Here is another design I did with Lucite in mind:

Watercolor and Gouache Resin, Crystal and Silver Pendant Rendering on Black Silk Cord by Joana Miranda

As I’ve traveled down the path of figuring out creative ways of using plastic in jewelry making, I’ve mainly figured out what DOESN’T work!   Hand carving cast/cured resin leads to the unfortunate uncovering of little bubble holes (and I did stir the resin very slowly to avoid bubbles in the first place, as well as passing over the liquid resin with a heat gun as a further deterrent to bubbles!)  I’ve also learned (literally) the painful way that carving tiny objects with high speed drills while using my fingers as the vice is recipe for disaster…fortunately, the chunk I took out of my left-hand index finger this afternoon was in a place not affected by playing the viola in tonight’s Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert.

But I’m keeping Edison’s wise words in mind…I have not failed, not once.  I’ve discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.

As promised yesterday, here are some descriptions of the various types of plastics you’ll come across in jewelry:

Bakelite – Invented by Leo Baekeland in 1909, this castable plastic was originally used for industrial uses.  In the 1930s and ’40s, jewelry made from Bakelite became very popular for its lightweight and cost-efficient possibilities.  Coco Chanel was one designer who embraced the use of Bakelite in her jewelry lines.  Compared to Celluloid and Lucite, Bakelite feels heavier.  To read more about how to determine if your jewelry is genuine Bakelite, please read on here.

Celluloid –  The oldest plastic, dating back from 1869 (and sometimes referred to as French Ivory),  is a type of thermoplastic which was capable of being manufactured in countless color combinations as well as being easily pressed and stained with precision.  The invention of celluloid set the stage for costume jewelry – or the manufacture of jewelry from synthetic materials.  Celluloid, unfortunately, could be damaged by moisture.

Lucite – A transparent thermoplastic also known by the trade names Policril, Plexiglas, Gavrieli, Vitroflex, Limacryl, R-Cast, Per-Clax, Perspex, Plazcryl, Acrylex, Optix and Acrylic, to name a few!  This material was developed in 1928 and brought to market in 1933 by Rohm and Haas Company.  To read more about the chemical compounds in Lucite, please click here.

If any of my readers share my interest in working with plastic for jewelry applications and want to share insight and tips, please write in!


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