The past seven years have seen another of those romances of modern industry that are so common in America—the birth of a new material that surpasses the products of nature in beauty, utility and accessability. From the cauldrons of the chemists has come a new gem, a gem so inexpensive that the meanest of the Sultan's rubies would buy a ton of it, yet surpassing in color, in brilliance, intricacy and delicacy of pattern the finest gems Mother Earth has ever produced and man has ever cut and polished. The ruby is the least of the chemist's accomplishments—jades and carnelians, ivories and ambers, quartzes and lapis lazuli, have all given up their secrets, and are now being poured by the ton daily in a dozen steaming noisy factories into leaden molds, thence to spend five days in the temple of fire, there to undergo as great a change as the real gem undergoes during millions of years of heat and pressure in the bowels of the earth. They emerge at last, to bring fire, beauty and color, not merely to the Sultans and Kings, but to all mankind. Such is the genesis of cast resins—the "gem of modern industry".
Until recently, cast phenolic resins were only available to the manufacturer and volume purchaser, but within the past two or three years various agencies throughout the country have offered them to the school and homecraft trade, and they have taken the craft world by storm. No material ever before offered has presented the beauty and artistic possibilities, combined with the may workability with common equipment, that is found in cast resins, and in no other material can a perfectly-finished, "professional-looking" project be turned out with such limited equipment, minimum labor and comparative inexperience. These factors have made cast resins an instant favorite in arts and crafts circles, as well as among homecrafters and spare-time home manufacturers. No longer must laborious hours be spent in planing, sanding and rubbing-down countless coats of finish, for with these new colored plastics, a few touches with a power sanding-disc and a buffing wheel with the proper compounds yields a surface of unsurpassed beauty and glass-like smoothness, a permanent and indestructible finish, without a coat of any kind of varnish or stain, without waiting for anything to dry, and most important of all, with the same pattern and color all through the material. In other words, mistakes and scratch** can be "buffed off", without doing the job over again.
This material has captured the attention of the dilletante and serious worker alike, for it provides quick and perfect results with little work, while on the other hand, the serious worker can devote as much time as he desires to his project, confident that full value for his time will be reflected.
A bracelet can be made in ten minutes, which will be the equal of any that can be bought in the stores, or ten evenings of work can be spent on it and it will still reflect proportionate value. But whether ten minutes or ten evenings have been spent on a project, it has that "professional", detail-perfect look and finish that is so difficult, or almost impossible for the amateur to obtain, when working with other materials.
The joy of creating new, beautiful and novel designs which depend almost entirely for their attractiveness on qualities inherent in the material itself and not upon your own labor, of seeing these designs quickly take shape in your hands, the admiration and respect the finished work commands, are realized in full measure in this material.
In classwork, a child with a piece of sandpaper and a file, or a senior with a screw-cutting lathe, can both take home an article they have made which compares favorably with anything their mothers and fathers can buy, and say that "they made it"-the proudest moment in a child's life, and the parent does not have to blush when praising it. The project can be so designed as to cost a few pennies, or a few dollars, and to fit the abilities of any age student.
A block of wood is just a block of wood, and even a piece of steel or polished brass or sheet of pewter, much ai we may admire its smooth texture is still only metal, but plastics—until you have actually worked with it, seen its amazingly beautiful and gem-like brilliance of color and pattern flash into being at a touch on the buffing-wheel, you have no conception of the beauty that can be so created on the simplest of homeworkshop equipment with this remarkable new material. Its warm, smooth skin-you-love-to-touch texture, the fact that its color and texture goes all through the material and can be uncovered at any point by buffing, and the ease with which it can be worked on any type of equipment, or even by hand, are factors which have combined to make it one of the most popular of modern crafts materials.
For the hobbyist, working cast resins provides a really "worthwhile" hobby, one which avoids the embarrassment always occasioned when the audience to which the proud craftsman shows his latest handiwork fails to appreciate its fine points. With cast resin projects, the beauty and utility of the article turned out is so obvious that the most unsympathetic sees it at once, and no apologies or explanations are necessary.