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Helmet Art at Babes Ride Out with Kayla Inferno Art

By Kayla Koeune

My first Babes Ride Out and I was filled with nervous, excited anxiety to be teaching paint workshops with The Real Deal Revolution. My emotions were compounded by the fact that this was the last plan my dear friend, Jessi Combs, and I made together prior to her passing. The Real Deal, founded by Jessi and Theresa Contreras, is a nonprofit organization that focuses on women teaching women trades. So, what could be a more perfect fit than a venue that is all women? The workshops we teach are an extremely entry-level “How To” in order to, in this case, introduce brushes and paint for those curious. I work in several types of paint on a multitude of surfaces, but at this event, I wanted to highlight paint specifically used in my Helmet Art and Hand Painted Patches. This post will go over the basics of painting a helmet with pin striping methodology.

Where to begin when I have an hour of time and a desire for these women to leave with something they made with their own hands. Ah the SUPPLY LIST, what do I use? This seems to be the biggest question people have. The following is a good place to start when wanting to learn enamel paint.

DEGREASER – Paint for this application does not like oil so you need to remove residue from surfaces.

STABILO ALL PENCIL – This Pencil is specifically made to draw on almost any surface and will not resist or interact with the paint. You can draw directly on the helmet but be soft with your touch because you can scratch the surface and if you go too heavy-handed with the pencil the paint won’t stick!

ENAMEL PAINT – I use Alpha 6 Corporation Enamel Paint called AlphaEnamel and I use this for a couple of reasons. I love their customer service and their user-friendly shaker squeeze bottles save so much time in the studio!

BRUSHES – I use Mack Brushes and specifically The Virus brush but you can use whatever you like the best, and it may take some experimenting to find what you like.

PALETTE – You need a surface to mix your paint and old magazines or junk mail work perfect!

PAINT MEDIUMS – A common medium is Mineral Spirits, there are several mediums out there but this will suffice when you’re starting out.

LATEX GLOVES – Not only does this protect you from the harsh chemicals it serves as a barrier for oils that are on your hands.

BRUSH OIL – This will be important when you are done Painting.

Now we know what we are using let’s dive into the how!

Put your gloves on and wash the helmet. Spray a soft cloth with degreaser and get the bothersome substrates off your helmet. Brand new helmets will have a subtle coating on them from the factory and if you don’t get rid of it you will run into adhesion problems.

Once clean it’s time to layout your design. Grab your pencil and draw a general idea on your helmet the more pencil marks you make the more problems you can run into, so keep it light and keep it a general outline. With more practice the less you’ll have to draw out!

The fun part begins, so grab a bottle of paint and get shaking. The paint will naturally separate with time so you need to get the pigment and medium-well mixed. Pop the top and squirt about a quarter size dab of paint on the palette. Any more than this I find the paint starts to dry too quickly if you’re not moving fast. If you are working outdoors and in the wind, your paint will not last long. Dip your brush in some mineral spirits and swirl it in your paint till the bristles are wet and even. This is the hardest thing to describe instead of show, but it is all about viscosity. Too much paint or if the paint is thin from too many spirits, then when your brush touches down you will have a mess. Not enough paint or your paint is drying out, then you will get a dry brush look and an uneven line. It will take time to get balance correct but don’t give up just keep practicing. Lastly always “pull your line” if you try to push your brush you won’t have good control of the outcome. Feel free to stand and move around the object your painting to place yourself at a good angle.

After your art is complete comes some very important steps to maintain the life of your brushes. Brushes for enamel paint can get expensive so you want to make sure you take care of them. I keep 3 bottles. Dirty mineral spirits, clean mineral spirits, and a bottle of brush oil. When I’m done the painting I get as much paint off as I can in the dirty mineral spirits and wipe it with a cloth. Then I swish it around in the clean spirits and wipe the brush again. Finally, I dip it in the brush oil and leave it sloppy with oil in my brush tin.  Leave the oil on your brush till your next use because enamel paint will never harden with the presence of oil. When you are ready to use your brush again wash thoroughly in your dirty spirits, wipe, swirl in the clean spirits, and you are ready to work again!

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to contact me on my Instagram handle KaylaInfernoArt if you have any questions about material or techniques. Cheers!

By Kayla Koeune

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