The most important feature of a puppet is the eyes, the eyes make or break a puppet. One of the most popular and easiest ways to make eyes for puppets is with ping pong balls because they are available at your local store. Some of the most popular Muppet character eyes are built from ping pong balls including Animal, The Great Gonzo and even Kermit’s eyes are ping pong balls that are cut in half. Without further ado let’s get started!
2 ping pong balls
Felt and/or fur material (you pick your colors and material)
Black felt dots or magic marker
Hot glue gun
Flat white spray paint (pick your color)
Step 1: Paint the Eyes
We are going to spray paint the ping pong balls to your desired color, when you are painting the balls white it is hard to tell if you got the sides covered. Here is a trick that I use, take new plastic bottle caps and place the balls on top. This keeps the balls in place and you will know when the sides are properly covered because you can see when the caps are properly covered with paint.
I usually do two healthy coats of paint and depending on my needs I will flip the ball over and do the bottom if it will be shown.
Step 2: Add the Eyelashes
Once the paint is dry take the felt that you are going to use as the eyelashes. You want to use two different colors for the lashes and lids to make up your eyes, this gives depth and character. I used orange for the eyelashes to match the body and a green fur to match the nose and breakup the overpowering orange body.
Cut two 4″ X 3/16″ material of your desired color, you will wrap your balls with these pieces.
To make this easier on yourself place glue on the middle of your material and attach it to your ball, then work your way down from the center to both ends. This will help you make a straight line.
Step 3: Add the Eyelids
Now you will attach your main section of your eyes, the eyelids. Cut two 4″ X 2″ pieces of your chosen material, I used a green fur. Glue the material on to your eyes overlapping the lashes just a bit.
When I use fur I overlap the fur before attaching to the eye to get a clean line, you can see that in the image below.
Step 4: Attach the Pupils
This is the last step and will determine how your puppet looks. Move the pupils around before attaching and decide where you want your puppet to look. I always place the eyes onto my puppet before I glue the pupils on, but this is your choice.
If you are using felt dots use glue to attach the pupils and if you are drawing them on use your magic marker.
Adding eyes to your puppet is “bringing them to life” as Jim Henson used to say, so take your time with this part. Also remember to be creative here, change things up and try different ideas, colors, material and more. Most importantly have fun and be creative.