Category: DeeDee Wood

The incredible Lapis Lazuli stone

Lapis Lazuli means stone of blue in Greek and Latin roots, and Lapis Lazuli is a compound made up of lazurite, a feldspar silicate. It originates in Afghanistan and is known for its blue color. Lapis has been used in pigment paint coloring, inlay on antique furniture, frames, boxes and even tombs of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Lapis Lazuli is found as a component imbedded in limestone in northeastern Afghanistan, where mine deposits have been worked for more than 6,000 years. Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman civilizations obtained the bright blue rock from this region for their art and other uses. Trade routes were established near the mines since the Neolithic age for these ancient civilizations to procure the stunning stone. Lapis is also found in other places on the planet, but in smaller quantities. Some of the first uses of the blue stone were used for inlay of ancient worshipping figures, beads, jewelry components and handles of ceremonial knives. In the ancient poems of Epic of Gilgamesh, circa 17th century BCE, lapis lazuli is mentioned several times, showing its importance as a revered item in decoration to these early civilizations. The early Syrians used lapis lazuli as inlay for things like irises of the eyes in statues, inlay in ancient jewelry, and trade beads. Myceanaen jewelry from the people to the East of Egypt show the...

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Bakelite: The world’s very first plastic

Bakelite was invented in the early 1900s by a Belgium-American chemist and inventor named Leo Hendrik Baekeland, in Yonkers, N.Y. Known as the world’s first plastic, Bakelite transformed how things were constructed, and forever changed the concept of technology, chemicals and materials. Bakelite was named after Baekeland and was a polymeric plastic made from phenol and formaldehyde. Bakelite was thermosetting, which means it did not melt with heat, and for this reason, it was a great nonconductivity barrier for electrical components and systems. In this way, it was used in insulators, telephone components, radios, and other machines and parts that needed heat-resistant properties. The earliest uses as an industrial agent were moldings for bushings, non-conducting parts for telephones, radio parts and electrical devices of all kinds. Sockets of light bulbs and tubes also saw the use of Bakelite. Because of its chemical properties, it could be molded very quickly, thus decreasing production time drastically. It was used in molds because it remained smooth, retained shape and was resistant to heat and scratching. The original Bakelite was dark brown and darker colors, due to chemical compositions. The automobile and electrical fields also used Bakelite due to the heat-resistant properties, and such things as distributor caps, insulators, radiator parts and electrical components that required reduced heat or low-conductivity were used. It was a miracle product that could be molded and fitted...

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History of the oyster plate

The oyster plate is collected by many antique aficionados who enjoy the beauty, elegance and nautical lure of such an object. There is a rich Victorian past with the oyster plate, as well as hostess rules and impressing affluent guests with these little wonders of artwork in porcelain. The oyster plate was first conceptualized in the time of the Victorians. Oysters, at the time, were thought of as a shellfish delicacy, and the plates represented your ability to project your knowledge and wealth of the world around you. The plates were beautiful, sometimes intricate, delicate, and showcased the food delicacy with flare. Oyster plate production went into full swing during Victorian times with hand painted motifs, floral patterns, unique patterns and makers from around the world. Plate production slowed down after World War I when the lifestyle of the Victorians and serving such a thing as a “delicacy” became a thing of forgotten times. In the United States, factories that made porcelain responded to the obsession with this special delicacy by designing plates for the elite class to serve their guests. Silver-plated forks also were designed to accompany the plates, and lavish dinner parties among the East Coast elite in the 1870s and 1880s served dishes made by famous companies such as Union Porcelain Works, Limoges of France and other fine European and American factories. Increased affluence from the...

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The history of kites

As the breezes of early spring blow into March, one’s mind turns to flying kites. What is the history of kites, and why do we fly them? It all began in Asia, particularly China, and had many versatile uses through the years. Kites were invented in Asia, most likely China. Materials such as silk, used for the “sail” and string, were plentiful and aided in the construction of the air-worthy item. Earlier kites, from B.C. Chinese philosophers, such as Mozi and Gongshu Ban, around 549 A.D., were using paper when flying kites. The earliest known Chinese kites were flat and often shaped like a rectangle. Early kites were used for messaging, measuring distances, signaling, testing wind directions and military operations, such as placement of troops. Kites were decorated, in those early days of China, with military motifs and mythological tales. Sometimes, depending upon their use, they were fitted with whistles and other objects, that, when flown, would whistle in the wind or make sound, probably to locate them, and to signal. They would also make musical sounds when flying, a whimsy that was purely aesthetic in nature. Eventually the kite concept made its way into India, where it was used in festivals and as a celebratory object to honor religious deities. Kites also made their way into New Zealand and Polynesia in these early times, utilized as a festival...

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Sailor’s Valentines

Sailor’s valentines were shells arranged in intricate, symmetrical designs, encased in glass cases, hinged in the middle, so when you opened them, it was a sort of “valentine” made of shells. They were marketed to sailors as gifts to bring home after long voyages in the service to the sea, to loved ones who were awaiting their arrival from the journey. The name of the item implies that sailors made these shellcraft boxes themselves. However, most of them were made and sold to sailors, a large number of these objects being made in Barbados, which was a large seaport to sailors during the period the valentines were most popular, 1830 to 1890. Research into the boxes of shellcraft suggests that the women of Barados made the valentines using local materials and shells, although sometimes they would import items needed from areas of the world such as Indonesia. Some valentines that are deconstructed have newspapers backing them from Barados, further supporting the story that many were made and sold in that area. The idea of an encased glass case with shell mosaics was initially developed by a few seaman wanting to bring home a special gift to loved ones, but two Englishmen, George and B.H. Belgrave, changed all of that. Entrepeneurs in their own right, they recognized that seaport shops could make money in Barbados using the local shells and...

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