Dominik Gasser is a gifted craftsman who knows what he wants. His eyes sparkle with enthusiasm when he talks about his wooden glasses. “After my carpentry apprenticeship, I made my first wooden spectacles using local walnut wood – I wanted to create something unique.” As with so many of his projects, he succeeded in his goal of applying his craftsmanship to a solid natural product to create a unique product.

With sweat on his forehead and a pile of hand-drawn sketches, he took on the challenge. In an intensive, step-by-step process, his first wooden spectacles were fashioned from the wooden blank. 

Initial enthusiasm

When Dominik Gasser was having lenses fitted to his new creation at a specialist business, he noticed the enjoyment he took in the process, mirrored by the optician’s enthusiasm for his glasses. That was the moment when he had the idea to make more glasses. Glasses that would impress with their unique, hand-made wooden design.  

In addition to the finished piece he had made for himself, Gasser – a thoughtful, calm and resourceful guy – was fascinated by the idea of producing customised glasses for others.  

Located on the Brünig route, he found a suitable workshop in Lungern at a former saddlery that manufactured cleaning bags for the army until the 1990s. He presented his three models in five different designs at an exhibition. The public loved his inventive creations and the glasses sold out in no time.  

“On the one hand, I was delighted by the response, but on the other, I had to think about what that meant for me. I was employed at the time and first had to lay the foundations for my self-employment. It was an exciting process.”

Wood and its challenges  

Wood is often considered a durable material. It can be used in a variety of ways – from solid Swiss pine cabinets to fine toothpicks, almost anything seems possible. “The use of wood in spectacles is very delicate. Much like classic horn-rimmed glasses, making wooden glasses requires many years of experience and a feel for the material. It takes professional expertise.” Gasser sits at the workbench, picks up the die grinder and works on the nose bridge. He looks focused, his hands are nimble, his expertise is obvious. His movements are practised and confident. Initially, he worked with a gauge, but now his workshop has a small CNC machine. Nevertheless, each of his models is unique, from the structure of the wood to the individual shape and colour.

A series goes into production every fortnight, with several pieces being produced in parallel. “This allowed me to increase efficiency and the opticians get their deliveries promptly.” Gasser is a one-man business. Being his own boss is in his nature. To balance his everyday working life, he fishes at the local lakes. Although he loves to spend hours in his workshop, he gets itchy feet from time to time, grabs his fishing rod, walks the short distance down to Lake Lungern and casts out his line. Just like his job, it takes a little patience to succeed in fishing. 

His close connection with the village at the foot of the Brünig Pass is palpable. Dominik Gasser grew up right next to the railway station in Lungern. “The toboggan runs from Brünig to Lungern were always fun. Even as an adult, I get a refreshing thrill from tobogganing. The winter of 2020/21 was especially good for that. And yes, the Chäppeli-Chäfer observation coach on the old Brünig Railway is an experience I will always remember fondly.” 

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