Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/exhibitions/1159161445/

Plastics

Nature By Design: Plastics From molded tortoiseshell and vulcanized rubber to bioplastic pellets and semi-synthetic yarn, the beauty of natural plastics and the creativity achieved with these pliable materials are explored in this surprising range of objects from Cooper Hewitts collection. The animal and plant kingdoms were the original sources for materials with a quality known as plasticitythe ability to be bent or molded into virtually any form. Natural thermoplastics like tortoiseshell and horn can be split into thin, translucent sheets that become malleable with heat. Rubber and leather can also be molded with heat, but harden irreversibly to become strong thermoset materials. Semi-synthetics, such as rayon or celluloid, are made from plant materials processed, purified, and reconfigured to change their properties. Enthusiasm for natural plastics led to the overharvesting of raw materials; some animal species became endangered. To keep pace with consumer and industrial demand, scientists developed synthetic substitutes starting in the late 19th century, going on to create a flood of inexpensive petrochemical plastics in the 20th century. Produced and discarded in vast quantities, these petroleum-based plastics now present a global environmental crisis. In light of their harmful impact, we have come full circle. Designers, manufacturers, and consumers today are exploring traditional and non-traditional natural materials, investigating novel approaches to their use and processing, and creating renewable and biodegradable bioplastics as sustainable solutions for everything from packaging to home goods.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18103475/

  • boiled, molded and wax-impregnated leather (cuir bouilli)
  • Gift of Samuel P. Avery

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18104243/

Box

  • shaped tortoiseshell with silver inlay
  • Gift of Sarah Cooper Hewitt

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18135723/

  • carved, heated and shaped horn, silver (hinge); leather, paper (case)
  • Gift of Samuel P. Avery

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18173661/

  • carved tortoiseshell sticks, silk ribbon (probably replacement), tortoiseshell washer and metal loop at the rivet
  • Gift of Clarence Hoblitzelle

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18186867/

  • bent buffalo horn (vertical bars), lacquered bamboo (horizontal hoops bracing bars), ivory, molded tortoiseshell (with substraight of silverleaf on vermillion on wood), cedar wood, various metals (brass, possibly paktong, white metal), jade, glazed porce
  • Gift of Mrs. Herman Frasch
  • container
  • fish
  • birds
  • protection
  • seagulls
  • crabs

Tortoiseshell, like horn, is a thermoplastic which can be shaped using heat, moisture, and pressure. Working the material was a laborious, costly process. Objects made from tortoiseshell were considered luxury goods. The simple cylindrical form of this birdcage is embellished with extravagant materials including form-fitting curved tortoiseshell veneer around the base, intricately carved ivory feet, and lavish accessories.are

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18187965/

  • shaped tortoiseshell, ivory, metal; wood and graphite (pencil)
  • Gift of Georgina and Louisa L. Schuyler

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18187993/

  • shaped, carved and pierced tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Georgina and Louisa L. Schuyler

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18209891/

  • formed and carved tortoiseshell, metal (hinge), steel, glass
  • Gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18311839/

  • cut and shaped tortoiseshell on wood core, silver, glass (bottles), textile (interior)
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18311841/

Box

  • shaped tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18312565/

  • shaped, carved and pierced tortoiseshell
  • Bequest of Mrs. John Innes Kane
  • decoration
  • curving form
  • women's fashion accessories
  • personal adornment
  • women
  • leaves
  • foliate

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18312699/

Box

  • heated, sawn, and flattened horn with inlaid gold, silver
  • Bequest of Mrs. John Innes Kane

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18316485/

  • shaped tortoiseshell with carved and applied tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Mrs. Gustav E. Kissel

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18351919/

  • cut and drilled horn
  • Gift of Norvin Hewitt Green

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18417777/

  • tortoiseshell inlaid with gold and silver
  • From the collection of Mrs. Lathrop C. Harper

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18424997/

Box

  • shaped tortoiseshell, ivory, wood, silk (cord) silk velvet (interior)
  • Gift of Estelle S. Frankfurter

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453477/

Box

  • molded and carved tortoiseshell inlaid with silver and mother of pearl
  • Gift of the Estate of Harry G. Friedman

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453481/

  • shaped horn with gold piqué
  • Gift of the Estate of Harry G. Friedman

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18455899/

  • formed, pierced and carved tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Christian Rohlfing

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18457427/

  • worked tortoiseshell inlaid with gold
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18457549/

  • worked horn with applied repoussé silver, topaz
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18461437/

  • rayon
  • Gift of Mrs. Germaine Little

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18463863/

  • shaped and engraved tortoiseshell with applied pigment and repoussé silver (mounts)
  • Gift of Mrs. Jacob M. Kaplan

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18468963/

  • silver-gilt, shaped tortoiseshell, cut diamonds and rubies, lapis (base); leather with silk and velvet lining (case)
  • Gift of George Seligman
  • interior decoration
  • timekeeping
  • luxury
  • decorative
  • clock

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18493249/

  • viscose rayon, acetate, gelatin sequins
  • Gift of David Glickman

The luxurious fabric of this sample, accented with gold and translucent cellulose acetate sequins, is composed of two different materials: overtwisted rayon, used to produce the crepe texture, and acetate, with which its soft hand would have ensured the effortless drape of this proposed design.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18493251/

  • cellulose acetate, glass and cellulose nitrate bead
  • Gift of David Glickman

The fashion industry embraced the wide range of new fabrics woven with semi-synthetic fibers to produce stylish clothing. The shape of this embellishment indicates it is a sample for the neckline of a woman's garment and is made from a shimmering mix of natural and semi-synthetic beads.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18495005/

  • shaped tortoiseshell, bone, gold, metal
  • Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18495145/

  • white metal, celluloid film, photograph
  • Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18495463/

  • celluloid, vulcanite, brass
  • Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18495651/

  • molded vulcanite
  • Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18502757/

  • molded vulcanite
  • Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18503531/

  • molded rubber or gutta percha
  • Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18504599/

  • Designed by Alessandro Fabri
  • engraving on laid paper
  • Gift of Kit Robbins

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18504603/

  • tortoiseshell, paint
  • Gift of Kit Robbins

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18556517/

  • pierced and painted buffalo hide leaf, carved buffalo horn handle
  • Gift of V. Isabelle Miller

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18558353/

  • molded vulcanized rubber, printed cardboard
  • Gift of Syncellus L. Mount
  • rubber
  • sales
  • sample
  • sewing

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18559447/

  • shaped and carved tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18603455/

  • Manufactured by American Viscose Corporation
  • paper board, paper, wood, glass, wax paper, rayon
  • Gift of American Viscose Corp.

The American Viscose Corporation was one of the leading domestic manufacturers of rayon, the first semi-synthetic fiber. This educational booklet was part of the company's marketing campaign to promote viscose rayon as a modern and technologically innovative product that was an affordable, good quality alternative to natural silk.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18603625/

  • shaped tortoiseshell with carved applied tortoiseshell monograms
  • Gift of the estate and in memory of Robert B. Noyes

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18606043/

  • tooled leather over wood, metal, silk (interior)
  • Gift of Mrs. Max Farrand

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18620777/

  • assembled and pinned steer horn, cut and shaped horn sheets, wood, metal, brass, glass, leatherette upholstery (modern)
  • Gift of Jack Lenor Larsen
  • interior
  • decoration
  • home
  • overlapping
  • nature
  • curving line
  • brass

Trained as a cabinetmaker, Wenzel Friedrich immigrated to the U.S. in 1853, settling in San Antonio, Texas. In 1880, he realized the potential of the Texan stockyards’ plentiful supply of steer horns for use in furniture design. It is likely Friedrich was inspired by furniture he had seen in Europe where antlers and other emblems of the hunt were used as decor as early as the 15th century. Friedrich’s longhorn furniture fulfilled the Victorian fancy for the unusual, as well as symbolized the Wild West. Heating the horn made the material pliable, allowing Friedrich to create exagerated curves for his pieces.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18639111/

  • acetate rayon
  • Gift of Richard N. Fried

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18640775/

  • molded vulcanized rubber, mirrored glass, gilt metal
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor
  • display
  • revival
  • ornate
  • foliate
  • toilette
  • grooming

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18646717/

  • shaped, carved and pierced tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Mrs. Owen E. Robinson and Mrs. John B. Hendry in memory of Mrs. John A. Logan

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18646721/

  • tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Mrs. Owen E. Robinson and Mrs. John B. Hendry in memory of Mrs. John A. Logan

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18655255/

  • molded and painted cellulose nitrate with applied glass pastes
  • Museum purchase from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18667785/

  • celluloid
  • Gift of Frances Jones Poetker

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18712529/

  • carved tortoiseshell, gold
  • Gift of Dorothy Warren

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18714667/

  • wool felt, bast fibers, leaf, urushi lacquer
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor
  • interior
  • decoration
  • container
  • organic
  • vessels
  • bowls
  • experimentation
  • texture
  • irregular
  • form
  • lacquer
  • felt

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18768397/

  • heat- and steam-shaped horn, with engraved and black-stained decoration
  • Gift of Barbara Munves
  • decoration
  • personal
  • curving form
  • waves
  • flowers
  • trees
  • floral
  • scrolls
  • curvilinear
  • curved
  • tool
  • stylized
  • geometric
  • tapered
  • fleur-de-lis
  • shoes
  • footwear
  • handheld
  • guilloche

This is a rare shoe horn from about 1600—only 17 examples from this period are known to exist. The detailed decoration of what was typically a plain, utilitarian object suggests that it may have belonged to a toilet table set. The engraved designs may relate to blackwork embroidery.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18799861/

  • shaped horn with applied engraved sheet silver
  • Bequest of Ruth Vollmer

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18800609/

  • formed tortoiseshell, applied gold, glass, metal
  • Gift of John Torson

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18804087/

  • leather, wood, wool, brass
  • The Robert L. Metzenberg Collection, gift of Eleanor L. Metzenberg
  • travel
  • flowers
  • fruit
  • laurel leaves
  • leather
  • cutlery
  • cases

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18805613/

  • double-sided leaf of plain weave and gauze weave silk net with applied metallic spangles, sticks of imitation tortoiseshell with inset metallic circular spangles, painted wood slips, imitation tortoiseshell washer at the rivet.
  • Gift of dorothy Warren in memory of Blanche Allien Warren (Mrs. Charles Clarke Warren)

Cellulose nitrate was used to replicate different costly materials, including tortoiseshell. This fan's materials were only able to be discerned under ultraviolet (UV) examination and magnfication- its fluorescence and the presence of dispersed dyes indicates that it is cellulose nitrate, not natural tortoiseshell.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/52027847/

  • Manufactured by Carnegie Fabrics
  • woven bio-based polyethylene yarn, heat embossed
  • Gift of Carnegie Fabrics

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68862751/

  • Designed by Formafantasma
  • dewaxed shellac, bois durci (sycamore wood and egg albumen), beeswax, leather, glass, ink on paper
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108711687/

  • rayon
  • American Textile History Museum Collection, gift of Katharine Kreiser and Arthur Larson

A souvenir from the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing, New York, this scarf commemorates the various buildings and monuments at the fairgrounds. The Chemical and Plastics Building, sponsored by DuPont, featured displays of research labs and manufacturing processes. Included were a rayon spinning machine, a machine that added bristles to toothbrushes, and a debut display of DuPont's nylon stockings.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108711693/

  • rayon
  • American Textile History Museum Collection, gift of Katharine Kreiser and Arthur Larson

This souvenir of the 1939 New York World's Fair was woven on-site in an exhibit demonstrating mechanized weaving with DuPont rayon. It illustrates the DuPont Chemistry Wonder World, a building designed by Walter Dorwin Teague and R.J. Harper, which featured a spectacular 105-foot, test-tube-shaped tower.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793292/

  • painted horn, silk, brass, glass, cardboard (case)
  • Bequest of Ann Hardy

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793362/

  • tortoiseshell
  • Gift of Belmont Freeman, for the family of Maria Magdalena Kjellesvig González de Freeman

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793363/

  • sticks of pierced cellulose nitrate with silk ribbon, celluloid loop and rivet caps, metal rivet.
  • Gift of Belmont Freeman, for the family of Maria Magdalena Kjellesvig González de Freeman

This fan represents an experimental period when substitutions for costly natural materials were being explored. The cellulose nitrate has been colored to mimic and exaggerate the natural striations found in ivory. The material's inherent vice of giving off or "off-gassing," harmful acids has led to its darkening and the deterioration of the silk ribbon.

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793613/

  • Designed by Handmade Industrials
  • bioplastic (capa™ 6800 caprolactone), synthetic and mineral pigments
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund

Plastics

https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318798770/

  • Designed by Sulapac Ltd.
  • Manufactured by Sulapac Ltd.
  • wood chips, natural binders (sulapac)
  • Gift of Sulapac