The famous deadmau5 icon has evolved over the years. This tutorial explains how to make a deadmau5 head like the red one worn with a business suit. The illustrations for the steps are a bit funky and are not to scale, but they convey the necessary information. Measurements are indicated by red lines and numbers in the diagrams, and all measurements are in inches. If you have any suggestions for improving any of these steps, please share them. (The part where you fit the felt over the mau5 head is especially tricky, so I’d love to know if anyone has good strategies for that step.)
Step 1: Materials
For the list of materials, I included the brand and source of certain materials in brackets wherever I could. Materials are not listed in the order you need them.
32 oz. all-purpose glue (you may need more, but this is a good amount to start with) [Elmer’s, JoAnn]
1 can spray adhesive [Elmer’s Multi-Purpose 4oz, Kmart]
2 medium-sized plastic bowls (one with an airtight lid)
1 inflatable beach ball (14” diameter) [Kmart]
1 hard hat [Lowe's]
three 22”x28” sheets of foam board
2 packages of epoxy glue [E-B Weld], OR 1 can of epoxy paint
1¾ yards of 72” felt (whichever color you want the mau5 head to be) [JoAnn]
6”x18” piece of wire mesh
18”x18” piece of sheer white fabric
two 4½-inch tap lights [Goodwill]
several sheets of newspaper
2-3 metal coat hangers
several fist-sized chunks of very stiff Styrofoam
string (any color)
craft knife or razor blade (USE VERY CAREFULLY)
plastic dinner knife, OR a cheap 1” wide paint brush (depending on whether you chose epoxy glue or epoxy paint)
screwdriver that fits the screws in the tap lights
high-temperature hot glue gun
dozens of hot glue sticks
thread (any color)
optional: spray paint for inside surface of mau5 head, electrical tape to make crosses over eyes, LEDs or electroluminescent (EL) wire to add spectacular lighting
Step 2: Main Headpiece
Cover your work space with newspaper. Cut lots of newspaper strips, each about 1”x11”. Inflate the beach ball, and place it over the plastic bowl to keep it steady while you papier-mâché. Mix two parts all-purpose glue with one part water in the plastic bowl with an airtight lid. Begin to papier-mâché: immerse a strip of newspaper in the glue solution, lift the strip out, and use your fingers to wipe the excess solution down into the bowl (see illustration). Carefully lay and smooth the wet paper strip onto the beach ball. Continue laying strips down in the pattern shown in the illustration until the ball is covered (except for the air plug). Tie a piece of string securely around the air plug, and hang the beach ball in the air to let it dry until the next day. Cover the glue solution bowl right after you finish using it. Repeat these steps until you have done nine layers of papier-mâché, and save any extra glue solution for more papier-mâché later. When the ninth layer is dry, deflate and remove the beach ball. Optional: spray-paint the inside of the mau5 head and let it dry.
Step 3: Ear & Lip Pieces
Using a craft knife or razor blade (Be super careful!), cut out two lip pieces and four ear pieces from the foam board.
Step 4: Eye & Mouth Holes
Carefully measure out and mark up the holes for the eyes, mouth, and base opening on the mau5 head. (The base opening should be centered where the air plug was.) Using a utility knife, cut out the holes. I found that a “punching” technique worked best for cutting the thick material: punch the blade in, pull out, go a little distance, repeat as you go gradually along your cutting lines.
Step 5: Ear Reinforcements
Cut and bend the coat hangers to make reinforcing wires for two of the ear pieces. Use pliers to make the wires lay as flat as possible on the ear pieces, and hot glue them in the arrangement shown in the diagram. (The wires should stick out about 1” beyond the ear base. These will be the prongs for inserting the ears into the head.) Press the other two ear pieces onto the wire-reinforced ones (sandwiching the wires in between the ear pieces), and hot glue them together near the edges. (Hold the edges together tightly until the glue has cooled.)
Step 6: Ear Attachment
Mark the areas on the mau5 head where the ear prongs will be inserted. Use a hand drill with a drill bit matched to the size of the prongs to drill holes for them. Carefully stick each ear’s prongs through the holes to set the ears in place. Then, use shorter strips of newspaper to papier-mâché the edges of the ears together and the ear bases to the head (1-2 layers should be enough).
Step 7: Lip Attachment
LAST PAPIER-MÂCHÉ STEP: Secure the lips just inside the mouth edges with masking tape, then apply 1-2 layers of papier-mâché along the mouth edges.
Step 8: Overall Reinforcement
To reinforce the head structure, apply a layer of epoxy over the front and back of the head and over the seams between the head and ears. Follow the epoxy package instructions for how long to let it dry.
Step 9: Felt Covering
Cut felt pieces as shown in the diagram. Spray-adhere the long felt strips along the ear edges, and then adhere the big ear pieces to both sides of the ears. If needed, trim excess felt off the ear edges and use hot glue to glue down any places the spray adhesive missed near the edges. Lay the center of the 36”x36” felt piece over the center of the head, and cut a side slit up to the top edge of each ear. Spray-adhere the very top of the felt to the top of the head. Stretch the back flap of felt tight across the back of the head, trimming the bottom edge so that it goes just 1” past the base opening of the head. (The extra inch is for folding the edge under to the inside of the head.) Stretch the front flap of felt tight across the front of the head, and carefully cut out shapes for the eye and mouth holes, making the eye shapes 1” narrower than the eye holes, and the mouth shape 1” narrower than the mouth hole. Cut ¾” slits in the felt around the eye holes to make it easier to fold the felt down inside. Trim excess felt where the front and back flaps overlap at the sides of the head. (A little overlap is allowed, but keep it at an inch or less so that the surface looks as smooth as possible.) Use spray adhesive to stick the felt in place over the mau5 head, and be sure to work with a little at a time so that you can minimize the wrinkling of felt. When you reach the point of folding the felt edges to the inside of the head, you may want to use hot glue because I found that to be much easier than spray adhesive.
Step 10: Eyes and Hard Hat
Disassemble the tap lights. Set the tap light domes into the eye holes from the inside of the head, and hot glue them into place. Insert the hard hat into the mau5 head and put on the mau5 head, shifting the hard hat inside so that it is balanced just right. The mau5 head’s upper lip and your line of vision straight ahead should be parallel, as shown in the diagram. CAREFULLY take off the mau5 head WITHOUT MOVING the hard hat inside it, and set it down with the base opening facing up toward you. Take the Styrofoam chunks and break small pieces off of them to fit them into several specific spaces between the surface of the hard hat and the inside wall of the mau5 head. Squirt hot glue onto opposite sides of the Styrofoam chunks (as explained in diagram), and wedge the Styrofoam tightly into each space so that it is very secure. Also hot glue the hard hat brim to the inside wall of the mau5 head.
Step 11: Mouth Covering
Trim the piece of wire mesh into the shape of the mouth as shown in the diagram. Also cut 2-3 pieces of sheer white fabric in the same shape. (The number of fabric pieces you cut will depend on how many layers it takes for you to see through the layers, but people can’t see through them to your face.) Use masking tape to tape over the edges of the mesh to keep them from snagging anything. Pin the layers of sheer fabric together and sew them to one side of the mesh, using ½”-long stitches about ½” from the edge of the mesh. As you sew, try to keep the fabric smooth with no ripples in it. Hot glue the finished mouth covering to the inside edges of the mau5 head lips.
Step 12: Optional Accessories
Optional: accessorize your mau5 head with electrical tape X’s over the eyes or with LEDs or EL wire. (Look for other tutorials for how to work with LEDs or EL wire.) I used EL wire to make it look like a Tron Legacy deadmau5. What cool details can you come up with?