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Monday, January 24, 2011

DIY Derby: Helmets

Fun with Helmets

When I first started playing roller derby the skaters on my league didn’t have control over what went on our helmets. In fact, we were required to wear stickers on them advertising our sponsors. On most teams however, your helmet is an extension of you. It can serve as a creative outlet to tell other people a little about you. As uniforms evolve into cleaner and more professional athletic jerseys, soon helmets may become the last gritty DIY outlet we will have left. So personalize the shit out of that yo.

When I was a Messy Betty and our team was Rosie the Riveter themed, we thought it would be sharp if we all had matching red helmets.  (And it certainly went with our theme…) Humboldt Roller Derby had a similar idea and went all gold with their helmets- and from what it looks like, it was quite a process! Check out what they all went through to make these beauties shine (Click Here).

I’ve always enjoyed decorating my helmets, and so far I’ve had the privilege to do so three times. I grew up with a fondness for two-tone ska music, hence much of my adolescence was decorated with the trademark black and white checkers of the rude scene. Therefore, every helmet I have ever had, (and will ever have) has been adorned with what have now become MY trademark black and white checkers.  The first time I ever saw Pia Mess play, I was mesmerized, and I remember saying, “She has checkers on her helmet, just like me!!” 

When I skated with the Undead Bettys, whose colors were green and purple, I got a new green helmet and decorated it with a purple name and number, (and of course- my trademark checkers). In the past I had done all this from scratch using whatever types of stickers I could find, (which included cutting symmetrical squares out of black electrical tape and white medical tape), but this time I wanted something more professional. So I went to a car decal place. I brought my helmet in and everything, but the best they could do for me for the checkers was print me a sheet of pre-cut white squares and a sheet of pre-cut black squares- so I still ended up sticking each tiny one on individually. Let me tell you, it’s a labor of love.

Regrettably, this is the only pic I have for you
There certainly were pros and cons to doing it this way. (I went to Fast Signs in Dublin, by the way). For one- the stickers looked really nice and they did go on the helmet smoothly without any bubbles, (-was worried since helmets are round you know). The end result looked great, - but they screwed up the sizing of the name the first time- which irked me as I had brought in my helmet specifically for them to measure it, -but they fixed it at no cost to me, and I ended up with a free extra “Auntie Social” sticker. (What am I going to do with that? Put it on my car?!) But still, it cost me 50 smackers. That’s right. FIFTY DOLLARS FOR A NAME, A NUMBER, AND SQUARES I HAD TO MAKE INTO CHECKERS MYSELF. So, well, was it worth it? You decide.

I have a few favorite helmets. There’s Pia’s- cause she shares my love for checkers, (I’ll have to ask her about that). LuSeal Clubbin’ of the Undead Bettys has a great hand painted seal on her helmet- 

LuSeal Clubbin's Helmet

Lesli's Helmet

and my friend Lesli also designed some narly checkers on hers, (also  hand done). 

But my favorite hand painted helmet BY FAR is this awesome one done for Satan’s Kitten by the very talented Joe Fox.  I mentioned this helmet in a blog about derby related Christmas presents, but it’s so neat I had to re-post. Think it’s fabulous? Joe can do yours too! Check out his website.

Of course- there’s also all these fun additions!

There's the helmet Mohawk...

...the Pony Tail helmet...     

And of course, the helmet horns.

(And yep, < that’s Kutthroat Kandie!) So go forth and create something uniquely you!

Also- if you want to know about the helmet I’m wearing in the title picture, click here!


  1. Awesome post! So many ideas, but only one helmet..
    What sort of paint do these guys paint with? (LuSeal etc.)

  2. Thanks for the post! It inspires me to get mine done.

  3. @Holly Heartbreak: I just used some paint pens I bought from a local craft store (Jo Ann) just down the street from me. I'm sure any paint pen will do fine, just look for something with a fine tip if you want more detail. It's been about a year now, and the paint has only chipped in a few places, and I haven't even clear coated it yet. Hope that helps! :] LuSeal