Disco Ball Helmet





Introduction: Disco Ball Helmet

About: I'm a designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.

Why make a disco ball helmet?  Because it's awesome.  Nuff said. 

I've seen disco ball helmets before, but they didn't satisfy the perfectionist in me.  No haphazardly glued plastic mirror pieces here, this is the real deal.  If you would like to make a proper disco ball helmet, read on. 

• Note: This disco ball helmet uses real glass, as it is intended as a costume piece (to be paired with a disco backpack, coming soon!).  If you want it to be functional, acrylic mirror would be safer and lighter weight (though not as shiny and reflective).

Step 1: Supplies

You will need:

Mirror tiles: I used mirror tiles that come backed with fabric.  This makes the whole process MUCH faster.  You can purchase it from Kit Kraft.  I had quite a bit left over, I probably used one half to two thirds of it.  They also sell mirror tile by the row, but it's still more cost effective to buy the sheet.

Contact cement: I just barely made it through with one bottle.  I would recommend getting two.

Helmet:  I spent a lot of time choosing what kind of helmet I wanted.  I settled on this vintage Bell motorcycle style because of it's spherical shape and clean lines.  Real bell helmets of this style are quite expensive, but you can find cheap knock offs on ebay.  Search for "vintage open face motorcycle helmet" to find a helmet similar to the one used here.

Glass cutter (not pictured): For cutting the tiles to shape along the edges of the helmet.  Easy to get at a hardware store.

Metal Saw (not pictured):  Most of the vintage style helmets have snaps for a visor which need to be removed.  There may be another way to remove them, but I happened to have a jeweler's saw handy which did the trick.

Step 2: Prep Mirrors and Helmet

Cut your mirror tile fabric into strips.  I alternated between a knife and scissors to do this. 

If your helmet has snaps for a visor, you will need to remove them.  I did this with a jeweler's saw, however you might be able to pry them off, or remove some other way if you don't have a jeweler's saw lying around.  Better yet, find a helmet without snaps.

Step 3: Start Gluing Tiles

Apply Glue: First, apply contact glue to a few of your mirror strips, then in a few inch band around the widest circumference of your helmet as shown hatched in red.  The mirror strips will take longer to dry because of the porous fabric.  Wait until both are dry to place your tiles.  Upon contact of the two surfaces, there is not much ability to reposition.  If you want to play with how your tiles will look, do so before applying glue.

Align Your First Row: They key to making your helmet look awesome is to make sure that your first row of mirror tiles are well placed.  I wanted the tiles to lay flat against the rim of the helmet in front, and used this as a guideline for the angle of the first row of tiles.  If I started with them against the front rim and continued this line straight back, it follows the largest circumference of the helmet and ends about an inch up from the back rim of the helmet. 

Glue Mirrors in Back: As the angle of the first row left an inch in back and I wanted things to be exact, I started by gluing two small rows of mirror in back to serve as a guideline for when I placed my first row. 

Place Your First Row: Now that you have the rim in front and mirrors in back as guides, carefully place the first row of tiles around the entire helmet, taking care both sides are symmetrical.  All the tiles will be based on this row, so this is the most important part!

Step 4: Continue Gluing Tiles

Continue gluing tiles in circular rows based on your central row of tiles. 

In order to make the rows fit neatly, my technique was to lay down half a row or so, and then carefully hover another row of tiles around the other side for length, cut to size, and place.  If when measuring the second strip there is a significant gap (you can't quite fit that extra square), stretch the tiles as much as possible when placing the second strip to distribute the space evenly.  This is one of the advantages of having tiles backed in fabric, as it was relatively easy to make the rows fit without any large gaps.

Step 5: Finishing the Top

As you continue working your way up, the strips of tiles will get harder and harder to fit.  At a certain point I needed to cut the tiles apart most of the way with an knife before placing them on the helmet. 

When I got to the very top, because it was not a perfect circle, I placed the tiles as shown. 

Step 6: Finishing the Bottom

Finishing the bottom is the most time consuming part.  If you are not a perfectionist, you can continue adding rows like on the top, fit as many squares as possible before reaching the rim, and call it a day.  However this leaves an imperfect edge, and I wanted a clean edge. 

In order to fill in the gaps, I marked the mirror with a sharpie, and used a glass cutter and large pliers to cut the squares to shape.  Ideally one should use a proper breaker as the pliers I had sometimes shattered the glass, but it was what I had on hand. 

Cutting such small squares is difficult.  Have patience.  You will get better at it by the end of the helmet!  And be sure to reuse pieces.  Often the discarded half of one piece was a perfect fit for another empty space on the helmet. 

Step 7: Finished!

To finish, clean off any surface glue with a razor blade and acetone.

Pair with some shiny clothing (like my awesome Betabrand hoodie), and you're ready to rock!

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88 Discussions

I agree with the other commentators that in hoping that you don't kill anyone. If I had put this much effort into an instructable and had provided more than one 'danger' warning and then had people who obviously didn't read the text criticizing me, I would be sorely tempted to grab the straps and swing the helmet around like a sparkly mace until I hit someone upside the head!

This is actually a perfect instructable. The pictures are clear and illustrative. The text is well written. The project itself is unusual, but not so arcane as to be of interest to only 5 people. It is appropriate for both genders and most ages. It is within the ability and budget of most readers. Even bacon could not improve this!

1 reply

Thanks PACW! Eating bacon while wearing a disco ball helmet is always encouraged :)

Hi all, just remember that this is a COSTUME piece. It would be dumb to use anything with glass on it for protection against concrete. And even an acrylic version would be distracting for drivers, albeit awesome. Party on people!


Question 4 months ago

QUESTION!! Where do you find acrylic mirror tiles?? I am trying to do this but take it to a festival so I don't want to have glass in case it gets damaged!!

Any advise??

1 more answer

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find acrylic mirror tiles for sale, though they must exist somewhere. It's easy to find acrylic mirror sheets and I've made some of my own with a laser cutter, but as that requires access to a laser cutter I'd also love to include a link to acrylic tiles should you happen to find a supplier.

One word of warning, acrylic tiles don't wear that well, they scratch more than real mirror and become dull. Amazingly my helmet only has a few cracked mirrors despite years of wear and tear. Acrylic is also not significantly lighter, which is why I explored it to start.

I am needing to make 2 of these for our costumes. Will one sheet of mirrors do 2 Helmets?

2 replies

I've had good luck with one sheet for two helmets, so long as you don't have too many mess-ups with cutting the strips. It's a little tight for two helmets, but it works.

I can't remember how much I used exactly, but I think one sheet is enough for two. If not, it's pretty close, and you could supplement with some cheaper loose tiles for the edges and top.

You are a disco genius! I'm going to attempt this and send these to friends as gifts. I'm also in love with that hoodie and see that the site still sells them and I need one. Without sounding like a creep..can you tell me what your measurements are and what size you ordered? I find that I'm always inbetween the sizes of sizing charts. Based on their chart - I could be a small or medium.

Hello! I'm interested in making this happen! How many sheets or mirror tile did you buy for your helmet?

1 reply

Hey there! Love this. Any chance I could persuade (ok, beg) you to create one of these for me if I source the helmet (paid gig of course)? You can track me down on facebook under the name nathan ackley


Great instructable. I'm thinking I'll get a kid's plastic army helmet and make it into a disco ball hat to use as a prop for my one-man band. When I play a disco song, I can shine a flashlight at my head and spin around.

1 reply

i've got to go to a party later in the year with two people getting married that are bikers, i might wear this to the evening dance, great design.

hi there,

I've made a bit of a schoolboy error with my disco ball helmet and bought quite big mirrored tiles, it doesn't look too bad up to now but there's some gaps, is there anything you would advise to use - was considering some kind of grouting?


1 reply

Depends on how much work you feel like doing. For a really perfect looking finish I would suggest cutting the tiles as I did to finish the edges, at least for the largest gaps. I'm not sure about grout, depending on the size of the gaps it could look more conspicuous to use grout than doing nothing, I actually wondered about doing that with mine but noticed that real disco balls don't fill in their gaps, so I left them (my helmet is silver underneath though, so it is not very noticeable). Sorry I can't give you a more precise answer, good luck!

LIKE, it must have taken a lot of delicate time.

It looks like you centered each row on the front face of the helmet and made the rows alternate by a half-tile as you placed each new row on top. Is this so? Or was there some other factor which produced this apparent symmetry?

1 reply

Yes you are correct. I aimed to stagger them evenly in the front. Because the helmet is spherical and not a cylinder the effect isn't maintained on the sides and back, but at least it gives a nice effect in the front.