In the world of eyewear, you might have wondered how frames are made and what distinguishes high-end frames from the more generic frames. Located in beautiful downtown Durango, CO, Eye.D. has a passion to help people look and see their best. Because handcrafted eyewear is an art that is a pleasure to have and to wear, Eye.D. features handcrafted frames with an emphasis on innovative, independent, and artisan eyewear. Wondering what really sets handcrafted eyewear apart from the rest? The difference lies in the process that the frames are made.
Crafting Quality Eyewear: Injection Molding vs. Handcrafting
Injection Molding Eyewear
The method of creating eyeglass frames from injection molding is done entirely by a machine. Pellets of plastic are melted in a machine that forces the material into a mold that is the exact shape of an eyeglass frame. This is the same process used to make plastic toys. Once the frame has cooled, it is popped out and another frame is made in its place. After the frame sets, it can be assembled without any curving or crafting needed to bring the frame to its proper shape to fit the face. Because the mold of the frame is in the exact shape of the finished product, there are no changes made to the frame and it is ready to be sold. The pre-formed material does not offer the durability or pliability desired for proper fitting. Due to the ease of creation in the injection molding process, this eyewear can be made and completed on a mass scale, and therefore lacks any of the character and craftsmanship found in handcrafted eyewear.
The method of creating handcrafted eyewear incorporates the artistic characteristics that only the human touch can give to frames. Instead of melting an eyeglass frame into shape like the injection molding process, handcrafted frames are cut from a single piece of acetate that is slowly formed, bent, and shaped with precise detail, one piece at a time, into a finished frame. Among the many producers of handcrafted eyewear, Oliver Peoples offers an in depth look into their production of handcrafted frames and the work it takes to effectively deliver quality artisan eyewear. Describing the procedure, they explain that
“Each frame is meticulously handcrafted in a dedicated factory following a process that combines both technological advancements and the human touch. Throughout the production phases, the artisans who sculpt the material into the final product reference the original design drawing to ensure its integrity. Disregarding conventional processes, each step is carried out despite the length of time required. The end result is an authentic design with bespoke, handmade details that are distinctive and unique.”
The handcrafted process is broken up into four phases: Prototyping, Handcrafting, Tumbling, and Finishing. Phase one, the prototyping phase, involves perfecting the design of the frame through sketches and raw materials to get a finalized three-dimensional design before the industrialization process begins. Every step of this phase is done by hand, down to warming the frame to create a bend for the curve of the face, and filing the frame down to sculpt the nose pads. The finished product is a carefully crafted model that will be used as the standard in the production process of creating handcrafted eyewear. Phase two, the handcrafting phase, utilizes the prototype to maintain consistency in the manufacturing process. The lens shape is again cut from a single block of acetate, but this time with a computerized router. For each frame, special attention is paid to every detail. Every pin, plaque, hinge, and signature logo are applied by hand, creating a truly handcrafted frame. Phase three, the tumbling phase, is a four-day process of smoothing and evening the frames that were handcrafted and assembled from the previous step. Depending on the degree of polish, the frames are placed in various barrels filled with small pieces of wood coated in oil and paste that spin continuously, gently creating enough abrasion to smooth the frames. In phase four, the finishing phase, the frames are treated similarly to fine jewelry. The frame and its components are assembled and hand-polished by a team of highly trained technicians. In addition to polishing the frames, lettering and details are filled by hand with metallic ink, and screws and hinges are attached at the joints. The technicians then verify the measurements and form of the fully assembled frame to the original prototype and drawings down to a fraction of a millimeter, and gently heat the frame to accommodate the curve of the face and temple alignment for a perfect fit. This step of the process adheres to the strictest of quality standards and guarantees that even the slightest imperfections are identified and corrected before the frames are finished and shipped out.
In short, the attention to detail in every step of the creation process and the hand placed elements on each individual frame creates eyewear that is truly handcrafted and authentic. Thanks to these design elements, handcrafted frames stand out from mass-produced, injection molding frames. Eye.D. in Durango, CO, is proud to feature an impressive selection of handcrafted, innovative, independent, and artisan eyewear and we’ll help you find the perfect pair of frames for your needs. Handcrafted eyewear is an art that is truly a pleasure to have and to wear. To see and feel the difference of handcrafted frames for yourself, come try a pair on!