If you're looking for tips to add glass eyes to dolls, figures and other polymer clay projects, you've come to the right place! We'll show you how to make glass eyes of any size, step by step, using two different methods.
Ready to make glossy, realistic eyes that'll take your projects from good to great? Grab your polymer clay and tools to get crafting!
8 Crafts Where You Might Want to Insert Eyes
Doll artists and hobbyists insert glass eyes into numerous projects, including these popular crafts:
- Polymer clay dolls
- Polymer figures
- Science fiction and horror genre props
- Halloween decor
- Fantasy creatures like fairies and dragons
- Quirky eye jewelry
Shiny "glass" eyes are available in a wide range of materials not limited to glass, including acrylic, polymer clay, silicone and resin. Many doll makers create custom eyes out of polymer clay, which is one of the best eye types for crafting.
How to Make Glass Eyes for Craft Projects
Do you need large eyes for a lifesize bust or tiny eyes for a fairy figurine? Because different sizes require different approaches, we cover two methods to create glass eyes. Determine the eye measurement based on your doll or figure dimensions.
Large Glass Eyes Method Using Printed Irises and Resin
This method is ideal for larger glass eyes, such as for bigger figurines, dolls and busts. Gather your materials:
- Iris images
- Circle hole punch
- Glass cabochons
- Silicone cabochon mold
- Polymer clay
- Matte acrylic varnish
- 1 oz. disposable plastic mixing cups
- Two-part clear casting resin kit
- Disposable gloves
- Popsicle sticks
1. Create the Irises
Print several copies of an image of an iris, the colored part of the eye, the same size as your cabochon. You can paint your own iris and scan it, use graphic design software or purchase a printable file. Cut out irises with a circle punch.
2. Mix the Clay
Create a 2:1 transparent-to-white clay ratio for the white part of the eye. Mix two parts Sculpey III® translucent to one part white clay, plus a pinch of blue or red — after all, real eye whites aren't perfectly white! Condition the clay with your hands or our Sculpey Tools™ Clay Conditioning Machine.
3. Prepare the Mold
Our Sculpey Tools™ Oven-Safe Molds: Cabochon silicone mold has three sizes perfect for larger eyes. Dip your finger in corn starch as a release agent and rub the inside of the cabochon mold.
4. Cast the Clay
Roll the clay into a ball and press it into the mold. Flatten the back of the eye using card stock. Release the molded eye and repeat for other eyes. Remember to add corn starch before every casting.
5. Add the Iris
Press the iris paper into the middle of the first clay eye a little bit, so the iris is flat. Place a glass cabochon on the iris and press it into the clay. From the profile, you'll notice this motion left your clay not-quite eyeball-shaped.
The next part takes practice — don't fret if you don't nail it the first time! Use your fingers to gently push the clay against the cabochon on all sides, smoothing and filling in spaces to re-create that domed eyeball shape.
6. Bake and Seal the Eyes
Leave glass cabochons in place and bake the clay according to instructions. Because some resins won't stick to unpainted clay, seal the cooled baked clay with a matte varnish.
7. Coat With Resin
Use a simple two-part epoxy resin system to coat your clay eyes. Wear protective clothes and gloves, cover your work surface and always follow material instructions.
Pour part A into a mixing cup. If you have a 1:1 resin, pour an equal amount of part B into another cup. Pour B into A and vigorously mix with a popsicle stick for several minutes.
Now you're ready to coat the eye:
- Remove the cabochon.
- Add a resin drop to the exposed iris with the popsicle stick.
- Replace the cabochon and push it down to remove any air bubbles.
- Place a lift under the eye, like a small bottle cap, to raise it off the work surface.
- Glob a thick, glassy coating of resin around the eyeball with the stick.
- Scrape away excess drips from the bottom edge.
Wait the entire cure time to set the resin before adding eyes to projects.
Small Glass Eyes Method Using Acrylic Paint and Liquid Sculpey®
This method makes tiny eyes for miniatures and small figurines. You'll need:
- Polymer clay
- Corn starch
- Ceramic tile
- Convex eye stamping tool
- Graduated-size ball stylus tools
- Liquid Sculpey® Clear
- Heat gun
- Pasta or conditioning machine
- Acrylic paints
1. Create a Thin Clay Sheet
Mix a 2:1 translucent-to-white polymer clay ratio with a hint of red or blue. Condition and create a thin sheet of clay using a pasta machine or our Sculpey Tools™ Clay Conditioning Machine. The sheet should be the same thickness as the eye, about four to five playing cards. Secure the sheet to a ceramic tile.
2. Stamp the Eyes
You can use our Sculpey Tools™ Etch 'n Pearl set to create a domed eye shape and stamp a convex impression into clay. If you don't have a specific tool, you can use any circular device with a concave shape, like a leather hole punch or pen cap.
Dip your tool into corn starch, then press it into the clay sheet. Repeat the process, consistently dipping the tool into the release agent before each eye stamp. Carefully peel away the background of the clay sheet, leaving the eyes stuck to the tile.
3. Indent Each Eye and Bake
Preheat the oven according to clay package instructions. Indent the top center of each eye using a ball end stylus. Once all eyes are dimpled, bake the eye-covered tile for about five minutes, then let it cool.
4. Paint the Irises and Pupils
Use ball stylus tools in graduated sizes to paint the eyes with acrylics. You can even use nonhuman tones — there's no limit to your imagination! Dip the largest iris-sized ball stylus into acrylic paint and press it into the indent to make the outermost eye color. We recommend a darker or metallic color for this ring.
Use a smaller ball stylus to add the primary eye color, leaving an outer ring of the first color. Finish with the smallest ball stylus to place one tiny black pupil dot in the center.
5. Add Liquid Sculpey® Clear
Drop a tiny amount of Liquid Sculpey® Clear in the iris area to round off the eyeball. Make sure the drop isn't too thick, or it won't achieve that crystal clear finish after baking.
6. Bake the Eyes
Pop the eyes back into the oven per baking instructions to set the Liquid Sculpey®. The eyes may appear cloudy — this is normal! Blast the eyes with a heat gun for a few seconds to turn the Liquid Sculpey® transparent.
How to Insert Glass Eyes in Polymer Clay Projects
Follow these tips to add glass eyes to your projects like a pro:
- Make a socket: Create a rounded cavity — the eye socket — with a ball stylus tool. It should be big enough to insert the eye with enough wiggle room to move it into position.
- Insert eyes with tweezers: Make sure the pair of eyes are level and evenly distanced from the nose and brow area. Both pupils should be looking in the same direction.
- Press in eyes: This is important — firmly press in eyes so their backs have complete contact with the clay. If there is any separation, an air bubble could cause pressure and crack the eye as it bakes. Ensure the eyes are pushed in far enough and at equal depth.
- Add eyelids: Roll tiny football shapes with pointed ends. Flatten and curve them into arches to create eyelids. Place the top lid for each eye first, then the lower lids. Shape and blend any seams.
Add Glass Eyes to Projects With Ease Using Sculpey® Products!
Whether you're a new figurine hobbyist or a seasoned doll artist, the right products make all the difference. Our tools are specially designed to help you blend polymer clay so that you can add eyelids and facial details to even the tiniest projects.
Sculpey® has the tools you need to make custom glass eyes and place them with ease. Shop our clays, tools and molds today, and be sure to visit our How To section to get inspired for your next crafting session!