Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Bakelite - I never get tired of it!

Those of you who have known me for years know full well that I have a rather significant monkey on my back when it comes to Bakelite. It's been a favorite for more years than I care to admit. Recently it's become painfully evident that I need to move out of the room I currently use as my home office so I've been clearing out the spare bedroom that had been overtaken by the inventory I used to haul around when I traveled to antique shows every week.

The unfortunate truth is that I've allowed all of that to sit in that spare room for several years untouched.
It's like Christmas going through all those boxes. Much of it is a great surprise. Several items I've looked at and thought "What the heck was I thinking when I spent actual money on that?

During this process, I've found this wonderful cache of raw Bakelite stock. Most of it has been partially used - there are two sheets, one only about 7" square and the other about half that size in a rectangle.

There are various sizes of tube stock including a couple of bracelet tubes and another that appears to be (the brown one) but is really more suitable for a box, dice cup, pencil cup, something like that. It's just shy of a half inch thick but has the same OD as a bracelet tube. Too bad, so sad, not large enough to slip over a wrist. Being able to find a bracelet tube that thick would be such a thrill to send off for a custom design by my favorite Bakelite jewelry designer, Brad Elfrink.

So, here we go - some photos of the colorful array:

That blue moon tube was one I'd left with someone to be dotted but we never got together on it - I forgot about it, they recently returned it to me. I'm sure it's destined to go to the phenomenal Brad Elfrink of Elvenkrafte Studios to be carved into something totally spectacular.

Note above inside the green tube that's threaded. If you are not that familiar with Bakelite, perhaps you are unaware that Bakelite holds a thread just like it's supposed to. That tube may have been destined to be part of a salt and pepper shaker set. Who knows?

Another thing to note in the photo below, you have in front of you three of the shades that some people have difficulty differentiating: Butterscotch in that sheet at the back, top left, the square rod is creamed corn (originally pure white) and the thick round rod would be yellow. Sorry that the creamed corn rod's color is a bit washed out in the photo but you can see it nicely in the photo immediately above this text.

Below, note a couple of things: First - the transparent green rod just behind the big orange rod inside that blue moon tube is a Prystal that was originally blue. See the photo of the end of that rod below showing the portion on one end where I used a sheet of emery paper on it to remove some of the patina. Another color of interest in the grouping below is the tube on the right. That one, as you may be able to tell from the top is actually a rich, raspberry shade that has changed to a beautiful shade of rust. That's another tube that is probably headed to Brad at Elvenkrafte.

Below is the shot to show you the nice, thick wall on that brown tube. I can see this nicely carved with a contrasting color bottom and lid to be used as a decorative item or carved with a bottom inserted and used as a pencil or dice cup. If any of you out there have a better suggestion, be sure to drop me a line here or over at my booth on Bonanzle.

This is a shot of the sheet of butterscotch marbled stock held up to a light source so you can see the marbling a bit better. It's a lovely sheet!
Last but not least, here's the close-up on the green transparent rod - the end which better shows it's original shade before it gained it's rich patina:

These pieces are just a few of the types of stock that were available. There were rods in shapes such as butterflies, scottie dogs, those used to make napkin rings, the most popular of which were figurals such as this elephant :

This fellow is available for sale in my booth on Bonanzle!

Hope you will come by to say hello often!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bakelite!!!!! Bakelite!!!!! Bakelite!!!!!

OVER A MONTH since I've been here! Sorry gang! It's been one of those!

I'm going to make it a fast stop today. I'm going to make a concerted effort to get over here and talk about Bakelite a lot.

I see every plastic known to mankind being called Bakelite on the net. For some reason people seem to think that the keyword spamming of that term in their listing is going to attract the type of attention that is going to cause someone who really only collects Bakelite to buy their obviously inaccurately described item. It's a huge bur under the saddle blanket to all of us who are very passionate and deeply in love with this incredible material.

Quite a number of years ago I was more active in a lot of discussion groups online. One of my favorite things besides jewelry is buttons. This passion dates back to my childhood when things were much simpler. If a child was bored with their toys, a parent often gave them some household item to entertain and occupy them. My mother utilized any number of things such as her button box (a big colorful bread tin), her old costume jewelry, or her old clothes in which I could play dress-up.

But I digressed, as usual.

One day on the button list, someone came in and showed some photos of some wonderful hand-carved buttons. Seems like the first things I saw were something like this:
Or this:

Or this:

Now, those are NOT Bakelite but the workmanship is intriguing, eh? The attention to detail.
The interesting subject matter.

Next thing I know, I've got a link to this seller's button listings on eBay. Somewhere in there - I am a little fuzzy on when this began - this fine gentleman started using Bakelite and a new love affair began.

All of you who know me know I'm a total Bakelite freak and that it really makes little difference to me what form it takes.

Buttons: Great!

Pins: Great!

Bracelets: REALLY GREAT!!!!!!!!!!

Who am I talking about, you ask? In case you did not figure it out from the website watermark on the photos above, it's Brad Elfrink!

I could spend the rest of today picking out my personal favorites in Brad's incredible work but I'm going to just give you this link (again) to his website where he has massive quantities of great photographs of his fantastic work. And this is the link to his eBay listings. You will not be disappointed.

Brad is a fine gentleman. I know he's going to be embarrassed a bit by my gushing adoration for him and his work but he SO totally and absolutely deserves all of the kudos and nods he gets. He's The Best!

Please do yourself a favor: set aside an hour or so to look at all of the incredible photos of his work on his website and on his eBay listings. Bid on eBay, buy from his website or commission a special, one of a kind piece. You won't be disappointed but if for some reason you are not happy, he's going to make it right. Trust me.