HOW TO: Make Your Own Velvet Glasses On The Cheap

How to make your own velvety flocked glasses. (Forgive me, Internet, for I have made New Kids On The Block references.)

As much as I love words, it is often true that a picture is worth a thousand of them. This is why I love image-based blogging, like Instagram. It's a perfect (well, for heavily processed versions of perfect) snapshot of a moment in time. A special item, a moment with friends, an unusual sight.

It's also hella good inspiration sometimes. Which is what happened to me on Saturday. I was just scrolling through images, catching up after a busy week, when it hit me, smacked me -- right between the eyes.

Velvet glasses, according to the caption and picture that Ms. Emily had Instagrammed from InStyle. This was so right up my alley. But then I realized they were reading glasses by a company named Eyebobs. Which meant they would never be mine.

But, oh. My desire for velvet glasses was not to be denied by something so menial as the unavailability of my prescription. No, I declared to the universe and Instagram at large -- I would make them myself and for cheaper, too.

Look, I have a lot of flocking powder left over from the monster manicure. And sometimes it sits there and mocks me because I'm not making everything in my life pleasantly fuzzy. Not literally. Metaphorically. Moving on.

My determination coincided with a fairly lazy Saturday afternoon. It was a magical alignment of the stars, a veritable conjunction of the planets or something mystical like that. I knew immediately what to do -- scour my collection of Internet glasses, grab my trusty spray adhesive, and pick a flocking color already.

I settled on a pair of glasses I got from Zennioptical as part of a mega sale. If this was going to be a disaster, I figured, better a $9 pair of glasses, you know? I ordered a pair of black and whites in a fit of, "No, seriously, I could do this ska-inspired thing or something." Obviously, I was having some sort of late-90s mental fit. (And even in the late 90s when I sometimes listened to ska, it was never my scene. I have no idea what I was actually thinking.)

The glasses had been languishing in my nightstand ever since.

When consulted on color, Ed had this to say, "Baby, why are you even asking me that?"

Not helpful, my darling.

Cherry red won out the old-fashioned way -- I rock-paper-scissored with myself until blue won and then I realized I didn't really want blue glasses at all.

Here's what you need to make your own flocked velvet glasses:

  • a pair of cheapie frames
  • flocking powder
  • clear nail polish or spray adhesive
  • a tiny screwdriver
  • masking tape
  • an X-Acto knife

Step One (We can have lots of fun): Use the tiny screwdriver to take the arms off of your glasses. You can also flock those, but it'll be a lot easier and tidier if you treat the frame in pieces. Put those itty bitty screws somewhere safe; I like to stick them to masking tape and then tape them to the table I'm working on.

Step Two (There's so much we can do): Use the masking tape to mask off (it's like the name implies the function) the lenses on both sides of your glasses. Use the X-Acto knife to cut the extra tape off by following the outline of your lenses. This will protect the lenses from everything you're about to do while the frames exposed.

Step Three (It's just you and me): This is an either or situation. You can use the clear nail polish to paint small areas on your frames. Shake the flocking powder over each area and press the flocking powder gently into the wet polish. Alternately, you can find a well-ventilated area -- and I stress well-ventilated because spray adhesive does not screw around -- and a box. Put the frame in the box, spray lightly with spray adhesive (bubbles are your enemy in this situation) and then flock the hell out of those frames. You'll still need to press the flocking powder into the adhesive, but the whole process should go a lot faster. You might also need to do another coat. Touch spots up with nail polish and more flocking powder.

Step Four (I can give you more): Let things dry. This won't take a very long time but it's important. Don't just go ripping the masking tape off -- you'll pull flocking powder off with it. Good things come to those who let glued-on flocking powder dry. Go out, come back after an hour. Then use your X-Acto knife to once again trace around the edges of your lenses. The flocking powder will be kind of dense. So use a sharp blade and be careful of your fingers.

Step Five (Don't you know that the time has arrived): Be careful when you peel your masking tape off -- have that X-Acto handy for any stubborn spots. You'll need to wash your lenses (it's okay for the flocking powder to get wet) and maybe use a cleanser of some kind to get rid of any adhesive residue. Use an actual cloth to dry your glasses after cleaning -- toilet paper or paper towel will just shred and stick to the flocking. Put the arms back on. It's MAGIC.

This is a surprisingly easy process. While the clear nail polish technique takes a little longer, it's still easily accomplished in the space of a few hours, drying time included.

Other tips based on my experience:

Underpaint your glasses. This is an especially good idea if the frames and the flocking powder are significantly different colors (like my white frames with red flocking). After you've masked the lenses, spray paint those suckers. (You might need to use spray paint for plastic.) Let that dry before you apply the flocking powder.

Don't flock the backs. The back of my frames are unflocked because I thought having that texture actually against my face would freak me completely and totally out. That'd be bad. I flocked the nose pads as an experiment and, yeah. It's a little freaky.

Tape off the ear pieces of the arms. I left the arms of my frames black but I am planning to mask off a stripe down the side of them. I'll also tape off the ears because the last thing I want to mess with is flocking powder behind my ears if I get sweaty or something.

Total cost: $0

I already had everything on hand.

But if you DON'T have all these supplies on hand, you'll spend under $10 at the craft store for flocking powder and spray adhesive. The price of frames varies wildly but Zenni is a good source for mega cheapness if you're looking to experiment without spending more than a few bucks.

(Other online glasses places have better style, but they tend to cost a little more. If I'm going to cover the frames up, they don't need to be fance to begin with, so the cheaper the better.)

So, velvet glasses. What do y'all think?

Marianne is over on Twitter, where she will not shut up about making stuff: @TheRotund.