so I bought this Bell helmet with the intention of modifying it and making it more “cautious”, hazardous, and look-the-eff-out. Eventually the idea is for the whole thing to be fluorescent orange, but first I wanted to do a test. I learned long ago to put faith in rubber cement as an agent to apply to plastic and inorganic surfaces in order to later pull up the cement and anything that might find itself attached to it, in this case some spray paint. Painter’s tape is good for the foundation because it’s easy to apply and cheap, but the rubber cement allows me to make a much finer line, on curved surfaces without worrying about spray paint running underneath the cement – once the cement sets it won’t let anything through.

So first thing I did was lay my tape line in the area I wanted to test:

and then I applied the rubber cement around the edges of the cavity:

I taped off the perimeter where I wanted the design to be, and I taped the interior of the cavity space so no spray got inside the helmet. Basically with the interior tape, hold the helmet up to a light and look inside the helmet. If you can’t see any direct light, then no spray particles will be able to get in either! This will keep the inside of your helmet nice-n-clean.

then I taped a plastic bag around the entire helmet to protect the areas I didn’t want sprayed:

Get out yer paint! I probably should have painted the helmet white first, but 1. I didn’t have any laying around and 2. I was lazy to get some and 3. eager to test it out!

The helmet after one coat:

Then remove the plastic bag and perimeter tape line:

The remove the tape in the cavity area and you’re left with something like this:

Then use any tool to remove the rubber cement. Since it was only recently applied it will pull up quite easily. I’ve found a graphite pencil is ideal for most applications, because it can even be erased from certain surfaces, if necessary. Not necessary with the foam of a bike helmet, but it does work well:

I’m not sure how these things are made because the top of the helmet is like some sort of plastic, but the foam is overlapping the plastic in some places. Basically I’m setting myself up to allow for some wiggle-room in how smooth my lines are, or how strict I am about the design. In the end I think this came out really well! I plan to tape off the rest of the helmet cavities, get another can of spray paint, and finish the job – I just need a half-day or day where I can let the helmet dry and still use my bike for daily commutes. And of course I plan to keep adding to the helmet in the months ahead.