DIY Bakelite

Written by eliza herring
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DIY Bakelite
Make your own vintage-inspired Bakelite items at home. (beads image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)

Bakelite is considered the first entirely man-made plastic. The amber-coloured resin was originally used for industrial purposes, but by the 1920s it began being used to make consumer goods. Radios, jewellery, clocks and buttons were all made of Bakelite during the 1920s and 1930s. You can create your own vintage-inspired Bakelite goods at home.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Bakelite resin
  • Catalyst
  • Pigment
  • Waxed paper
  • Goggles
  • Latex gloves
  • Molds
  • Mold release
  • Sandpaper
  • Sealer

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Prepare to work. Cover your work space with waxed paper to protect your furniture from resin drips. In addition, wear goggles and latex gloves while working to protect your eyes and hands.

  2. 2

    Prepare your moulds. Before mixing the resin, prepare the moulds that will shape the resin. Coat the inside of the moulds with a mould-release spray. This will ensure that your finished product will slide out of the mould easily after the resin has cured. You can find both the moulds and mould-release product at your local craft store.

  3. 3

    Make and colour the resin. Bakelite and the necessary catalyst may be available in your local craft store. If not, you can find these materials at online retailers. Once you have your supplies, mix the resin and catalyst. The package of resin that you purchase will specify the ratio of resin to catalyst you will need to mix. At this stage, you will need to add colour to the Bakelite if you plan to do so. Mix the pigment into the resin thoroughly for even colour.

  4. 4

    Pour the resin into the moulds. Cover the exposed resin with waxed paper. Allow 24 hours to cure to the touch.

  5. 5

    Sand and finish. After you remove your cured resin from the mould you may want to sand it to create a smoother finish. To smooth large bumps, use a course grit sandpaper (100-180 grit). To create a smooth surface, use a finer grit sandpaper (600-1500 grit). If you choose to seal the Bakelite, paint on a sealant after finishing sanding.

Tips and warnings

  • When sanding your Bakelite, do so in a well-ventilated area. Inhaling the dust can be hazardous.

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