Recently I have been making some frames by hand from cellulose acetate again. It is very satisfying work but is very time consuming to achieve great results. Many years ago I invested in some very specialized equipment for frame making. Most of it is made in France and Italy. I purchased it from two factories in Sydney which closed down. The machine below is a pantograph for milling the inside cut. The pantograph is no good for one off frames as the tooling up takes too long. The machine below that is a wire shooting machine to insert the wire and hinge into the plastic side. It heats the plastic then pneumatically drives the wire core into the softened plastic.

 Core Shooting Machine

Posted by Murray O'Brien on May 20, 2013

Hand made glasses A very good customer of ours saw a blue frame I had made in our shop and liked it but wanted it in purple. She has a very small nose, so most mass produced frames don’t fit her at all, with a tendency to sit too low.  I made this frame for her completely by hand using only a fret saw, files, wet and dry sandpaper and then three stages of buffing/polishing. The hinges are done in the traditional way with rivets. Her lenses are now on order and I will post some more photos once it is finished so you can see how they look on!

hand made acetate

Hand made acetate

Posted by Murray O'Brien on May 11, 2013

I had a call from a gentleman the other day who has a very high spectacle correction for astigmatism. In his left eye he requires a power of -3.00/ -12.00 x 45. Now that is VERY high astigmatism.  Read more…

Posted by Murray O'Brien on January 30, 2013

We recently went to Japan and picked up some more of these clip on sunglasses called “Caesar Flip 2”. They are beautifully engineered and and are very neat in appearance. They flip up and are completely customizable for almost any shape glasses. The example below is a sample I made for the shop. Lenses are polarized and are available in grey brown and  yellow. We can custom make non polarized lenses to any colour or density if necessary for an extra charge. Not only that, we can make prescription lenses to fit these clip ons as well for those with special near vision needs. Yellow polarized lenses are great for fly or freshwater fishermen who need polarization in dull conditions.

Price is $110 for standard polarized lenses. As it is custom made we need your glasses here to make them.custom made clip on sunglasses

Here’s a picture of them (below) in the flipped up position. They are completely unique in design and very light and functional.

Custom flip up clip on


Posted by Murray O'Brien on December 1, 2012

The view to our shop used to be obliterated by an ugly garden bed that was poorly kept and attracted swathes of smokers. A couple of weeks ago they removed the garden, concreted over where it was and now they have repaved the entire area which is now completed! We’re really happy with the result; it’s a much cleaner look and everyone can now see our shop!

Designed Eyes Exposed

Designed Eyes Hidden


Posted by Murray O'Brien on October 16, 2012

I made the frame below completely by hand using a fret saw, files and wet and dry. The polish is applied by four stages of buffing. I made it for myself and it is asymmetric in design. The hinges are riveted in the traditional way and the plastic is Italian cellulose acetate. There are only four or five manufacturers of frames in Australia now. We used to have a major manufacturer in Sydney called Martin Wells. They were an icon of Australian optics but went broke back in about 1996 I think. It’s such a shame they were unable to move with the times and remain viable, alas they were addicted to the government’s protectionist policies and once tariffs were removed they soon faded away. Some of my machines were originally from Martin Wells. Designed Eyes hand made

 The picture below shows the traditional riveted hinges. Don’t think they’ll break in a hurry!

Hinge view

Posted by Murray O'Brien on July 16, 2012

The photo below is of an Inuit man taken in 1933 most likely in the North West Territories of Canada. For thousands of years the people living in the polar regions of the northern hemisphere fashioned protective sun eyewear to guard against the bright sun particularly during the spring as the sun began to get higher in the sky. They were often made of whale bone or antler, and in more recent times from wood as it became more readily available. The inside of the goggle was often blackened with soot to cut down on any reflections off the back of the eyewear, a simple but probably effective anti reflctive coating or perhaps closer to being a tint! They were held in place by a strap of some natural material such as the sinue from a caribou. The thin slots in them would also have given some assistance to any individuals with a refractive error as the pin hole effect would have been significant as long as the slits were cut finely enough. What a fine example this is of the inventiveness of the Inuit people and their ability to survive in such a harsh climate.

NWT Archives/Archibald Fleming fonds/N-1979-050:0655



Posted by Murray O'Brien on June 12, 2012

Last year during our trip to Japan we were fortunate enough to be able to visit high quality Japanese frame manufacturer Sankou Kougaku. We were able to experience many parts of the production process. One of the most fascinating for us was to see the artistry of the workers in the prototype department. These men toiled for hours on single parts of frames at very close range, producing perfectly engineered frames from little chunks of metal. They file and sand for hours to achieve the required result. It’s great to see this craftsmanship still alive and well in Japan.

Check out the photos below to see how close they work.

Prototype department Sankou Kougaku

SAnkou Kougaku 2Then they even got me on the job! See below!

Murray buffing at Sankou Kougaku

Posted by Murray O'Brien on June 7, 2012

On Saturday we went to Brendan O’Keefe’s spectacle frame factory in Highett. Brendan is the only wholesale spectacle frame maker in Victoria, crafting them from aluminium and then anodizing them himself. Brendan has been making frames for maybe 20 years or so now. Like me, Brendan started his career at Coles and Garrard in Bourke Street Melbourne as an optical mechanic. Many of of the machines and jigs in his factory were made by Brendan, who has a great mind and skill in engineering.

We’re very fond of Brendan here at Designed Eyes. He encapsulates the image of the individual craftsman, toiling away for hours in his cluttered workshop to produce magnificent pieces of what are masterpieces of artwork and engineering.

His frames are light, comfortable and are absolutely unique. And made in Melbourne!

Brendan O'Keefe milling sides
Brendan O’Keefe in his factory using a hand mill to make sides

Sorry the image above is a bit blurry but hopefully you can get the idea.

Brendan O'Keefe drilling frame

This machine is used to drill the hole in the rim of the frame which takes the screw. It was originally a watchmaker’s machine and is very old, but perfect for the precision work required.Brendan

Here’s Brendan inserting some joints into the sides of his frames. He designs all the components himself including the spring hinges!


Posted by Murray O'Brien on May 28, 2012

Below is a picture of Lucy. Lucy had her eyes examined with our optometrist Anthony and then chose a very cool new style with a “Nulady” by the classic American manufacturer “Shuron”. We think these look fantastic on Lucy and reflect her bright personality and compliment her natural beauty perfectly. We all really enjoyed the selection process with Lucy. We are surely lucky to have such wonderful clients at Designed Eyes!!


Posted by Murray O'Brien on May 25, 2012