Bakelite Parts Is The Main Form Of Art Plastics

Bakelite was the major form of “art plastic” from the 1930s through to the 1950s.
It was patented by Belgian born Leo Hendrik Baekeland in New York, in 1907, and was the first truly synthetic and thermosetting plastic. Thermosetting meant that it could not be melted or changed by heating once formed.
Once set, this plastic was unaffected by heat, solvents or acid, and was electrically resistant and shatterproof. Neither would it crack or discolour when exposed to sunlight.
Bakelite Parts NutcrackerBakelite Bowl with Nutcracker
Promoted by Baekeland as “the material of a thousand uses”, the first form was moulded, containing phenol formaldehyde, which was used for telephones, light switches, electrical insulators, car parts and many other industrial items. But these were a drab black or Brown in colour.
Australian AWA Bakelite RadiosAustralian AWA Art Deco Radios Photo by Scott Beveridge (rollerboy76, Sydney)
In the 1920s a whole new range of colour was introduced and thermosetting plastics took off to invade every area of ​​modern life. Now cast into tubes, rods and sheets it could be made into almost anything.
Reds, greens, yellows and oranges appeared in everyone’s kitchens with dinnerware and cooking utensils.
And it wasn’t just the kitchen. Plastic infiltrated throughout the whole home with clocks, radios, telephones and toys all in bright, vibrant colours.
Read about Art Deco Radios from all over the world. . . .
Jewelry, and designer objects made from Bakelite, Casein and Celluloid appeared at the 1925 Paris exhibition from which Art Deco got its name. The motifs of Art Deco design were expressed in the new plastics among the interiors created by the best artists and designers in each Country’s pavilion.
The beauty and durability of this magic plastic began to be appreciated with luxury items produced which have survived to this day. It was even used in the fittings and furnishings of the Queen Mary and the Normandie, luxury liners crossing the Atlantic in the 1930s.

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