Eyes, Amethysts, and Updates from my Bench

by michaeljohnson on November 21, 2011

Last week I was diagnosed as being old.  There’s no cure for it, and it’s terminal.  However, I have to wear glasses now, bifocals, and I should call my mother more often.  I’ve never had to wear glasses.  In fact, I’ve always prided myself on having an eagle eye for tiny detail.  A whole life of crawling out of bed and being able to immediately scan the horizon, seeing and identifying birds miles away flying amongst the backdrop of hazy trees in the morning mist.  Then wondering, how did my bed end up outside?

Amethyst in Brambles

Amethyst in Brambles: sterling silver and a 38 carat amethyst. - commission

The thought had crossed my mind that our forefathers must have squinted a bunch.  Sunglasses, how did they gallop full speed into the sunset without the aid of a set of aviators?  Now, as I look around and notice the masses of people who have to wear corrective lenses, millions.  Without these lenses, we would definitely have masses of people moving about slowly, squinting, or holding their hands out to make sure they don’t bump someone.  It wouldn’t matter anyway, they wouldn’t be able to identify who bumped into them any way.  Would we develop our other senses?  Maybe a make over could consist of merely switching brands of soap.

Amethyst in Brambles: detail

Amethyst in Brambles: detail

Lenses of glass, quartz, rose colored, blue lenses, making us see through the eyes of a struggling up and coming Picasso.  can lenses be ground from amethyst?  Amethyst was a gorgeous Greek chick that lived a long, long time ago.  I imagine that she had purple hair and eyes like an Australian shepherd, kind of a milky lavender-ish clear.  She probably squinted.

Amethyst in Brambles

Amethyst in Brambles: detail

Anyways, Amethyst pissed off a lush god known as Dionysus, who wanted to get everyone drunk and watch them frolic in their lack of inhibition.  Somehow Amethyst pissed her off, and Dionysus made it his quest to get this purple Greek hippie chick hooked on the bottle, maybe just to see if she had purple pubes.   Inevitably, the other gods liked the cunning and tenacity of this flower child, and granted her the power of total sobriety, the ability to resist the effects of alcohol, despite her blood alcohol levels.

Amethyst in Brambles: detail

Amethyst in Brambles: detail

Yeh, I don’t get it either.  Why is that such a great thing.  Or, maybe we misconstrue the story, and it is a punishment.  Who knows?  Anyways, the nobility through several empires rising and falling held onto this lore and named the purple quartz crystals after the purple haired chick from the story.  I’ve heard that kings would serve wine in carved amethyst glasses, but I’m with the camp that says that maybe the kings watered down their wine and used the story to explain why no one was getting very tipsy.  They didn’t have tea or coffee or colas, and none of these places has ever been known as places where it was safe to drink the water.

Amethyst in Brambles: detail

Amethyst in Brambles: shameless self-promotion

People have worn amethyst.  They’ve adorned crowns, tiaras, rings, faceted, cabbed, raw.  But, I think of the stone as having nothing to do with sobriety and more to do with passion, purple, sexy passion.  Purple is the color of royalty and whores, and I dig that.  Purple is sexy.

 Amethyst in Brambles: shameless self-promotion

Amethyst in Brambles: in process

Purple mountains, purple haired chicks, and purple haze, which is what I see when I try to look into the depths of a faceted amethyst without my bifocals.

When diagnosed, the first thing I had to consider was frames.  I hate the idea of buying an accessory made in some sweat shop in Asia by 9 year old kids that get tossed out with the garbage if they loose a hand or a foot in shabby equiptment.  Some might be OK with WalMart or some over-marketed designer crap, but I wanted handmade.  When I searched for handmade glasses online, I found a guy in New Zealand, a guy in England, and a guy in Virginia who made glasses for reenactors of the Civil War.  The rest was crap made by designers who felt like they had made the big time when they got picked up by a label to have their stuff made in above mentioned sweat shops.  Etsy had a few made for steampunks, which wouldn’t have been very practical for every day wear, as they had blinders built in to mask out your peripheral vision, of which I use all the time as a parent on the look out for the occasional sucker punch between siblings.    It’s not just glasses that are missing from the handmade movement.  Chicks can get anything handmade, from socks to hats to shoes, but the gambit of men’s handmade consists of a few people selling handmade shorts that looked like a 6 year old made them just after learning to sew a pillow case in her Brownie troop.  Surely there are more men than me that would gladly choose stylish, classic handmade clothes over corporate clothes dripped in the sin and greed of the assembly line.  But, maybe a spiel on handmade for men should be worked up for a future blog.

Forged tapered tubing for the ear rests or arms or whatever they're called.

Anyways, I’ve started on a pair of handmade spectacles.  This pair is more of an exploration of engineering the mechanics of this device, hinges, U-Chanel wire, the clamps, and the nose rest.  I had a struggle with figuring out how to make the U-channel wire that holds in the lenses.  I tried a few attempts at rolling the wire, using a drawplate with a chisel attached to dig in a channel, and even hand forging.  But, I got a tip on Facebook that there was a page there for jewelers interested in making eyeglasses.   There I met Brian Adam, the New Zealander who I discovered when I did my initial search for handmade glasses.  He turned me onto a way to use a half-round wire drawplate to pull the U channel wire from a flat strip.  I didn’t think to take pics as I did this, but as I slowed down and had to think more about how to design the hinges, I did get in a few pictures.  As I said these are more of an exploratory pair of glasses.

figuring out these darn hinges


All of the mechanical engineering stuff is done, now for the metalsmithing to complete them.

Me testing my measurements, but not finished yet. Do I look like Teddy Roosevelt?

Oh, and the workbench is coming along.  Here is the latest picture.  I haven’t been able to work on it much because of Christmas orders and Lora going out of town for this weekend, leaving me to work the shop alone.  Plus, it has been rainy and cold.  But, it will get done.  This is just showing some of the detail work on the actual work area of the bench, and also here is a detailed vector I drew up in Illustrator to help me keep my measurements correct. since it will not ever be fully assembled until I actually assemble it in the shop.  In Illustrator, I can use the grids to keep me on track with inches and such.

The box where the work area will be.

Drawn up in Illustrator 10 for precision with measurements.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the blog.  Please feel free to drop me a criticism, comment, or just let me know you’ve read this.  It is hard to get motivated to blog, when all I hear is crickets out there.  Even trolling lets me know there’s someone out there, ha ha!



Latest posts by michaeljohnson (see all)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

michaeljohnson November 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Linnea, thank you for commenting, and I apologize. I saw your post on the Ganoksin Facebook page, but it had dropped your comment on here into the spam folder automatically, and I almost missed it.

Just a bit in my defense, if you had checked my previous post, hopefully you would find that I put a lot of efforts into helping stop domestic violence and other women’s awareness issues, plus my daughters are apprenticing with me. So, my use of the word “chicks” is very tongue in cheek and meant for irony, which is the essence of my humor.
Second, I never refereed to any goddesses as “chicks.” I used it towards Amethyst, of which was a mortal that I treated much better than the gods or the ancient chroniclers of the gods in my text. I never even mentioned a goddess in this post, just Dionysus, which was a male god, and he was quite the sexists, IMO.

No, I try my best to avoid any blasphemies towards any belief systems, especially one that I have a rich fondness for. Check out my previous posts. I’ve covered many different religions and many different mythologies in my work, thus the name Cosmic Folklore.

Thank you, I’m glad that you at least found something worth noting in my post, and I’m sorry that you found my use of the word “chicks” offensive. But, like I said, it was intended as irony.
Thank you for commenting, and please feel free to let me know if anything else offends. I am always open to dialog.

michaeljohnson November 22, 2011 at 3:58 am

What? Ha ha, raising two girls, the tree was sometimes my only option.
Thanks, but these are really just a first run through, but I do want the round shaped lenses for a more true clarity for myself. I have already made three sets of lens frames today of various shapes, and my optometrist has been a wealth of knowledge on sizes and shapes.
Meanwhile, I am still waiting on my own lenses. I shouldn’t have asked for all of the bells and whistles. I have to wear my Optivisors to read the paper, and I keep getting distracted by the texture of the paper, ha ha!!

Bentiron November 22, 2011 at 3:08 am

You need to be a lot older than forty to start peeing on trees!(or drunker) Nice idea for the glasses, I like the look.

Linnea Lahlum November 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I would have enjoyed your article more were it not for the sexist language. Women are not chicks. Nor are goddesses chicks.

michaeljohnson November 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thanks, I had to look up what doggedness was. At first I thought it might mean that I pee’d on trees. Ha ha!

Mary Benton November 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

You have a terrific combination of wit and doggedness. Life without humor is dull, and creativity without doggedness doesn’t get you far.

Lisa Hayes November 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Great read, Michael!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

WordPress Admin