Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Medieval Oak Eye Glasses

This is one of the weirdest and yet coolest projects I have done.  I have been wanted period looking glasses for a long time.  It really was the last hurdle to fully adopting a period persona.  I have a prescription which doesn't work well with contact so that was never a viable option for me.  Making period glasses has been on my list and now it begins.

I had made a visit to the eye doctor.  My vision was worse and I would be needing new glasses.  yeah!  Why yeah you might ask?  Well, if I get new glasses that means I can chop up my old ones.  I know the prescription isn't the best, but they are "trash" now and I can play.

I sketched out the image you see below based on some period images and some extant bone glasses found.  Sorry, no references, no time right now.

I drew out the following and cut it out.

After cutting it out I took the following picture to see if that was the right "look" I wanted.
Yes, yes it is!

Paper pattern, transfered to carboard, transfered to quarter inch thick oack plank.  I cut out the pieces using a power scroll saw.  I know, not period.  Don't care right now.  In a rush!

After rough shap was cut out I cliped them togther to see if the look was moving along OK. 
Yes, yes it is!

Now some detail carving begins.  I took out the carving chisels and did the finish work.

I popped out the lenses from the modern glasses and put them next to the medieval frames to make sure they would fit.

Placing the lenses on top of the wood frames I sketched a rough line of where the lensens would need to be ground down to.

At this point I realized that it was very important to mark the lenses.  Since they would both be cut into perfect circles I neede to know not only left from right, but also top from bottom.  I have an astigmatism and the lens would only work to correct my vision if it were used in the proper position and for the proper eye.  After marking them with painter's tape I used a grinder bring the lenses down to the proper shape and size.

From the back of the lense I carved a shallow ridge which would allow the lens to set into it. 

After setting the lense in place I took a piece of hemp cord soaked in "hide glue"  (modern white glue) and used it to pack the ridge.  It served to fill in the groove and hold the lens in place.  After a night drying the lenses were firmly in place.

Lenses glued on and frames ready for test.  Some more detail carving and cleaning up.  While I am pressed for time I didn't want to spend too much time on this.  Even if I had a ton more time I'm not sure how much more I would have done.  I wanted a rough "rustic" look since these were lenses for a friar and shouldn't be too fancy.  Practical and functional... that is all.

Shaping done.  Carving done.  Drilling done and ready for pinning together.  I drilled a 1/8th inch hold to pin the frame together.

I cut the following "washers" from a copper plate.  I drilled the 1/8th inch hole and then cut it to the right "washer" shape using tin snips.

I used copper washers and a brass rivet to join the two pieces together.  Careful peening allowed for a very snugh joint which holds nicely.  I have seen images of a jointed set of eye glasses.  That never made sense.  I planned on faking it and simpy gluing the two halves together.  Glad I didn't.  As I try and put the glasses on and adjust them I see why it was rivetted.  The joint acutally helps adjust and position the glasses on one's face.  Hard to explain, but VERY key to usability.  If you are making a pair, don't cut corners.  Rivet the joint snuggly, but not so tight that the tow pieces can't move.

Peened.  Done.  Ready for ear pieces.

The ear pieces are simply a hemp cord like the ones used for mounting the lenses.  The loop goes around earch ear.  I open the frame up, put it on and then pinch them closed.  This allows for a snug fit without pulling uncomfortably on the ears.  I haven't worn these for more than an hour at a time yet, but so far I LOVE THEM!

Here is a template which can be used if you are interested in making your own glasses.  The black and white squares are for scale reference.  Each square is .25 inches.