FARGO

Eddie Wold is used to creating images of skulls and flames on hot rods and motorcycles.

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But this fall the 23-year-old artist took on a gentler project - one that featured giraffes, monkeys and a rainforest theme - for a much younger client.

Seven-month-old Maison Schrum was born with a condition in his neck muscles that kept him from lifting his head and caused his skull to develop a flat spot.

The West Fargo, N.D., couple searched for solutions and found one potential answer -but it included having their son wear a helmet that would likely attract unwanted attention.

But they wanted a creative way to detract from the standard white helmet to make it more about their son.

They turned to several artists before finding one who would help.

Wold was touched by their story and took the helmet home the very night they brought it to him. Using an image from a toy the Schrums brought in, he finished the design in about an hour.

"They needed something to bring some life into the helmet so it didn't look so 'Plain Jane,' " said Wold, the owner of ET Kreations.

The result has made a huge difference for the Schrums. The helmet now encourages comments about its originality and design rather than negative comments about something being wrong.

"It's taken away a lot of the staring issues," Jennifer Schrum said.

Maison was born with muscular torticollis, a condition in his neck that kept him from lifting his head or turning it all the way to his left.

"Because of that, he was always laying on one side," Schrum said.

But while the helmet may fix the problems, such as his skull's structure, it came with some, too.

"He's actually allergic to the helmet," she said. Maison wears a protective head sock while he sleeps to try to prevent rashes from the helmet he wears about 23 hours a day.

The price tag wasn't small, either.

The Schrums had been told it would be best to get the helmet before their son reached six months. But getting the OK from their health insurance provider was going to take time as it was seen as cosmetic and not likely to be covered, Schrum said.

"He would have been around 9 months old for insurance to OK it, so we had to go without it because it never would have worked," Schrum said.

The $3,000 expense was well worth it as Maison has made huge improvements in his growth and appearance, Matt Schrum said.

"His whole face structure was just bad before," the boy's father said.

The parents were also concerned about how the helmet would impact their other two young sons, especially when Jennifer Schrum went to pick Ayden, 4, up at school and some kids would stare.

"I was really self-conscious," she said, adding she feared her other sons were as well.

But the older brothers like the helmet because of the design. And it also offers some extra protection for the curious youngster.

"Now that he's rolling around and getting around, you don't have to worry so much about bonking stuff," Jennifer Schrum said with a smile.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.