Handmade Celluloid Rings by Robert and Jerry Dodd
Sadly, Mr. Dodd passed away at his home on November 25, 2008, two weeks after his 91st birthday. Below is my original write-up on this amazing artist.
In January 2005, I was contacted by someone named Jerry Dodd. It turns out that his 87-year-old father, Robert Dodd, has been constructing celluloid rings for over sixty years, while Jerry himself has been making them for over forty years! (Celluloid was the first plastic.) [Update: Robert Dodd celebrated his 90th birthday on November 11, 2008, and has now been making these rings for over 70 years!] The rings are painstakingly assembled out of 20-150 separate pieces, with no tools being used but their own hands (no molds and no glue, either). Robert's rings were on display in the National Plastics Center & Museum in Leominster, Massachusetts (now closed). I was thrilled when Jerry very generously offered to send me some samples (refusing anything in return).
So where do the Dodds get the old celluloid for making these rings? From antique sources like toothbrush handles and musical instruments! Hot water shapes the plastic and acetone bonds the pieces together. Decorative elements like pictures, tin foil or initials can be added. The end result, in the hands of Robert and Jerry Dodd, is amazing.
Pictured at left are the rings Jerry sent me (first two photos) as well as more from Robert himself.
In the red and turquoise ring, the background of the centrepiece is tin foil; during the ring-making process, the foil was pressed onto a file to give it some texture.
The green ring also has a foil backdrop but, this time, texture was added by wadding it up and then smoothing it back out again.
Also pictured are a coin ring (1905 US penny), an Elvis photo ring and one with an inlaid cross.
The curators of the Plastics Museum, Keith Lauer and Julie Robinson, are the authors of the Celluloid Collectors Reference and Value Guide. Robert Dodd's rings appear in the latest re-printing of this book (see below).
Just for fun: check out this super tiny Dodd ring! (Of course, the rest are all regular size.)
Exciting news with the help of Robert's other son, Larry "Pete" Dodd, I've arranged to have a few Robert Dodd pieces for sale in my shop!
View the Rings
On display at the National Plastics Museum in Massachusetts
p.60 of Celluloid Collectors Reference and Value Guide