Friday, November 9, 2012

No Need for Plastic Knobs Concrete is Here

Plastic Knobs
Are Fantastic Plastic Cabinet Knobs Soon to Be a Thing of the Past? Find these at

I often sit writing this blog on plastics, melmac dinnerware and everything vintage and sweet plastic fantastic I am often plaqued and find myself in a Catch -22.  My primary goal is to create a likeness for all-things-vintage-plastic and to find a use for them, to keep them out of the landfill and in reuse as a method of living greener.  The flip side of course is that I'm actually a huge environmentalist who thinks one plastics blog is not enough! Although I do my part to try to reuse the vintage plastic in my home, in my life, and in my art, there's just too much new flooding the market out there.  There's just so much of it that even if somewhere were to write a blog 100 years from now and put the love back into old television remotes, our landfills would still be a mess.
KastConcrete knob
I still can't believe this is made of concrete, find them at

Now imagine my surprise when I found Greg Hensey out of Alabama out of his Kast Concrete Decor Etsy Shop  has decided to go up against plastic one small knob at a time. He's taken something that we normally don't think of as being able to be "dainty". When I think concrete I think of my uncle, a stone mason, who pours basements and steps, and walls, I never see the tiny details that Greg has managed to encompass in a single, teeny, tiny knob. How could he make it so gorgeous in design when in fact it's made of concrete?  It is true now after seeing this I fear for the lives of plastic knobs.  Will they soon be defunct because of Greg's gorgeous designs?
Kast Concrete
On Etsy you can find these knobs at
I suppose I should back up first.  Originally pre and during World War One plastics plants were molding everything from telephone handsets to plastic knobs. Mainly in the beginning everything was brown or butterscotch.
brown radio knobs
Brown vintage radio and tv knobs available at

bakelite knob
This old butterscotch bakelite knob has held up quite well. It goes on your car, find it at

These knobs went to everything and anything you could think of from car radios, to televisions to airplane controls. Some kitchen cabinet or furniture drawer knobs originally dating back to 1930's to 1940's were made of bakelite. Often becoming brittle and disintegrating over time, they were hard to repair or find replacements and the colors were limited until the late 1940's when Bakelite began introducing more colors--moving into stronger plastics production and the cool 1950's colorful era of knobs. Most radios still had clear knobs for instance if you bought a pink radio, sometimes the plastic knobs were clear and not pink, but in the rare case of this 1950's model (below), you would have the best red knobs yet:
ge radio red knobs plastic
BigRiverMercantile on Etsy has this great 1951 radio just waiting for you.

Over time the strength of the plastic improved but still, most kitchens upgraded to polished metal by the 1950's (although stove knobs were a mix of plastic and metal) Keep in mind those metal knobs would dull or show rust over time, so moving into the 1960s-1990's harder resin plastics and wood became more and more acceptable in the kitchen.   Now, if you are wondering, just where did all those gazillions of  old plastic knobs go?
old plastic knobs
Stores like CaityAshBadashery on Etsy sell old plastic knobs to artists to make things.
They are floating around in vintage shops on Etsy it seems. We hope that the artists come and save the day.  Old dirty plastic knobs pulled from radios, televisions, air conditioners or stoves end up in use for artist sculptures thanks to assemblage and mixed media art.  Wouldn't it be better however in the future if all knobs were made of concrete? Then perhaps one day, if you happened to walk in a landfill, you'd find a pile of stone rubble next to a pile of cracked up plastic and know just what was what.

kast concrete
Enter the Roxanne Knob. Oh yeah. Only $8 each at KastConcreteDecor on

Wow. R.I.P. little plastic knobs. It was nice knowing you.

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This post was sponsored by Antiques and Collectibles HQ.   This is a great site featuring valuable information on antiques and collectibles. If you love antiques and retro items as much as I do, make sure to visit them.  They keep me writing about things I love, which are of course, all things retro.

In the meantime, listen to the retro redhead!

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