A new way to make Fursuit Eyes

Beautiful eyes make the best first impression. And there are many things that contribute to beauty -- color, symmetry, reflection and refraction, to name but a few.

This is my latest design for a fursuit eye. It offers good visibility, has a deep refractive look, and is fairly inexpensive to make. The only problem is a considerable investment of time. Here's how they're made.

To begin with, a blank is cut for the back of the eye. This is the white part around the iris. Two lenses will be used in this assembly -- a large convex lens to make the eye look round and deep, and a small concave lens to put it back into focus.
At this angle, you can see the edge that holds the small concave lens. The material is 1/4" Foam PVC that I got from TAP Plastics. It's very light, strong, and works easily.
Here the small lens has been mounted with clear cement around the outer edge. This will be the pupil of the finished eye. These lenses were obtained from Edmund Scientific for a few dollars each.
Threaded metal tee-nuts have been hammered into the foam PVC from the back (the wearer's side). Note that the lens edge looks cleaner from this side.
Nylon screws and posts complete the mounting for the large convex lens. The wearer gets a clear, bright, wide angle view through the two lens combination. Think of it as a very short telescope.

The iris provides the color and gets the most attention, so it has to be the most carefully made part. These irises are made of 1/8" transparent Lucite, available in many colors from TAP Plastics.
After marking the inner and outer circles, I drilled a hole in the center and mounted the piece on a 1/4" bolt, secured with a flange nut. The bolt is then secured in the chuck of a drill press, which is laying on its side. Very useful tool, the drill press.
A small anvil makes a nice rest for a lathe tool, obtained from the Sears tool department. This one is a Parting tool, used to cut completely through the material.
The inner circle is only cut part-way through. The outer one is cut completely, to make a smooth edge. Remove the paper from the back side of the plastic and put a light behind it, so you can use the brightness as a guide.
Here you can see the color of the inner cut, which is just a little more than halfway through. When you see a bright white line in the center of the cut, it's almost all the way through.
Now a Gouge tool is used to shape the plastic. The outer edge is rounded, then made thinner as it goes inward. The inner edge is thin enough to make a visible contrast with the outer rim, for a jewel-like appearance that really catches the light.
After shaping, the piece is sanded with progressively finer grades of wet-or-dry sandpaper (240, 400, 600). Then the surface is polished with scratch remover (number 3, then 2), also available at TAP Plastics.
The inner groove is then cut completely through, to separate it and form the hole for the pupil. Be very gentle and hold the tool firmly, because the thinned plastic can be easily shattered if you apply too much heat or pressure.
A small sanding drum is ideal for smoothing the inner hole. It might seem like a small thing, but a perfectly circular pupil is one of the key indicators of beauty.
Here are the finished irises, in three colors. This is about six hours work -- 20 minutes each, for 15 of them. Did I mention to be very careful when cutting all the way through?

The final step is mounting the iris and putting it all together. Wide clear double-stick tape works just fine. Trim it carefully around the inside and outside edges, using an X-Acto knife. Keep all the pieces as dust free as possible.
A circle cutter makes a very round pupil. This is a Fiskars circle cutter I picked up at Michael's. The dark material is tinted window film, about 30 percent if I remember right, from TAP Plastics.
Cut the circle out, center it carefully, and stick it to the back of the iris. The disk should be about 1/8" larger than the hole in the iris. Then center the iris over the hole in the back plate, and press it into its final position.
Here are the finished blue eyes.
And the green eyes.
And last but not least, the yellow. Believe it or not, all of these lenses and irises are exactly the same, except for color.