pequotNewsletter April 2018

Pequot Library Screening 

On March 1st, the screening at the Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut was tremendously gratifying.

The audience of 65, 
were enthralled and asked challenging questions during the Q&A. Some technical and philosophical questions were answered by  Edward Werner Cook, chemistry professor at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, CT. 

Edward answering questions with Hugh

For the past two years, Professor Cook has been showing our film to his students. Thank you Edward for participating at our screenings and for your ongoing support.

We thank Tracy Steneken, public program manager at the Pequot, for organizing and hosting the screening. It was a pleasure working with you, Tracy.

Gwen and Parker Ackley's antique car, seen in our film, was on display in front of the Library. Mike Ciulla, who opens our film with the line, "What is Bakelite," attended. Thank you all for coming.

It's interesting to note that later in his life, George Baekeland, Leo's son, lived in Fairfield, Connecticut. He contributed generously to the Pequot Library.

road_tripRoad Trip to Philadelphia

Hugh and Marc visit the Baekeland/Bakelite display at the Science History Institute

After the 4th Nor'easter struck the East coast cancelling a trip to Philadelphia, the next week, Marc and Hugh drove to the City of Brotherly Love to view the short version of the documentary film,  at the Science History Institute (formerly The Chemical Heritage Foundation).

The film gave histories of four of the many chemical instruments invented by Arnold Beckman and touched on his personal life as a philanthropist. Before and after the film, Marc and Hugh chatted with the moviemakers.

Glenn Holsten, director, Mariel Carr, producer and manager of video and multimedia production at the Institute and Roger D. Turner, PhD,
research fellow
Prior to the screening, Marc and Hugh met with Bob Kenworthy, in-house chemist and manager of affiliate relations and Sarah Reisert, awards program manager at the Institute, to discuss a possible collaboration.

Bob Kenworthy and Hugh

Bob Kenworthy and Hugh

Hugh also enjoyed a reunion with Ronald Brashear, director of the Othmer Library at the Institute. They had met years ago when John and Hugh were doing research for the film at The CHF. Hugh saw Ron again a few years later at The CHF Heritage Day. 

Ronald Brashear and Hugh

Ronald Brashear and Hugh

Hugh viewing an Arnold Beckman centrifuge

Hugh viewing an Arnold Beckman centrifuge

Baekeland and Bakelite display at Science History Institute

Bakelite display showing a polyresin replica of
The Bakelizer at the Science History Institute
scanImages of Baekeland's Laboratory
Discovered and Scanned

Burk scanning

Burk scanning

Burk Wagner, the research chemist who appears in our film, has been scanning printed materials and photographs owned by Nancy Welch of Westfield, New Jersey. Nancy is the nonagenarian daughter of Larry Byck, the chemist who worked for Leo Baekeland and Bakelite from 1910 to his death in 1956.  

See videos of Nancy and more of the scanned images on our website.

Marc Burk Nancy and Hugh

Marc, Burk, Nancy and Hugh

The following images were scanned miraculously by Burk from tightly wound rolls of film taken in the 1940s. They reveal Leo's laboratory before it was lost to fire in 1957. 

The person in two of the images is Larry Byck. He was hired by Leo at the age of 16, attended Columbia University, graduating with a degree in chemistry. He was an employee of the Bakelite Company and Corporation. Larry assumed many of Leo's passions; one being photography. Larry was also an avid gardener, most likely inspired by amateur botanist, Leo Baekeland.


Katarina and Radio Nurse
katarinaKatarina Posch on Design

Katarina Posch, who appears in our film, was a professor of design history at Pratt Institute.

John and Craig used the outtakes from her interview for the film to create a 17-minute video, in which Katarina gives a vibrant look at the design and product development inspired by Bakelite.

As reported in last fall's Newsletter, Katarina lives in a rehab facility in her hometown, Vienna, Austria following a massive stroke.  We are especially grateful to her for participating in the video's creation.

For their guidance and support, we are grateful to Andrew Barnes, Dean at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, John Decker, Chair of the Department of the History of Art and Design and Cindie Kehlet, Professor Math and Science department. 

Katarina's longtime friend and colleague, Guenther Grall, professor of the history of design at the University of Salzburg, Austria has requested copies of the DVD.

If you would like to purchase a DVD, please email 
Katarina's close friend in New York City, Joseph Hoane, has reported that her ongoing educational efforts have inspired students at Pratt, as well as others who know her.

Joseph has set up a GoFundMe site that provides information and a source for financial relief for her rehabilitation expenses. If you would like to learn more about her experience and participate please visit
upcomingAPRIL 25 th-28th  at the 6th biennial Baekeland Thermoset Symposium 2018 in Shanghai, China

Hugh and his wife, Sherry will fly to Beijing on April 21st  where they will tour the city and visit the Great Wall. Then they fly to Shanghai for the Symposium. Afterwards they will train to Hangzhou for a two-day tour of the city. 
They are grateful to Symposium organizer, Jason Cui, secretary SAMPE China Mainland Region, for arranging the transportation and lodging. He also orchestrated their itinerary and guided them through the Visa applications.

Special thanks to Symposium host, Professor Tong Zhao, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for translating the film script into Chinese subtitles. 
For several weeks, John Maher our director, has worked with a translation company in New York State to burn the subtitles into the film. 
We thank independent phenolics consultant Louis Pilato, who appears in our film, for facilitating the screening and Hugh's appearance in China. Louis will present at the Symposium. 

Hugh will say a few words at the opening of the Symposium  and introduce the film. 

National Plastics Exposition (NPE)
May 7th-11th 

We are planning to attend NPE, the National Plastics Expo, which is produced and trademarked by the  

This is a great opportunity to network and pitch our film to plastics manufacturers, university professors and students in the plastics fields.

On May 6th, we will attend The Plastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner.  See more >  (Leo Baekeland is one of the scientists represented
in the Plastics Hall of Fame.)
For the opportunity to meet and network with alumni and friends an
d learn more about Plastics 4.0 at UMass Lowell, we will attend their Department of Plastics Engineering reception and dinner on May 8th.  See more>

We strongly support UMass Lowell's efforts to encourage students to learn the latest developments in plastics. Please consider making a contribution to sponsor a student's attendance at NPE2018. Gifts of $250 or more will sponsor one student's place at the conference. Every gift makes a difference. 

Sponsorship opportunities are available.

For information, contact 978-934-4821.
JUNE 7th NJ SAMPE Upcoming Screening

Another screening has been initiated by Louis Pilato, who appears in our film. It is scheduled for June 7th at the Evonik Corporation Applied Technology Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. 

The screening will follow a dinner during the June meeting of the New Jersey Chapter of SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering).

This event is for Evonik employees and members of SAMPE. However, if you are interested in attending, please contact us for details:
Besides screenings at plastics and chemical industry events, we continue to promote and market our film to educational institutions, libraries, museums and media companies worldwide. 

If you know someone that works in film distribution, please contact
Marc Huberman at:

All Things Bakelite: The Age of Plastic

Two versions of the film available
21 minutes / Educational - Industry
56 minutes / Full length