DIY Deep Sea Diver Costume Helmet. Making a Vintage Diving Helmet!

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I love the ocean. I can sit on the beach all day just watching the waves do their wavey thing. Sadly, I happen to live in the middle of the Canadian prairies. No ocean to watch here. But there's always the world of make-believe, and what better way to get in the ocean vibe than with an amazing deep sea diver costume. I created this costume pattern to try and recreate the feel of the classic "Mark V" dive helmet which has become an iconic image of divers and the sea. It was used by the U.S. Navy from 1916 until 1984! Let's make one of our own.

For detailed instructions you can check out my video tutorial or just keep reading below…

Here are the tools and materials I used:

  • Pattern: I used the one that I created. You can find it on my website. It includes an adult and a child size. 

  • 5-8 mm thick EVA foam: I used the foam from an anti-fatigue floor mat, but you can also use the less dense foam from a camping mat. 

  • 2 mm EVA craft foam: One sheet is enough 

  • Vinyl tubing: 3/8" outside diameter 

  • Wingnut: 1 

  • Super Glue 

  • Hot Glue Gun: I love my glue gun because it is adjustable temperature. I like to use it at as low a temp as possible so that the glue cools quickly. 

  • 6 & 8 mm leather punch

  • Cutting Surface 

  • Gluing Surface: I absolutely love using a silicone baking sheet. Nothing sticks to it. 

  • Sharp Knife: If it is not really sharp you will have a terrible time when you are cutting the foam. I like to use a scalpel

  • Blowdryer: Used for heating the foam so it can be shaped. 

  • Ballpoint Pen 

  • Scissors 

  • Paint: I used Liquitex Basics "Mars Black", Liquitex Basics "Bronze" and DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “Vintage Brass” 

  • Rubber Gloves

Please note, the above links are affiliate links, and I do get a small commission if you buy through these links. It doesn't cost you any more and it helps me out!

Step 1: Safety First!

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It's fun to get started, but you want to stay safe so that you can enjoy your amazing creation!

  • Wearing the dive helmet severely limits your vision. Be very aware of the activities you are taking part in so that you do not get into a dangerous situation. Children should always be supervised by an adult to ensure their safety. 

  • Some EVA foam contains a chemical called formamide. There are some people that say there isn't enough formamide in EVA mats to be harmful, and others that say there is. Do your research and come to your own conclusions. At the least, I would say it is a good idea to open your foam mat up and let it sit in the sun for a day or two, as most of the chemical will off-gas from the foam. Or buy foam that is labelled formamide free. 

  • Do not wear your helmet until all fumes from glue and foam are gone. The helmet is a fairly enclosed environment and you only have one set of lungs. 

  • Do not block off the viewports with glass or plastic. These are open to allow proper airflow for breathing. Closing them could cause suffocation. 

  • Sharp knives and hot glue can cause injury. Be sure to use in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2: Print and Cut Out the Pattern

The pattern I used is made to be printed on a standard home printer, therefore it is necessary to tape some of the pages together to create the larger pieces. If you hold the pages up to a window, you can see the alignment crosses through the paper and get them taped together perfectly.

Cut the pattern out of the paper, cutting as close to the line as you can without removing the line.

Place the pieces on the foam and trace around them with the ballpoint pen, holding them firmly so that they don’t move while being traced. Many pieces will need to be flipped over and traced again as indicated on each piece. This is especially important if you are using foam with only one smooth side.

It is important to mark the labelled alignment points around each piece. They help so much in knowing how to line everything up later. Extend them in from the edge of your pattern once you finish tracing each piece.

Mark each foam piece with its number, and if it is a flipped piece, add the letter "a" after it: 1a, 2a etc.

Step 3: Cut Out Your Foam

Using a sharp knife, cut out all the foam pieces that you traced earlier, cutting directly on top of the pen line. I like to use surgical scalpels for this as they are very sharp and allow me to make tight curves.

Make sure to keep your fingers away from the scalpel blade so you don't cut yourself!

If you are getting a rough edge on your foam, your blade is too dull and you need a new one. Or you can sharpen it if you have a sharpener and know how to use it:)

Step 4: Foam Forming Fun!

Heat pieces 1, 2 and 3 one at a time with the blowdryer, and mold them over your knee to give them a rounded shape. If you are using textured foam, keep the texture to the inside.

Repeat with pieces 1a, 2a and 3a.

Step 5: Before You Glue...

If you use hot glue, just glue a small section at a time and hold it together while also pressing the seam down onto your gluing surface. Hold it until the glue cools. Then move on to the next section. This is a lot faster if you use a glue gun with adjustable temperature control because you can set the gun to a low temperature so you don't have to hold the pieces together as long.

As you get used to your glue gun, you can also try wiping the glue off the seam just as it gets cool, giving you a nice clean seam. Just be careful not to burn yourself on glue that is still hot! 

Another tip for clean hot glue seams is to rub vigorously over top of the seam after the glue has completely cooled with some scrap foam to clean it up. I have a little video about getting nice hot glue seams that you can watch here.

I have changed my technique over time and find it easiest to glue with the finished side up rather than down against the silicone mat. This means that I will basically make the helmet inside out until near the end, at which point I will turn it right side out.

Step 6: And...Start Gluing

Using your hot glue gun, start by gluing together the V-shaped cut-outs on pieces 1, 1a, 2, and 2a.

Glue pieces 1 to 3 lining up alignment marks 10 and 11.

Glue piece 2 to the now combined piece 1 and 3, lining up alignment marks 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Now glue the other edge of piece 2 to the edge of piece 1, lining up alignment mark 4.

Repeat these steps with pieces 1a, 2a, and 3a to form the opposite side.


Step 7: Two Halves Come Together. Excitement Builds.

Glue the two halves together, starting with the long seam down the back.

Before you glue the two shorter seams, turn the helmet right side out.

Now you can glue the two short seams on the front of the helmet.

Glue piece 4 to 4a to create a ring. 

Glue this ring to the bottom of the main helmet body. Line up one of the seams on the ring with the front centre seam on the main helmet body. Then line up the other seam with the rear centreline and glue into place. Now work your way around the seam and glue a bit at a time until the ring is evenly and completely attached to the main helmet body.

Step 8: The Faceplate

Glue the ends of piece 5 together to make another ring, and then glue the flat side of the ring to piece 6. Line up the marks on piece 5 so that they are in the centre of the flanges on opposite sides of piece 6. In other words, you want the thickest part of piece 5 where the tabs come off piece 6.

Glue the completed faceplate (pieces 5 & 6) to the front of the helmet, keeping the flanges on the faceplate horizontal across the helmet.

Step 9: The Side Viewport

Glue piece 9 and 9a over the holes on the sides of the helmet body.

Take two piece 10s and two piece 11s, and glue them together with the slots interlocking to make a grid. Repeat for the second grid.

Glue the grids onto the two side viewports.

Step 10: The Top Viewport

Form a ring with piece 7 and glue the ends.

Glue piece 7 to piece 8, this time lining up the narrowest part of piece 7 with the centre marks on piece 8. Once those two spots are glued, work your way around until the pieces are all glued.

Glue the top piece over the rectangular hole on the top of the helmet body.

Cut diagonally on each end tab of the grid (piece 16).

Glue the grid over the top hole.

Step 11: Bits and Pieces

Glue two of piece 12 together. Glue it to the side of the faceplate so that the smaller tab on the faceplate goes in the gap.

Curve the tab on the faceplate down and glue it into place.

Glue the front grille (piece 17) diagonally over the front faceplate.

Stack and glue three of piece 15 together. This stack gets glued on the opposite side, directly under the larger tab.

Step 12: The Breastplate

Heat piece 11 with the blowdryer. Curve it so that it bends gently in half.

Line up the tabs on piece 11 with the centre line of the helmet. The tabs are glued on the outside of the helmet and positioned so that the top edge of the breastplate slightly overlaps the bottom edge of the helmet (about 1 cm). This helps piece 11 to keep its curve once it is glued down.

Once the front and back tabs are glued, glue along the sides (where the shoulders would be) and then glue the rest into place.

Step 13: Long Strips of Foam

Cut a strip of foam in accordance with the pattern (measurements depend on the size of helmet you are making) Glue this strip over top of the seam between pieces 4 and the helmet body. When you get all the way around to where you started, cut off any excess length so that the ends of the strip meet nicely.

Cut a strip of foam about 1/3 the width of the previous one. Glue this strip down the centre of the wider strip. Again trim off the extra.

Cut one last strip of foam according to the pattern measurements. Glue this strip of foam, starting at the centre back, all the way around the outside edge of the breastplate, and cut off any excess.

Step 14: Valve Assembly and Transceiver Recess

Glue piece 13 on top of piece 14, then glue it in place on the helmet.

Glue the ends of piece 18 together to create a tube. Glue piece 19 on top of that tube.

Glue piece 21 on top of piece 19 and glue the two flanges down to the outside of the tube.

Glue piece 22, 23, and 24 in order on top of each other to complete the valve assembly.

Step 15: Nuts, Nuts, Nuts....

Use some 3/8" outside diameter vinyl tubing, and cut it into 12 short pieces using the tubing cut guide in the pattern.

Cut 12 foam discs using an 8 mm leather punch.

Push a foam disc into each tube pushing it back so there is a little space in front of it. Use a small stick or something similar to do the pushing.

Apply some super glue around the inside edge of the vinyl tubing and quickly push the foam disc forward so that it is flush with the front edge of the vinyl tube.

Step 16: ...and More Nuts

Glue the ends of all piece 20s together to make 12 little rings.

Spread glue inside each ring and then squeeze it around one of the vinyl tubes you made in the last step. The vinyl tube should be flush with the back of the foam but stick out from the top side. Hold it until you are sure the glue has cooled completely. Repeat 11 more times:)

Glue the nuts equally spaced around the dive helmet rim.

Step 17: Weight Rings and Name Plate

Make 2 loops by gluing the ends of piece 25 together. Cut a little off one edge to create a flat spot, and glue them to piece 26.

Now you can glue those two loops onto the breastplate.

If you would like a nameplate on the front, you can use a pen to etch whatever you would like into piece 27. Just draw your design and then go over it a few times with decent pressure until you have compressed the foam.

Step 18: Faceplate Embellishments

Glue a wingnut to the faceplate tab.

Use super glue to glue some 6 mm foam discs to the four points of the faceplate grille.

To make them look like screws you can cut two slits across the surface of the discs, and then cut perpendicular across the bottom of those cuts to remove a little strip of foam.

Step 19: Paint It Black

Paint the helmet black. Give it at least three good coats of artists acrylic paint.

Step 20: Rub on Some Copper

I used Liquitex Basics bronze acrylic paint to colour the main body copper. (See completed picture for reference)

Don't use it like normal paint though. Squeeze a little on a piece of paper, and then with a rubber glove on your hand, rub a little on your finger and then rub that lightly onto the black painted surface. It takes patience, but produces a great result!

Step 21: Rub on Some Brass

Use the same technique to apply the brass colour to all of the accessories and foreground areas.

For this, I used DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “ Vintage Brass.”

Step 22: You're Done! Give Someone a High Five.

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Thanks for hanging out with me! I love to hear what you do with my patterns so leave a comment or send in pictures of your creations.

Are Lost Wax patterns scaleable? Apparently so.

I never expected my steampunk top hat to get this big!

I recently received an email from Steve sharing his creation made from a scaled up version of my flared top hat pattern:

Hi Chris, we recently used your pattern to make a rather large version of the top hat for a xmas float parade. our version was made out of thick corrugated cardboard. very hard to work with but it was a big hit with the crowds. very impressed with your pattern as we weren't sure out it would work when blown up to epic proportions but it worked a treat.

So impressive! Thanks for sharing this Steve!

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How To Make a Bobble Head Costume. My Christmas Costume Idea!

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So, I was going to do something simple for this year's Christmas dress up party. Maybe throw on a Santa hat and call it good. Yes, even though I love making costumes, sometimes I just want to....not.   

However, a couple of days before the party, while I was in bed in that beautiful half awake, half asleep state where everything makes sense, I dreamed of a giant Christmas ball that you could wear on your head. Kind of a like a DIY bobblehead costume with a Christmas vibe. When I woke up, I explained it to my wife. She just shook her head. That's when I knew it was crazy. So crazy it just might work. So I tried, and was super happy with the result! If you are looking for a sweet Christmas costume idea, this just might be what you are looking for.

The thing I am excited about is that this could be the basis for any number of big round things you could wear on your head. If you make any, I'd love to hear about it!

If you prefer to watch, you can see the video tutorial here.

Well, let’s get making….

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Wrap a layer of plastic food wrap around a basketball. Don’t stretch it too much or it will try to shrink back once you cut it off.

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Wrap a layer of plastic packing tape over top of the plastic wrap. You don’t have to be super particular about wrinkles or anything, just make sure the whole ball is covered.

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Draw a line around the centre of ball. The great thing about basketballs is that they already have a line at the centre, so all you have to do is follow it!

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Use elastic bands to split the ball into 6 equal sections

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A Ring Ruler is a great tool for lining up the elastics

I used a ring ruler to make sure the elastics were evenly spaced. Using the elastics as a guide, draw two more lines around the ball.

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Cut one of the sections off the basketball.

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Then fold that section in half and cut along the fold.

Figure out how big you want your bobble head to be, and scale up the pattern piece to that size. For me, I scaled my basketball sized pattern up 240%.

Alternatively, you could skip all the basketball fun, and just grab the pattern I already made here

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Once you have the pattern, print it out and trace it 12 times on 10mm thick foam and cut it out. The pattern I made allows three sections to fit on a standard puzzle piece foam mat. It is important that you use a very sharp knife so that you can make a nice clean cut through the foam.

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Glue the foam pieces together in sets of three, starting at the point and working your way back. I use hot glue for most of my projects because it creates less toxic fumes, but it will also work with contact cement. If you use hot glue, just glue a small section at a time and hold it together until the glue cools. This is a lot faster if you use a glue gun with adjustable temperature control. You can see the one I use here.

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Glue two quarter sections together to create a half sphere. After a bit of frustrating trial and error, I figured that the best way was to glue the top centre point first.

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Then glue the very bottom edges so that the dome would hold its shape. You can then work your way along the seam gluing it together. The best way to get a nice seam is to apply the glue and then press directly on the seam until it is slightly convex in the spot you are gluing. Hold it until it has cooled.

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Now you should have two halves which can be glued together. I glued the halves together at each vertical seam first and then went around the ball gluing the rest of the horizontal seam.

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Oh, and don’t forget to make a hole for your head to go through. I cut a bit off the tip of each pattern piece for my second half, guessing what size it should be, but you could also wait until it is assembled and then cut the circle, starting small and widening it until your head just fits through.

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Although this makes a pretty round shape, it isn’t perfect yet, because it was made from flat sheets of EVA foam, so the next step is to form it using pressure and heat. I inflated an exercise ball inside the bobblehead, just enough so that it was reasonably firm. I didn’t want to create too much pressure on my glue seams.

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I covered the ball with cling wrap, and then a strip of tape along each glue seam. The reason I did this is that I want the EVA foam to stretch in the middle of each panel, but I don’t want it to stretch around the outside edge of the panels. This also gives all the glue seams some extra strength so that they don’t burst.

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Then use a heat gun to slowly heat up each section of the ball. It is important to take your time on this step, as it will take a while for the foam to be heated all the way through. As well, if you hold the heat gun on one spot for too long, the cling wrap will start to melt. It’s a good indicator that you need to slow down if that happens!

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Here’s a look at the ball after it’s been heated. It shows quite clearly where I have positioned the packing tape as well. In the video I wasn’t sure if I had given the ball enough heat, so I also submerged it for a while in a tub of hot water, though I think that probably was not necessary.

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Leave the ball to completely cool, to lock the foam into shape. I just left it overnight and unwrapped it in the morning. See how nice and round it is!

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Cut some long strips of 2mm thick EVA foam about 4cm wide.

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Glue the strips down, covering all the seams. I covered all the vertical seams with a strip each, and then used separate pieces around the horizontal centre line between each set of verticals.

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Make a long tube of foam- I used some 6mm thick EVA foam. This tube needs to sit on top of your head like a hat. It is what is going to hold the bobblehead up when you wear it.

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Once you know the size of the tube for your head you can use it to mark out the hole in the top of the ball. You want the tube to fit tightly in the hole. Cut out the hole….

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….and slide the tube down through the opening.

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With the tube pushed down quite far into the ball, put the ball on your head and use your head to push the tube back up until the ball is positioned in the right place. Carefully take it off without moving the tube and then you can glue the tube in place at the top of the ball. All the weight of the ball is resting on this seam, so make sure you glue it well.

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Now that you know where your eyes are going to be when wearing the bobblehead, you can cut some appropriately placed openings so that you can see. I cut some diamonds, but you can do whatever you want.

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Since this is a Christmas decoration, I decided to add some more decorative elements. Like some sweet swirls! I just drew the swirls on the original pattern piece and then traced over the lines while holding it against the foam. This left a faint impression which I then drew over with pen so I could see it well.

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I used my glue gun to create raised lines along the swirls. If you have a glue gun that has temperature control, turn the temperature down so that the glue coming out will be a bit thicker and hold it’s shape. The glue gun I use is really quite cheap (under $30) but has a temperature control, which is awesome. Hold your glue gun about 1cm above the foam and as you squeeze the trigger, let it fall gently onto the line. Move the tip of your glue gun so that the glue strip follows the line. This technique does take some practice, so I would suggest giving it a try on some scrap before you use it on your ball.

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Push and twist the back of a pen against the foam strips, leaving circular indentations. These will be to give the impression of rivets along the strips.

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Cut another strip of 2mm foam for the rim around the top of the tube. I found this cap which had a great texture, so I heated the strip with my heat gun and then rolled the cap over the foam, while pressing down quite firmly. It’s too hard to heat the whole strip at once, so I heated it a section at a time.

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Cut some scallops in the strip.

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Glue the strip around the top of the tube. Cut another strip of 6mm foam and glue it into the tube to create the hanging tab.

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Paint everything black. I used the “Finish Max Super” HVLP spray gun that was given to me by Homeright to speed up the process. In order to get a good result with the sprayer, I did thin down my acrylic paint with water.

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Paint the sections red. I used my airbrush and some acrylic paint, well thinned down with water. I needed quite a few coats to get a good colour, maybe 3 or 4 coats.

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I used my airbrush to create some depth in the design. I sprayed black paint along all the swirls, as well as beside all the foam strips.

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Paint all the strips black. Give it at least 2 coats of paint so that the metallic paint will go on smoothly.

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Apply metallic paint to the swirls as well as to all the foam strips. I used DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “Vintage Brass.”

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I wanted to make the diamond holes a little less obvious yet still be able to see properly, so I used some insect screen to cover the holes. I painted them with the metallic paint before I glued them across the holes.

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The last thing I did was spray a coat of Pledge Floor Gloss over the whole ball to protect it and give it a shiny resilient surface.

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And that’s it, time to get out there and amaze everyone with your new Christmas Costume! You can watch the full video of the make above.

Dozens of Mini Hats

I recently received an email from Terri who has used many of my patterns to make some incredible creations! Take a look at some of her mini top hats:

She also modified the mechanical arm pattern to make a bracer and pauldrons…

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Thanks for sharing this Terri! You can find more of her work on her Facebook page.

Hiding in plain sight...

What do you do when you need to take a cover photo for your band, but your drummer is a bit camera shy? Throw a diving helmet on his head and carry on. At least that's what UK band Steamchicken did for their latest album. Of course, if you've ever been in the market for a real dive helmet, you already know they are pretty pricey, so with some sweet crafty moves and my dive helmet pattern one of the band members was able to make the foam dive helmet shown below and save the day! Nice. 

So the next time your ears are crying out for their folk-funk-jazz fix, Steamchicken might be able to help you out! You can check out their Facebook page to find out more about them and their music.

 

Welding With Hot Glue. A Sweet Top Hat Technique.

Photo courtesy of Philip Stark (@hellerbarde)

Photo courtesy of Philip Stark (@hellerbarde)

Philip shared a picture with me the other day of his variation of my steampunk top hat pattern. I wanted to share it with you to help spur creative ideas for different things you can do from the base pattern. I really like the simplicity of this hat, he has reduced the number of patches, which would speed up the build time considerably, and be a little less over the top. I absolutely love how he took the hot glue, and instead of trying to cover up, or smooth the seam out, he made it a feature of the piece. Now it looks like a big weld seam, holding the different sections of the hat together. Of course, getting a realistic effect is all about the painting at the end, and Phillip did a fantastic job. In his email to me he said this was his first foray into foam crafting as well as using Rub N buff. Impressive. 

Thanks Philip for sharing with us, and keep on making things. You've got some sweet skills! 

Making the World a Better Place, One Hat at a Time.


"I make foam hat patterns for a living."


When I say this, more often than not, it makes me feel a bit ridiculous, and I often stop and ask myself if this little thing I do, surrounded in bits of foam and glue, actually makes the world a better place. That's why I love it when I get an email from someone, who, in whatever little way, has had their life enriched by my random foam projects

The other day, I got one of those emails, and it really touched me, so I asked if I could share it here on my blog. So, many thanks to Gautier and his beautiful wife for allowing me to share their story. Here's the email: 

Hi Chris,
You probably don’t know me, and I don’t know if you read the messages on this e-mail but I want to thank you.
In order to do that, I have to tell you a little bit about me. Not too much though, so bear with me a little bit (edit after writing the mail : That is much... sorry about the length of this email).

A few days ago, March 19th, was my first wedding anniversary.
Two years ago, my then future wife gave me carte blanche for my costume, and if it means the same thing in english as in french, I was permitted to choose entirely my wedding outfit without her having a saying in this.
I was even permitted to keep my outfit as a secret until we meet at the altar.

My dream came true.
I wanted a steampunk-like costume, or my idea of what steampunk is.

My problem was that I’m a very heavy person with a big body and a big head. I had a hard time finding someone to make a costume my size (in my range of price), and I was simply unable to find someone with a hat that I liked in my size.

One day, I found you. I found your video about the foam hat, the tall one. After days of thinking (do I wanna wear a “false” hat at my wedding, will I be able to make it right and beautiful, will it show that it’s made out of foam?) I finally decided to act.
I bought your pattern, and I spent the weekend on it with my mother who helped me.
That was not the easiest task. Your pattern was lacking one size and the biggest size seemed a little off compared with the others. (I think you updated that some months later).
So I drew it, measuring your patterns, comparing the differences between the sizes and making the same thing to make one more size.
I wouldn’t have had the courage and the confidence to do all that if I didn’t see all your videos on all your projects, where you make that seem so easy. Well... it’s not that easy for me, but because of you, I succeeded.

That gave me confidence for my project of costume and I could manage it pretty well in my opinion.

Your were, for me, a big part of my wedding’s success, and I never took the time to thank you. So there it is: Thank you.

The hat was a big success, everyone was amazed by it and mindblown when I proudly told them afterwards I made it myself, with foam.

Thank you again.

Gautier

I just love it so much when people are able to create something they can be proud of, especially in our society of mass produced, throw away goods. 

Thanks again, Gautier for sharing with me, and I wish you and your wife all the best!! 

(and yes, the pattern has been updated to fit larger sizes, so hopefully no one else will need to resize the pattern to fit their heads!) 

 

A Sweet And Easy Way to Make Pivoting Rivets For Foam Armour.

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So, last Halloween my son asked me to make him some knight armour for his costume. Secretly I have been wanting to have an excuse to take the time to make a knight armour pattern, so I figured this was the time. The only tricky bit about making armour is that it needs to look like it is made of hard plates of metal, yet provide enough flexibility to fight an epic battle. Traditional armour often used rivets that were just slightly loose, so that the plates of metal could pivot, giving the wearer some flexibility. I wanted to make mine in the same style, but as I would be making it from EVA foam, I would need to figure out a way to make rivets that would work with such a different material.

What I came up with was really simple, and super cheap, using 1/4 inch clear plastic tubing that you can get at any hardware store. And the end result looks really good. Almost like a real rivet. Sweet. I made a little video you can watch here that goes through the process pretty quickly. 

I have some thoughts to add that I didn't squeeze in to the tutorial, and here they are: 

  • The type of foam you use is really important. The main thing that's going to be a problem is if the rivet pops through the hole in the foam, like when you blow out a flip flop. To prevent this, make sure you have a relatively dense sheet of foam, and that it is about 5mm thick minimum.

  • Punch the hole in the foam a much smaller diameter than the tubing, so that it is a bit difficult to feed the tubing through the hole, but that will give a much stronger joint.

  • Make the flange on the tubing as large as you can without it going all crazy on you:) That's a bit of trial and error, but the larger it is, the less chance of pulling out.

  • Hold the tubing in place until it is cool. If you take it away from whatever is giving it the flange, it will try to go back to it's original state, and loose the shape you are giving it.

  • When you cut off the tubing for the second side of the rivet, cut it really close to the foam. This ensures that your two pieces will be held together reasonably tightly and will not flop around on a loose rivet.

There's not much to it, but it sure is a handy little thing to know. 

UPDATE: Here’s the video showing how to make the knight helmet and you can find the pattern in my shop.


Have fun making!

 

 

 

 

How I Made A Steampunk Coat Rack From Pipe Fittings

Our back entry has been in need of some extra hanging space for a while, so I decided to make a fun little coat rack. It's got a little bit of a steampunky/ industrial vibe going on. 

First thing was a trip to the hardware store. Here's a list of the pipe fittings I used to make my coatrack. Obviously you can mix and match to make whatever design you like. I bought these at Home Depot. 

I used:

  • 2x Black Iron Floor Flange- 1/2inch @ $4.02 ea

  • 2x Black Iron Tee- 1/2inch @ $1.13 ea

  • 8x Black Iron 90 degree Elbow- 1/2inch @ $1.22 ea

  • 4x Black Iron Plug- 1/2inch @ $1.16 ea

  • 6x Black Steel Pipe Nipple- 1/2 inch x 2inch (these are the longer pipes) @ $.80 ea

  • 4x Black Steel Pipe Nipple- 1/2inch x 1inch (shorter pipes) @ $.76 ea

Total Cost for the pipe fittings: $ 32.54 CDN

I won't go over what I showed in the video, but I will add some thoughts I had about this project. First of all, the rust thing. I washed the packing grease off the fittings with water, which obviously can lead to the fittings rusting quite quickly. Another option would be to remove the grease with paint thinner or something like that. If you did that, you would need to do it outside with gloves though, and I wasn't into that whole chemical thing. The main reason to get that grease off is so that the clear laquer will stick when you spray it on, and that will then protect the metal from further rusting. 

I sprayed the rack after I assembled all the parts, which works O.K., but after a couple of months of use, I took it apart and did notice a small amount of rust in the threads that never got covered in lacquer. I guess you could spray all pieces individually first if you were concerned about that.

Make sure you have the pipe fittings how you want them before tightening them up, or you are going to have a tough time getting them apart if you want to change anything. I had to use some vice grips and a pie wrench to get some of the pieces apart, and I hadn't even tightened them that much. 

And that's about it. A pretty simple project. Have fun.


 

 

 

Another Good Reason To Live in Canada

Just wanted to let you know how awesome this pattern is! We purchased it and used the it to make 4 helmets and shields for a winter canoe race in Kenora , Ontario we just participated in. They were a big hit with the crowd and stood up well to the elements and rigor of a race. I think they helped us channel our inner Vikings because we WON! Thanks soooo much!

I noticed this comment on Youtube the other day, and I couldn't help but be intrigued. Kenora is not that far from where I live and I couldn't imagine there being any non frozen bodies of water to go canoe racing in the middle of winter. So I asked for more details, and this is what I learned about winter canoe races….

They use a fan boat to brake up the ice. The race consists of a short sprint sliding your canoe along the ice, then when you reach the open water, hopping into the canoe and paddling out about 2 kilometers to a marker and back. Finally, back out of the water and ontothe ice for a sprint to the finish line. The trick is not to fall in the ice cold water! 

So, there you have it, the next time it is cold and snowy outside, and you are looking for something to do, grab a canoe and some mates and head out onto a frozen lake.  And if you’d like to channel your inner viking, use one of my viking helmet patterns.  

Just don't fall in.  

Big thanks to Adrianne for sending these pics in to me, it turns out she is not only a winter viking canoe racer, but also creates some really amazing recycled glass art. If you like one of a kind awesome things created by skilled hands, you should go and check out her Etsy shop. Here are a couple examples of her work. Sweet.

Halloween Goodies

Well, there it is, the most popular day to dress up in a super sweet costume has come and gone. It's been a busy one for my little pattern selling business, so that has been great. I always love when people share the creations they have made from my patterns, and so I thought I would post some of them here so you can feast on their creativity and talent!! 

Not sure if I would want to be this steampunk plague doctor's patient…a gruesome take on the gas mask and top hat  patterns

Not sure if I would want to be this steampunk plague doctor's patient…a gruesome take on the gas mask and top hat patterns

steampunk top hat
So much fun to be an astronaut wearing this  Space Helmet .

So much fun to be an astronaut wearing this Space Helmet.

This is one of my favourites by Austyn, using my  diver's helmet  pattern. What a great combo with the jellyfish. They had lights inside the jellyfish as well for extra cool nighttime jellyfish action.

This is one of my favourites by Austyn, using my diver's helmet pattern. What a great combo with the jellyfish. They had lights inside the jellyfish as well for extra cool nighttime jellyfish action.

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Roland took the  Dive Helmet  a step further and became a zombie diver. He also had green glowsticks inside the helmet for that under the sea vibe.

Roland took the Dive Helmet a step further and became a zombie diver. He also had green glowsticks inside the helmet for that under the sea vibe.

Sweet  mini top hat .

Viking It Up

So, after making the Viking helmet pattern, my son decided he wanted to be a Viking for halloween. And what are the first things an 8 year old boy needs. Weapons. Sam designed and made a large part of the battle-axe for his costume, and I made him a shield. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with the result. The high density foam makes a great axe, it has enough weight to feel hefty, but since it's made of foam, it's not going to be doing a lot of damage. We did still however need to implement a new family rule: No battle axes in the kitchen. I guess it's probably a common household rule, we just hadn't had a lot of battle axes around the house. 

The shield was a pretty easy project, with only one pattern piece needed, and I think it looks great as well. I have put the patterns for the shield and Axe up on Gumroad here, and they are FREE! Woohoo. 

Here are the two tutorial videos that accompany the patterns. Have fun!

Super Sweet X-wing Pilot Helmet!

How good is this Dad! He contacted me to say thanks for my space helmet pattern, which he masterfully adapted into a Star Wars X-wing pilot helmet for his 18 month old son. Apparently he cries every time he needs to take it off. Love it!! 

UPDATE: I’ve now got a video tutorial showing how to use my space helmet pattern to make your very own Luke Skywalker X-wing pilot helmet. Check it out!

LampLife. Making An Old Lamp Into a Steampunk Masterpiece.

A while back I found a pretty beat up lampshade by the side of the road, and I knew I needed to do something with it. Here's what I came up with.  

Here is a quick and easy tutorial to make a funky lamp shade that will look something like this.

UPDATE: I’ve made a fun video tutorial about this technique as well! Check it out here.

One caveat: remember that paper is flammable, so make sure your lightbulb is far enough away from the shade and is not going to make the shade too hot and burn down your house or something nasty like that! 

You will need:

  • an old lamp shade

  • white glue (sometimes called PVA glue)

  • measuring cup

  • plastic tub

  • brown kraft paper

  • oil based wood stain

  • Mod Podge

  • paintbrush

  • rubber gloves

  • rag

  • 5 minute 2 part epoxy


Step 1: Clean up your lampshade so there are no frilly bits that are going to get in the way

Step 2: Mix 2 parts water to 1 part white glue, and put it in a plastic tub. I started off with 100ml of glue and 200 ml of water, but I had to make a second batch to be able to finish the job.

Step 3: Tear your brown paper into roundish shapes, about the size of your hand or smaller. Make a big pile of the torn paper.

Step 4: Crumple up the paper and then soak it in the glue for about a minute. This is the part you will need to experiment with in order to get the look you want. I ended up scrunching the paper, then unscrunching it a bit, then put it in the glue with 5 or six other pieces. As I took the paper out of the glue I would give it a squeeze to get rid of some of the extra glue. 

Step 5: Place the paper on the lampshade. Fairly straightforward, except where the paper goes around a corner. I found it best to have the narrowest bit of the paper circle going over the edge, and sometimes if it was still to wide to get it flat, I would rip the paper just up to the point where it went over the edge. It definitely helps to save your smaller bits for going over the edge. 

Step 6: Let it dry.

Step 7: Stain (optional) If you would like a bit darker colour with a bit more texture, use an interior oil based stain, rub it on in a thin coat, and let it completely dry. Don't forget to wear gloves and have a good supply of fresh air:)

Step 8: Give it a coat of Mod Podge to seal it and give it a nice sheen. I used one coat of gloss Mod Podge, but I would also like to try it with a semi gloss.

Step 9: Cut some strips of cardboard that are long enough to run vertically down the length of the shade, with a bit extra to fold under the top and bottom edges.

Step 10: Mix 2 part epoxy together and make little dots along the strip of cardboard using a match head. If you used 5 minute epoxy, it should be hard in about 30 minutes.

Step 11: Paint the strips black. I needed a couple of coats to get nice coverage. 

Step 12: Use Rub N Buff to give it a nice antique brass look. I used antique gold Rub N' Buff, Putting a small amount on a scrap bit of cardboard and then using a gloved finger to apply just a very small amount at a time to the strips. If you have never used Rub N' Buff before, I highly recommend experimenting a bit before you go for it on your strips.

Step 13: Use hot glue to attach the strips to the lampshade. Looking good!

One thing I realised when I went to stain it was that I should have been more vigilant about drips of glue running down the sides of the lamp shade. The stain didn't take as well where those drips had been. You can see it in the gallery pics. 

 

I hope you have fun with this little project, I came across this technique as a cheap way to make some cool looking flooring. I actually did a small floor with this technique, and it really looked great! 

 

We All Love A Little Top Hat

So, I just released a new video on how to make a mini top hat from craft foam. Way back when I made my first top hat video, I tried using a scaled down version of that pattern to create a mini top hat. The result was rather ……. disappointing. The brim was way too thick and it was all out of proportion. I gave up on it for the time being.

Anyways, a little while ago, one of my viewers requested I make a corseted mini top hat, so I decided to give it another go, and this time it turned out great. 

The thing I like about this pattern, is that it is different from the many DIY mini top hats, as most of them are made as a straight cylinder, which is easy to make, but not super sexy. I love the curved lines that you are able to get on a traditional felt top hat, and so, tried to achieve this feel using plates of foam. 

So, here it is, hope you enjoy it!


Leukaemia update

In September I wrote a post about my son being diagnosed with leukaemia, and since then, I haven't updated this blog at all, so for those of you who are wondering about him, in short, he is officially in remission, but still has about 3 years of chemotherapy and treatment ahead of him to give the best chance of the cancer never coming back. So, it is a big journey for our family, we are confident that we will come out the other end stronger and more full of life than ever! 

If you would like more detail about our journey with leukaemia, we have a blog about it here

 

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Getting Crazy With Some Foam Goggles

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I have a new project for anyone who appreciates messing about with foam, glue and paint. Believe it or not, I made a pair of "brass" goggles entirely from craft foam! To be honest, I was quite impressed at the end of it with the durability as well as the look of the goggles. And another bonus feature is that they are so light you could wear them all day and not even know they are there! Course you might get the odd look from the occasional passerby to help you remember how awesome you are!

Here's a little video showing how the magic happens, and you’ll find the pattern here.

 

 

The Best Laid PLans

Life sometimes changes without your consent, and when it does, it happens pretty fast. 

Four days ago I was feeling pretty happy with myself for making a funny youtube video, and happily planning a nice little weekend camping trip with some friends.  

Today as I type this, I sit beside the bed of my 6 year old son in the oncology(cancer) ward in the children's hospital in Brisbane. He has been diagnosed with leukaemia, not the result we were expecting when we took him in to the local doctor complaining about a sore leg. Turns out that sore leg was his bone marrow churning out leukaemia cells, building up pressure inside the bone. 

Although the news was shocking and destabilising, we have been so blessed by the community of people we have around us for support. People have poured out both emotional and tangible support in so many ways, we have been overwhelmed. 

So, I guess this post is really just to let you know that if you are trying to contact me for a jewelry order or something else, it may take me quite a bit of extra time to be in touch with you.  

Thanks for your understanding, 

Chris

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