Help me constuct an astronaut helmet
October 21, 2006 8:54 AM   Subscribe

How would I go about constucting a reasonable looking space helmet?

I recently came across letterhead my dad had made for me when I was much younger. My title was listed as "Dinosaur Scientist and Bellerina" with a subheading of "(also, Lady Astronaut)." seeing as I've had such a hard time coming up with a halloween costume this year, I decided to go as my broken dreams. I figured I need a tutu, a lab coat and then a spacehelmet (possibly with a bow on top). The tutu and labcoat should be pretty easy, it's the spacehelmet that's driving me crazy. All of the premade ones are pretty expensive and made for little kids.

I have no idea how to start on this. Any suggestions?
posted by piratebowling to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I made one for my son a few years ago by starting with a second-hand hockey goalie helmet I picked up in a thrift shop - the plastic face shield was there already, so it was a good starting point. I painted the helmet metallic. A football helmet or a motorcycle helmet would work too. I'll see if I can dig up any photos of it; I remember adding a doodad here or there but I can't remember what.
posted by iconomy at 9:06 AM on October 21, 2006

I can't find a photo, but my son told me I added some tubing and some buttons, kind of like this. These are freaking awesome, and you can make them yourself. I also found directions to make one from paper mache and a ballon here.
posted by iconomy at 9:19 AM on October 21, 2006

My wife and I made a decent space helmet for our son a few years ago. We bought a white bucket at Home Depot, pulled off the handle, and used strong shears to cut a face-sized hole in one side (which I then sanded down). We padded the inside with some dishtowels that we duct-taped on, for comfort, and then added some plastic tubing (also bought at Home Depot) to the outside to make it look slightly more realistic.

It wasn't terribly realistic, but it got the job done, and was very cheap to make.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:26 PM on October 21, 2006

Clear plastic globes of appropriate size are readily availabe from sources on the Internet. You should add an internal headset of some sort for authenticity, as real space helmets are notable for not being convenient for speaking or breathing to external atmosphere, and require head mounted communications gear. A skull cap, or a watch cap, worn inside the sphere, under the headset, will add a bit of "uniform for spaceflight" look. If you're going to be wearing the thing for any length of time, or trying to talk in it, cutting some holes with large drill bits or hole saws would help greatly.
posted by paulsc at 1:47 PM on October 21, 2006

I think iconomy is on the right track with the motorcycle or football helmet. Problem is, anyone who looks at it is going to recognize it as a motorcycle or football helmet. You have to disguise it. Cover it with white or silver cloth. Stop at the hardware store and see if you can find some (non-garden) hose, try the plumbing isle, they usually have some stuff that is covered in a fine wire mesh. That will look all spaceish.

Your also going to need a face-shield. If you used a motorcycle helmet, you probably already have one, if not, stop at an framing place and see if you can get some scrap acrylic (they use it in big pictures instead of glass). You will only need a piece that's about 12" square. It's fairly thin and should flex easily. Attaching it to the helmet could be tricky, I'd recommend a pop-riveter if you have one handy, but worst case scenario, just tape it down and cover the tape with your fabric.

Attach the hose to the side and run it down to the back of your costume. paulsc also had another great suggestion: get a headset of some kind. Astronauts always have those.

Other things to consider: Mount a couple of flashlights on either side (think about where Mickey Mouse's ears are and you'll get the idea). Use some gold tinting to cover the face shield, or add another piece over the top so it looks like your mirrored visor is pushed up (like this)

If you want to be really obnoxious, have the headset be functional, hook it into a walkie talkie and clip the other one to your body (watch out for feedback). Make it so whenever you talk, your voice comes out of the radio. Very astronaut.
posted by quin at 3:59 PM on October 21, 2006

For the base of the helmet, you could epoxy together two half-sphere salad bowls from someplace that sells cheap plastic cookware. Since the costume's all about childhood dreams, I think a sort of crappy kid-made look would actually be preferable to any realistic-looking helmet.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:45 AM on October 22, 2006

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