Level 1-2 : Upgrade Helmet

9 Jul

Subject Delta Helmet

Now that we had a skeleton, a darn good looking skeleton, we needed to fill it in. Daniel’s first idea was to use chicken wire around the cardboard frame in order to get the shape and stability. That idea didn’t last long. The thought of wrestling with pointy wires with a pair of pliers didn’t seem very appealing when we realized that neither of us knew when we’d had our last tetanus shots.

Papier-mâché won the day.

With papier-mâché, the tools and ingredients were easy to come by, didn’t cost a lot and, when applied in enough layers, would give us all the shape and stability we would need. The skill level needed to work with papier-mâché is perfect for beginners and the feeling of peeling dried Elmer’s glue off the fingers is just plain awesome. Don’t pretend that you didn’t “accidentally” get glue on your fingers when you were a kid just so you could try to peel it off in one long piece.

We mixed 8 oz. of Elmer’s Glue-All with 4 oz. of water in a plastic bowl. Depending on how sticky the glue you want to use is, you might need a touch more water. We were working with a 2 : 1 ratio. Don’t feel like you have to be super precise with your measurements here; two bottles of Elmer’s glue is 8 oz. so we just dumped them in the bowl and then filled one of the empty bottles with water. Don’t worry about being exact; it’s just glue.

We cut several Red Eyes into strips. You can use plain-Jane newspapers if you want, but the Blackhawks were in the process of winning the Stanley Cup and our daily free newspaper, the Red Eye, was filled with stories of their victories so we thought it would be fitting to cover our helmet in their awesomeness. Go Hawks!

We then grabbed a couple of foam brushes and went to work.

Daniel: The shape of Subject Delta’s helmet is so unique. We had to always keep the shape in mind and be conscious of where the cylindrical shape of the helmet would meet the arch of the shoulders. It was like trying to papier-mâché two different shapes together but make them look like one solid piece.

We started at the base on the front and the back with thick, shorter horizontal strips and worked our way up. Then, when had to switch to longer, thinner vertical strips and work around the curve of the head.

Working together, at the same time made the process move along very quickly but it made the need for communication even greater. We had to take many breaks where we would step back and map out our next path.Even though the cardboard skeleton gave us a fantastic foundation, we had to be careful to fill in the holes and maintain shape. Take, for instance, the back of the frame.

Reinforced Helmet - Back

There’s not a lot of spaces to help support wet newspaper strips between the middle support bar and those side bars that connected the helmet to the shoulder piece. We found ourselves really wishing that we’d added more support strips just for the purpose of stringing strips of papier-mâché together.

We spent an hour and a half on this step of the process. With the frame filled in, it was beginning to look more and more like Subject Delta and we were getting more and more excited until we were finished.

Daniel got really quiet and then went to the kitchen. He came back with a skewer, which was the only thing we had on hand that was long enough to saw through the layers of cardboard and papier-mâché, and cut out a rough eye hole. Here’s what it looked like.

Front of Helmet

Front of Helmet

Back of Helmet

Back of Helmet

How disappointing. But we thought, maybe it will look better if Daniel puts it on..

1st paper mache3

The shape of the construction helmet was still too pronounced and it gave the helmet a pointed top. There is also a very prominent ring above the eye hole where the helmet meets the first cardboard ring. We also didn’t take into account that, as we mached, the curve would get filled in and be less prominent; we needed to have extended the shoulder pieces further out to account for that. You’ll also see that the front of the breast-plate looks more squared off than it should. Certainly nothing like our reference:

Subject Delta Helmet Reference

Well. Back to the drawing board. At least we have nine whole months to get it right.

Sara: I think it was because we only worked an hour and a half on this step but I wasn’t too upset at all. It definitely sucked but at least we could see where we needed to make changes.  It should be no problem at all to whip up another frame and get it mached and ready to go!

Daniel: As I was cutting the finished frame away from the helmet, I tried not to think too much about it or I would get angry. I knew that it wouldn’t work, that we could do better so I had to get it over with. I knew that the longer I stared at how poorly it came together, the angrier I would be.

Sara: I had no idea you were so upset.

Daniel: I was very upset.

How do you deal when you’ve been working on a process which requires multiple steps only to find out after all your hard work that you need to start over? Why not share in our comments section below?

7 and 1/2 hours in, and we were having to start again from scratch.

Regardless of how upset he was, he posed for this picture, which we will leave you with until next week.

Oh well. Maybe next time!

Oh well. Maybe next time!

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4 Responses to “Level 1-2 : Upgrade Helmet”

  1. Adina July 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM #

    A few thoughts:
    – The peakishness of the top is not the biggest of deals since his headlamp and the handles off the back. you can always layer up more paper to dome it out too. I would definitely keep the hard hat as your base and just add more structure to your framing before you get to the mache portion of your sculpting.
    – Your initial skeleton is VERY close, but probably needed wider shoulders (just shy of where the shoulder seams of a shirt SHOULD hit). This will pretty much eliminate any chance of reaching over your head in costume, but its not like you were expecting to be fully mobile anyway, right?

    Regardless, You’ll figure it out. I’m personally still putzing my way along on 2 costumes (mostly Lilith from Borderlands, and barely at all Chell from Portal 2) and really need to crack down and do some sewing.

    • Adina July 11, 2013 at 5:36 PM #

      ALSO … If you ever need to borrow some tools, I have a drill, jig saw, circsaw and sander, and have access to even cooler things at work.

    • thosecrazygilberts July 11, 2013 at 5:59 PM #

      Oh man! You’re the best! I was looking at others that have build Big Daddy helmets and it always looks like they are working out of a scene shop or something.

      We’re working on a different fame base that is definitely wider on the shoulders and Daniel has come to terms with the limited mobility. A few of our friends have suggested bringing a handler along to when we show it at cons.

      BTW – you would make a kick ass Lilith I can’t wait to see how that turns out! – Sara

      • Daniel July 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM #

        Thanks Adina! Great feedback! 😀

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