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Making Mokume Eyeglasses


#1

Dear Orchidiani,

Here’s a simplified description of my process of making a pair of
eyeglasses from sheet metal. I’m not finished yet, but this shows at
least most of the arduous task:

www.adam.co.nz/orchid/

Material thoughts.

I have made frames using this method with 925silver (sterling) and
900silver (coin?) in the past. The 900 alloy (90% Ag / 20% Cu) is I
believe a stronger material for spectacles which have fine eyewire.
However people like to know it’s a precious metal and “so, is it
sterling?” was the most common query about the 900sil frames. For
James’ frame (frame no 414) I’m using his mokume gane. Nine layers
of 925sil/shakudo, with the sterling layer on the inside.

The request.

I was intrigued when he approached me with the request that I make
him a mokume frame. I’d never worked with the material before, but
suspected that the layers of those two metals would have a superior
strength than plain solid 825sil.

Having worked on the frames this far I can report that it is indeed
tougher, and quite a joy to file. A little like brass is easier to
file than copper though it’s a harder metal, this mokume gane
machines well, not clogging the file. Which is great for this process
where so much filing is involved.

Why saw from sheet?

Accuracy is of prime importance when making eyeglasses. I also
construct eyeglasses from parts, fabricating by soldering, and that
method has its advantages, but accurately soldering fairly large
parts together is quite difficult for me. I devised tricks to help
with binding the parts in place, but is was all very stressful, and
if it went awry the joint was quite difficult to correct.

On the other hand the process whereby the whole frame is sawn from
solid sheet is one which I have taken a shine to over the last
several years. The accuracy is inherent in the computer printout, and
all I need to do is to file well. This method reduces the number of
joins to a bare minimum (hinges, nosepad brackets, rimlocks) and
produces a smooth looking transition from bridge to eyewire to
temples etc.

Something quite unobtainable by fabrication.

How I started with this method.

It was after I looked carefully at some early sterling eyeglass
frames at the museum of ophthalmology in San Francisco, back in 1991
(when James and I first met over coffee, I think), and looking at
those frames I noticed that they seemed not to be fabricated, seemed
to be sawn from solid sheet.

What jewellers did in 1760 was good enough for me.

Comments welcomed.

Brian

By the way, I made my first frame (#1) in Sept 1981.

Brian Adam
Auckland NEW ZEALAND
ph/fx +64 9 817 6816
brian@adam.co.nz
www.adam.co.nz


#2

Brian and Jim,

I thought that a simple request to see construction photos of Jim’s
glasses might result in a simple one image response.

Brian, you have taken the opportunity to share your process with all
of us in Orchid land and I thank you for being so generous with your
time. The making of eyeglasses is something most of us know little
about, but we are all now more enlightened thanks to you and Jim,
and this incredible medium, Orchid.

I eagerly await the next installment!

Susan Ronan
Coronado, CA


#3
   Here's a simplified description of my process of making a pair
of eyeglasses from sheet metal. I'm not finished yet, but this
shows at least most of the arduous task: 

Thank you for showing us the work Brian. My partner is gently
reminding me that it is LATE, and threatening to disconnect the
computer but I am facinated by the process of making these frames.
Roll on the next instalment.

Ruth.


#4

Hi Brain,

I am sure you will get a lot of replies like this, but that work is
fascinating!!

I eagerly await next week’s installment.

Cam

ps How strong are the glasses when subjected to wear? Also, are you
concerned about the copper being etched (such as happens on a
ring)??


#5
    I am sure you will get a lot of replies like this, but that
work is fascinating!! I eagerly await next week's installment. Cam
ps How strong are the glasses when subjected to wear?  Also, are
you concerned about the copper being etched (such as happens on a
ring)?? 

They’re very strong. Run over them in an SUV, you have SUVs over
there? :wink: and they’ll buckle for sure, but knowing how stg is so
malleable, I bet I could salvage them. Sit on them and the lenses
will probably crack, but precious metals will withstand being
re-distorted back to shape.

No, I’m not at all worried about the etching, if it ever happens in
this situation. Isn’t wear a factor? Rings will be subject to more
wear and rubbing against harder objects than eyeglasses.

Anyway, James knows his materials.

Brian
B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y
Auckland NEW ZEALAND
www.adam.co.nz


#6
No, I'm not at all worried about the etching, if it ever happens
in this situation. Isn't wear a factor? Rings will be subject to
more wear and rubbing against harder objects than eyeglasses.
Anyway, James knows his materials. 

I guess I hadn’t thought about the metal being fixed after a nasty
squishing…

As for wear, the reason I ask is that I have a pair of glasses that
were cheap and I found that it didn’t take very long for me to wear
through the outside layer and now I get lovely green smudges on the
side of my face when I wear them (copper). Howeever I do mainly
wear contacts and for cheapo glasses this isn’t a concern.

Finally, I am WELL aware that James knows his materials, I wish I
knew them half so well. However, it is you who knows glasses and
thus the question. I was more than a bit surprised when my glasses
wore through…

Finally, thanks for posting the aviator glasses info too!

Cam


#7
    As for wear, the reason I ask is that I have a pair of glasses
that were cheap and I found that it didn't take very long for me to
wear through the outside layer and now I get lovely green smudges
on the side of my face when I wear them (copper). 

Painted metal. It always seems to crack or come off in places where
you least need it to. Whether it’s on the family car or your eyeglass
frames.

I have a strong suspicion that many of the trendy frames on offer
today look nice in the store for one reason - they’ve been painted
with something interesting that will come off later on down the line.

As a jeweller (are you a jeweller?) you might be well aware of the
nature of materials and how quite often in items of jewellery/jewelry
What You See Is What You Get. WYSIWYG.

So if it’s 18k on the surface then it’s 18k all the way through.

However for some reason many areas of modern manufacture rely on
temporary pleasures and planned obsolescence, and think nothing of a
painted surface over copper. ‘If you’re still wearing them after the
paint wears off, then buy another pair’ they might well argue.

Try as I might, I can’t get into that way of thinking, and I make
eyeglass frames as another jeweler might make a brooch, or a
necklace. And if they are bent or mis-shapen in use, I could fix
them. No way would I paint over the structural material.

Just as I would never consider varnishing over mokume-gane to
somehow retain the look of the as-new layers. I would rather let them
be, and appreciate how the layers wear differently over the years.
Like an old worn wooden artifact, I’d love the way it had developed
into a gracious old-age.

But that’s me. I’m a sucker for materials.

    Finally, thanks for posting the aviator glasses info too! 

Thanks. They astounded me for their beauty - what I had thought of
as a 1990s macho icon had shown itself in the 1930s original to be
quite a delightful almost feminine and organic shaped classic
sunglass frame.

Brian
B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y
Auckland NEW ZEALAND
www.adam.co.nz


#8

Hi Brain,

Yes, I am a jeweller (well kind of…)

I am strictly a hobbiest, but I guess you could say I am a VERY keen
hobbiest.

My range of tools is getting to the stage that a few of the
professional jewellers I know are kinda jealous.

The reason I am asking so many questions is that mokume is one of my
loves. I am in no way even close to James Binnion in making the
stuff, but I am happy with how it is going.

When James was talking about the rings issue, I was a bit surprised
(although it makes sense) and I wanted to make sure that the glasses
wouldn’t have the same problems.

Finally, I am also a bit of a tool maker and knife maker etc. so I
really love well made objects of beauty that double as a functional
item. Let’s just say that your glasses fit the bill!!

Cam


#9

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/making-mokume-eyeglasses

    Here's a simplified description of my process of making a pair
of eyeglasses from sheet metal. 

In this case, Jame Binnion’s fabulous mokume-gane.

The COMPLETE process is here:
http://www.adam.co.nz/making/eyewear/looking_glasses/index.htm

Is there anything I’ve missed?

Brian

B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y
Auckland NEW ZEALAND
www.adam.co.nz


#10
http://www.adam.co.nz/making/eyewear/looking_glasses/index.htm 

Brian this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen posted, thank-you!
Just the other day I was chatting with a classmate about this exact
thing, bizzare.

Cheers,
Taylor in Toronto


#11

Thank you Brian and Jim for sharing this project with us! What a
treat.

Larry


#12

Brian,

Thank you very much for sharing an example of making specs. I’m now
inspired to have a go myself. Your celebration of specdom reminded of
the poet, John Hegley, who I saw live some years ago.

Poem about losing my glasses

  the place is unfamiliar
  my face is bare
  I've mislaid my glasses
  I've looked in my glasses case
  but they're not there
  and I need my glasses
  to find my glasses
  but I'll be alright
  I've got a spare pair

  somewhere

John Hegley
from “Glad to wear Glasses”

Jon