Chatoyant

Letter describing Loy's design for Chatoyant
Chatoyant. Mina Loy Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Bienecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Among various other creations, Loy was also keen on compiling her own synthetic substance—made partly out of plastic. Loy chose to name this substance based on its aesthetic features, calling it “Chatoyant”. She cites the Webster’s definition in explanation: “changeable lustre or color like that of a changeable silk or cat’s-eye in the dark.” Included in Loy’s notes is an explanation by way of diagram made of wax and foil paper, depicting a shiny, lustrous texture and deep blue color.

Loy’s chatoyant is a bright, multi colored “metal, metal foil or foil paper”, that is mixed with “transparent plastics of glass, either white or colored”. Loy explains that the two layers would join together by “electrical process, moulding [sic], pressure, heating surface fusion or cementation or any suitable process”, signaling some degree of knowledge about the modern manufacturing of plastic.

The availability of new substances, particularly of plastic, fueled Loy’s desire to innovate and create. In 1927, Loy toyed with Crystal Lux, a cellophane material, and used Rhodoid—a type of thermoplastic—to design ornamental flowers which sold to department stories such as Macy’s and Wannamaker’s. In the 1940’s, around the time Loy began to devise Chatoyant, she also sketched a design diagram for a Christmas light using rods of Lucite, an acrylic glass-like plastic to be painted with a frosted finish.