I am just tickled that the first eye tutorial is THE most visited post on my blog! I've loved seeing the eyes you've made using it, so many talented artists around the world. *Waving at all my visitors from the BJD and Pullips forums* I've read quite a few mentions "but it's in English"..don't forget to use the translator on my blog ;)
I'll try to keep this one shorter, it's mainly just some updates in technique to make my life easier and I hope it will give you another option and new ideas. Some of the biggest changes were:
- Instead of Liquid Fimo Gel I now use Gel Du Soleil UV Resin (credit: Thanks to Marina's Eye Tutorial , more ideas here!)
- I found plastic/Saran wrap to be MUCH easier and faster to work with than the baby powder or corn starch to keep tools from sticking.
I LOVE the Gel Du Soleil UV Resin, it is a one part resin, so no mixing two parts together (creating more air bubbles). It can also be baked. I've baked the eyes I made with this method in my clay sculptures multiple times for 30 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. (I'm not sure about using the heat gun on them, I haven't been brave enough to try it since the temperature can't be regulated) They do not melt, they don't turn yellow, and they don't get cloudy. Simply wipe off any raw clay that has gotten on the resin while sculpting with a dry cloth or brush before baking. One warning: Do NOT use Sculpey Smoothing oil on the cured resin, it WILL make them dull and cloudy. This is the only resin that I know of that can be baked at the temperatures required for curing the clay. I've heard of people using the clear resin that is used on fake finger nails. Even the best nail resin can yellow, that is why people who use tanning beds apply a UV protection polish. That's all I'll say about that ;) I put my Gel du Soleil eyes outside for a week and no yellowing. If you are making them for BJDs or Air Dry clay dolls that don't need to be baked, I'm sure there are other resin options out there if you can't find Gel Du Soleil. I buy mine here http://www.artbeads.com/glaze002.html . It is the cheapest I've found if you buy 3 or more bottles. They also sell a large bottle, but honestly I'm still on my first tiny bottle after making a TON of eyes and experiments. Oh..and use in a well ventilated area..this stuff smells! Ok so here we go!
I use a clay extruder to make noodles. The size of the noodle will be the size of the iris.
Measure the hole in your extruder disk. This one is 3mm so it will be used to make a 6mm eye. I use half the total measurement. IE: 4mm Iris for 8mm total eye width, 5mm Iris for 10mm eye etc.
If you don't have a clay extruder, you can use a flat piece of glass or plastic. Put stacks of playing cards or tiles etc, anything you have that is the thickness you want the noodle to be, at each end of the flat surface. Place the clay in the center and roll it out, keeping the glass, plastic etc. parallel to the work surface. You want the noodle to be an even thickness.
Now I bake the clay noodles. I place them in an oven safe dish with a layer of Polyfil, covered with a piece of thin cloth. This prevents any flat spots. Once they have baked, (for the type of clay I'm using I baked 15 mins at 275 degrees F) I lower the temp to 200 to keep them hot. In the next step we will be slicing the noodles, and they are much easier to slice when they are hot. You will be able to tell when they cool down too much, they lose their "rubbery" feel and your blade snaps down harder, making ruff edges on the slices.
Here is my slicing blade, nothing fancy, just a pack of blades from the hardware store. I put tape on the dull side so I know which side to grab when I pick it up ;)
Now start slicing thin dots from the noodles. I can get about half way through cutting a noodle this size before it cools down too much, then I just toss it back into the oven and grab another piece. I find it easier to place one side of the blade on the tile, using it as a pivot point. Also if you look straight down from above it helps to get nice flat slices. You can discard the ends or any spots with air bubbles (you'll hear them when using a clay extruder).
Chop chop chop until you have a bunch of iris confetti :)
This part makes life a whole lot easier. Get some double stick tape (it says permanent but it's not really) and some cards, or..ahem, those little laminate counter top samples from the hardware store :)
Now stick the tape to a card, and the confetti dots in pairs to the tape. Now they're ready to paint, and wont go anywhere! The above photo is from when I made my noodles out of colored clay. This is an easier route if you don't want to paint the actual eye color, just put a dot of black paint in the center for a pupil. I found I like using white, and painting the pupil first. The contrast allows me to see if the pupil is centered and the same size as it's partner. I also prefer to paint on a lighter background and build up layers of detail. Experiment and find which way works best for you.
Tiny detail artist paint brushes are expensive. I buy "Nail Art Detail Brushes". The one above is a pen style. I have since found some with even shorter bristles. I got several packs cheap on ebay, size "0000" is my favorite for painting small eyes. They seem to last me just as long as the expensive one, maybe even longer.
Paint: You can use craft acrylics, artist acrylics, watercolors, whatever you prefer. I was so thrilled when I found fine tip Sharpies in a rainbow of colors, but guess what..they're not quite as permanent as they claim to be. They leached into the whites of the eyes badly. Bummer! Guess I'll have to use those on another art project :)
Using a paintbrush, I put a thin layer of Gel du Soleil on the irises. This seals the paint. Do be careful with green paint, and let them sit a day or two before using them in a sculpt to make sure there is no leaching. That is why this step is important. Since green is made up of blue and yellow, sometimes they separate and I've found the yellow leaching into the whites if I didn't pay extra attention in this sealing step, or I painted over the edge and didn't seal the edges. I put a couple drops of Gel du Soleil on a glazed tile and use the paintbrush to apply. Clean your brush with alcohol when done. Since it is a UV curing resin, I clean the brush immediately so my "realistic light" bulbs or Ott lights don't cure the resin. This would take hours..but better safe than sorry.
I cure the resin in a 9w nail light for 15 minutes. You can find these pretty cheap on ebay too. The resin will cure in direct sunlight also. See how nicely the card fits into the light? :)
While the resin is curing I start making up the whites. I'm using Pat Moulton's Eye Tools, I love them! You could also make a mold by pressing a marble or bead half way into the clay in the size you need. Experiment :)
See how nice the plastic wrap works? Just place it between the clay and the tool and voila!
Once my irises have cured, I pluck them off of the tape and center them onto the whites. Then I place the plastic wrap over the top, and press down with the tool again.
Check from the sides to make sure the iris is level, and clean up the extra clay around the edges. I use a toothpick. If you have any wrinkles in the whites from the plastic, smooth them out with a soft dry paint brush, a gentle "petting" motion works well. You can use a TINY bit of smoothing oil, just be sure to keep it on the whites and not the irises with the resin. Now bake according to your clay's instructions.
If you baked on something that wont fit into your UV light (like I did!) you can pop them off the tile and place them back onto the taped card (or smaller tile, whatever you have) You can see my little laminate sample in the background :D Now we're going to add more resin to form the dome.
Side view. I choose to only do the iris and not the entire eye. First, the resin acts like oil on water and tries to bead up or run off the sides, I kept patching the "bald spots". I tried it over Liquid Sculpey, I tried cleaning with alcohol first, no luck. So I finally decided I like this way better anyway. This allows you paint details on your finished sculpt, like shadows, veining, tear ducts, etc that would likely not want to stick if the whites were covered in resin. You can also gloss the whites after baking with a glaze, but in every photo of sculptures I've seen, the reflection is only showing on the iris, even on all glass eyes.
If you end up doing a few different sizes, save your sanity and organize the irises *grin* This is from the colored noodles. I now have containers of all white in different sizes. This way I can easily see the sizes I have without worrying about having each color in each size. Have fun making realistic glass like eyes for your dolls and sculptures!