Focal Length Designs

From 2008–2011, under the moniker of Focal Length Designs, I reclaimed old, broken, and neglected SLR camera lenses and turned them into one-of-a-kind cuff bracelets perfect for the photography geek, designer, or fashionista. Each bracelet was hand-formed, filed, sanded, and buffed with a focus on the intersection between photography, fashion, art, and design. While I don't make these any more, this page serves as an archive and tribute to my former life as a craft business owner.

My cuff bracelets are all unique and one-of-a-kind, dismantled from a lens with care and meticulously cut, formed, and finished into transformative jewelry. I let the inherent design of each piece guide me through the process of determining which edges to polish, which surfaces to brush and how to shape it into an eye-catching wrist adornment.

The moment of truth for me is the final cleaning of the finished bracelet. A little gentle scrubbing in warm water washes away the dark gray aluminum dust, residual grease and oil, and brings the painted numbers and lines back to vibrant life. The polished edges and surfaces catch the light once more, and the result is glorious.

The FLD Story

In early 2008, I stumbled across a website featuring an artist that made jewelry from old camera parts. Encouraged to try making my own version of what I saw, I armed myself with a simple concept and some rudimentary tools and set to work.

I spent a sweltering May afternoon in a borrowed workshop grinding, filing, and sanding away at a little piece of metal from a broken SLR camera lens I had found at a thrift shop. Two hours later I emerged from the shop with grime-covered hands and several minor lacerations, but I also had a few shiny new bracelets. They were comparatively crude—scratched from a few too many slips of the metal file and dinged by a few too many mis-strikes of the hammer—but I had accomplished my goal, and I had a ball of a time in the process!

A single experiment in making opened the door to a passion I never knew I had, fueled by my love for cameras, mechanical movements, and assemblies. I couldn't wait to take another stab at them! To this day I still wear the first bracelet I ever made, which is incidentally the only one made of two interlocking bracelets. It serves as a constant reminder of how far I've come in the last few years in developing a business out of a discovered passion.

I always considered Focal Length Designs to be a "lucrative hobby", and I am entirely self-taught. New techniques are developed on a trial and error basis, and all of my work is done by hand. That includes filing, grinding, sanding, polishing, and shaping each piece.

In the Spring of 2010, I approached my friend, business mentor, and wicked brilliant jewelry designer Betsy Cross (of betsy and iya) about collaborating on a line of necklaces and earrings featuring camera parts. We launched betsy + i shortly thereafter, and people loved it! It represented the perfect geeky Venn diagram of her style and my own.

betsy + i Archive

Betsy Cross of betsy and iya and Isaac B Watson have collaborated!

They beat their talented heads together, drained the creative juices and mixed them in the blender with a dash of industrial sexiness and a hint of mechanical sass. Now they bring you an epic smoothie of one-of-a-kind necklaces and earrings guaranteed to yield jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, pant-wetting results.

Their signature look uses combinations of broken camera parts, hand-formed earwires, old hardware, reclaimed materials, African trade beads, vintage chain and more.

Show + Fair Archive

  • Bazaar Bizarre San Francisco Holiday Festival, December 3–4, 2011, San Francisco, CA
  • Crafty Wonderland Super-Colossal Holiday Sale, December 10–11, 2011, Portland, OR
  • 2011 Urban Craft Uprising Summer Show, July 9–10, 2011, Seattle, WA
  • Maker Faire Bay Area, May 21–22, 2011, San Mateo, CA
  • Crafty Wonderland Super-Colossal Spring Sale, May 7, 2011, Portland, OR
  • Crafty Wonderland Super-Colossal Holiday Sale, December 11–12, 2010, Portland, OR
  • GIVE Handmade Sale, November 21, 2010, Portland, OR
  • Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair, October 2, 2010, Washington, DC
  • Summit of Awesome Show of Awesome, June 19, 2010, Portland, OR
  • Crafty Wonderland Super-Colossal Spring Sale, May 1–2, 2010, Portland, OR
  • Small Victories Shop, February–June 2010, Trunk Show, May 22, 2010, Portland, OR
  • Crafty Wonderland Super-Colossal Holiday Sale, December 13, 2009 Portland, OR