Restoring an Antique Doll or a Decoy can be a daunting task. Schoepfers Eyes had been in my family for over 108 years and we still have some of the stock made by my Great-Grand Father and his sisters. Below is a breakdown of different uses for the eyes and how to judge if they are what you need for your piece. I will start with decoys first because it is a shorter explanation. Please note- I do not know everything about this subject, but these are things that I have experience with.
Decoy Eyes - Starting with glass, many carvers used small beads of glass like buttons. The glass could have been soda glass, which is just a plain window like glass. With this glass there may be some discoloration, distortion and slight imperfections. The imperfections can help you date a decoy and they don't necessarily mean they need to be replaced many carvers used what was available at the time. Today's quality is much more stringent, carvers seem to want perfection and the most realistic piece that can be produced. To fill that need we are using a crystal glass to help refract the light and is much more durable and scratch resistant than from the past.
Another aspect of decoy eyes comes in the way they were produced on wire. In the past, the carvers would use the wires for structure, like a small pin to hold the eye in place. They were also much easier to paint by hand if several colors were needed. Now, with the adhesives that are available, the structure of the pin is not necessary. The quality of the decoy lenses are the same, if not better than on the wire, and considerably less expensive. Schoepfers Eyes paint all of the decoy eyes with an annealing process so the days of painting your own eyes has gone by the wayside. This process is a colored glass on the back surface of the crystal and will not scratch or discolor in any way. Schoepfers Decoy eyes are made here in the USA as they have been for many years. www.schoepferseyes.com
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org