Remember our Grandmother’s kitchen with her beloved red handled mixer? Or that heavy old telephone with the rotary dial? All Bakelite.
Mr. Leo Baekland developed Bakelite for industrial use in 1907. Kitchen tools to telephones, pencil sharpeners to buttons. Jewelry designers were drawn to Bakelite because it could hold a color, they could carve into it and it would hold a polish. Up until this time, jewelry was plastic and injected into molds. Bakelite was formed into stock pieces, then carved and polished.
A whole new use was discovered with the very best being designed around 1920 to 1935, between two World Wars. Gweneviere’s photo was taken in 1920. Isn’t she great!
The chemical makeup of Bakelite is phenol and formaldehyde. With this, when it is warm it presents an acrid smell. Acrid means a strong pungent, sharp, sour smell and unpleasant taste or smell. Other plastics have no odor. A test to confirm Bakelite is to rub it hard with your hand, creating a hot surface and then smell it. Or, dip it into very hot water with the same result.
Salmon, Butterscotch, Spinach and red, black, green, all yummy Bakelite colors. I love wearing 10 to 15 at a time, all mismatched. As bangles, they have a wonderful warm sound, aren’t too heavy, and have that “coolness” factor.