Color Style Kyle

Combining art, creativity, design, family, health, humor and books.

Artists Celebrating a Century of Plastics

Posted by Kyle Design on June 2, 2007

An exhibition opened last week at London’s Science Museum that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the world’s first entirely synthetic material. The show, Plasticity – 100 Years of Making Plastics, explores how plastics have come into our lives, homes and bodies.

Bakelite, a phenol-formaldehyde polymer resin, was the creation of Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekland. His factory turned out billiard balls, tabletops, counters, gears and washing machines. Bakelite jewelry became all the rage in the1930’s and early 1940’s. In the 1967 film The Graduate, the Dustin Hoffman character is offered the one-word career advice of “plastics.” I have to laugh because it appears that my dad took this bit of advice to heart.

My father, the artist Robert G. McKeown, was known for the intricate wood and resin jewelry boxes he designed. He developed this innovative process, which he called “Cloisonne In Wood,” as the result of 10 years of experimentation. His pieces were created by pouring the liquid polyester resin directly into chambers he constructed in the surface of the box top. The resin naturally tended to pull away from the wood, crack, discolor and trap air bubbles. My dad was determined to overcome all these problems because of his strong desire to interpret his elaborate designs in color. He gave me the secret recipe on his death bed in 1989 so that it would not be lost forever. The history of plastic is very much a part of my family history.

So, in a continuation of family tradition, I use plastics to add color to my artwork as well. I Abstract Shell Business Card Holderscreate an unusual, beautiful shimmery iridescent film to embellish my business card holders, pill boxes and Christmas ornaments, etc. I make this special film using a propriety process I developed, so you will only find it on my work. Because it is thin and pliable, it allows great flexibility in how I can use it. This special plastic is one of the qualities that makes my work unique.

To see more of my colorful creations, please visit my website at Kyle Design Personalized Gifts and Home Decor.

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