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The Eye of the Beholder


Do you remember the polymer clay eyeball cane I designed, featured in such delightfully creepy creations as the following?


With Halloween mere days away, I decided it was time to make a tutorial. Behold! A beholder cane!

Supplies for an Eyeball Cane

For supplies, you’ll need the following:

Polymer clay in white, red, black, and whatever colors you want your iris to be. I’m using up blue scraps left over from a previous project. You may also want some translucent clay on hand as well, though it’s not required.

– Uber-sculpting tools. In this case, a toothpick and some kind of non-serrated thin blade- an exacto knife will work, but it will force your final cane to be smaller than other sorts of blades.

-Your hands, and

Also Useful: A Pasta Machine

-Something to flatten clay with. I use the pasta machine seen above, but it’s not required. If you don’t have a pasta machine, do something like this to flatten your clay. I’ve seen carefully folded paper used in place of bamboo skewers (or dowels of various sizes), and I’ve rolled clay out with a dead sharpie myself, so it shouldn’t be hard to find something around the house that will work.

One quick tip before we begin: it’s a very good idea to condition all the clay you’re going to work with before working with it, to get the consistency soft and even. Knead it with your hands until it’s flexible, or stick it though the pasta machine a few times to get the same effect.


Step 1: Roll a short, fat log of black clay.

Advanced Sculpting Skillz

Step 2: Press your expensive sculpting tool (aka spare toothpick) into the side of the log and roll it around so that the toothpick forms an even indentation in the side of the log.

Ultimately, you want the log to look “C” shaped, with the inside curve of the C much smaller than the outside.

Pupil plus Highlight

Step 3: Roll out a thin log of white clay that will fit into the “C” of the black clay. Squish the white log into the indentation in the black log…

… then roll the final concoction on a flat surface to even out the shape. Voila! A pupil with a neat little highlight.

Scraps for Iris

Step 4: Take the colors you wish your iris to be and twist them together a time or two, a la the first two steps here. You don’t actually want to blend them, but you do want them to be swirly and interesting.

Step 5: Run the iris clay through your pasta machine on its thickest setting. You want it to be long enough to wrap around the pupil at least twice, and wide enough to cover the pupil.

Step 6: Trim the iris clay to fit and then wrap it around the pupil two or so times. Roll the log on a flat surface it to even out the edges.

I added a third layer of matching solid clay around the outside of the iris, as a lot of eyes I’ve looked at seem to have a darker ring at the edge (and sometimes even a lighter ring at the center- something to consider).

Adding Sclera

Step 7: To make the sclera, you want enough white clay to wrap around your pupil at least three times. I mixed some translucent clay in with the white for the heck of it, but not enough to make an appreciable difference; I imagine a largely translucent sclera could up the creepiness factor considerably. Whatever you decide on, roll your sclera clay out on the largest setting on your pasta machine, trim, then wrap.

A Passable Eye

Step 8: Hey look, it’s an eye! It’s not nearly creepy enough for me, though, so next we’re going to add some veins to that pristine sclera. No eyedrops for this poor guy.


Take your blade (I’ve used exacto knives, blades from wallpaper scrapers, and the expensive “tissue knives” sold specifically for polymer clay- it’ll all work) and cut a slice through the sclera, being careful to stop at or before the iris.

Step 9: Roll out some red clay, then use your fingers to smash down one side of the sheet.

Step 10: It’s okay to pull on the cane a bit to get the cut to open up- we’ll squish it all back together later.

Stick the red clay into the cut, pointy side first. It may help to use your handy dandy toothpick to get it further in.

Squish the cut closed around the red clay and trim off the excess.

Step 11: Repeat the above step at random around the cane until it looks appropriately creepy. Go in at different angles. Don’t worry about being neat- veins are anything but.

Ta Da!

Step 12: If you’re anything like me, the outside of your nice white clay is pink now. No problem. Roll out a sheet of red clay (on the largest setting of your pasta machine), trim it to fit, and wrap it once around the cane. Voila! An eyeball!

In the Back of Her Head

Step 13: Reduce, slice and use. Canes can be used to decorate and/or cover all sorts of things- I’ve done lots of fun hair pieces in the past, and have recently been turning eyeball cane bits into buttons (because normal button eyes just aren’t freaky enough). What would you use this cane for? I would love to see anything you come up with from this tutorial- meanwhile, I should probably go list the pieces I’ve made in the shop. You know. Since I first made them, oh, last February. *headdesk*

One Comment leave one →
  1. 09/19/2010 2:59 PM

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!
    I posted an entry about it in my blog with a link back to here, just so you know.

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