While reading about the history of art deco design, I came across an article on bakelite. Essentially, it's just phenolic resin (the stuff they make router plates out of) used as a binder for a whole lot of sawdust. I've been wondering: Is it possible to use other materials - say, fiberglass resin - to achieve the same effect? It wouldn't be pretty, but such a composite material would be cheaper, lighter, and easier to work after casting than most cast plastics, and with a sufficient amount of Bondo and some paint could look pretty spiffy.
You can see the sort of thing I'm thinking of here: