Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I can see clearly now............

I thought I’d take a look at the stranger side of spectacles this week. I’m not talking about the gentleman who used to come in to an opticians I was managing years back and have a gent’s frame for work and a lady’s for the weekend!

It takes allsorts and if this is the case the following guy must be the Bertie Bassett in the packet!


There is some talk that it might be a viral advert, perhaps Matt could give us an opinion on whether the tattooing looks right. I hope on one hand it’s for real as the effect of having to wear real glasses over the top when he needs them with age is going to look great. On the other hand, if it catches on it could be bad for business!

On a more artistic note (I know I’m asking for trouble implying that the tattoo isn’t art – but this one is at the Beano end of the art continuum) artist Stuart Haygarth http://www.stuarthaygarth.com/default.asp?V_DOC_ID=1177 uses old spectacle frames to make wonderful sculptural chandeliers.

Even more spectacular is his use of 4500 used prescription lenses:

With recycling being one of the buzzwords of the 21st century finding second uses for items that would otherwise be thrown away seems eminently logical to me. The wearing of vintage and second-use clothing and spectacles puts us not just at the forefront of fashion but also at the leading edge of sustainable living.
Wear your vintage frames with pride!

I’m off to the workshop as I’ve just had a great idea for a duvet made from used spectacle cleaning cloths, can anyone thread a needle?

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A nod and a wink to the monocle

If you do a search on Google for monocles you will be told in no uncertain terms that the monocle is back.

“Monocles to be sold on high street
Monocles, last in fashion during the era of PG Wodehouse, are making a comeback.”


At http://www.deadmensspex.com/ I have been selling them for the past 5 years and can indeed confirm that the proliferation of monocle wearers is a very real phenomenon (unlike the users of pince nez).

We can trace the original decline of the monocle in the early to mid 20th century to one of two causes.

Firstly the monocle took a public relations hit in Great Britain just post WWI due to its close association with the enemy High Command. Caricatures were used in the press of the day to ridicule and demonise the Hun who was invariably wearing a monocle to symbolise arrogance and haughtiness. You’d have thought that a lesson would have been learned, but, come WWII they were at it again!

Secondly and perhaps more importantly was the demise of the waist-coated suit which by the 1940’s was well on the way out with the advent of double breasted suits. The increased wear by men of casual clothing and the popularity of pullovers and the ubiquitous sleeveless pullover (soon to be known as the TANK TOP Aghh!!) sounded the final death knell of the monocle as the waistcoat pocket was its true home. Un-housed and left to roam it quickly went the way of its companion the fob watch.

So why the increased demand for this rudimentary optical device that with improved refraction techniques and contact lenses should really have gone the way of the dodo?

I would suggest that firstly they are the perfect device to carry when a lens is required to aid short periods of reading i.e. the menu at your favourite bistro, as they are small, light and easily carried.

Secondly with the increase in popularity of historical re-enactment and lifestyle, nothing shouts "Dandy" or "Cad" like a monocle!



Friday, 8 January 2010

Snow blind in Norfolk

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas and has made it to the New Year unscathed. I am presently hibernating from the freezing temperatures and copious amounts of snow we have in North Norfolk and venturing out to the workshop only under duress, having first put the heater on for at least an hour before doing so.

The snow has got me thinking though. Living within 20 miles of Norwich I often go to the the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts www.scva.ac.uk . This has a fine collection spanning 5000 years of human creativity and not surprisingly this collection contains eyewear. To be specific it contains a certain type of eyewear pertinent to the snowy weather that is currently affecting us – Snow Goggles

In the Arctic, the sun shines low on the horizon twenty-four hours a day for nearly 190 days of the summer ( I thought it was bad here after a fortnight !!). To combat snow blindness which occurs when the sunlight reflects off the surface of the snow combines with the light angled directly into the eyes so burning the retina, the local tribes came up with the snow goggle.
This consisted of eyewear fashioned from bone, antlers, leather or wood carved to fit the curvature of the head and across the nose with two slits for the eyes. The frame was then held in place with animal sinew. The slits allowed them to see, but blocked enough light to prevent snow blindness.
According to the Canada’s National History Society the first snow goggles date back to the Thule Inuit, two thousand years ago.

Below is a picture of one of the frames in the Sainsbury collection.

Snow goggles. North America, Bering Sea. Punuk period, c. AD 500-1200. Walrus ivory. w. 13.1 x h. 3.5 x d. 2.5 cm. Acquired 1982. Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection. UEA 830

Bering Sea
Object category
Implement, NA (prehistoric eskimo)
Walrus ivory
Height 35 mmWidth 131 mmDepth 25 mm

Now while researching this I came across probably the best pair of Snow Goggles that you could own in these credit crunching days:


So come Visa expiry date watch out for the coolest pair of Spex - eat your heart out Kanye West you're 2000 years out of date - go Google a goggle!!

So stay warm and keep an eye on the blog as it's monocles next.