OPTICAL WORKS LONDON
The world of hand crafted eyewear
Learning from the few past masters that are left and otherwise self-taught over a period of 3 years, Rocco is justifiably proud of his achievement. Tracking down all the machinery was a mission in itself, taking all of 5 years. Now ready to start proper production, the real work can begin.
Designing some specs is one thing but actually making them by hand is a time consuming , fiddly, exacting labour of love; 50 steps in one pair.
1 The frames are made from Italian acetate, which is malleable and holds better than plastic, according to Barker. He cuts the sheets into small panels and draws around and existing flat frame to get an outline. The shape is cut out by hand and finessed with filling.
2 A 1960s one-to-one milling machine copies the pattern via its 'guide', and makes slots for the hinges to fit into. The lens spaces are popped out by a dremel machine.
3 After a milling cutter from the 1950s takes away excess acetate from around the inside edge, grooves are cut to accomodate the lenses.
4 To make the bump that sits on the bridge of the nose, the area between the lenses is heated up using hot air.
5 The bridge is then 'bumped' by being pressed in the bumping machine.
6 Nosepad time. Little rectangles of the transparent acetate are put in a puddle of acetone to soften them for a few minutes. Acetone is then brushed onto the frames and the pads are weighted in position over night. The round shape is achieved by the milling cutting and a router.
7 A sander smooths the edge of the nose pads, and a separate smaller sander smooths the pad's tops.
After Yet more sanding and polishing, Barker starts on the arms.