The human eye is a fascinating instrument. It is our most used sense organ and helps us understand information all around us. It is a complicated mechanism that uses muscles and a lens to focus light on the retina, or back surface of the eyeball. These images are then sent to the brain to be interpreted. The eye can adjust for different light intensities and even let other people know whether you are interested in them by dilating the pupil when you are interested and contracting it when you are not.
Students can take this papier-mache model project even further by writing a report on how the eye works and listing definitions for the parts. Be aware that this project will take anywhere from three to seven days, depending on how many layers of newspaper you add. This project is best for middle school grades and higher.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Oval-shaped balloon
- Newspaper strips
- White glue or flour
- Craft knife
- Assorted colors of paint
- Clear topcoat sealant
Blow up the balloon to the size of the model you want. Set it aside while you prepare the rest of the materials.
Prepare the papier-mache. There are several easy formulas for the glue paste. Mix equal parts flour and water, or 3 parts of white glue to 1 part water. Another formula is to boil 1 part flour with 5 parts water for 3 minutes, then cool for a smooth paste.
Coat the newspaper strips with paste and place them in a single layer over the balloon. Allow each layer to dry fully before adding another layer of strips. Keep adding layers until the papier-mache reaches your desired thickness. More layers will make the model more sturdy but take more time to do.
Refer to the eyeball pinata link in the References section if you need illustrations to help you make the papier-mache with the balloon, but read only the section on the process for making a spooky eyeball. The decorating section is for the pinata and you want your eyeball to be smooth for painting.
Be sure the papier-mache is fully dry. Pop the balloon by making a very small hole in one end of the papier-mache.
Use a craft knife or sharp scissors to cut the papier-mache oval in half lengthwise. Ask an adult for help and supervision with the knife.
Paint the inside and outside of the model with a neutral color base coat such as light beige or off-white. Using white can make the model too bright and stark, so an off-white is better to use.
Paint the interior and exterior of the eye by using a good anatomy illustration for a reference. Trace the parts of the eye lightly on the model before painting the details.
Spray a light coat of sealant on the outside and inside of the eye model. This will keep paint from flaking and give the model a nice light sheen. Make a key or legend to go with your model.
Tips and warnings
- Add a small amount of salt to the basic papier-mache formula to prevent the finished product from molding.
- Add extra drying time and cut down on the amount of water used in the papier-mache paste if you live in a humid area.
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