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> I've Got Those Plastic Blues, I pine for wood, porcelin and marble...
Ian House
post Apr 10 2007, 01:04 AM
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I can't think of anything that offends my aesthetic sensibilities more than PLASTIC... Is this it? Are we forever sentenced to live with this stuff until the end of time? Will we EVER return to an age of high refinement and elegance? Just because something can be manufactured by using plastics, must it be? It just never stops. To me, when it comes to manufacturing, using plastic is like "phoning it in" - it's cheap, easy and disposable. It's function without form. (OK, plastic plumbing pipes make sense to me ... but that's it!)

_ _ _

I'm writing about this because I've just returned home from a trip to the market. Along my route, there is a vacant lot where they have been constructing a new church. Today, laying on the ground awaiting to be lifted into place, I saw a prefabricated PLASTIC steeple (fully formed with glorious -ahem- modern architectural detailing) It's a cheap joke -but- Is nothing sacred? It has as much appeal as a Burger King sign -actually, LESS! ... I can't wait to see how beautiful the stained-plastic windows will be.

I recently purchased a new home (which I highly doubt will survive a 19th Century brownstone in Manhattan) ... and I was depressed to learn that the highest grade bathtub offered by the contractor was made out of plastic. So much for the porcelain bubble baths of my lost youth.

True, plastic was invented in 1862 and enjoyed a steady period of experimentation and development throughout the 20th Century (remember Bakelite?) but we are currently reaping the FULL rewards of this chemical miracle child here in the 21st Century. And, it seems, it will only get "better" in the years to come :-( Soon, we will be driving the stuff, wearing the stuff, reading the stuff ... and maybe even eating the stuff as well ...?

This rant has been shrink-wrapped for your convenience.





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This post has been edited by Ian House: Apr 10 2007, 03:22 AM


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Andy Senior
post Apr 12 2007, 12:16 AM
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My black PLASTIC 1927 Parker Duofold Jr. fountain pen shows no signs of deteriorating--and, aesthetically speaking, it's a doll.
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Ian House
post Apr 12 2007, 03:37 AM
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QUOTE(Andy Senior @ Apr 11 2007, 06:16 PM) *
My black PLASTIC 1927 Parker Duofold Jr. fountain pen shows no signs of deteriorating--and, aesthetically speaking, it's a doll.


That's IMPRESSIVE Andy!

I tell you, that's 8o years!! ... That's a LOT more impressive than the LESS than sixth months of service that I just got out of my brand new office chair newly purchased back in September. I got it from an office supply store for about $45 retail. In the middle of January, the plastic structural components held within the swivel mechanism housing broke ... and, alas, the chair was useless to me. In fact, it nearly flipped me over and KILLED me!! ... It was about 90% made out of plastic component parts -the housing, the legs, the castor wheels, the armrest and the "upholstery". They used metal for a handful of screws, a vertical support shaft and probably some ball bearings in the castors that I couldn't see...

Anyway, instead of celebrating its first birthday with me next September, my poor sad-sack chair will be spending its golden years on top of all of my other broken plastic crap in some landfill somewhere. If it had been properly manufactured using metal components (and, perhaps, a little Jazz Age pride), who knows, maybe I would still be able to swivel in it 80 years from now in 2087. I might then be inspired to add a new update to this thread similar to your own, "My black PLASTIC Crapmade Co. office chair shows no signs of deteriorating--and, aesthetically speaking, it's still a hideous eyesore."

So, what can I take away from this? Let's see: Innocuous and commonplace things such as fountain pens, egg cups, telephones and computer mice CAN be made out of plastic (but please don't :-) ... but equipment and heavy machinery such as office chairs, lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners SHOULD NOT be (but they are :-(

_ _ _

Dismuke,

With all due respect, I'm not quite ready to accept the basic economics of your argument. Based on my most recent experience as outlined above (just one of dozens), I would need to spend a little more than $7,200.00 for plastic office chairs ( 1 chair and 159 replacements) to enjoy the same lifetime service of Andy's fountain pen. ... Or, if you prefer a more realistic scenario: $1,080.00 (12 years worth of chairs to replace the properly made wooden one I am now currently using) ... And this doesn't factor in any of my time spent in assembling these chairs and finding a dumpster when it comes time to bid my tearful adieus. (about 20-24 man hours)

When I can afford to do so, I LOVE to collect antiques from the Jazz Age ... and it's easy. The stuff still survives and is readily available (albeit, at a price :-) Thousands, maybe even millions of old typewriters, sewing machines, telephones, cash registers, vacuum cleaners, gumball machines, display cases, gramophones, milk bottles, etc, etc ... and, YES, even automobiles! Why does SO much of it still survive almost a hundred years later? I would argue that much of the reason is due to the quality of production and materials that went into their manufacture -and the craftsmanship of the wood, metal, glass, paper and BAKELITE! ( I admit it :-) And they respected the appropriate industrial application for each of these materials.

When I was living in California, I would often see vintage automobiles from the 20's-60s being used for daily commuting purposes and, of course, as collectible trophies. Curiously enough, in my 12 year stay there, I can't EVER recall seeing a Ford Pinto or Maverick or a Gremlin Pacer from the 70s. Either they have all turned into junkyard dust by now or they are just too aesthetically embarrassing to showcase around ... Or maybe I've just trained my eyeballs NOT to see them in the first place!?? That's entirely possible :-) I tend to believe, however, that the vintage vehicles were properly built and designed to last through several generations ... In fact, an old Ford pickup would be just PERFECT to use to cart off a mountain of freshly broken office chairs to the junkyard!

_ _ _

Putting the economics argument aside ... for after all, my original post was a complaint solely regarding the aesthetics of plastic as an overly used and abused material by today's industry - I think there is a social value that we realize from exquisite and "grown-up" industrial design, packaging, architecture, etc, etc. And I think it might deserve its price tag as well. Otherwise, every church in every community will be adorned with a plastic steeple ... and every plastic door will be covered with a wood-textured veneer. It'll be just like living in a giant-sized kiddy playland with toy buildings and astro-turf. The only thing missing will be the Fisher-Price logo.




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victrolajazz
post Apr 12 2007, 03:50 PM
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QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 11 2007, 10:37 PM) *
and every plastic door will be covered with a wood-textured veneer.

In the '70s, when every surface of every manufactured item--regardless of intended purpose--was covered in fake wood grain, my company, Lone Star Gas Company, actually marketed in its appliance section, a thermostatically-controlled space heater. Its insulated cabinet was covered with fake wood grain. A STOVE made out of wood!

Eddie the Collector
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Ian House
post Apr 12 2007, 05:01 PM
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QUOTE(victrolajazz @ Apr 12 2007, 09:50 AM) *
In the '70s, when every surface of every manufactured item--regardless of intended purpose--was covered in fake wood grain, my company, Lone Star Gas Company, actually marketed in its appliance section, a thermostatically-controlled space heater. Its insulated cabinet was covered with fake wood grain. A STOVE made out of wood!

Eddie the Collector


That's HILARIOUS Eddie!! :-) At least the heater wasn't actually made out of wood and covered with a fake metal veneer! ... I've always thought that the saddest fake-on-fake combination is wood-textured veneer on top of particle board (actually, more plastic on top of plastic)


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Posts in this topic
- Ian House   I've Got Those Plastic Blues   Apr 10 2007, 01:04 AM
- - Gart   Ian, Rant or not, you always have something inter...   Apr 10 2007, 03:04 AM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(Gart @ Apr 9 2007, 09:04 PM) Wasn...   Apr 10 2007, 03:17 AM
- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 9 2007, 07:04 PM) S...   Apr 10 2007, 04:01 AM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(victrolajazz @ Apr 9 2007, 10:01 PM...   Apr 10 2007, 04:12 AM
|- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 9 2007, 10:12 PM) A...   Apr 10 2007, 04:20 AM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(victrolajazz @ Apr 9 2007, 10:20 PM...   Apr 10 2007, 04:34 AM
|- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 9 2007, 10:34 PM) T...   Apr 10 2007, 04:40 AM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(victrolajazz @ Apr 9 2007, 10:40 PM...   Apr 10 2007, 04:58 AM
|- - Flapper Girl   Wow! Does it get any better than this? Tha...   Apr 10 2007, 02:25 PM
|- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 9 2007, 11:58 PM) E...   Apr 10 2007, 03:43 PM
- - Ian House   Well, we'll know the answer in: 66 days, 13 h...   Apr 10 2007, 04:56 AM
|- - laughland   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 9 2007, 11:56 PM) W...   Apr 10 2007, 05:37 PM
- - Flapper Girl   Oh, for the days when cars came with shiny, chrome...   Apr 10 2007, 10:12 PM
- - Roseman   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 9 2007, 07:04 PM) I...   Apr 11 2007, 02:35 AM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(Roseman @ Apr 10 2007, 08:35 PM) On...   Apr 11 2007, 03:14 AM
- - dismuke   I used to feel the same way Ian does about plastic...   Apr 11 2007, 07:19 AM
|- - Victor C. Brunswick   QUOTE(dismuke @ Apr 11 2007, 02:19 AM) On...   Apr 12 2007, 08:11 AM
- - Andy Senior   My black PLASTIC 1927 Parker Duofold Jr. fountain ...   Apr 12 2007, 12:16 AM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(Andy Senior @ Apr 11 2007, 06:16 PM...   Apr 12 2007, 03:37 AM
|- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 11 2007, 10:37 PM) ...   Apr 12 2007, 03:50 PM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(victrolajazz @ Apr 12 2007, 09:50 A...   Apr 12 2007, 05:01 PM
- - Andy Senior   Ian, The same exact thing happened to our compute...   Apr 12 2007, 04:43 AM
- - Ian House   Oh Andy, I'm SO sorry to hear that you were a...   Apr 12 2007, 05:10 AM
- - Andy Senior   QUOTEI bought them before the fad to repurpose the...   Apr 12 2007, 07:26 AM
- - Flapper Girl   When New Hampshire’s grand Old Man of the Mountain...   Apr 12 2007, 02:10 PM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(Flapper Girl @ Apr 12 2007, 08:10 A...   Apr 12 2007, 04:44 PM
- - Victor C. Brunswick   A while back I was at either a Target store or Kma...   Apr 12 2007, 06:46 PM
|- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Victor C. Brunswick @ Apr 12 2007, 01...   Apr 12 2007, 07:38 PM
- - Flapper Girl   I have several pieces of Depression glass, as well...   Apr 12 2007, 08:15 PM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(Flapper Girl @ Apr 12 2007, 02:15 P...   Apr 12 2007, 08:35 PM
- - Ian House   Contemporary Glass: .   Apr 12 2007, 08:47 PM
- - Roseman   O.K. Gang, This plastic thread needs a little att...   Apr 12 2007, 09:29 PM
- - Ian House   Plastic Lumber? I suppose that's no longer con...   Apr 12 2007, 09:40 PM
- - Flapper Girl   Now, let me see..... What did folks use before pla...   Apr 13 2007, 12:21 AM
|- - Roseman   QUOTE(Flapper Girl @ Apr 12 2007, 06:21 P...   Apr 13 2007, 01:34 AM
|- - dismuke   QUOTE(Roseman @ Apr 12 2007, 08:34 PM) Wo...   Apr 13 2007, 09:01 AM
|- - Roseman   QUOTE(laughland @ Apr 12 2007, 10:04 PM) ...   Apr 13 2007, 10:30 AM
|- - matto   QUOTE(dismuke @ Apr 13 2007, 04:01 AM) On...   Apr 14 2007, 03:37 PM
- - Ian House   Don, Thanks for sharing those childhood memories....   Apr 13 2007, 01:47 AM
|- - Roseman   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 12 2007, 07:47 PM) ...   Apr 13 2007, 02:22 AM
|- - Roseman   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 12 2007, 07:47 PM) ...   Apr 13 2007, 03:09 AM
- - Ian House   How wonderful to have such a vivid memory of that ...   Apr 13 2007, 03:04 AM
|- - laughland   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 12 2007, 10:04 PM) ...   Apr 13 2007, 04:04 AM
- - Flapper Girl   The porcelain chamberpots were usually decorated w...   Apr 13 2007, 03:01 PM
- - Ian House   Hi Matt, Your post is wonderfully redolent of ced...   Apr 14 2007, 04:10 PM
|- - matto   QUOTE(Ian House @ Apr 14 2007, 11:10 AM) ...   Apr 14 2007, 04:15 PM
- - Victor C. Brunswick   What I find to be a real eyesore out here are thes...   Apr 14 2007, 06:47 PM
|- - Ian House   QUOTE(Victor C. Brunswick @ Apr 14 2007, 12...   Apr 14 2007, 08:11 PM
|- - victrolajazz   QUOTE(Victor C. Brunswick @ Apr 14 2007, 01...   Apr 14 2007, 08:51 PM
|- - dismuke   QUOTE(Victor C. Brunswick @ Apr 14 2007, 01...   Apr 15 2007, 06:24 PM
- - Roseman   Not having a specific forum to put this post into,...   Apr 16 2007, 03:43 AM
|- - dismuke   QUOTE(Roseman @ Apr 15 2007, 10:43 PM) He...   Apr 17 2007, 01:43 AM
- - Roseman   Here's one we missed discussing when this thre...   Jul 10 2007, 12:37 AM


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