Primary materials: Steel from filing cabinets, rivets, foam sleeping mat.
One day I was looking through a dumpster and found some filing-cabinet parts, a spool of braided thread, a salad spinner, and a curved piece of metal that could fit around my forehead. I envisioned attaching the filing-cabinet parts in layers off the curved metal, cutting the plastic from the salad spinner bowl for a clear face shield, and tying it all together with the thread.
I didn’t start working on this right away. I was already building another mask and then started several plastic masks. The metal sat around for long enough that I considered throwing it out. But the idea of building something with it stuck with me.
I had never made anything of any complexity out of metal. I learned a couple techniques from some YouTube videos and started on this with a drill, a hammer, a baby anvil, and a winter jacket (I was out in the garage in February).
From my experience using the braided thread on plastic masks, I knew it wouldn’t hold the metal sheets together properly, so I went with rivets instead. I used about 150. I decided not to incorporate the salad-spinner plastic after all, and also decided to make it a full helmet rather than a face mask. Building the back half easily doubled the work time on this, and caused me to run out of filing-cabinet parts, so I bought a sheet of metal to finish the project.
The helmet is actually two pieces: a front mask, and a larger back helmet section. They’re held together with magnets.
I got the brassy look by heating the metal with a torch and scrubbing it with a brass wire brush. Here is what it looked like, before and after treatment:
The thinner metal heated more quickly and took the brass nicely. Thicker metal exhausted my patience heating up, so I left it steely. Even on these parts, though, the scrubbing made it nice and shiny and removed any paint.
At one point I thought about putting some stripes of black paint up the front across one eye, but after getting it shiny with the brass brush technique, I decided to leave it pure metal. It stayed super shiny for only a short period of time and then began to darken. At this point I think it’s pretty much leveled off. What you see in my pictures at the top of the page is how it looks in its mature state.
I lined with inside with pieces of pipe insulation and sections of a foam sleeping mat. It is surprisingly comfortable for its weight.