Eyes are one of the most important parts of a puppet. They give the character dimension, personality, and a soul. This was true with Ellie.
What I love most about puppet eyes is that they can come from anywhere. You can be as creative as you'd like. I've seen puppeteers use ping pong balls, buttons, eyes from a stuffed animal, and even eyes made from a mold. I had plastic spoons hiding in a drawer, so I used them!
I'm lucky I had extra because trying to cut the handle off the spoon was difficult. With each cut, it created cracks and jagged edges. Because I was afraid they would crack further, I didn't cut as much off as I originally planned.
To smooth off the edges and reduce the shine, I took sand paper to the spoon. They looked much better after doing this.
To make the pupils, I bought a circular punch tool. I wanted to make sure they were the same size. I bought black felt for the pupils that had adhesive on the back. Well, let me tell you. Do not put sticky felt in a punch tool. Not good. It was a sticky mess.
Plan B. I took the puncher packaging and cut out the "actual size" image on the packaging and used that instead! Talk about thinking on your feet. It proved to me you don't need fancy tools to make fancy puppets.
For the eyelids, I picked a light blue and green combination. I used adhesive spray to attach the fleece to the spoons. Like the ears, the eyes were not perfectly symmetrical. I think it adds character.
I used lots of sewing pins to mark where I thought the eyes should go and I applied contact cement to make them stick.
Once the eyes were firmly in place, I put on the pupils. If you ever are making puppet eyes, use a sewing pin to place them. It is much easier to move them around. Another tip is to not put the pupils directly in the center of the eye. You want to find the right focus.
I really liked how the eyes turned out! For the next puppet I think I will have more white showing and a larger pupil to help make the eyes appear softer.
Last, I added the tongue! I used pink craft foam. I cut a semi-circle and glued it on with contact cement.
As I was using the contact cement, a dollop fell on the puppet's face and panic set in. Contact cement does not dry clear, it dries an amber yellow. I tried everything to get it off. I used hot water and dish soap and scrubbed. No luck. I tried to scrap it off. Still hard. I got scissors and tried to cut out the hard pieces, but that made it worse. I took a razor to see if I could re-fleece the bare spot but it didn't work. I did everything I could do but eventually had to make peace with it. As I told myself when I set out on this adventure... progress, not perfection. Next time I'll be more careful.
It's amazing what a set of eyes can do! Ellie is coming to life.
Next I will show the process of how we made Ellie's hair! My favorite part!