STRONG AS CONCRETE
Our brutalist still life campaign, shot by Gary Didsbury.
Featuring, in order of appearance:
Commercial Street, Spitalfields. A century of hawkers and traders.
Our Spitalfields Workshop at 86 Commercial Street was originally built in the late 19th century, sitting next to the historic Ten Bells pub (of Jack The Ripper fame).
86 Commercial Street was previously a boot-making workshop (Abraham & Harry Meltzer), tobacco sellers (William J Harrison & Son), wool merchant (Hyman Spector) and latterly paper bag manufacturers and market sundriesmen, Donovan Brothers (pictured at our site in the 1960s).
Donovan Brothers was established by Irish immigrants who settled in Spitalfields, and later moved to nearby Crispin Street, where their handpainted facade still stands.
They are still in operation today providing paper bags and other market sundries at the New Spitalfields Market in Leyton.
Marshall Street, Soho, 17th century to today.
Marshall Street, Soho. The home of our first site - The Soho Workshop.
Marshall Street takes its name from Hampstead Marshall, the seat of the the Earl of Craven - whose estate stretched over the area, and was once a 17th century plague pit and pesthouse.
In the 18th century, after the fears of another plague has subsided, Lord Craven's plans to develop the area received royal assent, and contruction on the land began.
Later that century, the distinguished poet William Blake was born at 7 Marshall Street (at the site where the rather literal William Blake House now stands).
In the 1820s, 37 Marshall Street was built, at the corner of Marshall Street and Ganton Street (then known as South Row). A National School stood opposite, on part of the street now occupied by the humming concrete electricity sub-station.
In 1850, the Marshall Street baths were built for the 'health and well being of local people'. The baths were later remodelled, the walls lined with Sicilian white and Swedish green marble, and a fountain added with dolphin and merman figures by Walter Gilbert.
During the 20th century, Marshall Street became a vibrant part of Soho, tied to the 'Swinging Sixties' revolution in parallel Carnaby Street, and the overflow fabric shops from Berwick Street (such as Tivon Textiles pictured here at 37 Marshall Street).
In the sixties, Cranks Health Foods also opened, as one of the UK's first wholefood vegetarian restaurants. At the time this was a 'ground-break enterprise' and seen as a 'major factor the spread of vegetarianism in recent decades'.
More on Marshall Street's rich history at British History Online.
Park Street, The Borough, a century apart.
Our second site opened a year ago in one of London's most beautiful throughfares, Park Street, SE1.
In the very heart of The Borough, gently curving from Borough Market to the Thames with a run of elegant Georgian terraces, this unmistakedly London street has featured in films such as Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Jude, Howard's End and Entrapment.
Park Street is so called because it runs across the area which was formerly the Bishop of Winchester's park, and includes the old street known as Deadman's Place. The sweeping corner under the railway bridge was once known as Harrow Corner.
Less macabre, the 17th century almhouses that stood here were once manufacturers of soap, and in the 19th century led to Courage Breweries (built by the Anchor Brewery in 1820) - at one point, the largest brewery in the world.
Our Borough Workshop at 9 Park Street was formerly a potato wholesaler, banana merchant and for many years The Borough Market Mission Hall - a place where local market workers who come to pay their respects (and earnings) to the Church.
Built in 1831 by Henry Rose, who also built Borough Market, it retains its traditional Georgian shop frontage. A stone tablet above is dedicated to Thomas Cure, 'saddler to Queen Elizabeth' (the first).
More on the street at British History Online.
14.12.2016 • Cubitts , Sunglasses , Spectacles , Glasses , Bespoke , Cubitts Bespoke , Spectacle Craft , Vintage
Small batch production, part II
Next, we check the sizing (against both our mentor, and spectacle fitting gauge), making any adjustments with a file and polishing wheel.
Next, we put the front and temples into a series of tumbling barrels, containing wood chips and other polishing compounds.
We then drill tiny holes (a mere milimetre in radius), feed through our pins, and rivet them to our five charniere hinge.
Another hour on the polishing and glossing mops, and she's beginning to take shape.
To be continued.
12.12.2016 • Cubitts , Sunglasses , Spectacles , Glasses , Bespoke , Cubitts Bespoke , Spectacle Craft , Vintage
Small batch production, part I
For all our bespoke frames and small batch production (six to ten pieces), we still employ traditional production techniques. It's often quicker that way.
For a small run, we first create a pattern - by scribing out the design onto a piece of 6mm acetate, rubbing with chalk, and sawing and filing the line by hand. This takes many hours, but is pivotal - any defects in the silhoutte will be replicated in the final frames.
Once we've perfected the pattern, we bond it to a crystal sheet, and place it into a pantograph. This machine traces around the pattern, cutting the shape into a new slab of acetate: here in a rather lovely vintage mottle.
We remove the eyepieces, file out any marks or 'digs', then insert the lens groove using the cast iron milling table.
We then add the bridge 'bump', first by heating the frontpiece, then by placing it into a bridge 'bumping' machine - before adding nosepads in the same colour acetates.
To create the temples we first need to thin down the acetate material - 6mm would be far too thick. We run the acetate through a lathe, before 'shooting the sides' - firing heated wirecores into acetate to form the temples. These metal wires allow the temples to be adjusted to fit the wearer.
To be continued.
06.12.2016 • Cubitts , Photography , King's Cross
King's Cross, by George Baxter
To mark our new home on the Cally, in the heart of King's Cross, we asked George Baxter to capture the varied streets of our environs.
Here is a selection of his fine work.
01.12.2016 • Cubitts , Sunglasses , Spectacles , Glasses , Photography , Accessories , Design
Our new batch of leather cases.
Made by hand at our small central London workshop, using the finest leather sourced from the Horween tanneries of Chicago. Each case is lined with suede and features blind debossed branding.
Priced at £50, with personal monogramming also available.
28.11.2016 • Cubitts , Sunglasses , Glasses , Cubitts Bespoke , Photography , Spectacle Design , Spectacle Craft
Colours, glorious colours.
Herbrand, reimagined in a range of colours: monos, mottles, havanas and stripes.
Each piece of zyl acetate is marked, scribed and cut by hand - before being placed in a tumbling barrel for at least 24 hours - to bring out the glorious lustre.
24.11.2016 • Cubitts , Sunglasses , Spectacles , Glasses , Photography , King's Cross
Introducing our King's Cross HQ
Three years ago after we were born on a kitchen table in Cubitt Street, we've opened our flagship headquarters in the heart of King's Cross, London.
The King's Cross Workshop offers our full range of spectacles and sunglasses in our showroom and studio, including bespoke services, and with a full optical workshop in the basement.
On a gently curving corner at the start of the Keystone Conservation Area, the site was originally opened as a pub in 1852, the same year as Lewis Cubitt's modernist King's Cross station.
Trading as the Talbot Arms for over a century, in the mid 1980s it became the HQ of a number of music labels, including Better Badges (a maker of punk pin badges and promotional material for record labels), Fuck Off Tapes and All The Madmen Records. During this time the building became known as 'Crucial Corner'.
The site then sat empty for two decades, slowly crumbling as it went through multiple owners and planning applications.
Now, painstakingly rebuilt and painted in Flying Scotsman green (to reference the area's rich transport heritage), our King's Cross Workshop is open 97 Caledonian Road, N1 9BT.
- Open Monday to Friday, 10am - 6pm
- Weekends and out-of-hours by appointment
- Offering the full range of spectacles and sunglasses, repairs and adjustments, bespoke services
- For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.