Marie-Christine Pavone, cutting galalith in her Paris studio.

Marie-Christine Pavone's charming galalith jewelry has attracted the attention of many collectors! Ms. Pavone has graciously allowed us to share photos that show her working in her studio in Paris.

Galalith , whose name originates from Greek "Gala" (milk) and "Lithos" (stone), is one of the oldest forms of plastic, first discovered in 1897,when two German researchers discovered that they could solidify milk casein by adding a small amount of formaldehyde.

Ms. Pavone, polishing galalith.

After 1900, galalith was used in the manufacture of buttons, toilet accessories, fountains pens and other objects. Pure white casein has an extremely fine texture which takes color beautifully and can be polished to a beautiful finish.

Galalith is manufactured dyed in solid colors, as well as white, but can be manipulated with the addition of additives with produce many different textures such as moiré and stippled effects.

Creating objects from galalith is a long and complex process.

Painting details on a pin like the one shown below

Galalith cannot be molded, which sets it apart from other plastics. Each piece of galalith receives a preliminary sanding, and is then hand cut. The pieces are then polished for days in a rotating drum, after which they are dyed and polished by hand and finally given their unique touch of lacquerwork, embellishment and hand painting by Ms. Pavone, whose unique style and flair have produced many delightful pieces of jewelry in the form of cats, bears, mice, and other animals which are instantly recognizable by their bold colors and whimsical designs.

Photos and information used courtesy of Marie-Christine Pavone.

Judy Smith
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