By Phil Hecken
Uni Watch readers should be familiar with the name Leo Strawn, Jr., for his many ‘unique’ submissions to the ticker — which are usually placed in the “Grab Bag” category — since they mostly entail non-U.S. (and non-major) sports. I also featured Leo in a recent column detailing his fantastic “Thank You” cards, and Paul featured his photos from Wrigley Field’s 100th Birthday.
Leo, as it turns out, is also a DIY-er. I’m sure he has much more in store than what you’re about to see today, but I’ll turn the rest of this lede over to Leo, who has undertaken a project to create a pretty nifty Steelers helmet. So, here he is with his …
Steelers DIY Project
By Leo Strawn, Jr.
I’ve had this idea for a Steelers helmet since I was a kid. And I’ve always understood the history and meaning attached to the Pittsburgh Steelers logo, as described on the team’s website. Nevertheless, it always bugged me that there are red and blue diamonds (hypocycloids) but no red or blue anywhere else on their iconic uniforms. I always thought one of two things should be done; additions of red and blue to the trim (tastefully placed) on the uniforms or (preferably) eliminate those two colors from the only place they appear which is the helmet logo.
So, I stumbled across this helmet last year, ideally suited for a quick transformation into the helmet I envisioned for the Steelers many years ago (click on this, or any images, to enlarge):
I didn’t intend to create a “perfect” helmet because I had tried this first on another shell, trying to re-create a Breakers helmet, and the results were less than stellar.
This helmet had been game worn (or at least practice worn, not by any Steelers, of course), and I wanted to leave the marks in the helmet to give it personality.
The Steelers had a rough-and-tumble image throughout their heyday (which is when I had developed this idea, during the ‘70s) and the helmet being banged up a bit seemed to logically portray that image. So, there was really no repair work to be done. The ear pads were missing, and that was fine by me since I wouldn’t suggest anyone actually wear this and try to play in it; this is for display only. Once having disassembled the helmet I put a black spray on top of the existing shell to eliminate distracting white scuff marks. The facemask was already yellow, and pretty close to the color I was using, but I sprayed it anyway.
After the shell was dry, I masked the diamond shape. I decided there was no reason to change the tradition of using just the right side of the helmet for the logo design.
I had a sign maker cut the stencil font lettering out of self-adhesive vinyl. (I had him cut two sets in case I damaged one or more of the letters.) I then pulled up pieces of the letters with the tip of an X-acto, placing them, lifting, re-spacing and replacing them, over and over, until I had the spacing and placement I wanted and which fit with the size of the diamond as well as the curvature of the shell. Once they were in place, I masked the rest of the helmet, inside and out, and sprayed the diamond.
I have no indoor spraying facilities so I was slowed way down by winter. This then added another dimension to the helmet, literally. The spray must be slow and light, not heavy and fast (which would cause drips, of course), and by trying to accomplish this over the course of winter I had lots of time to think about the design. I decided I wanted to keep layering the paint, little-by-little, slowly building up the layers (something I would never have thought of had I been spraying this over the course of a couple of days in summer). I sprayed whenever we got a decent enough day, then put the helmet up for the next opportunity. Once I was satisfied, I cut the outside of the letters with an X-acto knife, carefully, to separate the paint from the mask without cutting too deep and damaging the shell, and I pulled up the lettering, which left a rough design.
I then touched up the paint and edges as best I could, and this was the result. The paint is about 1/64” to 1/32” deep, creating a shadow and a cool 3D look.
As you can see up close, the edges are rough in spots but I think that works well with the rough Steeler image.
The final steps were to spray a clear coat over the entire shell and reassemble the helmet. Here are several photos of the finished product. From a distance, it looks pretty nice overall, I think.
Thanks, Leo! Nice job with that. Thanks for sharing your project and experience with us!
On a side note — I can attest (as can any of you who’ve tried) to the difficulties of trying to paint (especially spray paint) anything when the temperature is below a certain degree. When I was maybe 12 or 13, my pop bought me a blank plastic hockey mask (I was into roller hockey at the time — and we’re talking around 1979-ish, so we’re talking this kind of roller hockey). Anyway, I was so excited to try to paint my mask like a real goalie, I attempted to spray paint it in sub-freezing temps. Needless to say, it was a huge fail. So, kudos to Leo for overcoming time and temp in this project!
And, as an added bonus — if you’re interested in purchasing the helmet, Leo has offered it up for sale on eBay. So, if you’re interested, you know what to do!
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
First up today is Hiatt Werling, with a fun jersey submission:
I enjoyed the article about what Apple employees wear that ran on April 14th, and I especially liked the shirt that was inspired by the old rainbow Apple logo, and it got me to thinking, what if Apple employees wore a Tequila Sunrise-type uniform inspired by that same logo?
Next up is Marc Hammill with a new concept for the Toronto Basketball team:
Last (month) you made reference to the Raptors video where there was a brief shot of a wolf and how this could be a hint at the re-branding the Raptors have been discussing. I came up with a uniform concept for the Raptors (maybe Huskies) which is simple. I went with an ivory and blue home jersey and blue and white for road jersey (in keeping with Toronto’s blue and white color scheme for their sports teams). Are there any basketball teams that have an ivory (off white) jersey?
Anyways, here’s the concept. Would like your thoughts.
And we close today with Clint Glaze who has a reworking of the San Diego Padres:
Here is my submission to the “Bring Back the Brown” movement: a very tasteful implementation of the Padres’ classic brown and yellow based on their current logo set and uniform design. Also shown is the historical inspiration for each design.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Reader Eric Baugh was impressed with “my fellow Astro fan, and good friend Clayton Waddell’s ‘Stros hat collection.” So Eric sent in a photo of his own. “Note the difference in logo thickness between the top two (left to right) from the same era,” he adds. … In yesterday’s comments, it was noted during NCAA softball Thursday night one of the pitchers wearing what could best be described as a modified catcher mask as she pitched (thanks to “Too Tall” Paul Deaver for the link). Yesterday, against Baylor, she was again wearing the device. … “Picked up a t-shirt with this retro looking mascot on it at the Royals clubhouse store,” says Mark Shipman. “Clerks knew nothing about it. I thought it was from the ’70’s but can’t find anything about it on the net. Any ideas?” [Side note: I posed this question to Todd Radom and Chris Creamer — Todd isn’t sure and I didn’t hear back from Chris — PH] … Check out this photo from the home opener this past Wednesday of the Eau Claire Express (Northwoods League, summer collegiate baseball). Submitter Lukas Hoffland notes that (besides the awesome striped stirrups and the new white-paneled cap) the catcher (Brent Gibbs) is wearing his Indiana University helmet for catching (and he did wear it during the game). … Here’s an Eric Hinske number font mistake, spotted by Bob Gassel, who writes, “I just noticed the Cubs first base coach has the wrong number font on the back of his jersey – that font is what’s used on their alt grays.” … On Friday might, the Toledo Mud Hens wore their Ghostbusters uniforms (h/t Jamal Wilburg). Yesterday, the Hens introduced Spiderman jerseys they’ll wear on June 28 (via @Chwinam). … @j_tasca thinks he knows where the Mud Hens got the idea. … The new FSU logo is now on softball helmets as a front decal (nice spot by Kyle Wooster). … On Friday night, the Peoria Chiefs wore tie dye jerseys, the same color as Jim Vilk’s vomit after he sees those (sent in by Bryce Starkey). There’s actually video proof of this event. … Louisville baseball got some new unis for their regional; they wore the red version yesterday against Kansas, all of whom wore stirrups, and perfectly bloused pants (h/t Coleman Mullins for the tip). … In yesterday’s Mets/Phils game, Dice-K went low-cuffed and wore an orange undershirt (a la David Wright) (thanks Paul). “Haven’t seen his last few appearances,” says Paul, “so I’m not sure he’s done either of these things before, but they’re both new to me.” … Also yesterday, the White Sox wore their “batterman” caps with their throwbacks — have they worn those yet this year? … Here’s a cool look at how the Diamondbacks get the “A” on the pitching mound (from Adam Vitcavage).
NFL News: The newest NFL rookies were out in their new gear for the first time yesterday. Here’s some video of the event, some more photos of rooks, and there’s even a shot of #1 pick, Jadeveon Clwoney in his Texans gear. … David Arnold asks, “are the numbers on @JManziel2’s shoulder pads facing the wrong direction?”
College Football News: Looks like Michigan State has a new white jersey for the 2014 season (great find by @SpartanJerseys). Also spotted on MSU dummies was an all-green number and what looks like a past Pro Combat version. Wonder if they’ll bring that back for the fall.
Hockey News: The New York Rangers will wear the Stanley Cup Finals patch on their left shoulder this year (thanks to Matt Harris). Not entirely sure why, but they did the same thing in 1994, so maybe it’s a superstition/tradition thing.
Soccer News: Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Even better for World Cup kit history this site shows the kit worn in each game (big thanks to George Chilvers for sending us all down a rabbit hole). Vann Holden writes, “West Ham United are set to reveal their new away kit on June 5. In anticipation of the kit reveal, they launched a scavenger hunt, leaving flyers with partial images of the new kit in the club’s stores. They also created a hashtag, #awayreveal, for fans to share the flyers, mock-ups of the shirt, and their thoughts. The announcement of the flyers can be found here. All three flyers can be found in this link.”
College Hoops News: Point Guard U is reporting (on Facebook, according to submitter Michael Wach) that the University Of Arizona will no longer sell jerseys with player numbers but instead the numbers will be the year. “So this year the basketball jersey will be number 15 and next year 16 and so on.”
Grab Bag: Apropos of the “Rising Sun” flag discussion we had in the comments the other day, check out this wacky backstop in Denver Gregg‘s neighborhood. “No one was around to ask about it though,” says Gregg. “Wonder if anyone else has seen such a thing.” … Our Aussie rules football guru Leo Strawn, Jr. sends along this clip from Cheers where George actually mentions Australian Rules Football. … Here’s an article from the Columbus Dispatch on how golfers pick their clothes (or have them picked for them). Nice find by Darrell Dawson.
And that’s going to do it for this first Sunday in June. Heat vs. Spurs in the NBA Finals, Rangers (one O6 team) in, with the Blackhawks & Kings playing Game 7 tonight. If the ‘hawks win, that’s going to be an OUTSTANDING looking final, uni-wise, and Spurs/Heat ain’t too shabby either. Even if you’re not a hockey fan, you might want to tune in tonight (8:00 EDT/7:00 CDT, NBCSN or CBC).
I’ll be working off-site for a good portion of the day, so everyone play nice! I’ll be back next weekend with more stuff. Thanks to Leo for the wonderful DIY project he shared, and to the concepters as well.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“There’s one big difference between MLB teams wearing uniforms with camouflage print and Negro League throwbacks. The Negro League uniforms don’t suck.”