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HOW TO MAKE A NEW FRIEND IN 30 STEPS, BY ZOE GILBERT


  1. Find the sternum. Slit to just above the balls.
  2. Loosen skin from innards until you have a mousey ‘O’ around your two first fingers.
  3. Try not to split the gut; trailing intestine is a nuisance. 
  4. Ignore the bloom of blood across the muzzle. We will wash our mice.
  5. Pull down his trousers, reveal his knees.
  6. Now break the hips. A fingernail will do it.
  7. Shoulders likewise. If you lose a paw at this point, reserve to one side. I have a collection.
  8. Leave hands and feet inside out.
  9. Push pelt from lower back until you see silver, the start of the tail. Slice through.
  10. When you begin to peel the head, look for sinews. These are ear canals. Nick with the knife.
  11. Try to keep the eyelids on or your mouse will have an unnerving stare. Dig scalpel into socket, loosen the eyeballs.
  12. One crunch neatly through the skull, it’s a satisfying sound, and you have your mouse skin.
  13. Next: salon treatment. Cold water, fairy liquid, wash your mouse inside and out.
  14. Pin skin to board and blow-dry. After that don’t let him get too damp. Wet skin tears so easily.
  15. You now have a fluffy mouse-skin rug. So cute. Check for eyeballs and actual balls, and cut away, or they’ll go off. Also with tweezers pull out the tongue.
  16. Dip fleshy bits – heads and tails – in borax.
  17. Paint preservative inside the skin. Set mousey aside.
  18. For stuffing, recall the shape of your mouse’s innards, if you were able to keep them whole. Replicate with cotton wool and string. This is the hardest part.
  19. Avoid making a mouse shaped like a tampon; give him a belly. The wire will be his backbone.
  20. Another wire for each limb. Insert towards the paw until the fingers spread – that’s the tendons.
  21. Push the wire tip through the palm. This requires some force. If you lose a leg, again, just set aside. Look how many I’ve got already.
  22. Leave a decent length protruding for balance while he sets. Tie the other ends to his stuffing with string.
  23. No seamstress skills are needed when you sew him up; stitches can be pulled out later. Add more padding, give him haunches, muscle.
  24. Head shape is improved by stuffing through the mouth. If fiddly, go in through the eye instead.
  25. Tuck in beads for eyeballs.
  26. Lost limbs can now be reattached with superglue. Put a stitch through any holes that show.
  27. You’ve twenty-four hours, now, until he hardens, so set him in a stance you like and wait.
  28. The tail will take more like a week. Pin it in a curl, perhaps, around his feet.
  29. How to care for your mouse? Keep out of direct sunlight. Clean bloody bits with water, never soap. It rots the skin.
  30. Stitch on any clothing. A little hat is super-cute. Voila!
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