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Salmon, Butterscotch, Spinach: Bakelite Colors
By: Ann Steiger  -  2/4/2016

Remember our Grandmotherís kitchen with her beloved red handled mixer? Or that heavy old telephone with the rotary dial? All Bakelite.

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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. Gweneviereís photo was taken in 1920. Isnít she great!

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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.

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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, arenít too heavy, and have that ďcoolnessĒ factor.


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