Tag Archives: Bakelite

“I Spy” Saturday, #11

Welcome Back! How were your holidays? Alex and I relaxed as much as possible and we’re slowly but surely settling into Louisville.

My current thrift obsession is Bakelite, an early plastic used for everything from radio and telephone casings to kitchenware, jewelry and toys. There’s a trick to Bakelite identification (I use Semichrome polish) and the thrill of finding a piece at a thrift store fills me with a naughty sort of glee since I am a bargain hunter as well as a vintage one. If you are learning how to identify Bakelite through trial and error as I am, the thrift scene is more forgiving of your budget than an antique store is likely to be and you don’t beat yourself up as badly when you make a mistake. Sadly, Louisville’s thrift scene is rather spartan compared to what I became used to in Denver and the pickings have been slim – Bakelite or otherwise. That said, if you’re from Louisville and think there are any thrift or vintage stores I should check out, please let me know via comment or email. I will happily give you credit for your recommendations!

So, have you put together what today’s “I Spy” is about? If you guessed “Vintage Plastic” you are correct. Specifically, “Vintage Plastic Jewelry”. I thought I was becoming a fairly savvy vintage plastic jewelry shopper, but this Instagram post from Anne (@jarekwastaken) gave me pause:

can we talk about this #leastein for a minute? #shortmoney #celluloid #vintagejewelry #vintagebracelets #plasticruleseverythingaroundme #rideitlikeyoustoleit

can we talk about this #leastein for a minute? #shortmoney #celluloid #vintagejewelry #vintagebracelets #plasticruleseverythingaroundme #rideitlikeyoustoleit

Did you know about Lea Stein? I sure didn’t. A quick Wikipedia search taught me that Ms. Stein (1931-) “is a French artist and accessories maker.” Around 1965, her interests turned to plastic and she partnered with her husband, a chemist, to create a unique process of layering thin sheets of plastic, baking them and then cutting them into shapes. This description of Ms. Stein’s process reminds me of how croissant dough is “laminated”. To make croissant dough, layers of dough and butter are alternated, formed into shapes, baked and cooled – a difficult process that can take several days. In Ms. Stein’s case, the thin sheets of plastic can be thought of as the dough and the colors, textures and fabrics can be thought of as the butter. Instead of a few days, Ms. Stein’s process can take as long as six months.

Many of Ms. Stein’s works were created between two periods: The first being 1969 to 1981. This initial grouping is considered to be “vintage” and pieces created from 1991 to the present are considered to be “modern”. Bakelite is among the types of plastic Ms. Stein worked with in the vintage grouping. I don’t know about you, but thinking I might come across a piece that is a Lea Stein and also Bakelite makes it twice as much fun to hunt for these goodies. So, keep an eye out! Ms. Stein’s brooches are named (for example, “Ric the Airedale Terrier”), feature an inscribed clasp and each named design was usually created in more than one variety of color and/or pattern. Lea Stein brooches and bracelets are highly collectible and often sell for hundreds of dollars. Do you own a Lea Stein?

Image via Cynthia

Image via Cynthia

“I Spy” Saturday, #10

I apologize for the long break between posts.  March saw me working every day (sometimes at both of my jobs) and following that I had surgery.  What’s a girl to do?  (Not post, is what I’m guessing.) Let’s take a look at what I’ve found over the past month!

Image courtesy of The Plaid Thermos

Michelle at Thrift Obsessed posted about The Plaid Thermos‘ “Fake or Bake” Bakelite testing kits and I think they are simply brilliant.  As Rebecca of The Plaid Thermos states on her blog, “No more wondering if a piece of jewelry etc. is Bakelite or not while standing in a thrift or antique store (or going through existing jewelry at home). Now you can easily take with you a “Fake or Bake” kit! It fits easily in your purse &/or pocket!”  I’m ashamed to admit how many times I’ve purchased a piece of jewelry thinking it was Bakelite only to get home, test it and find that it was not.  “Fake or Bake” kits run about $11.00 and can be purchased from The Plaid Thermos’ Etsy shop here.

Wondering what to do with all those lovely vintage hankies you’ve got stashed around?  Pattern Patter posted an idea I’m absolutely envious of from Lake and Garden.  Turn them into a hankie quilt!

Image courtesy of Lake and Garden

Have you ever seen anything more lovely?  Imagine that quilt in a guest or child’s bedroom. Suzanne of Lake and Garden shares the process of making the above quilt here.

Need something to listen to while you sew?  Maybe a little punkabilly?  The Koffin Kats shared recently via Facebook that they are part of a new punkabilly compilation titled ‘Punkabilly Shakes The World’.  I’m always up for finding new bands to listen to.  I discovered The Koffin Kats through a similar compilation.  As its title suggests, ‘Punkabilly Shakes The World’ features punkabilly bands from all over the world.


After you sew your quilt, you can cuddle up and celebrate the 24th anniversary (25th if you’re going by the year the show is set in, 1989) of Twin Peaks.  Instagrammer @dollymaevintage  posted about these fabulous Twin Peaks travel posters created by Jazzberry Blue.  Prints from Jazzberry Blue’s Etsy shop run as low as $22.00 and feature several mid-century modern inspired prints that are nothing short of stunning.

Once you purchase and frame your Jazzberry Blue prints, you can use the following tips posted by Black Dog Architectural Salvage (the same shop featured on Salvage Dawgs via the DIY Network) to hang them.  The tips come from Driven by Decor and are a popular Pinterest pin.

Image courtesy of Driven by Decor