Our family loves to take bike rides together. Even before our children could walk, we had them on bikes, either in a special bike seat or sitting in a bike trailer. We are lucky to live in a country with a very well developed bike lane system. We also take our bicycle safety very seriously. None of us, child nor adult, gets on a bike without a helmet. While we always insisted the kids wear helmets, my husband and I were often a bit lax on this when it came to our own use of helmets. When our oldest daughter had a serious bike accident four years ago, that all changed. I shudder to think what would have happened had she not been wearing her bike helmet. The force of the impact when she fell cracked her helmet in two. She sustained only minor injuries and I know we have her helmet to thank that it wasn't far worse.
When our youngest daughter came along, we continued our regular bike rides with her safely tucked in the bike trailer. Her beloved doll was always by her side. At a certain point my daughter asked why Esther, her doll, didn't have a helmet. We tried using a crocheted hat but that didn't convince our precocious child. We had to come up with something more helmet-like.
What follows is a little tutorial for how to make papier-mache helmets for your favorite doll or stuffed animal.
Newspaper (cut into small pieces)
Pen or Marker
The first step is to determine what size helmet you will need. Measure around your doll's head.
Now inflate a balloon until it is the same circumference as the doll's head plus an extra half inch. Tie the balloon off. Next you need to make your glue. I use a 2 parts flour to one part water mixture. Any papier-mache glue will work so if you have one you have liked and used in the past feel free to go with that. Since I always have flour on hand, I find this an inexpensive and relatively easy clean-up glue to work with.
Begin by dipping the small pieces of newspaper in the glue mixture. Use your fingers to squeeze off any excess. Place the glue-soaked pieces of newspaper onto the balloon. Continue until the entire surface of the balloon is covered. Set aside and let dry. Once dry repeat this step until you have at least three layers of newspaper on your balloon. Be sure to let each layer dry completely before adding another. If you are making a helmet for a larger doll or stuffed animal, you may need to add another layer to make the helmet more durable.
Once all of the layers are dry, you need to determine the shape of your helmet. Use a pen or marker to draw the shape on the paper-covered balloon. If you are trying to draw straight lines around your balloon, I find it helpful to place a rubber band around it and then draw a line so the ends match up perfectly. Once you have the desired shape, carefully use an exacto knife to cut out the helmet.
Now it is time to decorate. We painted ours with regular poster paint we already had. We sealed the helmet with a coat of clear varnish. Use the hole punch on each side of the helmet and thread the ribbon through so you can secure the helmet to your doll's head.
You are now ready to take your beloved friend on a bike ride knowing their heads are well protected.