History of Bakelite
Why write about Bakelite, simple – some of my fav finds are made from the sought after bakelite from vintage enthusiastic people like myself.
Bakelite is a form of plastic, including other vintage style plastics, like Lucite and Celluloid.
This was made in the early 20th century and popular between the 30’s and 50’s, developed in New York by Leo Baekeland. One of the key ingredients in Bakelite is formaldehyde and a way to test if its real, (lets be honest bakelite jewellery can fetch a pretty sum of cash ) is to run under hot water or rub against your clothing, to see if it releases a formaldehyde smell.
Bakelite was used for its electrical Non-conductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings, and such diverse products as kitchenware, jewellery, pipe stems, firearms children’s toysIt was used in all kind of products, appliances, door handles, guns even, toys, purses, radios, games, the list goes on and on.
Bakelite in its natural form does not hold colour very well, so additives were added to make it stronger but these faded the colour much quicker , so eventual Bakelite was replaced with better plastics.
On the cool glamour note, Chanel made fantastic jewellery from bakelite and many other fabulous fashion houses, I own some incredible bangles and necklaces made out of Bakelite, just dip into Etsy for a fun bakelite search.