5/30/05 | Bakelite Bits

Bakelite BitsBakelite is a favorite plastic for many collectors. Invented in 1907 by Leo Baekeland this extremely versatile plastic went on to be used in a multitude of products through the 1940s. Lately, they’ve experienced quite a resurgence in popularity. I’ve seen a bunch of antique bakelite things at various garage sales and swap meets, but usually the items offered are the actual old products (such as bangles, dishes, and even radios).

Aileen from Bakelite Bits ups the ante by creating original one of a kind jewelry pieces from colorful remnant pieces of Bakelite, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and pins.

From her website:

I adore vintage materials and I have developed an appreciation, dare I say LOVE, of early plastics, particularly bakelite. My love affair started with a wonderful red/butterscotch Fada 1000 bullet catalin (bakelite) radio that came my way and has evolved into an enthusiasm to make things from this beautiful substance. I have been creating pieces of jewelry and other objects of whimsy from vintage beads, buttons and parts (found in flea markets, antique shops and from folks who have purchased old stock and remnants from defunct plastics factories) which are inspired by those fashioned in the heyday of this vibrant phenolic resin and infused with my own sense of fun.

Here is an example of the type of things that Bakelite Bits makes… This is a really cool looking hat pin made entirely of bakelite including green, butterscotch and tortoise swirl colored pieces. Two green bakelite beads are added on waxed linen cord to completel the pin. I actually thought it looked almost like a hamburger or somethign! It is 2 inches in diameter.

I’m a big fan of people reusing old items to make new ones, and if you like this type of jewelry making you should definitely check out her items. Aileen has been previously featured in publications like Vogue, Venuszine and Stylebakery.

You can visit her site at:

3 Responses to “Bakelite Bits”

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  1. Peg Says:

    I am trying to learn how to work with make/carve bakelite jewelry. I am particularly interested in working with older/vintage materials to make new stuff. Can you direct me anywhere to learn ?? I can’t see to find books or websites on the subject.

    thank you

  2. Administrator Says:

    peg - sorry, I don’t have experience with carving bakelite… but I’m hoping someone with expertise on the subject may answer this. I also might try bring this question up on the next Mailbag if no one answers…

  3. Denise Says:

    Hi Peg,

    Bakelite is typically cast, not carved. I used to work in a company that used it for “mounting” steel to examine it under a microscope. It’s “real” name is phenolic resin - you can contact the manufacturer directly to order material in a variety of colors. So, you make a clay mold, carve the mold (in reverse), let it harden / bake it, then pour in the bakelite. You’ll need to make sure that your melting temp doesn’t destroy the clay, though.