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Author Topic:   Mother of Toilet Seat, Ivoroid, etc. plastics
Brad Bechtel

From: San Francisco, CA

posted 03 October 2001 02:17 PM     profile   send email     edit
From :
Q: Is "ivoroid" just a euphemistic made-up term for ivory-looking man-made plastic material?
A: No, it is the official name for ivory-looking, man made, pre-plastic, invented because of the actual shortage of real ivory.

Q: Is the term "Mother Of Toilet Seat" another name for "Ivoroid."
A: No. "Mother Of Toilet Seat" (MOTS) is the humorous nickname given to the plastic like decorations, inlays and overlays found on many high end and some low end instruments from the 20s and later. The name MOTS derives from the substitution of the material for Mother-Of-Pearl and Abalone. Ivoroid and "Mother of toilet seat" are the same chemically (they are both made by dissolving short cotton fibers in nitric acid, and forming the resulting cellulose nitrate into soft sheets that can then be colored or patterned in various methods to resemble tortoise shell, ivory, or mother-of-pearl.) but the manufacturing process beyond the initial chemical engineering differs. MOTS is made by mixing fish scales (yes, fish scales) and previously hardened blocks of fish-scale celluloid into a mass of soft celluloid, forming it into a block, allowing it to harden, and slicing sheets from the block. Ivoroid is made by interleaving thin sheets of white and clear celluloid, allowing the block to harden, and slicing or cutting sheets and chunks at right angles to the laminations. "Tortoise shell" colored celluloid (picks and pickguards) is made by pressing hardened chunks of brown celluloid into a soft mass of clear celluloid, allowing the mass to harden, and slicing sheets from the block. So, yes, they all have the same chemical origins, but the manufacturing process for each differs somewhat. Dupont patented a process and called the resulting product Pyralin. It was used on Vegas and Gibsons as well as other brands of instruments.

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From: Boulder, Colorado

posted 03 October 2001 04:20 PM     profile   send email     edit
Thanks, Brad- great info!
Michael Johnstone

From: Sylmar,Ca. USA

posted 03 October 2001 10:20 PM     profile   send email     edit
Is that similar to "Mother of Bowling Ball" and "Mother of Shower Curtain" that I've heard so much about? -MJ-
Brad Bechtel

From: San Francisco, CA

posted 04 October 2001 09:08 AM     profile   send email     edit
That's the same stuff, although I've never heard it called "mother of shower curtain".

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Bill Moore

From: Manchester, Michigan

posted 05 October 2001 07:07 AM     profile   send email     edit
I first saw the term "mother of toilet seat" in Guitar Player magazine, used by the writer "Tiesco del Reye" I guess this was back in the 70's, Was he the originator of the term? It's now used by everyone to describe that finish. At the time, I thought it was pretty funny, now it's a accepted term. Everyone knows what MOTS means.

[This message was edited by Bill Moore on 05 October 2001 at 07:10 AM.]

Steve Honum

From: LosAngelesCa

posted 05 October 2001 08:20 AM     profile     edit
Bill, I agree. Teisco's reference is my first recollection of this term. What ever happened to old Teisco? He released an instrumental CD in the late 80's called something like 'Songs for Lovers'?? The early Fender 6 string lap steels had what is described in the Smith book as acetate sheets which were heated and shrink wrapped over the wood bodies to create their bitchin' finishes. I believe this is MOTS. The Fender Custom Shop is still making guitars with this type of finish. I wonder if they use the same technique as in the 50's? I haven't been in a plumbing store lately, but are they still making toilet seats this way? I saw some nice laps steels with MOTS finish in New Zealand under the Commodore brand. They were made by a guy down there in the 50's and early 60's. A few of the Hawaiian players there use them.
I guess they can produce similar finsishes using Formica now.
Haere mai,
Steve H.
Steve England

From: Austin, TX

posted 05 October 2001 08:41 AM     profile   send email     edit
Teisco is still aroung and living in Austin. Saw him play a few weeks ago at the Texicalli Grills 20th anniversary party. He doesn't seem to play to often nowadays which is a shame.
Did he really originate the term MOTS? I am impressed.
Andy Volk

From: Boston, MA

posted 05 October 2001 01:21 PM     profile   send email     edit
Teisco Del Rey (named after the 50's/60's Japanese import instrument brand) was the pen name (pick name?) of former Guitar Player writer, Dan Forte. He was a champion of cheap, weird, off-the-wall guitars - like the "Guitorgan" - a guitar with organ circuits. He played great roots rock & surf guitar with an offbeat sense of humor. Glad to hear he still gigs occasionally.

From: Raleigh, NC, USA

posted 08 October 2001 11:45 AM     profile   send email     edit
I believe that the plastic "pearl" covering is called "Mother Of Toilet Seat" because years ago, TOILET SEATS were covered in this stuff! I have actually seen old toilet seats covered with "pearloid" Pyralin!

So there you go.

On another note, anyone know where I can pick up Pyralin sheets for covering guitars? I'd love to make a bunch of inexpensive lap steels and sell them on the Forum - MOTS covering would be really neat.

Matt Farrow
Marlen 9-string 6+2
Kustom K150

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