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WHAT IS CELLULOSE ACETATE

Jacques Marie Mage limited edition eyewear is handmade in Japan using premium cellulose acetate, a material manufactured from purified natural cellulose derived from wood pulp and cotton linters, which are the cellulose-rich fuzz left on the cottonseed after the ginning process. Cellulose is in fact the most abundant natural polymer found on Earth. Discovered by Anselme Payen back in 1838, this renewable and biodegradable material has since received enormous attention because of its physical and chemical properties, which are different from those of synthetic polymers. In 1865, French chemist Paul Schützenberger discovered that cellulose reacts with acetic anhydride to form cellulose acetate, and the biopolymer has since been used as a film base for photography, a synthetic fiber for textiles, and as frame material for eyewear. Use of cellulose acetate for the manufacturing of eyewear began in the late 1940s, when it was found that the synthetic plastic then being used was brittle and could break upon impact or abnormally hot and cold temperatures.

HOW IS CELLULOSE ACETATE DIFFERENT FROM PLASTIC?

Cellulose acetate is made from wood pulp and cotton linters, a plant-based renewable resource. Petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, are derived from petrochemicals, which are obtained from fossil crude oil, coal or natural gas. Cellulose acetate is also biodegradable. Given the right chemical conditions, the biopolymer’s cellulose backbone can be biodegraded by cellulase enzymes. In highly biologically active soil, cellulose acetate fibers can completely biodegrade in 4–9 months. Petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, can hang around in the environment for hundreds of years. Each year, 400 million tons of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single-use.

WHERE DO WE GET OUR CELLULOSE ACETATE?

All Jacques Marie Mage acetate is produced by Takiron, a Japanese factory that has been around for nearly a century. Steeped in a rich manufacturing heritage drawn from the golden age of eyewear production, Takiron began first as producers of celluloid (an early material used to produce eyewear) before switching in the 1950s to the production of the highest quality cellulose acetate. The process of manipulating and customizing the acetate is arduous and complex, as J.M.M. is the only active manufacturer utilizing 10-mm-thick acetate sheets. Production of these sheets requires two months for the extrusion of the material and four months of drying time. Original color combinations are then created through the unique process of layering several blocks together, otherwise known as lamination, a process that by itself can take over eight weeks. Using a process that combines state of the art machinery and artisanal practices, we then cut, color, tumble, polish and assemble eyewear that appeal to the highest standards of craftsmanship and ethical responsibility.

WHY DO WE USE CELLULOSE ACETATE?

Cellulose acetate has a unique combination of properties that make it especially suitable for creating premium eyewear Its transparency allows us to create our unique colorways, and its excellent machinability allows us to shape the material into our highly sculptural frames. Hypoallergenic and resistant to a variety of chemicals, the feel of our cellulose acetate eyewear is characteristically soft, smooth, and dry to the touch. Most importantly, cellulose acetate is a petroleum-free, renewable and biodegradable material that allows us to produce eyewear without our production process contributing to the accumulation of plastic waste . Strong and flexible, it allows us to create glasses that last a lifetime, helping to curb excessive consumption and pollution; and the durability of the material ensures our eyewear can be refurbished and re-polished over time, kept as a collectible and passed on as an heirloom.

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