Add Gleams to Pupils

What is a simple and easy way to make your puppet come to life? Add gleams to the eyes. Gleams create the illusion of light reflecting off the pupil and gives the puppet the illusion of life.

What are Gleams?

Gleams are tiny circles or bits of white felt attached to the outside edge of the pupil. You can either hot glue or sew the gleam. If using hot glue, make sure the placement is exactly where you want it. Hand stitching the gleam to the pupil gives you the option to try again if the placement is off.

Gleams on Felt Hand Puppets

This is a squirrel made from our free felt squirrel pattern. The hand puppet without gleams is pretty cute. Add some gleams to get a different look.

Gleams on Animals Made From our Puppet Sewing Patterns

Adding gleams to the eyes of puppets made from our animal hand puppet sewing patterns also makes a huge difference.

Here is my cow pattern.

The eyes look a little “dead” and vacant. That’s because the eyes are made from felt which doesn’t reflect light. In the bottom photo all I did was add little circles of felt to the pupils. Now the cow looks more alive.

These gleams were placed at the top of the pupil with about 1/4 of the gleam on the white and 3/4 of the gleam on the black. The gleams also distract from the fact that the right and left eyes and pupils are different shapes and sizes. Gleams can distract from imperfectly cut eyes and pupils.

Here’s the bird pattern.

This time the gleams were placed a little off center from the top of the pupil. With gleams I am creating the illusion that light is shining on to the puppet from his left side.

Isn’t it interesting that with the addition of the gleams the pupils look bigger compared to the photo just above? Honest, they are the same pupils.

How About Gleams on Human Type Puppets

Here’s the Person Puppet with and without gleams. This time the gleams were placed on the left side of the pupils.

Using Gleams to Bring a Wizard to Life

Adding gleams takes away the “dead” look on this wizard. This time the gleams are “mirrored.” In this case, the pretend light is coming in from both the right and left sides. Do you think they look more or less “real” being mirrored?  Do you have a preference?