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What materials can I use for a spyrofoam puppet's pupils?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by shoo, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. shoo

    shoo New Member

    I've got myself a nearly finished fullbody costume, but I am having trouble with the eyes... The round eyeballs are made of spyrofoam, and I want to attach black pupils so they act like Cookie's pupils; bouncing everywhere. My problem is that I don't know what sort of material/fabric the pupils are made of, what sort screws to use AND how tiny the screws should be...

    If you look at this picture, you will see that there are black screws attached to the pupils so the pupils can spin around and have that googly effect like on Cookie, but what material are the pupils of? What material for the pupils would work best on spyrofoam eyeballs? And how tiny are the screws? 2-5mm? Also, are there special screws one should use..?

    I really hope someone can come with a quick reply on this one. I've tried reading and searching around, but there are no threads that answers my questions, so I hope you guys can help me out on this one! If there are any videos or tutorials, let me know.

    Thanks a bunch in advance! I am happy that I've found my way here! A personal muppet world! :O
  2. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    With Styrofoam, I would maybe suggest long hat pins with glue to seal them into the ball? Cut the pupils out of foam and leave them dangling a bit on the pin so they can spin freely.....

    Good Luck!
  3. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Oky. Hmm... it sounds kinda bad to use just pins... hmm... Since it's a fullbody costume, wouldn't it be better for me to use something else? Like, what's the materials used for eye-balls and pupils on the picture I linked to in my first post? I am asking this because I move and jump around a lot with my costume, so it'd be nice if you wouldn't suddenly fall off...

    What sort foam and hat pins are we talking about? Can you post any pictures?
  4. I started a cookie monster and I've used plastic Christmas Tree decoration balls for both the eyeballs and pupils. The ball you use for the pupils can be slightly smaller than the size of your eyeballs but the curve is what you want. Might take a little practice to get right cutting out the pupil, but one ball can provide a few pupils. You can even use light sanding to get them as round as possible.
    Like Animal31 said above, being styrofoam, you could just use pins to hold them in. Little screws wouldn't take to well to your styrofoam eyes anyway. Just make sure the hole is the perfect size and doesn't make the pupil fall out.
    The way I like to make precise small holes in plastic is a pin [or similarly small thin metal thing, depending on the size of hole you want], held with plyers, heated over a candle to make it hot enough to make a hole through the plastic. You just have to cut away any excess plastic but it ensures the right size.

    Hope that helps or gives you ideas.
  5. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Neat! Thanks for this.

    Any chance that you could take a picture of your cookie monster eyeballs and pupil so I can see how you've done it, perhaps? Would've been very kind of you if you could. How do you make the christmas decoration stuck onto foam then..? Any ideas on that? (my head is made out of foam)

    And how do I make the pupil stay on the pin without it falling off if I'd mount it to a styrofoam?

  6. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    Personally I wouldn't use styrofoam at all, but that was the question you posed, so I thought the long pins with the ball on the end and some craft foam may be a viable solution for you.... :)
  7. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Yeah, that's what I thought... hence why I want to try out that christmass decoration idea that cactus posted. Sounds like a good idea, but I don't know how I can make it stay firmly on my costume heads foam without the entire eyeball falling off! And the same goes for the pupil itself...

    Would need some more instructions so I can see what to do.. :)

    What would YOU suggest me to use then..?

    Thanks for bothering to help me! :>
  8. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    I'm personally going to try the Christmas ornaments on a project of my own as well. I'm thinking where the head is 1" foam, I'm going to use doll joints thru the bottom sticking up, and then hot glue the shaft of the ornament thru the top down into the foam onto the joint.

    Does that sound about right guys?
  9. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Yeah, I'll go for the christmas ornaments as well. But what sort of christmas ornaments? Are we talking about these kind of ornaments: click this link!, or? Like, mount the doll joints (what sort of doll joints?) through the holes of the ornaments? And should I just paint/spray the ornaments white? Can't seem to find any white-colored ornaments, really... hmm... EDIT: Are we talking about white christmas ornaments like this one? - Found a local store with white xmas balls! Great! :> Now, what to use for pupils...

    But yeah, that sound like a good plan, animal. When will you be starting on your project, hmm?

    What should I use for the pupils then? And if I use screws through the ornaments for the pupils, will that be enough..? Will it be kept in place or is there a risk for the screw to...like...fall off?

    Just curious; what materials are used on this picture? Does anyone know?

  10. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    If you can find them in white, that would be perfect, you're looking for something between 48-50mm for a Cookie or Elmo type I believe? I could only find them in green and gold so far.

    The screw should be fine by itself, and I liked the idea of cutting the pupil from another ball to get the round shape to it. Other than that it's going to just be alot of trial and error, so have fun with it! ..... :)
  11. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Unfortunately, it seems like I've found pure white AND black christmas ornament balls (12x of each for totally $10), but they're made of GLASS! So, if I put screws through, the ball will shatter, yes? So yeah, looks like I've got to find some plastic one's instead, right? And... how am I supposed to cut a pupil out of this glass ornament since it's made of glass and then mount it to a screw or something? Got any pointers..?
  12. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    No, do not use glass! That would be bad, especially on your head! Target and Kmart both have multisizes available for the holidays....in plastic!
  13. shoo

    shoo New Member

    That's what I thought... ****. Seems TOO hard to find those stuff in PLASTIC.... But ohky, will try..... And then cut the pupil from the same plastic ball?

    Polyestaline...is that the same as styrofoam or the one I am looking for..? I see some ornaments are in that material...
  14. shoo

    shoo New Member

    So, I am having problems again... I simply CAN'T find any white PLASTIC BALLS that I can use on my gigantic full-body suit costume head! WHAT material should I be looking for? I am trying to scout eBay, but even there it's hard to find anything! And yes, I did try to find plastic xmas balls, but it was nearly impossible to find PLAIN WHITE xmas plastic balls to use....

    So, what alternatives do I have now then?

    EDIT: I've tried looking at ping pong balls, but they're too small. Lacrosse balls are too soft. PLAIN white xmas ornaments/balls does not exist (apparently). Spyrofoam = not possible for my requirement. So, what other materials are there?
  15. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member


    Go to eBay and look under plastic balls, I had seen some solid (no holes) white wiffle balls being offered in different amounts. They are roughly 4 inches in diameter I think?
  16. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Yeah, trying to find those balls, but it seems harder than I thought... Heh. Still no luck...

    Also, for a wiffle ball (with no holes), what should I use for the pupil and how to attach the pupil so it will work like Cookie Monster's pupils?
  17. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    I grabbed a pair of the large flat google eyes from Joanns, there's one of two ways you can do this. For Cookie, they use a small black screw that the pupil spins on OR what you could also do is take the backing off the google eye and glue the clear plastic piece (with the pupil inside) to the ball.

    Either way should give you the same effect as long as the pupil can move around freely inside......
  18. shoo

    shoo New Member

    Oh? Is the pupil supposed to be moving INSIDE of the eye for Cookie? I thought that you mount the pupil OUTSIDE the eyeball... hmm..

    What kind of screw are you talking about? Like, how big?
  19. Animal31

    Animal31 Active Member

    The pupil will move in the plastic casing that is glued to the ball, as long as there is enough space.

    Just a small black screw, you can judge it yourself by the size of the eye you end up using.
  20. Edradour

    Edradour Member



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