I enjoy the painting time when we can all relax. We have a cup of tea and a chat. It’s a time when we can really get to know people and hear their stories. This is a really pleasant part of the process.
Each eye has different layers of colour. I start with a black base and build over it with lights and darks. As the layers go on the true colour of the eye is revealed. We try to paint the iris on the first visit and people are amazed that we can get the colour right. It helps them feel good about how the finished eye is going to look.
Sometimes there’s a lot of depth in an eye. In these cases I put the cornea over the iris and cut back into it. After that I paint in the fine striations (those are the marks you get through the iris). We use seven base colours and mix off them. The colours in each eye are all separate from each other. There are no short cuts. Every detail has to be painted in if the finished eye is going to look right.
We make all our own paints by hand. The oxides are ground and sifted and mixed with the plastics we make the prostheses from. The iris and the pupil bases are made here and ground on the lathe. Making our own materials gives us confidence in the quality of the eyes we are making.
The buzz for me is when people look in the mirror at the finished prosthesis. People feel normal again and it’s an emotional moment. One client this week exclaimed, “It’s me!” That was great.
Do you remember how you felt when you first saw yourself with your new eye? Can you describe how that felt? I’d be interested to hear about how it was for you.