Cheap Manual Mechanism
This post is going to be short, but thought I would show an inexpensive way to add functionality to a puppet that will give it more life as far as the audience is concerned.
Balls for eyes (ping pong balls, wooden balls, etc.)
Wire (coat hanger from dry cleaners work great)
Prep the Eyes
Small holes big enough to fit the wire through needs to go through the entire ball. Right through the center.
Figure out where the center of the eyes are. When I make this type of mechanism, I will complete the eyes first so that I can make the pupils look the direction they should.
If using a hanger, pull it apart and cut off the pieces that aren’t straight. Use only the straight end, the bottom portion of the hanger should be all you need unless you are creating large eyes or eyes that are really far apart.
Bend the wire in the middle so that there are equal ends (look at the illustration) and this will become the flip lever that lets you blink by flipping your finger up and down.
The length of this lever will, again, depend on the size and distance of the eyes.
Now slide the eyes on either side of the lever you just created. While holding the eyes, flip the lever and make sure that the wire rotates inside the eye holes freely.
Create the Eyelids
Leaving a slight space on the outside of the eye to allow for free rotation, bend the wire inward toward the lever. This creates the eyelid.
Cut the Excess
So some people doing this, will cut the wire right as it meets the base of the lever, but what I do is take it to the end of the lever then tape it all together with electric tape to give a reinforced lever as well as I don’t have to worry about the wire scratching or poking.
Ok, so that is it in a nutshell, it’s easy and adds so much extra life to your puppet just allowing it to blink and close the eyes. At this point just add some fabric to the mech, giving enough slack that the eye can close.
There are more advanced eye mechs that I can get into later, if interested. Just let me know.