In The Workshop With Rhonda Drakeford

In The Workshop With Rhonda Drakeford

We spoke to Darkroom’s Rhonda Drakeford about her experience as a spectacle maker for a day.

I had no idea just how long it takes even the skilled craftspeople to make a frame, almost two days! So I didn’t feel quite so bad that my attempt was slow and laborious… I loved every minute — working with the tools and on a scale much smaller than I’m used to. I loved working with the acetate, it’s so tactile, and using processes and tools that were a mix of modern and very traditional.

My glasses are inspired by model, artist’s muse, and WWII correspondent and photographer, Lee Miller. Based in Paris during the 20s and 30s, Miller personified elegance and grace. She collaborated with and was a muse for both Picasso and surrealist Man Ray, and her intelligence and wit easily matched her beauty.

In the second World War, Miller was one of only four female photographers accredited to the US Army, documenting the liberation of Europe. In the final days of the war, Miller followed her regiment into Hitler’s bunker, Buchenwald, and Dachau.

I wanted to create a pair of glasses inspired by the simplicity and utility of WWII militaria, while also nodding to the elegance of 1920s Paris. The half-framed utilitarian shape contrasts with the amber coloured acetate that alludes to the frosted glassware of Lalique Paris.

The finished glasses are very, very beautiful, so perfectly crafted — everything from the personalised ‘Cubitts for Rhonda’ stamp on the inside arm to the packaging is just so pleasing. I actually welled up a little when I saw them.

The whole process just doesn’t compare to buying off-the-shelf. This was much more of an experience, and a joy.

To join the waiting list for tickets to our next spectacle making class, email