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How to Make Glass Doll Eyes

Click below or scroll down (right column) for a list of doll eye makers:


2mm, 3mm, 4mm glass eyes for polymer dolls.
examples of eyes


Note:  These instructions are intended for people who already know how to do hot glass work with a torch.  Also, I am ambidexerous with left-handed inclinations, so the illustrations may show left-handed views--I can't tell one way from the other half the time.

Mixing the colors until they are evenly distributed but still streaky will result in realistic variations in the iris.

1.  Light shade:  Sky Blue, Light Grey.   Pull 1.5-2mm stringer.
2.  Medium shade:  Sky Blue, Med. Grey, Lapis Cobalt.  Pull  3-3.5mm stringer.
3.  Dark shade:  Med Grey, Lapis Cobalt.   Pull 1.5-2mm stringer.

These combinations can be used to make many shades and hues of blue and grey by varying the proportions of each color.

1.  Light shade:  Yellow, Light Brown, Nile green.   Pull 1.5-2mm stringer.
2.  Medium shade  Yellow, Lapis Cobalt, Light Brown, Nile Green.  Pull  3-3.5mm stringer.
3.  Dark shade:  Lapis Cobalt, Light Brown, Yellow, Nile Green.   Pull 1.5-2mm stringer.

Green is difficult to get right if you don't know the chemical reactions that will occur when the glass colors are combined.  Green made with blue and yellow tends to "bleed" into the white when the eyes are shaped; yellow and green make a dark brown--so must be used sparingly together--but green and brown are needed to "fix" the color and prevent "bleeding".

1.  Light shade:  Light Brown, Med. Grey, Yellow.   Pull 1.5-2mm stringer.
2.  Medium shade:  Light Brown, Lapis Cobalt, Yellow.  Pull  3-3.5mm stringer.
3.  Dark shade:  Light Brown, Lapis Cobalt.   Pull 1.5-2mm stringer.

These combinations can be used to make many shades and hues of brown by varying the proportions of each color.


Step 1:
Prepare stringers of iris shades for chosen eyes color (guidelines above).

Step 2:
Thicken end of 8-9mm rod and flatten as shown in Illus. #1.
Illus. #1

Step 3:
Use transparent black for pupil--shape 6mm diameter, 12mm long cylinder in center of flattened punty end as shown in Illus. #2.
Illus. #2

Step 4:
Wrap with light iris color, melt iris shade until smooth, repeat with medium iris shade and then dark iris shade as shown in Illus. #3.  Use pick to very carefully feather each layer if needed to create smooth, even layers if needed as shown in Illus. #4.  Carefully reshape into cylinder if needed only after all iris layers have been applied and smoothed.

  Illus. #3 and #4

Step 5:
Wrap with enough white to double the thickness of the cylinder as shown in Illus. #5.   Feather as needed to create smooth and even layers, being careful not to drag the white into the iris.  The number of layers will depend on your technique for applying glass--I used about 4 layers of 3mm rod.
Note:  Less white is needed for canes that will be pulled smaller--It is best to pull to about 4mm in diameter and then cut a sample.  If the iris is too big, you can reheat and pull down to a smaller size.
Illus. #5

Step 6:
Heat the resulting mass evenly and pull into cane about the same mm as the eyes will be as shown in Illus. #6.  Uneven heating will distort the iris.
Illus. #6

Step 7:
Cut short sections from eye cane starting at one end till you come to a complete and well-shaped iris as shown in Illus. #7.

Step 8:
Take 1/2" craft pin and hold it by the point in a pin vise or non-magnetized pliers.

Step 9:
Slightly heat cut end of eye cane, heat head of pin till red hot and push it into the center of end of eye cane till head is buried as shown in Illus. #7.  Remove from flame.

Step 10:
Allow cane to harden, then cut a section from the end that is about equal to its diameter as shown in Illus. #7.
Note:  Iris size is affected by the length of the cut section--it will tend to be smaller if the section is shorter than its diameter and lager if the section is longer than it's diameter.
Illus. #7 and#8

Step 11:
Return cut section to heat and melt into a ball.
showing the eye on the pinEye on pin.
Iris size can also be manipulated by how the section of cane is heated:  Applying the flame to the iris hemisphere of the section when rounding will result in a smaller iris, and applying it to the pin hemisphere will create a larger iris as shown in Illus. #8.

Step 12:
Put eye into annealing kiln.  When you have used all of the cane you made, anneal the eyes. 
Note:  Do each "batch" separately because the next cane is unlikely to be a very close match to this one, and you will just waste time on the pairing step (below) if you combine batches and then compare eyes that cannot match.

Step 13:
Sort the eyes by size.  Styrofoam boards (such as used for insulation) work well for sticking the eyes onto.  Cut several pieces about 8" x 10" and label each with an eye size.  Use calipers to measure eyeball diameters--electronic calipers are best and most accurate.  Stick eyes in even rows on boards as you measure them as shown in Illus. #9.
Illus. #9

Step 14:
Direct sunlight is the best lighting for this step.  Start at the beginning of a row and pick up one or two eyes (do one at a time until you become proficient), hold the eye between the thumb and forefinger of one hand.  Pick up the next eye in the row and compare it to the eye you are holding,  If it looks like a close match, stick it on the board in an empty area along one edge away from the other eyes as shown in Illus. #10, or on an empty board.  If it is not a close match, stick it at the beginning of the row where you removed the eye you are holding as shown in Illus. #10.  Pick up the next eye in the row and repeat.
Illus. #10

Step 15:
Compare the eye in your hand with the eyes you set aside as close matches, if it matches one, you have a pair!  Stick the pair together on a separate labeled board as shown in Illus. #11.  If it does not match any put it in a container labeled Unmatched Eyes (these can also be sold).
Illus. #11

Step 16:
Compare the rest of the close matches to EACH OTHER using the same method as above.  Chances are, some will match each other.  Any that do not match PLACE BACK on the board at the end of the rows of eyes for comparison with the rest of the eyes as shown in Illus. #10.

for examples of eyes in dolls
example of eyes in a doll

More information:
Pricing:  check online to see what comparable eyes are being sold for.  The last time I looked it was about $9.00 per pair.
Packaging:  I pinned the paired eyes to pieces of thin foam packing sheets, folded the sheet around them, put them in small zip-top bags, and shipped in padded envelopes.

This is a wholesaler, but you can use it as a reference:
Foam sheet material.
I scavanged all my foam sheeting.  Freecycle is a possible source.

I bought bags here:
Zip top bags.

The pins I used came from here:
Sequin pins.
You may have to use the search tool on the site to find them easily.


This information is provided free of charge with the following restrictions:  These instructions and these illustrations may be copied free of charge for usage that does not include the sale of this information.  These instructions and these illustrations may NOT be copied in part or whole for sale or profit in any format or for any purpose including educational purposes (ie: you cannot use them to teach a class that you receive money or compensation for teaching).  Items made using this information may be sold providing this information is not included as part of the price.

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