Ant Man may not be a bright blip on your radar, now that the movie has come and gone, but the approach behind this Ant Man helmet project–improvising a costume based on a basic design idea and some thoughtful trash rummaging–can apply to any costume. The designer of the helmet, Instructables’ Mikaela Holmes, explains how it came about.

Not long after seeing Ant Man over the summer, I found a video online about how to create an Ant Man helmet at home. I thought it looked like a fun challenge and I wanted to try making my own version. I’ve always liked taking recycled objects and trying to reimagine them into an elevated and unrecognizable form. There is something very satisfying and magical about this transformation, it makes you think about the objects around you in a new way, and it’s a fun treasure hunt to find what you need.

There is no one way to make this project, and a lot of objects will work for the various parts of the helmet. I’ll show you what materials I used and suggest some others that I think might be good options. No matter what, the Ant Man helmet you create will be unique to you, because all superheroes should have a hand in writing their own origin story.

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antMan_2Does this look like an Ant Man helmet to you? It will be by the time that Mikaela is done with it.

antMan_4The basic side and jaw line start to take shape with the ashtray, plastic protractor, and parts of a plastic Arizona tea jug.

antMan_5The head slats are made from cut pieces of the jug. Mikaela added silver duct tape to the slats to give them more strength and thickness. Mikeala is very good about adding rivets and other details to her costume and leather pieces that give them much more character and depth.

antMan_6The front helmet piece was cut from a substantial part of the tea jug. Note the reference photos. It’s very important, when doing a project like this, especially one where you’re really improvising and riffing off of your materials, to have good reference images to work from.

antMan_7For the lenses, Mikaela used safety glasses that she tinted with a red Sharpie. Easy-peasy, and the results are perfect.

antMan_8The finished helmet. For the red stripes above the eyes, she simply used strips of card covered in red duct tape.

It’s a really fun, creative challenge to try your hand at improvising a costume piece like this. Once you’ve done it, and you start thinking in terms of the shapes, colors, and structures of found and discarded materials, you will never look at your kitchen trash the same way. There’s inspiration in milk cartons and hard plastic food inserts!