Passionate about extraordinary objects? Consider Polymethyl Methacrylate.
Such a boring name for substance so luminous and exciting. And so useful, I might add. It is the same versatile material used in too many ways to mention - from making eyeglass lenses and, who knew this one, the “bubble” in the submarines! We, however, are particularly fascinated by the esthetic properties of this transparent plastic, commonly called acrylic glass or simply acrylic.
Acrylic was developed and brought to market in the 1930s. Because of its unique properties, it is often used as an alternative to glass. It is less dense and has higher impact strength. Unlike glass, acrylic will not shatter, making its use very practical in home decor. Modern furniture makers often incorporate acrylic into their designs, giving otherwise ordinary objects a translucent and futuristic look. The possibilities are unlimited for acrylic furniture - from an elegant sofa or a chair minimally accented with acrylic legs or armrests to stunning dining set made entirely of acrylic. Every taste is catered to, and manufacturers use a variety of scratch-resistant coatings for added practicality.
But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of its artistic use is the exploitation of acrylic’s light transmitting capacity, which is significantly higher than regular glass. As a result, creatively crafted acrylic art forms appear jewel-like under natural or artificial light. Sculptors take advantage of the material’s flexibility and relationship with light to create marvelous pieces, which become proud displays even in places outside art galleries - in homes and offices. Acrylic sculptures come in various shapes and colors, from the most vivid futuristic forms to the most recognizable fun shapes - like flowers, fish, or seemingly weightless but quite heavy butterflies. The greatest visual effect is achieved by displaying a sculpture on an acrylic pedestal, usually an art form. Savvy acrylic enthusiasts use special lighting techniques to accentuate unique characteristics within their piece, creating a glorious spectacle.
Most acrylic sculptures are cast by pouring liquid acrylic into a mold where it’s kept until it reaches stiff consistency. After curing under heat and pressure to achieve clarity and hardness, the sculpture is removed from the mold and finished by hand using a variety of files and grinders. The frosted look is created by blasting the surface with glass powder while the smooth surfaces are polished with buffing wheels or a jeweler’s rouge.
Acrylic art is very easy to maintain despite its delicate and sophisticated look. Fingerprints or dust on polished surfaces can be wiped off with a clean flannel cloth. For extra crisp cleaning or to remove dirt from the frosted parts, the sculpture can be washed with mild non-abrasive soap. Dishwasher soap or window cleaning products should never be used. The safest bet, of course, is to use products specially formulated for cleaning acrylic, which can do wonders for keeping acrylic pieces beautiful for years. Even scratches can be removed!