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




About: 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 trying to lower costuming costs. Comments are welcomed. Th...

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

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.



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39 Discussions


7 years ago on Step 7

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!


7 years ago on Introduction

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

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

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

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

Thank you for your comment!


8 years ago on Introduction

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!

3 replies

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

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.


7 years ago on Introduction

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.

1 reply

8 years ago on Introduction

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

1 reply

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.

1 reply