The Beauty of Bakelite

     In a dreary chemical laboratory, in 1907 New York state, a chemist named Leo Baekeland was looking for a way to replace common shellac (which was cooked from beetle poop- I’m not kidding).
     He tinkered. He measured. He made notations. He… had to use the Men’s room- and, by mistake, left the butane flame on underneath a vial of phenyol-formaldehyde.
     When he returned, the vial had shattered and laying on the tabletop was a hard clear block that matched the exact shape of the broken beaker. 
     He reheated it and it wouldn’t melt.
     He dropped harsh chemicals on it’s surface- no reaction.
     He zapped it with electricity- nothing.
     Eureka! 
     Forget the shellac. He had a super-insulator!
     Patents were filed!
     Disc brake cylinders and electric plugs were manufactured!
     Homemakers no longer burned their hands on hot irons and saucepan handles!
     Soon, tastemakers were molding jewelry and Mahjong tiles!
     It was all so exciting and made many people rich, but time ( and invention) marched on and newer, harder plastics were developed and the ‘Bakelite’ revolution came to and end.
     But not before this gorgeous material found it’s way to handling flatware.

     And I have quite a collection. 

PINIMAGE
Mismatched and Sets. Sterling and Stainless.
Found in dusty bins and
on polished tabletops-
I love it (and use it) all!

   
   




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