A Vision In Wood

How a MIAD grad tapped one of the state’s natural resources for his fashion-forward eyewear collection.

Josh Rickun has been collecting glasses since 2001, when he says he rocked a “glorious perm,” braces and, like most teens, acne. The glasses, he says, offered “a great sense of security for an insecure teenager.”

Glasses, both prescription eyewear and sunglasses, now offer him financial security and form the basis for his business, Proper Eyewear (properwood.com). But what the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design grad and former Wiskullsin designer is creating by hand aren’t your average frames. Sourced from Milwaukee Woodworks, all of the 35 styles are made with fallen lumber from the area – often from trees that were being removed anyway.

The beautiful markings and grain patterns of maple, walnut and cherry underscore the careful selection process that goes into crafting each pair. Careful, indeed. It takes Rickun two weeks to make each pair before he adds prescription lenses from Waterford’s Fluegge Optical.

“Wood is the most comfortable and lightweight material I’ve worn out of the dozens of frames I’ve owned,” he says. “On top of that, in Wisconsin, we have access to some of the best lumber in the world.”

After a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2013, Rickun purchased the equipment he needed to get the business off the ground. But because he’s a one-man shop, Rickun says it won’t be until this fall that he will begin to sell them in stores.

“In the meantime,” he says, “I’m more than happy to keep making them the way I do now.”

‘Buenavista Taco Club’ appears in the June 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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Claire Hanan worked at the magazine as an editor from 2012-2017. She edited the Culture section and wrote stories about all sorts of topics, including the arts, fashion, politics and more. In 2016, she was a finalist for best profile writing at the City and Regional Magazine Awards for her story "In A Flash." In 2014, she won the the Milwaukee Press gold award for best public service story for editing "Handle With Care," a service package about aging in Milwaukee. Before all this, she attended the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and New York University's Summer Publishing Institute.