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Xylonite - The material of the future, from the past!

I found a small sheet of original xylonite in a reclamation yard and was quite fascinated by the material. Not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but it has made me curious about and interested in historical plastics. 

Xylonite was the original name given in the 1870s to an improved version of Parkesine, the very first man made material we would recognise as "plastic" these days. Xylonite comes from the Greek Xylon which means wood.

Xylonite proper is made from cellulose nitrate and formed into sheets, like my offcut. It was then made into everything from knife handles to snuff boxes. Xylonite is shockingly flammable by today's standards; I put a cigarette lighter to an end to see if it would melt, and the flame literally jumped across and the Xylonite near enough exploded into flame. I'll keep that in mind when working on it in future, and clearly, heat polishing is not an option!

My small sheet of Xylonite has an interesting energy to it which is what drew me to it. I look forward to making something out of it. And my research into the history of the material, its ancestry and the development of man made substances is fascinating.

Let's find out what happens next ... :-)

Xylonite cut off from an original sheet

Xylonite Sheet cut off I found in a reclaimer's yard

Xylonite manufacturer's label

Xylonite manufacturer's label closeup

Xylonite advertisement from 1894

Xylonite Advertisement from 1894

Xylonite repeating seamless background texture

Me having fun making a Xylonite repeating seamless background texture :-)


Xylonate x animated gif  Xylonite X animated gif :-)


Xylonite - The material of the future from the past!


More about Xylonite and other historic plastics can be found at:

The Historical Plastics Society - The Plastiquarians :-)

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