We make spectacle frames.
A rare skill to have, especially when other “spectacle makers” are better at making social-noise than making glasses frames.
Because the reality is, there’s simply no shortcuts when it comes to learning a craft.
Which is why it’s taken us the better part of a decade to learn how to do what we do here at Banton Frameworks.
Spectacle makers: Lucy Ross & Jamie Bartlett | Banton, Scotland
What are your names?
Lucy Ross & Jamie Bartlett.
Where did you study?
We both studied at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Interestingly GCU is the only university in Scotland which offers a BSc (Hons) Optometry course.
This was sheer coincidence, and inadvertently, it was the university’s optical clinic which became an integral source of inspiration for the development for our first spectacle frames we ever made.
This is where it all began back in 2011.
The south façade of Glasgow Caledonian University | Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 0BA
Why make spectacles?
Excuse the pun, but it was very much an unplanned collision of design and optometry that really opened our eyes as designers.
On one side you have the fashion element. How glasses look, their material, shape, colour and construction. As designers, it’s a fascinating, facial accessory that we all know so well.
On the other, glasses have an inescapable medical requirement. They have to assist your vision and perform-well each day you wear them for at least two years between eye exams.
Fortunately for us, the on-site GCU optical clinic became a hunting-ground for the mechanical workings of spectacles. During many “pestering sessions” the optical staff and lecturers were kind enough to demonstrate the handling and dispensing of glasses frames.
It was a curious endeavour which provided a first-hand understanding of both the design and optical elements of eyewear.
When did you graduate?
In 2012, we both qualified with BA Hons in International Product Design degrees. Combining our joint-qualifications and our first-hand exposure to optics, this sparked our pursuit of optical frame design and manufacture.
This is how we began our journey as spectacle makers.
How did you learn to make glasses frames?
Having studied Product Design together, we both had experience in 3D modelling, prototyping and manufacturing processes.
For Lucy’s final year project, we teamed-up to make some rudimentary glasses frame from stock-material such as birch laminate ply and sheet acrylic. This was the catalyst that got us wondering if you could make better, more refined glasses frames.
After graduating, we swiftly built a small workshop at the bottom of Lucy’s garden where we continued to practice and hone our skills.
Since 2012, we’ve invested in numerous machines, tools and components which has allowed to design make our own spectacles and sunglasses frames on-site.
Jamie Bartlett | Inserting rivets into an acetate frame front | January 2015.
Our frames aren't just any old import that came from somewhere else. They come straight from the hands of the people who made them, right here in Glasgow. Yep, our hands.
The UK once produced over five million spectacle frames a year, from an industry of nearly a thousand eyewear factories. Today, very few of those original factories remain.
But you can help us change this... because we’re building a new one.
To make this whole thing work, we've followed the same three principles since the beginning.
Designed well. Made well. In the UK.
That's why we only use the best of materials and process which we've learned to love over the past 7 years. Even if you care half as much as us, you'll love them too.
Lucy Ross | Aligning sheet acetate within a CNC enclosure prior to precision-machining into spectacle frames.
To make good things, you need good ingredients right?
That's why we use the best acetate from Europe's best supplier.
Don't freak out, this plastic isn't an ocean threat. Acetate is an organic-polymer made from one of the most naturally abundant compounds on earth; cellulose.
Acetate has the ability to leave this earth. Hopefully before the time you do.
Available in endless colours and patterns, acetate looks and feels great on your skin for many years to come.
Venturing forth, year after year, your glasses have been made with this exquisite material we want you to get geeky about.
Tortoise acetate being sliced into sheets | Image credit: Mazzucchelli 1849 Spa.
Nestled in the northern Italy is the incredible factory that makes our acetate.
Whilst they're world-renowned for the manufacture and distribution of cellulose acetate, this global pioneer is charmingly, still a family business. 6 generations and counting.
Whilst there are many other acetate manufacturers, they're arguably the best at what they do. Amongst the industry, their acetates have been used in optics manufacture since 1849.
This is why we only ever use their acetate to make our frames.
Our lens laboratory
Over the years, we've become pretty good at making spectacle frames.
But the lenses?
We leave that to our trusted lens-partner in Amersham England.
And whilst there's many lens suppliers out here, our lens-partner proudly carry the ISO 9001 qualification. For as long as we've been working them, they've consistently made and supplied spectacle lenses of the highest standard, right here in the UK.
This why we only fit their lenses into each of our handmade spectacles and sunglasses frames. Only the best will do.
Spectacle frame-fronts hanging from pegs inside the Banton Frameworks workshop.
Making glasses ain't easy, but keeping a promise is another thing entirely.
We promise to build a new eyewear factory to make you the best glasses we can.
By doing so, you can be that one person in three.
“Every year, an estimated average of 15 million adult spectacle wearers in the uk buy a new pair of glasses. If one in three of these people bought a pair of uk made spectacles, our industry could retain its previous output of 5 million spectacle frames a year”.
Thanks for stopping by.
You and us together?
We can do great things.