Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How Brighter Bakelite got started..

Hello Bakelite lovers!
I am finally blogging. Be patient, as I am not a computer person, and have not blogged before.
The time has come to just Do it! I have hesitated to write because I don't know where to start.

The intention of this blog site is to provide a lot of information that I have learned over the years through a lot of research and curiosity, and genuine love of the material.

This first post is about how it started...

Ever since I can remember, I have shopped at thrift stores. The only time I had new clothes was for my Grandmother's funeral, and I didn't like them. One of the things that I noticed and liked was Bakelite. It was everywhere in the '80s! If I had the means to store it, I would have amazing huge Bookends, Lamps, Desk sets, and everything that was made from it.

Fast forward to about 4 years ago, when I worked for a prominent vintage and antique clothing company. My main duty was repairing clothes, as I have been sewing since I was young. I branched out into repairing shoes, hats, and accessories. My partner had an impressive Bakelite collection with a few pieces that our friend had refinished for her.
I thought "I could do that". She gave me two pieces to work on, and it went well, so I bought some tools at a yard sale. She was reluctant to have me do any more, since she was very used to how they looked.. but... she had me do a couple more, and a couple more, and as the amazing colors emerged, she told her friends, and I was onto something!

Now, let's back up to how I was confident enough to go for it..

I have always liked polishing things, and did it as a hobby. I worked with stone, metal, and wood. In fact, I was a woodworker in my early 20s, and had a carved Armoire on the March 1994 issue of Phoenix Home and Garden magazine, which was a special issue called "Masters of the Southwest". My specialty was antique reproduction, mostly Old World style.
I have also worked with blown glass, stained glass, and various other materials.
More recently,  I made custom parts for cars out of plastics similar to the Bakelite formulation, and even have some Bakelite pieces in the engine of my race car! My friend and I built a mobile dance club out of my 34 foot Winnebago that had a clear plastic (Lexan) upper level dance floor. It was 27' by 8' and supported a lot of dancing people!

When I decided to make a business of this, I learned everything I could about Bakelite, and consulted my good friend who is a Master chemical engineer with a high position at Intel corp.

I never liked the idea of sanding Bakelite, and using metal polish chemicals on it, so I devised my method.
I have refined it over the years, and added UV protection, and got the idea of the anti tarnish bags because I didn't like that they would patina again quickly (especially with sanding).

I now have original equipment from the Bakelite factories and have studied how it was made, carved and finished. I have collected books on all of this, mostly from people who have worked with it many years ago.

I also have collected stock Bakelite rods, tubes, and factory pieces, as well as the original hardware and findings.

This is in my blood now (maybe literally), and I think I will do this for the rest of my life.

Since you are reading this, you are supporting me and I thank you!!

I am open to questions, and am looking forward to writing a Q&A blog :-)