Tiny People Made from Eye Drops Vials

As you may remember, I have been having some eye issues over the past three months and they continue to go on. I am getting closer to finding out what may be causing my vision loss and hope to know more very soon as to what the next course of treatment will be and what I might expect in the way of stabilization of my vision.

But, as part of the process, I have been doing intensive rehab of my corneas and eyelids. As part of this I take a LOT of eye drops. I use the single use vials because they have no preservatives, but that means there are a lot of plastic vials to be disposed of.

What to do? Well, when I first saw the shape of the vials I thought they looked like small people figures, somewhat like worry dolls. Immediately I knew I would be making tiny dolls, and what they decided to do for their careers, well, that was up to them – solve worries, live in tiny dollhouses, drive small cars, relax in the lush jungle foliage of a potted fern…

So let’s get going and I’ll tell you how I make them.

Here is a used vial. I take the lids off and let them sit a few days to dry out. Note – You will notice that in the following samples I didn’t do this, since when I wanted to make the demo photos I did not have any vials-in-waiting that were quite ready. But in general I save up a group and make quite a few dolls at a time.

Here are my supplies.

You may be wondering about the pliers. I have two sets – both from my jewelry class. They were very inexpensive.

I take the heads off the dolls while I am putting on their arms.

Then, I untwist a paper clip (I like the larger, stronger ones) and push it through the plastic “body”). This takes a little effort but it gets done.

Then I use the clipping area on the yellow pliers (close up to the hinge there is a sharp part to cut wire) to even up the “arms”. I then use the rounded pliers to form twirls for hands. I don’t try to make a pose with the arms at this time – I wait until the doll is finished.

Next, I get out my assortment of tiny fabric scraps and threads. I think you could also use paper or yarn as well, if you wanted to.

I make these women (they are all always female. Like every other figurine I make) with two basic outfit styles: wrapped thread skirt and wrapped cloth top, or cloth skirt and wrapped cloth top. You might come up with other ideas, it is up to you. For the thread skirt lady, I put some glue on the vial and wrap a lot of thread around and around until I cover up the glue.

For the cloth skirt ladies, I put glue on the vial and stick on a tiny piece of fabric so that it covers the whole bottom section. It doesn’t take much. Here are the two figures with their skirts done.

And, notice that they both have their arms in the air. I flip them to this position while dressing the figures because it gives me more room to work. It also makes me smile to see these tiny figures flexing their muscles or high-fiving me!

Next, the tops. I take a strip of fabric (and it doesn’t have to be very wide at all):

I put a line of glue on the front and back of the figure and begin to wrap the fabric in a figure-8 configuration – around the body, up to the shoulder, around the neck, back down, around the body to the other side and over the other shoulder in the same way. I add dots of glue as I go along to secure layers. Sometimes I don’t have a long enough strip so I just glue on another piece of fabric and keep going.

When the tops are done, the figures are dressed:

But sometimes I want to add more to the outfits. Maybe another fabric detail, or sometimes I use thread to wrap around the bodies in a decorative way. I gave this lady a couple of sashes.

Here are the two figures, all ready to go…

I could stop here, but I think they need faces. This is hard for me to do given my eyesight, so I take my time and if I make a mistake, I wipe the ink off ASAP before it dries and try again. What writing utensil do I use? After trying various pens and so on, I have settled on my cheapie acrylic paint pens.

They are used for painting rocks, and they write on anything, and once they are dry, their marks adhere well to the plastic surface, in my experience. Here are the twosome from above, now with faces:

Now, here are some shots of figures I have made. I have given some away and I’d be happy for anyone who wants three (always at least three, so they do not get lonesome) to let me know and we can work out sending some, maybe.

Or, you could make your own. Look around and see what materials could work for you. If you don’t have eye drops vials, how about twigs or even rolled up paper? No fabric – try paper. Glue? I bet you have glue!

Your imagination will guide you!

24 thoughts on “Tiny People Made from Eye Drops Vials

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I’m going to have to think of more uses for them. There are a lot. And then, I have another kind of drops where the tops won’t go back on the vial once opened, so…I need to think of something for them! It’s kind of a fun challenge.

  1. agnesashe

    Wow I am in awe of your patience for engaging with fiddly work. These tiny people make for a successful and interesting collection perhaps even an installation?

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Strangely, I don’t find making these little people difficult or aggravating, unlike many projects like this, I guess because there are really no aspects of the job I can’t see well except for the faces and I can usually work that out after a couple of tries. Also, I only make them while watching TV or the like, so it’s just a free time project. I am going to have to get some more paper clips, I guess, though!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. And I made it a rule when I started that each one needed to be smiling, as best as I could do it. Because who needs a gloomy face looking back at you, even if it is only about 1/5 inch tall or so???

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    I always enjoy your “found art” and the way you see the possibilities in what might otherwise be throwaway items. Creative recycling too! I definitely see these as “worry doll” type figures but maybe people could confide their hopes and aspirations in them instead of just offloading their troubles.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, I like the idea that they could be confidants as opposed to just sad thought recipients. Everyone needs a listneing ear even if it’s teeny tiny.

  3. Alanna

    You’re definitely making the most out of a dicey situation proving that there still can be expressions of joy in the darkest of times. I wish you well with your vision challenge,Claudia

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I have no certainty as to what will happen with my vision and it came on me seemingly out of the blue (though as I look back I now know more and can see indications). I have had this kind of thing happen before and so I am better prepared than in the past to be more accepting, or at least to understand I have to work toward it from the beginning. What was is not going to come back, but…maybe along the way to getting a new plan are these little rest stops, such as…plastic vial dolls??? I need to come up with some other craft for the vials, I produce them faster than I can make dolls (or want to!)

      1. Alanna

        You never know. Matisse did great work even visually impaired. Sending you healing thoughts as I deal with my own aging challenges.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          That is true. You work with what you have. As a note, my husband fell and severed his quadricepts tendon about 5 years ago. After surgery and rehab, he walks pretty normally today and has most of his leg strength back, though it did take him 2 years to re-learn to walk with confidence. So…you will get there, I know it.

  4. marissthequilter

    You are Ingenious (in the old-fashioned sense of the word). And once again your style shines through. These dolls ‘resemble’ your other figures.
    Perhaps some of them could live in your collage houses?
    Sending thoughts your way for the new eye treatment

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you for your good wishes, the eye situation crawls along, I will meet with another specialist in about 10 days, and I hope we are closing in on the causes. In the meantime, projects like these dolls are just kind of silly and make me smile. I think they are too small for the houses I have already made, but…they could certainly use homes for themselves in the proper size, hmmmmm…..

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