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Have you ever dreamed of handmaking your own eyewear?

ODA Member Bonnie Eason has given us a first hand account on what it's like to get your hands dirty and express your creativity in a "Make your own eyewear workshop."

Self taught eyewear maker, Chris Savage uses traditional artisan techniques, combined with the latest technology to create bespoke or small batch frames, from his Marickville workshop in Sydney.

ODA has been lucky enough to work with Chris on a collaboration of hands-on, full day workshops to allow Optical Dispensers the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of making their own frames.

Here's what it's like, as told by Bonnie:

Recently, I was lucky enough to complete 2 workshops with eyewear designer and creator Chris Savage. With over twenty years experience in the eyewear industry Chris Savage started creating his own eyewear after playing around with some old church pews and developed the idea of “combining interesting materials and quality parts to create unique pieces of eyewear”. Chris has taught himself traditional artisan techniques in frame making and combines this with modern technology which is why I was inspired to learn about frame making from him.

The workshops I undertook both took place at Monstermouse Studios in Marrickville which is the home of Chris Savage Eyewear. The first workshop was a “Make your own Eyewear Workshop” which was run through ODA and hosted by Chris Savage. This was a one day CPD group workshop which generally consists of about 4-6 people (my workshop was a group of 4). The workshop was a great, fun introductory course on frame making. We started out choosing a ready made template design and coloured acetate for the frames we wanted to make. From there we cut out our templates with a jewellers saw, drilled holes for our temples, created a bevel and finished off with sanding our frames.

Once this was all done we were ready to attach our temples (these were pre-prepared stainless steel metal sides). Throughout the workshop Chris shared insight into how he creates his frames and methods he found useful and others that weren’t.

Overall it was a really great experience on how to make a frame and I believe would be a great activity for something like a practice Christmas party or bonding activity as we all shared many laughs and also had a greater understanding of the frame making process.

The second workshop I attended was run by Chris Savage directly and was designed as a more intensive two day workshop with a maximum of 2 people. I had discussed my enthusiasm with Chris at my first workshop so was really excited to attend when Chris offered this additional option. It's no secret that I would love to have my own bespoke range as it would combine my fashion design background with optics. I also wanted to not only revisit and perfect what we had already learnt, but also had other areas of frame making that I was keen on learning. I was lucky enough to be the only person in this class and was grateful as I was able to let Chris know in advance what I was interested in learning and have him prepare an itinerary for us for the two days.

The first day we went through the design software, looking at a couple of different methods and input my face into the software to ensure the measurements of my new frame would be perfect. We laser cut the templates out on acetate and had a play around to see if we needed to make any changes. Once I was happy with the overall design we began the process I had previously learnt and started cutting out the final design on the acetate. I was able to be more hands on and use the machinery myself as it was a smaller class which gave me a better feel of the overall process. We finalised the first day with acetone welding nose pads onto the frame front as well as pressing fabric into acetate sheets with acetone (athough this wouldn’t be ready for another couple of weeks due to the drying process). These were a couple of the things I was most eager to learn and Chris made sure we were able to achieve everything I had asked to.

On the second day we made the temples; we chose to do this with acetate sheets which already had the metal running through as to create this ourselves would have taken more then a couple of days. We attached the temples with rivets after drilling out a groove for the hinges to sit in. Riveting was something I hadn’t done before and was yet another thing I was glad to have learnt.

Finalising the design included more sanding but we also polished and buffed our frame too. After doing the final fitting of my frame I am now ready to get lenses fitted to wear them.

I thoroughly enjoyed both workshops and without ODA I would never have had the opportunity to attend the first at is not something you see very often, if at all! Doing both workshops allowed me to firstly; gain an understanding of frame making and secondly develop these skills to hopefully now go out and create some frames of my own. Chris is very knowledgeable in frame making and has been a great mentor thus far in my journey and I encourage anyone wanting to give frame making a go, develop an understanding of frame making or even just wanting to make a fun pair of frames with their friends or colleagues to attend a workshop.

The next ODA Workshop is on Sunday 30th April. You can find more details and purchase your ticket here: Make Your Own Eyewear Workshop