19 Nov 2006
table of elements
A couple of years ago I bought a ceramic bowl from a bootsale. It was orange, *bright orange*, with a rather camp decorative black on white band. The the colour really drew my attention, the bowl looked like it was made in about the 1930s and I knew that in that period uranium oxide was used in some orange glazes. I searched on the net for uranium oxide in glazes and to my delight discovered Theodore Gray's stunning Wooden Table of Elements, and spent may geeky but happy hours on the site.
Now don't think my bowl does use uranium oxide, the colour seems rather redder and more intense than the fiestaware, which leads me to think that it is more likely to be red lead (triplumbic tetroxide). I keep meaning to find someone with a geiger counter just so I can be sure, but you know what a chore it can be locating a geiger counter in rural West Wales...
Either way, we are content to have it on display in the living room away from where we sit, and we will not be serving food out of it.
I mention this just because the makezine blog had a link to Pop Sci's interactive periodic table showcases 93 element samples from the collection of PopSci contributing editor Theodore Gray, who spent four years assembling and photographing them. Very cool.