Monday, October 5, 2015

Just Eyeball It: How To Make Creepy Realistic Eyeballs

Ready for an eye-full? And lots of gratuitous eyeball puns? 


These eyeballs are perfect for creepy flowers, like on my Halloween wreath, or for filling clear apothecary jars, giving your Zombie mannequin that extra scream factor, floating punch bowl garnishes, etc.  (Just kidding. These are not food safe. But it would be funny.)


Talk about a sight for sore eyes!
(See? I'm not even sorry.)

You Will Need:

- $1 pack of eyeballs from the dollar store (we got ours at Dollar Tree)
(Can't find them? Then try ping pong balls!)
- Red acrylic craft paint
- Matching red yarn (just a tiny bit - that snippet up there made at least 3 eyes)
- Clear nail polish
- Craft glue
- tweezers

Begin by painting just over half of each plastic ball in the red craft paint. To keep them from rolling around while they dried, I stuck strips of double-stick tape on a piece of cardboard:

Paint over the existing irises of the Dollar Tree eyes. If you're making eyeball flowers, then this side will be hidden, so don't worry if it still shows through. (I only used one coat of paint.)

Use your brush to make the paint edge a bit streaky, like this:

It may help to add the streaky bits after the rest of the paint has dried, so you can hang on to the back side.

After they dried, I found my paint palette made a great holder:

Now, you *could* do an image search for your own eye irises, but I'm here to tell you now: you will see some DISTURBING STUFF.  [twitch] So let me save you the trauma:

This image is all over the web, though sadly I can't find the original source for it. Anyone know?

Print out 2 or 3 of those .jpgs on plain printer paper, so you'll have plenty of colors to choose from. I found I preferred the blues and greens, though the browny golds probably look most realistic.

Print the irises so they're each around 3/4 of an inch across:

Carefully cut them out, and make tiny snips with your scissors leading in toward the pupil; about 6-8 slits each. This will help the paper curve to fit the eyeball.

Attach the irises with any clear craft glue, holding the edges 'til they dry, so they're as flush as possible:

You could almost stop there, but this next step is where the creepy magic happens:

First, cut & separate several small strands of your red yarn, like so:

Now paint a small section of your eyeball with clear nail polish, and while it's still wet, stick the edges of the yarn in, like this:

If necessary, use your tweezers to move the yarn around so the ends fork out like veins. Don't get the yarn too close to the iris, though; it won't look right. When you're happy with how your "vein" looks, trim off the excess yarn from the back side. Repeat for the whole eye.

This will get sticky fast, so be sure to clean off your tweezers often, and don't worry if you end up literally getting the hairy eyeball:


Just let it dry, then trim off the worst of the fuzzies. 

The final step is one last heavy coat of clear nail polish. This will help stick down any remaining yarn fuzz, and also give your eyes that oh-so-creepy wet shine: 

If your nail polish is especially thick, it may be easiest to actually pour a few drops on to the iris, then use the brush to smooth it down the sides.

I didn't bother clear-coating the back sides of my eyes, but if you plan to have the backs visible, you may want to. 

And you're done! Now go hide some eyeballs in your spouse's coffee mug. Or make a pretty bouquet:




Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!


  1. Great tutorial! I'm pretty sure those irises are Rankin's Eyescapes, but I don't know who originally collected them into one image.

    1. I too believe they are Rankin’s eyescapes. I have the watch collection. Beautiful art!

  2. Fantastic tutorial. Using the fibers of red yarn is a stroke of genius!

  3. Wonderful tutorial!! Although if you have modpodge you could use it to stick the iris's down and to coat the eyes after (get the glossy finish one)

    1. I used modge podge for just this but it took a few tries for everything to stick. The modge podge also reacted with my red (acrylic) paint and if I tried to "brush" it around, then everything turned pink! I had to dab it on instead.

  4. You probably know this, but in case you don't the yarn fiber technique is actually used on real medical glass eyes to make them look more real. I've always thought it was such a neat idea!

  5. They actually sell those creepy eyes at Michael's. Not quite as realistic as yours, but not as plastic as the dollar store ones. I think they were only $1.50 or something for 4. Just an FYI in case there's not a dollar store nearby.

    Very creepy chic, Jen. :)

    --Piper P from Washington State

  6. My uncle lost an eye when he was little (he learned the hard way that you don't whittle above your head with a pocketknife), so growing up he would often use his fake eye to scare people. :)

  7. I didn't use nearly enough yarn on mine--I tried to place individual fibers and 1) it was very difficult to maneuver them and 2) they don't show up very well. I definitely like your method better! :)

    Your irises are also so much better than the ones I found online! Too bad I couldn't wait for this! (My eyeballs--in case anyone is interested:

    1. PS If you don't use nail polish for the shine (and instead use something like modge podge), you can use a glossy spray lacquer to provide a nice "wet" look!

  8. GAH! Jen, you're a genius! How do you even come up with this stuff?!

    I think I'm actually going to try this one. It looks like fun, and I would love to give my son a jar full of eyeballs for Halloween!

    Thanks so much for the inspiration, tutorial, and irises!

    By the way, I went *alone* to see Jenny Lawson on Saturday night in Miami, and while I was there, I did something even braver than that! I'll put an envelope in the mail to you soon so that you can see what I'm talking about. Jenny was great. It was really hot and claustrophobic in the room she did the reading and Q&A in, and I felt terrible for her. She was incredibly gracious, kind, patient, honest, and funny...and exactly as I expected her to be.

    Hope you guys had fun at Dapper Day. Can't wait to read all about it and see the photos you took!


    1. So proud of you for going alone, KW - I don't think I could have! And now I can't wait to see what's in that envelope...

  9. This is awesome! Eyeball bouquets!

  10. Eye see what you did there!

    These are totally cool, Jen. Thanks for sharing a creepy-crafty with us. I think I might be able to pull off this one (not really, but I might be able to come close).


  11. I wish I had seen this tutorial before I made some eyeball roses for another project! So much better looking than just out of the box. Maybe next year I'll take all the eyeballs off and redo them if the hot glue will let me pop them off. If to the dollar store!

  12. I make felt eyeballs (complete with optic nerve) - they make great cat toys. In future, try blending a few blue fibres into your red ones - you'll be surprised how much depth and realism it adds.

  13. Here's the original eye photo:

  14. This is awesome! I will definitely be doing this... Yours look much more realistic than any of the pre-made eyes that I saw in the store. Thank you!

  15. I just made a bunch of these to make the eyeball flowers and they look great!
    I used the dollar tree eyes, the printed irises, but not yarn. Instead, I used red nail polish. Everyone in my family absolutely loves them! Thank you so much for this tutorial!!
    Pics here: and here:


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