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Plastics suitable for jewelry


Does anyone know of a source or type of plastic that would be
suitable for jewelry purposes. I want to be able to cut it from a
sheet and polish it. I would like it to have a “bakelite” type of

Many thanks for any



Acrylic might work for what you are wanting to do. I have seen many
interesting pieces in books and in person using acrylic.


Laney Clark Kinetic Jewelry Designs


Plexiglass makes an excellent choice for jewelry. I have used it
many times. There are different thicknesses and colors available, it
can be cut with a hand saw and polished on a wheel with compound.

Andrea Streicher
Streicher Studios


Hi Sharon! Dupont makes a material called “Corian” which is a dense
plastic which is used for kitchen counters, among other things. I’ve
seen some examples of this material which have been lathe-turned, and
then polished to a nice glossy finish. It comes in different colors
and there are granite-like pattern variations available. Here’s the
main website for Corian:

Here’s the colors page:

Good luck! – Dan Weinstein


Hi, Sharon There is some Perspex (Plexi-glass) guidelines for
manipulating and colouring on my web site. Follow the “About link” on
the frames page. The was originally written by Dawn Guylas
(one of the best plastics artists in the UK). Hope you find this of
some use. Please find the URL below.

Brian Saynor BA (Hons)


Hi Sharon, There are some wonderful faux Bakelite techniques using
Polymer Clay (Fimo, Cernit, Sculpey, Promat, etc.). You can perform
an internet search using “Polymer Clay” or “Donna Kato” or “Tory
Hughes”, etc. Properly cured and finished, polymer clay makes a
great art medium. Regards, Mia


Is “bakelite” that crinkled enamel stuff? Or smooth and polished?

I got this from Tim Mcreight’s writings…

  "Plexiglas. Comes in many colors, can be sawn and filed. Use a
  light touch and avoid heat buildup at all costs. Polish with a
  lead- center muslin (no concentric stitching, just floppy layers
  of cloth) and Fabulustre. "

Dan Woodard


Sharon: I have used Plexiglas with good carving results. Carves easy
and takes a great polish. I then use a product called Ceramit to color
it in layers. The Ceramit is a acrylic enamel substitute used in the
jewelry industry. (all the enamalists are at this point knashing their
teeth at the thought of this substitute). Anyway it seems to provide a
harder surface than the plex. Check out the piece I have in the
orchid gallery (not the reverse photo the other one) entitled alien
artifact. It does not really do justice to the jewel colors the
Ceramit provides. I only use the transparant colors. just another
option. Frank Goss


Hi Frank,

Thanks for your response to my query. I looked at your alien piece
on the Orchid gallery. It is very interesting and very green! I
could not really tell how you used the process that you explained
above, but I do like the concept. Is ceramit a product that Rio

I have been searching all over the net looking for info on plastics
and jewelry. It does seem that plexi is the choice for most. Do you
think a burr-tip on my foredom would carve okay with the plexi? I
was also wondering if you had ever done anything with epoxy resins.
I have seen some contemporary styles of jewelry incorporating resins
for color and texture. I would like to try it, but again have not
found much info out in the world.

I noticed some polyester resin jewelry in some old books (1970’s)
with the look I am trying to achieve, but alas no techinical
So I guess I’ll do some more experimenting.

Talk to you soon.

Sharon B.


Dear Sharon, A good book on the topic of plastics in jewellery is
Harry Hollander’s “Plastics for Jewellery”, Pitman Publishing, ISBN
0-8230-4027-5 which you might be able to pick up through one of the
book search sites such as Amazon. Hope this helps, kind regards, Rex from Oz

Is "bakelite" that crinkled enamel stuff? Or smooth and polished?

G’day; Bakelite is one of the oldest synthetic plastics, invented by
Dr Baeklund It is an opaque phenol-formaldehyde resin, and is
called a thermosetting plastic because once set it will char instead
of melting. It is injection moulded for manufacture. It is very hard
indeed, is an excellent insulator, both for heat and electricity, has
no solvent, can be sawn drilled, milled, filed, threaded etc, and
that is the only way it can be reshaped. Because it has no solvent,
gluing, though possible with epoxies and superglue, isn’t very
satisfactory. It isn’t seen a lot these days because there are more
modern easier and cheaper plastics which can be used to do similar
jobs. Cheers,

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


One of my kids discovered that if one dissolves those little
styrofoam packing peanuts (not those new biodegradable ones) into
acetone about a bushel of them will make a half pint of plastic goop
that can be poured into various molded shapes, shrinking just a little
as it dries to solid polystyrene. Depending on the color of the
peanuts it can turn out white, green or other color. Acetone produces
fumes and is a fire hazard but once it evaporates out the solid polystyrene is pretty tough. Geo.


Dear Rex, Thanks for your response. Yes, I have heard of this book by
Harry Hollander, but alas it is out of print. I have tried to order
it from a rare book place, but the first attempt did not work, yet.
I have also requested my local library to get it from another library
some distance from where I live. I think this book could answer my
questions, if I could find it.

I appreciate your input. Sharon B.


Sharon: I first carve my piece of plexi with a foredom using several
different burrs. Course burrs or rotary files for heavy carving and
then finer burrs for detail and smoothing. I then use a sanding
cylinder and sanding disks to remove the burr marks and then finish
with various grits of wet dry sand paper to remove the heavier sanding
marks. I use the wet dry paper wet to keep it from loading. I then
polish with gray star and next with zam at slow speed. At this point
if I am using the Ceramit for color (which is a polyester resin ) I
use a 600 grit sand paper to leave a rough surface for better
adhesion. I then apply the Ceramit (yes sold by Rio Grande) in thin
layers according to instructions. I cure each layer in a curing oven
(again according to instructions) before applying the next layer. I
place my mixed compound in the refrigerator between applications to
retard the exothermic reaction of the polyester resin. this keeps the
resin from hardening as fast and thickens it for a denser viscosity
for less run during curing.For more check out a book
titled Plastics as an Art Form publishing date should be sometime
in the 70’s. I’ll have to check my library for a copy as to author
etc. I have used epoxy resins in jewelry, usually mixing them with
metal powders or other inlay materials with good results. the biggest
problem with all the resins both epoxy and poly ester is the toxicity
of the material before and during mixing.Be Sure, BE SURE, to follow
health precautions when using these products. Even Plexi emits toxic
gases when being carved so wear that respirator. any other question or
details please feel free to ask on orchid or direct email. Frank Goss