Synthetic Carvings
Bone & Plastic Carvings


Bone Carving

The carving of bone basically started in the Bohemian forest. When business for this craft slowed in the early 20th century, these bone carving craftsmen made their way to the Gablonz area where they adapted their talents to carving high-quality hand-made items from synthetic materials. Franz Ulbrich was a manufacturer of jewelry who employed many of these bone carvers after WW I and they worked with both synthetic and natural materials such as bone.

Synthetics

In Vienna during the 1870's Franz Ulbrich (1856-1926) put celluloid into common usage with his manufacturing of jewelry - celluloid was one of the first synthetics used to produce jewelry. After much experimentation, Franz Ulbrich produced bangle bracelets and hairpins decorated with celluloid ornaments. Celluloid foil was worked into floral designs which were a great success on the markets for many years. In 1894, Ulbrich introduced "coral" beads made of celluloid and then the "amber" celluloid beads which became their specialty. Franz Ulbrich was the reason Gablonz became world renowned for their production of celluloid beads, for he was a true pioneer in the industry. Up until about 1914, most countries were supplied with celluloid articles from Gablonz. Between 1918 and 1938 Franz Ulbrich's company experimented with almost every synthetic material which had come into the market. From 1889 to 1938, his sons Max and Walter continued the family business.

Up until the 1930's, synthetic materials fell into two categories based upon their chemical characteristics. In use since the 1870's, Celluloid and Galalith were modified natural materials which could be shaped by implementing a variety of different methods. The second category, Bakelite and Pollopas, were used since about 1909, and were thermosetting plastics, which took shape only when they cooled.

Source of Info: Baubles, Buttons and Beads, The Heritage of Bohemia by Sibylle Jargstorf.

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