Local Spotlight

The Steampunk Spectacle at Trolley Square

John Cottam shares his love for crafting steampunk masterpieces.


John Cottom, owner of the Spectacle. Photo by Dung Hoang

“Glasses are more than just an appliance,” says optician John Cottam. “Eyewear is where art and science meet.” John practices his belief at The Spectacle, his store in Trolley Square that allows him to follow his calling as a “scientartist.” The store showcases his industrial steam punk eyewear as well as his ingenious clocks and lamps. “A lot of these glasses are vintage eyewear, such as machinist glasses with modern lenses. People gobble them up,” John says.

Imagination plays a leading role in John’s creations. He has created custom eyewear for supercelebs such as Elvis and Sammy Davis Jr., as well as for the movie industry, the most famous of which was the piece he fashioned for the famous sci-fi classic Blade Runner.

“I love antiques to begin with,” Jon says. Enriching his precise and artistic optical creations are clocks and lamps that John has fashioned from remnants of the pre-plastic industrial world. The store’s ambiance also radiates a bygone opulence. Tastefully added to the overall decor are steamship trunks and Singer sewing machine bases that support display cases.

one of the many creations found at The Spectacle

In addition, The Steampunk Spectacle page on Facebook provides an outlet for John’s alterego to have a public voice. “Professor Julian Raintree is a name I’ve chosen for the person who invents crazy things, goes to unusual places and meets interesting people;” and Julian gets to post disclaimers such as, “If you are accidentally sucked into The Event Horizon of a Mini Black Hole, we do apologize.” “I’ve always been a bit of an odd duck.” John claims. But maybe that is simply because most people lack his flourishing imagination. §

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