[Editor’s Note: Today’s entry has been guest-written by Les Holmlund, whose childhood DIY project went above and beyond the call of duty. — PL]
By Les Holmlund
Way back around 1971, when I was a young lad of 14, I read about Detroit Red Wings trainer Lefty Wilson and others creating face-formed masks for NHL goalies. The process involved smearing Vaseline on the goalie’s face, inserting breathing straws, and layering a slab of plaster of Paris directly onto the face. After it set, the plaster was removed to harden, and then this negative form was filled with more plaster, creating a positive mold. Fibreglass was layered over this, and after some cutting, drilling, and painting, a mask was born.
I got my Dad to help by putting the plaster on my face, much to my Mom’s horror. What my research didn’t tell me was that the darn plaster gets hot as it sets! Also, no amount of Vaseline could prevent some unintended eyelash removal when the plaster was removed.
My first try was a small mask I used for a few games at the end of my last season of bantam hockey (14 years old). As you can see, there’s not much there — safety standards were obviously lower back then, and somehow they let me wear this on the ice. I knew, however, that I could do better.
The next summer I came up with this, based on the masks produced by Jacques Plante’s company, Fibrosport. Jacques wore this style, as did Bernie Parent and others. I used this for half a season while I worked on the next mask.
Mask number three was patterned after masks made by Ernie Higgins. NHL wearers of Higgins’ work included Ed Johnston and Gerry Desjardins. I cut the chin too short, so it was back to the drawing board.
This was the last homemade mask I made. It was as good as I could do, and I wore it for a number of years from age 16 to about 20. It still has the awesome 1973 paint job I applied to (sort of) match the Islanders-based uniforms my team wore. Here is how these four DIY efforts now spend their days, on the wall of the ManPit.
After discovering punk rock, I retired for a few years, and when I returned, went to a Jofa helmet/cage combination. I still play hockey, and am still using a Jofa, but this one is a rare helmet/cage/mask hybrid, which I like a lot.
I sometimes think about trying to design a new kind of mask, and building it from scratch, but the current popular design seems pretty hard to improve upon.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Paul here. Speaking of masks, I was sitting around Uni Watch HQ yesterday, and of course I was wearing my official white surgical mask, what with the pig anthrax or the cat scurvy or whatever the hell it is that the the president’s trying to poison us with. And I suddenly got this feeling of deja vu, which I initially attributed to the goat rickets, but then I realized I was having a flashback to this photo, which originally ran in the Ticker in the fall of 2007. It shows a batter, catcher, and ump all wearing surgical masks during the famous muskrat fever outbreak of 1918. Isn’t it amazing that a public health emergency can’t stop baseball, but a little bit of rain can? … An MLS ref who accepted a jersey from a player has been reprimanded (with thanks to Jason Hillyer). … New uni numbers for the Iggles, Panthers, Rams, and Bears. … Meanwhile, the Pats presented their top draft pick and dressed him up in a Pat Patriot cap. … Cycling news from Sean Clancy, who writes: “Because of weird pro cycling rules that aren’t worth getting into, Astana team members Lance Armstrong (front), Levi Leipheimer (second), and Chris Horner are racing the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico wearing a kit from Armstrong’s Mellow Johnny’s bike shop.” … A little birdie passed along something interesting: MLB’s “Opening Day/Week/Series” style guide. … Latest catcher to wear a front-facing brim: Robinzon Diaz of the Pirates (with thanks to Doug Keklak). … Totally forgot to link to last Sunday’s article about Nyjer Morgan’s stirrups. Too bad about the word “hoses” in the lede graf, though — ugh. … Faaaascinating site here devoted to women wearing military uniforms (with thanks to my buddy Shane Arbogast). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: A-Rod went double-flapped in yesterday’s rehab game. … Dig the subscript NOBs on the 1980-81 KC Kings. … Second item on this page shows just how low the Lions have sunk. … Cincinnati has a bunch of amusing new
nerd-ish vigilante crackpots uniformed crime-fighters (with thanks to David Sonny). … Latest genius move by the Wilpons: The “Bottled Beer” vendors at Shea are selling canned beer (as spotted by Mat Orefice). … A bunch of NYC police uniforms were seized in a raid. … This week’s New Yorker points out that if Texas makes good on Gov. Rick Perry’s “threat” to secede (highly unlikely yet oh so tantalizing), there’d be a nice side benefit: The Cowboys would no longer be able to call themselves America’s Team. … Rugby note from Caleb Borchers, who writes: “After much political wrangling, the South Africans finally have a new jersey. The traditionalists have ‘lost,’ in that the new jersey has moved the Springbok and the Protea flower is in its place. Given what the old design looked like, this really has been a lot of debate about nothing.” … Hey look, it’s a bunch of stupidly dressed golfers (as forwarded by Johnny Flanagan). … Go to this page and scroll down to “Rosenfels’ new number” to learn about, um, Rosenfels’s new number (with thanks to Jeff Barak). … Awesome home movie footage of a 1929 hockey game here (with thanks to Alan Kreit). … Taylor Looney says this guy was standing in front of him at a store in Midland, Texas. From the front, he says, it was a perfectly normal Tony Romo jersey. Was the back a manufacturer’s defect, or is this some sort of new “edgy” design trend we can all look forward to hating in the weeks and months to come? … Remember this? I don’t, thankfully, but it’s apparently what the Minnesota football team wore in 1994. “For me, it’s a case of ‘so bad it’s good,'” says Tris Wykes. … With Triple Crown season upon us, Jeremy Brahm found some good blinker designs. Here’s a Hello Kitty-themed example, and I like this simple strawberry logo. … Happy May Day to the seven or eight of you who still have jobs. Enjoy the Derby, Hatton vs. Pacquiao, and whatever else you’ve got planned for the weekend.