Pretty eyes Posted by Magenta on Jan 25, 2007
Hi everyone!  I figured out how to make some cool eyes and thought I would share.  I'm still quite the novice, so bear with me.  I have actually made 11 puppets so far, but only one was a moving mouth type.  I made ten nutcracker marionettes for my oldest daughter’s dance class.  Boy was that exhausting!  Anyway I'm making my second moving mouth puppet currently for a fundraiser and learning so much from everyone here.  I got the spoon idea from all of you who use them.  I just tweaked it a bit.

The first thing you need to do is make some cool looking irises to have printed.  You can use any paint program you like.  Here is a base and an example I made.  Below are some links to doll eye manufacturers.  They can give you great ideas.

Once you have you eyes made, place several pairs on a 4”x6” white background and save.  Be sure to leave about ¼” of white space around the edges of the page. The printers always auto crop the edges.

Now send your picture online to your local digital shop.  I send mine to my local evil empire superstore.  There they cost $0.19 a picture for 1 hour service.  I got doubles cause I tend to mess up!  Don’t take them on a disk and print them there.  You want to have your eyes printed like a regular photo so they’ll be colorfast and fade resistant.

Wait an hour and go pick them up.  Breath a big sigh of relief that you remembered to leave space around the edge of your picture. Darn those auto croppers. While you’re there pick up any other supplies you may need.

You’ll need:

Clear spoons - regular shape is fine, but next time I’m going to my local party city store and getting some clear soup spoons.  They are oh so roundy and cool.

Clear quick grab glue (non yellowing non water based best)

White acrylic paint

Finger nail file


For the fun part!  Cut the handles off the spoons and file rough edges with the finger nail file.  Set aside.  Cut out the irises you had printed.  You can remove the backing on the photo before you cut if you want.  It comes off fairly easy and makes the picture way more flexible.  It seems to create more winkles though.  I left my backing on for the final pair. I’m glad I got double pictures!  Put a thin layer of glue on the face of picture being sure to get the edges and put a small bead of glue in the inside of the spoon.  Put the irises in the glue on the spoon and smooth out the bubbles. The picture will be behind the plastic of the spoon all protected and safe. You will need to check it occasionally to smooth out bubbles as the glue dries.  It may take a while for the glue to dry but it really needs to dry completely before moving on.

Next paint the back of the iris and the inside of the spoon with white paint. Use a fairly stiff brush and very little paint.  Try to dab the paint on at a ninety degree angle to the picture.  That way if there are any wrinkles at the edges the paint won’t creep to the front of the picture.  Let dry and repeat until solid.  All done.  My what lovely eyes you have!

Note:  I’m not too worried about the paint being scraped off of the slick spoon because it will be protected behind the plastic and out of reach.
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by StiqPuppet Productions on Jan 25, 2007

What a great tutorial and idea. Pictures and all! I will be printing this off to add to my resource binder of puppetry info.

I hope you can provide a picture of a puppet with those eyes.

Thanks for all the care and attention to detail you provided in teaching us these special eyes. 

Any other discoveries keep adding we all love to hear about them that is what makes this forum so remarkable.

Daryl H.

Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Billy D. Fuller on Jan 25, 2007
I was trying to figure a way to do this same method but have them printed on a clear tranfer sheet with a sticky backing, I believe we have a thread going here somewher on this.
I love the way the eye looks.... I  have Corel Paint Shop Pro X, but I did'nt have much luck. I'll have to try harder. I have'nt used the program much other than esizeing and auto adjust photos......
Thanks for the tips.
You have been such a inspiration since joining us here. Thank You for sharing
Billy D.
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Miryana on Jan 25, 2007
Ingenious! I love it! Although I buy eyes, sometimes is just not as easy to find what you want.
Can you tell me the brand name of the glue?
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Magenta on Jan 25, 2007
The glue I happened to use is made by Inkssentials.  Its a clear 3d glaze for stamps/scrapbooking, but know from use its dries and stays crystal clear.  Its kind of expensive and I probably wouldn'r have gone out and bought it for this project.  I used it cause I had it around!
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Sonny on Jan 25, 2007
That is too cool. The iris would be so real. Hats off to you!
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Ron G. on Jan 25, 2007
Great tutorial - thanks so much for sharing it with us! This looks like something that would be really fun to play around with.

Ron G.

How did you manage to deep link image files from Geocities? Do you have a deluxe account or something? I thought that they had direct image linking to their servers from other sites blocked... 
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by jabberwockie on Jan 25, 2007
Nice! Great work. Now if only we could find clear ping pong balls...
Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Ron G. on Jan 26, 2007
Posted by: jabberwockie on Jan 25, 2007
Nice! Great work. Now if only we could find clear ping pong balls...

You're probably too young to remember the resin grape craze in the arts and crafts world of the Seventies. People would buy acrylic resin and mix in a little hardener and pigment, and then pour it into these single-use molds that looked like glass ping-pong balls, which had little built-in glass funnels to help you pour the resin. (The glass was really thin and delicate, like Christmas tree ornaments.) They'd stick a paper-covered wire halfway down into the plastic while it was setting up, to become the stem of the grape, and after the resin cured they would gently break the glass away and were left with a solid acrylic "grape" the size of a ping-pong ball. They'd attache a cluster of these things to a piece of tree branch with the bark peeled off, and it was supposed to look like a bunch of grapes with a piece of the vine still attached.

Super kitschy!

So anyway... those glass molds were kind of like clear ping-pong balls, but they wouldn't be too practical for eyes. I think that those round plastic containers that little toys come in from gumball machines might work, though they are kind of flimsy and would need to be reinforced on the inside after you glue in the iris and paint the white part. You can usually find some lying around any place with a good selection of gumball machines - kids often toss them aside after they get their little toy out.

There are also "crystals" from clocks and watches that you can buy. They are the little domed piece of glass or plastic used to cover watch and clock faces. I remember in science class they bought them in bulk, and we would sometimes use them as shallow bowls to hold liquids in experiments. I checked in the lab glass section of and couldn't find any. There are some here on eBay, but they look like old ones used to repair antique watches...


Ron G.

Here's some pictures of those resin grapes from the Seventies that I was talking about...

Re: Pretty eyes Posted by Andrew on Jan 26, 2007
Posted by: jabberwockie on Jan 25, 2007
Nice! Great work. Now if only we could find clear ping pong balls...

Ask and ye shall receive -

Also, if anyone wants more eye patterns like the ones Magenta provided, John Kennedy has several in his Puppet Planet book.

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