Phrenology Helmet




About: ...after 30 years of becoming corporately numb, my dreams of not working (for pay) and instead creating with my hands has become a reality. Life is grand!

One of our wedding gifts was an antique book on Phrenology - a pseudoscience popular in the 1800's which suggests a relationship between a person's character and morphology of the skull.

Later I came across http://bellehelmets where illustrator Danielle Baskin transforms the dull bicycle helmet into a unique fashion accessory. I really like her designs but because I don't have a bicycle (just a minibike), am a horrible artist and don't have much disposable income, I attempted to make a Phrenology Helmet for myself using a thrift store helmet and images from Google.

Let me show you how...

Step 1: Prepare the Helmet

Only a few items are required for this project, including:

  • Helmet
  • Neutral Spray Paint, that will adhere to the helmet's plastic
  • 1/4" Black Tape, or black contact paper/electrical tape cut into 1/4" strips
  • Phrenology Head Illustrations, printed from Google images
  • Black Sharpie
  • Elmers Glue*
  • Strong Coffee, or stain*
  • Sealant*
  • Access to a toner based printer

*Antique Mod Podge might be a less costly alternative

Spray paint the helmet, let dry.

Pencil in the location of the personality traits and then use 1/4" black stripes to section off the trait locations.

Likewise, pencil in the personality trait description. Once satisfied, outline the wording with a black Sharpie.

Step 2: Temporarily Attach Images

Locate and print phrenology illustrations from Google Images or create your own. After roughly cutting them out, tape them in the desired location and determine if they need to be resized.

(Because the size/quality of Google Images can vary, it will be necessary to enlarge/reduce the illustrations so they fit within the trait's location.)

Once satisfied, remove the resized images and make sure they have been (re)printed using a toner based printer. Trim way as much "white space" as possible from the images.

Step 3: Create an Aged Look

Mix a few tablespoons of STRONG coffee with Elmers glue and paint on to the helmet. Allow it to dry overnight.

Using the same coffee/glue mixture, adhere trimmed images to the helmet. Again, allow to dry overnight.

Consider applying additional layers of the coffee/glue mixture (with overnight drying) until the desired color is achieved.

Finally, follow manufacturer directions and apply several coats of waterproof sealer to the helmet.

Step 4: Wear With Pride...

...knowing after your first accident you will be able to recognize which part of your personality has been compromised!

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    9 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You consider Phrenology to be a pseudoscience based on an 1800s literature.

    Surgery, pharmacology and alchemy are merely psudosciences by the same yardstick.

    21st century advances now allow aberant behaviour to be cured by modifying the skulls morphology to create a more socially acceptable personality using modern devices such as hammers, baseball bats and vaccuum cleaner wands.

    kcliAmerican Ruin

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Ha...good point!

    When I was a kid there weren't helmets or knee pads and a run-in with a sidewalk cost me a chip to my front tooth (and plenty o'dollars as an adult to get it fixed). Maybe if I had one of these back then I wouldn't be terrified of bicycles today!?!?


    It's creepy to think that people actually followed phrenology. Of course in 200 years I'm sure many aspects of our world will also be unbelievable *_*