history of glass in Lauscha and our firm

Glass is produced in primitive form and with the same basic materials since 4000 years. The earliest evidence of glass production are on German soil in the year 758th An English abbot named Lutbert asks in a letter to the Bishop of Mainz, Lullo, to send glassmakers to England. This proves that in the forested Spessart area have been the first known glassworks. Important for the manufacture of glass was the presence of timber for melting the glass and the manufacture of potash. This condition ware given in the 15th Century everywhere in Germany. Vast forests covered the country. There were other important conditions for the manufacture of glass. Quartz sand and lime have to be in close proximity, so that transport routes are short. All these conditions have been present in the low mountain ranges. With the onset of the cultivation of the forest areas incurred, in addition to iron-mills and paper mills, glass works in these areas.
The glass maker, Hans Greiner I., emigrated in 1525 into the Thuringian Langenbach at Schleusingen. He was a native of Ebersbach-Nassach in Swabia. A great-grandson, Hans Greiner IV, was forced to emigrate to the valley of Lauscha. The decline in forest resources and the increasing population density forced him to do this. He built together with the glass artist Christoph Mueller on Pappenheimer territory the Marktiegel hut, called Lauscha I. They had problems with the lords of Pappenheim and  turned therefore to the Duke Johann Casimir in the Duchy of Saxony / Coburg with a request, to give them a concession for a glass factory on his territory. The concession  for the Lauscha Glassworks II was issued with date 1/10/1597 and these was known as parent glassworks. Alone only the master glassmakers of Lauscha founded  in the following decades along the Rennsteig 20 glassworks and also  settlements. In the parent glassworks was made only  window discs,  pharmacists glases and glass drinking vessels for wealthy citizens and royal courts in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In Lauscha were built four other glass factories. The utilization of coal has favored this. These factories formed the basis of the cottage industry in Lauscha. The first glass tubes were drawn in 1760 by the glassmaker Johann Georg Greiner in the village glass works. The development is made necessary because the population of 1781-1871 increased by five times and not all residents found work in the glass works. At the suggestion of glass ware dealer Johann Adam Greiner, who had learned the technique of the work before the lamp (flame) in the Rhineland, starts work with this technology in Lauscha.
The concept of 'work before the lamp' is still in common use. The glass tubes were heated with an oil lamp. A leather bag  was connected with the lamp, to pump air and to soften with this flame the glass for processing. Of course, only small and very few articles could be produced with this technology, mainly glass beads. With the invention of the air bellows 1820 began the development of glass blowing. The performance was much better with the continuous air supply.
Different possibilities incurred for manufacturing of articles with glass rods and tubes after the erection of a gas works in 1867. Some glassmakers produced large glass beads and attached these on their Christmas trees. The Christmas decorations made of glass was born and it has developed into a symbol of a festively decorated Christmas tree. It was found out that the new processing technology offered much more possibilities in glass processing. So glassblowers began to copy the natur in glass.
This was initially private recreational activity. However already at the end of the 19th century have about 70 families manufactured glass toys in space Lauscha for wholesalers in Sonneberg. For example, Pewter figures were blown from glass tubes and naturalistically painted with glue color. Most of these products had never reached hands of children. Glass toys were very fragile and  cheaper porcelain toys were offered, so this branch lost its importance. The products were used as room and table decorations from the adults.
However, the production of real toy was important for many years, for example  tableware for dolls. The manufacture of animal eyes, doll eyes and the artificial human eye made of glass was developed In this time too.
You find at the end of this page the chronicle of the development of Lauscha until 1924.
1832 visited Prof. Dr. Adelman of the University of Wuerzburg the city Sonnenberg and he saw that they began to sell dolls with glass eyes from Lauscha. This gave him the idea to use glass eyes for prosthetic purposes. He managed to convince the skilled glassblower Ludwig Müller-Uri from his idea and this began to experiment extensively. It was been a difficult task to develop this new product with the existing possibilities. At first was used leg glass, a relatively brittle material and it is not known if Ludwig was already working with an air bellows. In any event, he managed to produce the first glass artificial eyes in Germany. He reached the detachment of French products. Ludwig Müller-Uri developed the Iris drawing with enamel colors as a completely new technique. With individual color drawing could be achieved a lifelike replica of the iris.
On the recommendation of a business friend, he traveled to Paris to learn from French artists whose technique. The French were well informed about the development of German art glass eye and gave him no insight into the manufacturing process. Nevertheless, he found out, that they draw the iris with thin colored glass rods. The basis was lead glass for the eyes. This glass was fewer suitable for artificial eyes, than the leg glass in Lauscha.
For Ludwig Müller-Uri began, in cooperation with the village glassworks, a time of intense inquiry, to find better suitable glass for the eyes. The master of glass makers, Christian Müller-Pathle, had managed to melt a glass, which now is known as Kryolithglas. It has a homogeneous surface, is tissue-neutral and resistant to tears. The glass can be colored as desired and the eyeball can be reproduced faithfully. This glass is very suitable for producing eye because of its soft and lprocessability.
With the introduction of town gas and development of the bellows was given more constant heat. The shaping of the artificial eyes could be significantly expanded and so has the artificial eye made of glass about more than 160 years its meaning fully preserved.
The development of new glasses has a crucial importance for the production of other types of eyes. The first dolls eyes could be produced with the aforementioned leg glass. The eye passed, next to the main glass body, only out of a dark blue iris without drawing and without a pupil. Now were different iris colors possible. Iris drawings could be made with colored glass rods and the pupil was been designed.
As mentioned above, were developed new different professions. There are in the field of glass eyes producer of animal eyes, producer of dolls eyes and producers of human eyes. They all have special hand tools, which they pass on in the family, in addition to your greatest treasure, the technical skills. Nothing has changed at so far. There is no special training for eyes making at the glass school in Lauscha.

My father in law was Fritz Greiner-Petter

one of the few time witnesses, which has experienced at the beginning of the 20th century the mass production of glass eyes for dolls.

"I really wanted to learn as a porcelain painter, but my parents could not afford the dues, and I had a family tradition to preserve. My grandparents were figure eye maker, my parents have produced doll eyes and the brothers of my father have produced human eyes. Starting at the age of 10, as it was customary, I had to contribute my part to the livelihood. I has been incorporated into the difficult craft through grandfather and father. I have learned in the vocational school in Lauscha the profession of art glass blower from 1927-1930 and improved at home my skills as a doll- and figure eye maker.
My parents have produced predominantly simple doll eyes. Crystal glass eyes came only in especially valuable dolls. We have specialized us later für this eyes. Our product range included round eyes, eyes with holes for sleep eyes and pinched eyes. Together with my father, I developed the production of reflex eyes to patent. These doll eyes convey the impression, that the doll looks to the viewer from every angle. Unfortunately, this special production of the eyes was lost in the turmoil of war and the subsequent years in which we made no doll eyes. With the rise of the glass industry in the fifties, I returned into my old job and have made my league titles as a glassblower and figure eyes maker, within four weeks. However dolls eyes were not longer in demand at this time. Plastic eyes began their triumph in the toy industry and I produced animals and vases of glass in home work.
The Combine 'Glass Art Lauscha' soon broke up on, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. My daughter, Inge Kanis, and my son in law, Dipl. Ing. for glass / ceramic lost your work. We had two options, to surrender, or to revitalize old traditions. We have joined our forces to make a fresh start.
A businessman from Franken recommended us, the making of dolls eyes and, of course, my experiences were therefor an excellent basis. I was the last master for the production of Dolls- and figure eyes and learned it to all, next to my daughter, my grand son and his wife and our home workers. ".

My father-in law passed away on 07.09.1999 unexpectedly. But we run our family business 'Kanis-Augen' in his spirit and we have earned us with the time a name among the larger and smaller customers at home and abroad. Our advantage is in addition to the diversity of the offer, especially the high quality of traditional manufacturing. Our for sale offered German glass eyes have large depth and brilliance. We fulfill specific customer requirements in terms of Iris- and Pupil size  and custom wishes.The material comes exclusively from the Farbglashütte in Lauscha for our crystal glass eyes. The glass will be melted in pot furnaces and the glass makers pull by hand the colored glass rods and tubes. This are the basis for the diversity of the manufactured eyes.
You can see this traditional preparation of starting materials be in demonstrations at the annual christmas ball market at the 1st and 2nd weekend of Advent.
Links: Farbglashütte and ball market
I am grateful for the help in preparing: Augenprothetik Lauscha, st peace 74c, 98724 Lauscha, Tel: 0367022800 Glassblower, Helmut Greiner - Petter, st of Peace 75, 98724 Lauscha, Tel: 03670220602

 

 
Our daughter Tanja 
was the 
‘princess of glass’ 1996 /1997 and
swang during this days the glass sceptre.

 

 
 

 
My father-in-law Fritz Greiner - Petter
at the age of 
83 years at work

 

 
Chronicle of Lauscha

1597 / 1924