Schultz Bakelite

The Shultz story begins in 1989 with a Bakelite button necklace fashioned by Ester. She sold the piece to a fellow vendor for $45, then watched its price double and redouble as it traveled from show to show up the Atlantic seaboard. Demand was instantaneous.

“Little People”, made of Bakelite and patterned after old designs, were their next success. Experiments with carving followed, as Ron bought a sheet of Lucite at an Atlanta flea market, cutting and carving it with a Dremel drill, hand-sanding and buffing.

We have a large selection of Bakelite by Ron and Ester Shultz, the first people in the US to recycle Bakelite, not only recreating old designs, but also creating their own pin and bracelet designs. Because there can be no new production of phenolic resin (Bakelite), recrafting is the only way to create new works.

Bakelite was the first totally manmade plastic. It does not melt, but will burn if it becomes too hot. It gives off formaldehyde fumes. Consequently, most of the Shultzs’ work is done in open air.

The Shultzs salvage Bakelite from old unrecoverable jukeboxes, broken radios, poker chip holders and mah-jongg trays of the 1930’s and 40’s. They use brass jewelry findings from that same era to create truly period pieces. Their work is not reproduction, but newly carved creations from old materials.

They did not initially sign their work, then briefly used paper sticker signatures. More recently, they are signing “Shultz” ┬áin script on the back of each piece. Their creations are highly collectible in their own right, and are expected to increase in value. They are distinguishable from their older Bakelite cousins by the high gloss finish achieved in the final buffing.

 

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