Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Robins, Robins Everywhere – How to Install Glass Eyes

I looked out my kitchen window a few weeks ago and saw more than fifteen robins searching for worms in my front lawn.  Fifteen!  How I wish I’d had my camera handy.  But later that day Nathan and I went out for a walk and I captured this photo of a robin near our driveway.

Then I was inspired to make this needle felted robin with glass eyes:

What better way to celebrate the coming of spring each year than with an almost life-sized needle felted robin?

The glass eyes add a touch of realism thanks to the way they reflect light.  I get them from glasseyes.com (Etsy shop: JNCSHOP).  

Here’s how I install glass eyes on my needle felted creations:

Gather your materials:

Do you see an orange and black theme here?  Unintentional, but enjoyed none the less.

Needle felted object
Needle felting tool
Glass eyes
X-Acto knife
Wire cutting tool
Pins with balls on the ends in contrasting colors (for marking)
Superglue (accidentally omitted from photo) – Note: Don’t use superglue for colored eyes (meaning colors other than black). I’ve read that superglue reacts with the eyes' colors and brightens them significantly.
Get started:

1. Carefully decide where you want to install the eyes and, with your needle felting tool, needle eye sockets so the eyes aren’t resting on top of the object’s head.

2. Test out your socket placement with the pins.  This will give you an idea on whether or not your placement is symmetrical.

Other than the fact that these orange pins make my robin look very evil, the eye placement looks good. I wish I’d taken a look at my robin from this angle earlier when I was adding white around her eyes.  I’ll have to go back and fix that later.

3. Cut a slit in the eye sockets with the knife so you can slide the eyes into place.  (They don’t go in as easily as the pins with their tapered, sharp points.)

4. Cut the eyes’ wire to separate them; shorten the wire so it’s a reasonable length for your piece.

5. Test the eyes in their sockets, being sure to match the angles of the eye wires.  Like what you see?  Now it’s time to glue them in.

6. Working with one eye at a time, put a dab of superglue on the end of each eye wire and push it through the socket.  For a little extra insurance, you can add some glue directly to the glass eye – recommended for black eyes only.  (The glue may react with non-black eyes and change the color.)  I like LocTite’s Super Glue Control Gel because it’s easy to squeeze out the right amount and it stays where I put it.

The eyes after gluing:

Now it’s time for a beak, yes?

Wait until you see what I have planned for these friendly eyes:

They’re sewn in instead of glued in, so I’ll explain how I install those when the time comes.  The piece needs to be kept secret (it’s a gift!), so I’ll post the tutorial after it’s been done and gifted, sometime next month.



Thirty Hand Made Days


  1. I love birds anyway, but when I saw this on We Did It Wednesday, I totally thought this was a real bird at first. You did a great job recreating a live bird.

  2. Wow. What a great job you did.


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