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Glass action The visionary art of making glass eyes

Eyes, it is said, are windows to the soul. But what if you lose one through accident or illness? Matthias Buckel is a master in the art of manufacturing glass eyes, which are personalised for cosmetic and medical reasons. 

After a serious accident when he was young, Buckel had to give up his chosen profession of theatre artist. He then developed an interest in his father’s craft: glass blowing. Werner Buckel taught his son how to blow glass, having picked up the skill from his uncle, Ernest Greiner. 

Greiner came from the glass-blowing village of Lauschaexternal link in the Thuringian Forest in Germany. The village is famous not only for Christmas tree decorations like baubles but also for the manufacture of special glass. Matthias Buckelexternal link still uses cryolite glass, a glass with mineral additives from Lauscha. 

Ernest Greiner settled in Geneva in 1896. Since then, the family business has supplied glass eyes to all of western Switzerland. Across the country, some 5,000 people have an artificial eye. Today, Buckel is passing his knowledge on to his two daughters.

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