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Glass Eyes

Some of my dolls have hollow blown glass eyes in sizes from 2mm eyes upwards. The eyes are specially made for my dolls in Lauscha, a town that before the First World War made eyes for the thriving German doll industry. So successful was this business that the entire town made glass doll eyes as a cottage industry. At the recent reunification of Germany only a couple of families were left making eyes, the rest of the glassblowers having gone over to making scientific and household glass in the interim. The wonderful eyes for my dolls are handmade by Werner Köhler. They start out as a dollop of glass on a stem with a coloured dot and a black dot on the front. When blown into a glass bubble through the stem, the dots expand to form a perfectly circular iris and pupil with a hollow white sphere behind. The light goes into the hollow and back out again so that the eyes look very realistic, it looks as if the doll is really looking at you, which is very nice when you are really looking at the doll. Although Werner makes eyes for doll makers everywhere he had never been asked for 2mm eyes until I requested them for the 24th scale dolls. As you can see with a 24th scale glass eyed doll in your hand, he met the challenge beautifully. As you will also see if you begin to collect my dolls, Werner can obtain the raw material, coloured glass rods, in a range that enables me to make dolls with all the eye colours of real people. If I bought my eyes from factories they would be solid, lifeless blobs of glass on wire and usually either just blue or brown. Werner's hollow eyes are more expensive and trickier to set, in 24th scale these are hollow, fragile pieces of stalked glass I am trying to set in a thing the size of a garden pea, with eye rims considerably less than 0.5mm thick. Some days I am working with hard metal tweezers in an ocean of glass shards but, in my opinion, the finished results are vastly superior to anything else, supposing I could find other 2½ inch tall dolls with hand made glass eyes for comparison. There is, of course, always the joy of working with other craftsmen, albeit at a distance, you don't half egg each other on and raising the bar only ever makes you jump higher.

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