. This is how I make the first side of each join, and my spacing is pretty good and even, then I measure out the same number of holes on the second piece. If it is particularly important or particularly visible join, then measure both!
Step 5: Add Color (chemicals)
Now that all of your holes are punched (for lacing, and any hardware like eyelets, ect) it is time to color and treat the leather!
Use you favorite brand and color of dye... I shop at Tandy and purchased a few shades/varieties of 'red' for this helmet. I am making it for a cousin who loves the color pink, which was the goal. Same procedure for brown, black, green, blue, ochre, peach, whatever.
Follow the direction on the bottle... Apply one or more coats to a clean surface with a clean brush, dauber or wool, allow to dry, and give it a preliminary polish if you'd like. If you haven;t dyed leather before, practice on scraps. Different tools and different techniques produce different results.
When you are satisfied, apply one or more coats of balm or sealant.
Make sure to cover your edges well with dye. It is my personal opinion that except for rare occasions, all leather should have well-tended edges. ;)
Below are the pattern pieces after treatment.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HAVING PROTECTION FROM VAPORS WHEN USING DYE AND POLISH. This means lots of ventilation
at least. I have recently decided to use a gas mask from the hardware store from now on. I value my intellect and am tired of feeling dizzy and silly long after crafting. :/
Step 6: Attach the Horn
AH. Now you can feel how the helmet is going to be!
After dyeing, it usually time to assemble the pieces... In a complicated piece like this though, the order in which the pieces are put together makes a big difference. Look before you leap:
The most obvious example in which 'order' is important is attaching the horn. To put the horn on requires some in-place hole-punching which requires a flat surface, and a special punch. I will also have to use a pair of pliers to fasten the horn tight! This mean that this work has to be performed before everything gets too round. It is much easier to pass the cord back and forth to stitch, work pliers & tie knots while it is flat! Do this first.
Follow the pictures (and be sure to check annotations) to see how:
The jaw pieces can go on now without trouble, as seen.
Step 7: Make the Spikes
The true character of the Iceborn Helm is in its big, weighty 'spikes'. I knew these would be a challenge, and this is how I solved it:
Cut out for triangles which held together (pyramid) look reasonably like the spikes on the game helm.
Repeat for all 7 spikes.
Now carefully hot-glue the inside corners so that they hold shape.
Have some chicago screws handy, as well as a bag of spare glue sticks.
Heat a glue gun untill it is oozing, and fill the first spike near to the top with liquid glue,
Now, before the glue sets, inert the tubular end of a chicago screw into the liquid glue. I tried to make them straight and flush as possible.
Repeat for all and leave still to dry. I made a stand.
Now, paint with an appropriate colored paint. We had shades of white left over from other projects.
These make beautiful, DIY, heavy, video-game style spikes that are extremely functional.
Step 8: Assemble!
Once these spikes are dry, we have everything ready for the finished helm.
This is the home stretch: Put it all together!
(Be sure to follow photos for tips)
Step 9: Now It Is Done
Now the helmet is done, and still in time for Halloween!
It is shiny, tactile, and rugged. It feels good to wear, and it looks like a true manifestation from video game realms, complete with a horn mohawk and spikes off of Bowser's back!