Ideas and development

The creation of this helmet came about after creating a foam mask to wear for a charity event, and is one of those cases where one project can inspire another. The mask was based on an image of a yellow butterfly…… okay, actually it was a Madagascan Moon Moth but I didn’t know that at the time.

While creating the mask I made a series of paper templates to help me work out scale and construction. A few days later, looking at the templates again, I had a thought about how one of them would make a good mask by itself.

After a few pages of sketches the original idea had developed into a helmet with the mask as a face plate. I imagined it to the helm of a temple guardian, priest or for some other ceremonial reason. Taking further inspiration from the moth the bowl of the helmet would be segmented like an insect’s abdomen, while the sides would have decorative ‘wings’. Further details would be painted on later.

Materials and construction

I did originally think about using foam, but what I wanted as something that a little more delicate. In the end I decided to use 1 mm aluminum sheet which is soft enough to work with the tools I have, but will also keep its shape.

As with the foam mask which inspired this project I began by creating templates. First I took a mannequin head and covered it with foil, then masking tape, onto which I drew out half the shape of the helmet bowl. This is a method I have seen on a few You Tube channels and is often used by Odin Makes. When done, I cut out the segments, laid them flat and transferred them onto some thick paper.

These, along with some separate templates I made for the face plate and wings, were transferred onto the aluminium sheet. Making sure to double up each helmet segment. There then followed much cutting out using tin snips, followed by filing of the curved edges. It was later on that I found out about different types of shears which would have made cutting curves far easier.

With all the parts cut out I took each pair of segments and made sure they were identical. I also went around the edges of each piece and removed any sharp edges with a file and sandpaper.

I used a variety of objects to form the metal including a metal tubes and other objects. For the side wing I used my vice; the jaws were slightly opened and the metal hammered into the gap using the end of a pin hammer. A tube was then placed under each curve and the metal was hammered around. Finally, I straightened it with my hands.

For the bowl, each segment was formed and then attached with aluminium rivets. When both halves were complete they were riveted to a central ‘spine’ At this point I came across an issue when the sides didn’t join up square in the middle. This was fixed with some more filing and hammering. Not sure why this happened as the centre edge of the template was straight. Next time I will try to do it in bands rather than halves.

After finishing the bowl the wings were also riveted to the side followed by the face plate. One change I made late in the making process was to alter the eyes. Rather than slitted visors I chose some mesh which reminded me more of compound insect eyes.


The painting of the helmet is where I took the most deviation from my original inspiration. Rather than yellow I used gold and for a contrast, a flat brown.

Most paint will not normally cover metal; it will either run or scratch off easily. So, before doing any colour work I first gave the helmet a few primer coats of spray designed for coating metal.

When this was dry I gave the whole helmet a coat of gold paint, followed by brown on the bowl. Inks and other paints were then used to add weathering around any rivets and crevices. Finally, I added some details to the front of the mask.