Starting from what year ( 1920 / 1930 ? )  as you may know PVA – polyvinyl acetate and / or vinyl resin was first available and used by painters as emulsion for the colour preparation and in particular by the most important European expressionist painters as PAUL KLEE , ALEXIEJ  VON JAWLENSKY , KOKOSCHKA and who were the vinyl resin / PVA main European producers at that time ?

PVA based paints are known as acrylics. Wikipedia says “As early as 1934 the first usable acrylic resin dispersion was developed by German chemical company BASF, which was patented by Rohm and Haas. Between 1946 and 1949, Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden invented a solution acrylic paint under the brand Magna paint. These were mineral spirit-based paints.

Acrylics were made commercially available in the 1950s. A waterborne acrylic paint called “Aquatec” would soon follow.

Otto Rohm invented acrylic resin, which quickly transformed into acrylic paint. In 1953, the year that Rohm and Haas developed the first acrylic emulsions, Jose L. Gutierrez produced Politec Acrylic Artists’ Colors in Mexico, and Permanent Pigments Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, produced Liquitex colors. These two product lines were the very first acrylic emulsion artists’ paints.

Water-based acrylic paints were subsequently sold as latex house paints, as latex is the technical term for a suspension of polymer microparticles in water. Interior latex house paints tend to be a combination of binder (sometimes acrylic, vinyl, pva, and others), filler, pigment, and water. Exterior latex house paints may also be a co-polymer blend, but the best exterior water-based paints are 100% acrylic, due to elasticity and other factors, but vinyl costs half of what 100 percent acrylic resins cost, and PVA (polyvinyl acetate) is even cheaper, so paint companies make many combinations of them to match the market.

Soon after the water-based acrylic binders were introduced as house paints, artists and companies alike began to explore the potential of the new binders. Water-soluble artists’ acrylic paints became commercially available in the 1950s, offered by Liquitex, with high-viscosity paints similar to those made today becoming available in the early 1960s. In 1963, Rowney (now part of Daler-Rowney since 1983) was the first manufacturer to introduce an artist’s acrylic color in Europe, under the brand name Cryla.

My main interest in plastics is because of my chess set collection, and I have one set that dates back to 1892/3 made of Xylonite. The chessmen are turned on a lathe,but the knights heads were cast in ” Steel dyes ” moulded by hydrolic pressure, this was the wording used in a price list dated 1893. The question that I ask is what material would the original carving been made of, for the steel dyes,reverse moulds  to be produced. One would presume that wood would not work as the heat of the steel would burn it.

There are two possible answers to your question.

  1. The original carving was made in copper and sunk into the steel die using a process called spark erosion.
  2. There was no original carving but instead the mould cavity was machined out and hand finished. Sounds improbable nowadays but you have to remember labour, even skilled labour, was cheap at the end of the nineteenth century so these tortuously long winded processes could usually be achieved quite cost effectively.

I realize that plastic is a common material used today, but why and how did it become such a popular material to use?

Plastics became a popular material to use to make things out of because of their inherent properties. They are cheap, lightweight, colourful, easy to manufacture with, easy to keep clean and warm to the touch. They give us the possibility of manufacturing well designed products from the very many different types of plastics materials that are commonly available today. Within manufacturing technology there is a very high degree of technological understanding of plastics and a range of sophisticated technological processes that enable us to make them and shape them in numerous ways. These are just the kind of attributes that people want in a material in this technological age.

What do you think the world be like today if plastic was never invented? I understand that the world would have products made of other materials, but would it be possible if some products today wouldn’t exist?

Many products that we have today would not exist in the form that we know them if they were not made out of plastics. Can you imagine your computer being made out of wood? Plastics are cheerful – without them the world would be a more boring, less tactile and less colourful place. Without plastics I would not be writing this on a MacBook Pro.

What are some other frequently used materials that rival plastics in business or production?

The only other viable materials are woods, metals, ceramics, textiles, paper, stone and glass. Look around you – imagine the plastic products that you see made of these materials. Your milk would be in a glass bottle, your crisps in a paper bag.

What are some other websites that you might know of that I could go to to get more information?

Have a look at the Museum of Design in Plastics. You can find it at – http://www.modip.ac.uk/

I have a celluloid Santa Claus that was my mother’s as a child. She was born in 1919, so she probably received it before 1929. I also have a bear from her that may be celluloid. I am interested in knowing when the use of celluloid was discontinued, whether some regard it as a collectible, and the approximate value of these items. The bear has a crack in one side and is a much thinner material than the Santa.

Celluloid is still made. One of its main uses nowadays is in the manufacture of table tennis balls. It went out of fashion in the 1940s when it was superseded by more modern plastics that were either cheaper to manufacture with or more hard wearing in use. Early celluloid is very collectable. A book to look out for is Celluloid Collectables – Identification and Value Guide by Shirley Dunn published by Schroeder Publishing Co. Inc. 1996. Celluloid Santas were very popular in the early 20th century and, like other celluloid Christmas decorations were made in great quantity. It is difficult to value your items without seeing them. Damaged celluloid has little value bit if your Santa is in good condition and still retains its colouring it should be worth $10 – 20.

I was wondering if you knew of a source for gutta percha. I am a huge fan of early plastic and would like to experiment with this material for possible inclusion in a piece.

Gutta percha is still used in the dental industry. Google ‘gutta percha suppliers’ for a list of companies selling to the dental trade.

How do i make Galalith?

There is a set of instructions for making Galalith (in England, Erinoid) at http://www.wikihow.com/Turn-Milk-to-Stone. You could also have a look at http://www.galalith.eu/findex.htm and contact them to see if they have a ‘kitchen table’ method of manufacture.

Do you have any information about Frederick Kipping 1863 – 1949?

Frederick Kipping was born at Upper Broughton, Manchester into a talented family. His father, James Kipping was an official of the Bank of England and also a farmer and member of the Manchester Chemical Society.

Educated at Manchester Grammar School and Owens College Manchester, Frederick graduated as a zoologist in 1882. Three years later he entered Munich University to study closed carbon chains and received his PhD in 1887. He joined Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh and became Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1897 and soon afterwards was appointed to the Chair of Chemistry at University College, Nottingham where he stayed until his retirement in 1936.

Professor Frederick Stanley Kipping of Nottingham, England devoted much of his time to the study of organo-silicon compounds, publishing 54 papers on the subject between 1899 and 1937 but he failed to forsee the potential commercial value of his work.

This was taken up by Corning Glass who, with Dow Chemicals set up Dow-Corning Corporation to manufacture silicone polymers in 1943.

Kipping died in North Wales n 1949, just as the value of silicone polymers was being realised.

Is Gutta Percha still in use?

Gutta percha is still used in the dental industry. Google ‘gutta percha suppliers’ for a list of companies selling to the dental trade.