Material Culture Proudly Presents:

Nicholas Toth, The Last Helmet Maker

Award Winning Artist and National Heritage Fellow, Nicholas Toth,
Presents a Gallery Talk and Exhibition
Gallery Talk, Saturday, July 19, 2pm
Exhibition, July 16-19
Free, Open to the Public
Exhibited Items Available for Purchase

As the guest artist and Master Helmet Maker, Nicholas Toth will be showcasing his copper and brass art work and his masterfully designed copper and brass diving helmets. As a highly skilled metal artist and craftsman, Nicholas has been featured both nationally and internationally, with his work included in permanent museum exhibits and national archives. Nicholas is a National Heritage Fellow, receiving this prestigious award in 2003 from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2006 he was recognized by the Historical Diving Society US Chapter for his significant contributions, receiving the ER Cross Award. In 2008 he was awarded the Florida Folk Heritage Award, presented by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources and in 2012 Nicholas was once again honored by the State of Florida, receiving his second Florida Individual Artist Fellowship.

With over 30 years of experience and a lifelong exposure and immersion in the culture and mysteries of the historic gulf front community of Tarpon Springs, there are many stories to tell and much knowledge to share.  From the techniques of ancient naked divers to current day technology, Nicholas Toth’s knowledge of the history of diving is informative and engaging. The evolution of hard hat diving will also be highlighted with special emphasis on Greek diving helmets.

As the Last Helmet Maker, Nicholas is considered to be the only helmet maker in the world that continues to individually create each beautiful diving helmet masterpiece, honoring the traditions and design that have existed since the mid-eighteen hundreds! The iconic copper and brass diving helmets created by Nicholas Toth are fully functional, authentic and individually hand crafted, using the same tools and techniques that his grandfather, master helmet maker and legendary craftsman, Anthony Lerios, began utilizing over 100 years ago…….

Each helmet takes over 320 hours to complete, made with the finest quality copper and brass. The lineage and value of a Nicholas Toth diving helmet is unmatched, with the historical foundation and significance of his grandfather’s knowledge and expertise; his masterful skills, techniques and tools utilized;  and the quality and beauty of each finely crafted component of the diving helmet. Nicholas will also showcase several of his new copper and brass art pieces, beautifully inspired by shapes and elements found in the diving helmet.

Nicholas proudly honors the memory of his grandfather, Anthony Lerios, who passed away in 1992 at the age of 100!  The month of July is especially significant for Nicholas, since it was the 7th of July, 1913, when his grandfather landed on Ellis Island, having traveled from Greece to the United States.

Artist’s Statement:

Our traditions in all of their forms, give us and future generations a sense of place. They are part of the historical fabric that binds our communities together.

This body of work reflects an ethos that pays tribute to the long line of master-craftsman that preceded me, including my grandfather, Anthony Lerios.

My art is a vehicle that is used to transport the viewer back to a time when the dominant metals were copper and brass.

When a viewer looks at the art, particularly the diving helmet, I want them to experience a sense of elegance in its form, however, I also want to create a sense of curiosity as to who wore these helmets and why.

My other art pieces are inspired by the shapes and elements found in the diving helmets and the techniques in metal working that I have developed over the past thirty two years.

When creating my copper and brass art pieces, I utilize the same lathes, tooling and cast iron mandrels that have been used by my family for the past one hundred years.

For additional information about the artist, please visit his website at