Laurie Olefson

Laurie Olefson

Olefson Art Opticals
Fair Haven, NJ

I have worn glasses since the second grade when they found out that my problems in school were due to my inability to see. Ever since then I have loved glasses not only because they saved my school career but for their stylish appeal, never choosing invisible contacts even though they were so timely and popular.

Always wanting to be a little bit different, I studied Synaesthetic Education at Syracuse University (BFA) and Conceptual Art at Pratt (MFA). I soon started designing magazines: Woman’s Day Specials, NYTimes special publications, TIME, Woman’s World and more.

After visiting the ACC show in Baltimore and being given a free copy of Metalsmithing magazine, I found an ad for a 2 week ‘eyeglass’ class at Penland School of Arts and Crafts in North Carolina. But no one finished that class with a wearable pair of glasses. And once the class was finished and the special tools taken away, it was much more difficult to do.

So, having to make my own tools and get my own materials (industrial materials,) I began my journey to hand making eyeglass frames. The materials I got were from eBay and from a woman in the midwest who also sold car parts. I tried to get tools machined from sources I found online. I am lucky I didn’t lose a finger, as the bits that were made didn’t work so well on the less than perfect material that I bought on eBay. But that is why I began printing patterns on the material from eBay—to make it more interesting.

And my vision was to make frames that were not only wearable but also just a little bit different. Everyone laughed at me and my glasses. But I continued anyway, getting better with each pair I made. And when everyone seemed to ask for readers, I designed ‘alternative’ readers—adding more to my original lineup—flower readers, veneer readers, tamisé readers and readers with pithy engraved temples.

And now, even my husband can ‘see my vision’ and has apologized to me.