The Sexy Librarian Fanclub

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Some of my most coveted collected items belong in my vintage glasses frames collection. I started this stash a few years ago, but have always been completely obsessed with vintage frames. I can spend literally hours looking at frames online. After much lamenting and google searching, I bought my first pair of black lenses from a website* called Allyn Scura around 2004 or 2005. Those trusty “female Buddy Holly”s lasted me up until a few months ago.   I recently became eligible for eye-care insurance again, and came into a little money after receiving a settlement from my car accident, so I treated myself to three new pairs of frames from Hollywood Vintage in SE Portland and took them to my eyedoc to get filled.  The process is surprisingly simple!

Anyway, vintage frames have always been on my radar at antique stores/expo, junk shops, and garage sales.  All of the frames pictured above came in some form of second hand, with the exception of the ones I have prescription lenses in.  (In general the frames that I collect are used/have someone else’s magnifiers installed, while the ones I wear are NOS, or New Old Stock. This means they are vintage, but technically “new”, as they’ve never been used. Such a label comes with a much higher price point, and less stranger’s face grease.)  I kept my old frames in a cigar box, and brought them out to show friends, but the box started to get beat up and soon I had too many frames to keep it closed. Displaying collections (see: my take on the Wunderkammer) is something that is really intriguing to me, and I think is often what defines the thin line between collecting and hoarding.

I had the idea for this elaborate glasses display for quite some time – it took a bit of reworking my ideas, but the end result I think is pretty damn rad. This was a project I ruminated on for a while, and then went to my dad with my ideas. My dad is the kind of guy you can ask to construct anything, and in 10 minutes he will come back with an intricately designed plan. He is also a huge inspiration in the sense that he can make something out of literally anything – or nothing.

This case actually started out life as a somewhat unfortunate looking display box for “trinkets” that I bought at Goodwill, and used for a while to store “random crap I’ve crocheted”:

The frame and top shelf have this awesome bevelled edge, which was the main reason I thought this would be the perfect body for a glasses display. The weirdly shaped-and-spaced guts were added in later I believe, specifically to fit someone’s collection.

I didn’t take any production pictures, but over the course of a few weekends, we worked on the box. Dad cut a new back piece that was thicker than the original plywood, and we covered it with a thin piece of foam plus purple velvet.  It took us a while to figure out what kind of hangers to use for the glasses so that they would be evenly spaced and float away from the back of the frame to get dimension, but that wouldn’t distract from the display. Eventually we decided to use electricians wire, which is copper and coated with a thin plastic covering. I wrapped each peg in purple yarn, and added a dot of purple hot glue to cover up the end, so that they all matched the backing. The electricians wire was also a pretty genius choice because I can bend it to meet the specific needs of each pair of glasses – some need to hang higher, or have their pegs wider apart, and this allows me total freedom with that.

We ended up keeping in the top shelf, partly to help stabilize the frame, and partly because I loved that edge and didn’t want to get rid of it. I am thinking about adding a little mirror to the top, because now that the frames are displayed they just beg you to try them on and fluff up your bouffant. I also want to use the shelf to display vintage glasses accessories like the little rhinestoned pin you see in the first pic, or glasses that won’t hang up. I wanted to display my bespectacled spaghetti poodle (1st piece of a new collection???????) on top, but the shelf turned out to be too narrow so she’ll just have to be satisfied with chilling close-by.

you can’t tell, but she’s winking!

*                    *                    *                    *

Another website I absolutely love to browse is Vintage 50s Eyewear on Etsy, which gets updated once a week and each frame is more fabulous than the next.

Click here to view my favorites on Etsy – unfortunately I can’t sort them to only show my favorite frames, but if you flip back through the most recent 10 or so pages you will see a ton of frames that I couldn’t stop drooling over. Most of them are now sold, but I like to keep them in my favorites to admire back on, and swoon over, every few months.

*I’m not necessarily a huge advocate for buying online, as vintage frames are often quite eccentric – and a good fit (both size-wise, and shape) is important, but I was able to pick a relatively simple style for my first pair and my optometrist helped me to choose from the two measurements available on the site. It helps that they have a decent exchange policy, which is something I would definitely recommend checking out before buying anything of the sort online.  But keep in mind, trying on a TON of different styles and knowing you have many great, fitting choices is half the fun of getting new glasses!

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