Making a Dragon Eye Cabochon

Dragon Eye Tut - 1Over the summer this year, I have been asked to write tutorials on how to make the dragon’s eyes I have posted. So here is my first tutorial.  I started with a dragon eye cabochon, because  that’s how it all starts. There are a few tutorials out there and they are free, so I am following suit. I hope it’s helps those of you who want to make your dragon’s eyes.

I am including a PDF of the following tutorial for download. I suggest it over copying and pasting, because, well, it looks better and is easier to read. This program keeps taking the spacing out of the saved draft.Here is the PDF: Making a Dragon Eye Pupil
Dragon’s eyes, especially beaded ones that take many hours to create deserve a great foundation. A good cabochon makes or breaks a design. I have made eyes from Dollar Store glass cabs, I have made them from acrylic resin, and glass cabochons. However, my favorite way to make a dragon’s eye is to use a graphic on a glass cabochon. I have found it to be the easiest way to get a realistic looking dragon eye.

I plan on more tutorials, the first, coming soon, is one for beading a basic dragon’s eye.

Dragon Eye Tut - 2IMG_1901
Materials needed –
1 inch glass cabochons, 4×6 inch photo paper(or what you have on hand), clear nail polish, patience
Tools –
1 inch punch or sharp scissors, if you don’t have a 1 inch punch don’t worry, the scissors can be used instead.
No, I do not make the graphics for the eyes. I have bought from vendors on Etsy:
Or, if you want to make your own graphic on the computer, here is a good tutorial:
And there’s this one for making a glass cabochon:

– What I do to get the size circle….
The graphics I use come as a sheet of different eye patterns. I save the graphic sheets as many times as there are different eyes on the sheet, plus one, so I have a master on my computer. However, I still have to resize the graphics to fit my glass cabochons.
I am computer impatient – that means. Instead of learning what to do with the graphics program to size the eyes to your cabochon, I use the hunt and peck method. Those of you who understand how to resize to just the right size, skip this part, I’ll likely confuse you. I am sure there is an easier way to do this. My way uses the photo gallery that is on my computer, and a PowerPoint presentation.
I crop one eye for each color and style and save the image in a folder in on the computer. It helps if you are consistent with the size you crop your graphic, but I’m a messy crafter. I usually eyeball it and then crop it. I put a few designs in a PowerPoint presentation all close to the size I want, print out the page and choose the one which matches the hole in my punch. Then I save it on another page labeled with the size of the eye. I do this for all designs purchased that I am likely to use. Then I will print the graphic out and measure using the cabochon I intend to use.Example PP Slide

I like to use My Jewelry Shop Glass Cabochons I buy them at Hobby Lobby. These cabochons are 1 inch in diameter. When I get the graphics printed, I use my one inch hole punch. This one is an EK Success, it’s my favorite and I have made many eyes with it.1007151144
Once you have your graphics, print to size, and cut or punch them out.
I have tried glue, I have tried modge podge, but I have found that clear nail polish works well for making good cabs. Glue & Modge Podge tend to dry cloudy for me, or maybe I’m just too impatient. Clear nail polish dries clear even though it takes 24 hours to completely set and while the initial setting is going on you need to keep an eye on your cabs, the glass will kind of slide around on the graphic.
Materials: (again so you don’t have to look back)
1 inch glass cabochons, 4×6 inch photo paper, clear nail polish, patience
1 inch punch or sharp scissors, if you don’t have a 1 inch punch don’t worry, the scissors can be used instead.
Once you have drawn or obtained your graphic, here is the process:
1. Size your eye graphic and print out your graphics on photo paper. This is sturdy paper with a slick finish that improves the overall appearance of the finished graphic. I use 4×6 sheets of photo paper. I make sure to get the most out of my sheet of photo paper and fill it with eye graphics. Even if I only plan on making one eye, this way I have more next time.


2. Cut your graphics out. If you have a one inch punch use that, otherwise, carefully cut out your graphic with a sharp pair of scissors. You may need to trim the borders on your graphic sheet if you are using a punch. Take your time, even with the punch and line up your graphic carefully before cutting. Turn the punch over so you can see the cut.

3. From here on out, work on a firm flat surface. I use an old desk in my office area. This also doubles as my photo shop because the light is good here. If you are working on a nice piece of furniture, always protect the surface. I don’t on my $20.00 garage sale find, it was already weathered and worn as you can see in the pictures.

4. Coat the cropped graphics with nail polish and set aside to dry. This coats and protects your printed graphic. It will take around 5 minutes to set hard enough for you to continue. Note: the older the clear nail polish is, the more likely you will have air bubbles, because it is thick.

5. Coat the graphic with another layer of nail polish and place the clean glass cabochon over the graphic. Make sure to wipe off any finger prints that occur on the flat side of the cabochon before you lay it on the graphic.


6. Inspect your dragon eye cab. If it looks back at you, you did it. If you can see obvious spots that aren’t adhered to the glass, you have some air bubbles. At first just swish the cab around on the graphic, if that doesn’t get it, I will push down on the cab. If that doesn’t work, I simply pick up the cabochon and press from the graphic side until those spots go away. Then carefully lay the eye back down.
The picture to the right was made using a fresh bottle of nail polish. I got NO air bubbles what so ever.


The picture on the right, you can see one large air bubble and some tiny ones on the iris. This one was done with a clear nail polish that had thickened. Both nail polishes used were cheap $1.00-2.00 per bottle. No need to get something expensive.

7. Keep an eye on the curing dragon’s eye. In the next 45 minutes or so, check about every 15 minutes to make sure the cabochon hasn’t slid off slightly. To fix you simply re-position the cabochon. After 30-45 minutes the cabochon won’t slide.IMG_1905

8. Leave the dragon eye to cure, trust me, it takes at least 24 hours. I live in New Mexiico and it’s dry out here, things dry fast. So when I tell you it takes 24 hours, trust me. If you live a damp climate, it will probably take longer. The wait is worth it!

9. Check each cabochon. When the cabochons are set, check each one. Unfortunately, not every one will be perfect, no matter how carefully you have crafted them. (Pics of Good, Not perfect and Air Bubbled cabochons.)Three of these have air bubbles, one is perfect, if not a bit off center.IMG_1908


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