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Ping pong ball eyes

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by biblebetty, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member

    Well I caved in and am using ping pong ball eyes but have a few questions. First how do you cut them so the edges don't look ragged. next how do you set the eyes on the puppet so they will stay along time. Will the contact cement glue be strong enough? thanks for the answers ahead of time.
  2. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member


    I meant so the don't look ragged.
  3. fragglerockr

    fragglerockr Well-Known Member

    Ping pong balls...


    Hi there. I know some people are going to jump my case becuase I said this before but I'll go out and say it again. I'm sure Jim orginally built Kermit using ping-pong balls for eyes and maybe even Henson still builds a select few puppets that way, however, to stream line the process most builders use a plastic eye shape (think of a ping-pong already cut in half) that actually has a plastic post with a snap that afixes to the back much like a doll joint. For larger sizes sometimes the Muppet Workshop even makes their own eyes using a vaccuform process.

    (Now for those of you that work or have worked at Henson *please do not flame me* as I know not all puppets are built this way and that a variety of 'found objects' are used for eyes. I am referring only to characters that use a standard ping-pong ball shape. We are *ALL* aware not all puppets are the same size and not of all their eyes are the same size)...that said...

    If you are dead set on using ping-pong balls you will have to sand the edges to be smooth and have to find a way to afix them to the puppet. You could try and back with fabric or fun-foam and then glue the backing directly on the the puppet. Or you could try and sew it but it would be so much easier in my opionion to use the pre-fabricated eye shapes.

    If you go back and read the 'Insane Over Eyes' post you can find the info for ordering them. The company is Mercury plastics. They have a few different sizes There are no set rules when it comes to eyes....some people use plastic spoons, ladles, whatever they have lying around. Go check it out and be creative!!!


  4. DPuppets

    DPuppets Well-Known Member

    I would use the eye that are pre shaped but...if you are using ping pong balls do sand them down. Sand all edges as well as the ball. Then paint them with a white flat color paint. This keeps the reflection down when lights shine on them. I use design master spray paint. You can find this in local hobby shop. It is floral paint. Also you glue a plastic screw in them using epoxy or hot glue. Then all you do is take and punch a hole in fabric and put a plastic nut on them. This seem to last a long time. You can find plastic screws and nuts at local hardware store.
    Hope that helps.

    Darren Casteel

  5. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Just a few quick notes re: this....

    Toastcrumbs recently settled the Kermit ping-pong ball eyes question in this thread (yes, Jim used ping pong balls but it was a loooong time ago). I would think that the Muppet workshop probably doesn't have a single approach to eyes these days, they probably just use whatever works for them.

    There is a company in the US that sells plastic spheres in a variety of shapes. I can't seem to find their contact info though (anyone have it?). Vaccuforming your own eyes is another option (you can find "how-tos" by searching on Google or The Puppetry Homepage).

    If you're using ping pong balls I've found the best way to secure them is to carve a chunk of foam ~slightly~ larger than the ball, then squish it inside the cut ping pong ball and secure it with hot glue. You have to be sure to use a low-melt gun because otherwise the heat of the glue will melt the ball. Once it tries the ping pong ball can be glued down to puppet. The same method can be used on the clear plastic Christmas balls found in craft stores that many people use for eyes.

    Generally, I'd recommend going with the half-sphere/post eyes available from Mercury plastics though. They're much less work.
  6. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member

    Hey Guys,
    I was surfing the net and I found a web site that sell 45mm Dome ball for .99 cents a set. the web site is http://www.mcginnispuppets.com/

    I hope this helps, and by the way thanks for all the help guys!
  7. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    Same eyes offered at Mercury plastics in at least two sizes that I know of for almost HALF the price that these guys are selling them for. The contact info for Mercury Plastics is found on the "Insane For Eyes" link on this forum, or you can use this link to visit the building page on my website where I have the information posted as well. ;)

  8. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member


    well that is fine except in the other forum threads they say I have to order 1,000 to get this price? I'm sorry but I don't have that kind of money, and I would paid .99 cents just to get 5 sets. When I go to tall mouse or Michael's I paid 1.99 for crazy eyes. Am I wrong about what I was reading?

    Well I just call Mercury and they also sell noses too! except you do have to pay for 1,000 order. So if you are a business and need 1,000 go to mercury, But if you only need one or ten sets McGinnis Puppets can help, they are very friendly and they will help with small eyes too! they even ask if you would like them painted instead of you painting them.
  9. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    hmmm, I'm surprised that they told you that, because I just placed an order for 100 pieces. Maybe if you mention that you got the info from puppet-planet.com because they have seen their pricing and info that I provided on my site and had no problems with it. I know that he did say that they come in bags of 1000 pieces but he didn't hesitate to break open a bag for whatever quantity I needed. :confused:

    Don't be shy, ask him if you could order a smaller amount. ;)
  10. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member

    After I post the the info on McGinnis I phoned Mercury direct and the gentman who owns this company with his brother said that there are many puppeteers that call for this item. unforuately they only sell by the 1,000 not 100 a bag. You may have gotten his brother on a good day. But I sent an e-mail to his brother because he actually takes care of the line and he will quote me prices. but the brother I spoke to on the phone said they are a manufacturing company they do not want to split bags. I also do not make that many puppets to justify even a bag of one hundered. so McGinnis is the perfect place for me. But if his brother says drifferent. I will let everyone know.

    Bible Betty
  11. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Well that would explain the discrepancy. They have quoted prices on 100 pieces to many people before though.

    BTW - you mean to say that their minimum order is 1,000 pieces not 100,000 right??
  12. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member

    Right 1,000 sorry about that. I throught there was something wrong with what I wrote. it is 1,000 again I'm sorry last time I give info at 6:00am.

  13. biblebetty

    biblebetty Well-Known Member

    I just received an e-mail from Mercury:

    Thanks for your interest in our eyes. The cost for #450 blank white with metal washer is $.18 each. The minimum order quantity is 500 pieces. The cost for #650 blank white is $.21 each with metal washer. The minimum order quantity is also 500 pieces. Our terms are COD or if you want to avoid COD charges, a check in advance of shipment including shipping charges. We will include a catalog with your first order.

    William Wright
    Mercury Plastics Corp.
    995 Utica Ave.
    Brooklyn, NY 11203

    718 498-5400
    718 498-5424 FAX

    that is what usually happens when two family members are in volved in business. You get two drifferent stories.

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