Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fabulous Fordite - Working with Unusual Materials by Karen McGovern

A couple months ago, the lovely Patti Vanderbloemen gifted me an amazing, weird hunk of Fordite. What is Fordite you ask??? Let me explain: 

Fordite is paint. Layers and layers of automotive paint. True Fordite is found at...you guessed it...Ford plants. It is the overspray that builds up when cars are painted in the factory. Imagine, hundreds--THOUSANDS--of cars getting painted weekly in Ford factories. The spray booths end up with a ton of overspray over time. This stuff is broken off in hunks and was, until fairly recently, thrown away. Then us artists got our hands on it. A rough hunk of Fordite can be cut and polished like rock. Beautiful, striated, colorful rock made of PAINT!

A rough hunk of Fordite. See the layers of paint??? Cool!
I had heard of Fordite and seen it used in jewelry, but had never actually purchased or come in contact with any myself--until Patti sent me a nugget! The moment I held it, I was hooked. It's so COOL! I created the pendant you see here--I loved the unusual shape of the nugget--the paint is so reflective and bright! I love the stuff. Since then I have lurked online, hoping to score more Fordite cabs, and finally hit the jackpot last week. I purchased some amazing Fordite from lapidary artist Bob Caveglia (look him up on Facebook--he has some great rocks and stuff!!!). I just got it and am itching to create with it. I immediately made the ring you see here. Every piece is different, and sometimes it's hard to decide which side of the cab to use. Both sides of each cab are so beautiful and different. 

Pendant made using Fordite from Patti, a ring made using Fordite from Bob Caveglia.
Three more cabs I purchased from Bob, waiting for me to play....

David Vance Horste is another lapidary artist whose work I drool over greatly admire. He has an Etsy shop--be prepared to give him all your money. His stuff is AMAZING, and he also cuts and polishes Fordite, and was kind enough to give me some very useful info that I will share here. Evidently, vintage Fordite is in high demand and brings top dollar, whereas contemporary Fordite isn't quite as expensive. Personally, I couldn't care less--the Fordite Bob and David cut is gorgeous and I don't care how old it is. In the paragraphs below; David discusses Fordite and rainbow cal silica (another material I am totally unfamiliar with), which are sometimes confused. According to David:

"There STILL is Fordite and there still is overspray. I started selling Fordite on eBay in 2000 and the story has changed since then. There still IS over spray but there is a LOT less of it, and the older stuff does tend to be better. The spray booth doesn't have to be closed, they break this stuff off and throw it away during regular maintenance. Very few people can actually tell contemporary Fordite from vintage and it generally doesn't make much difference, although hardness, polish, and sparkle matter no matter what the age. 

As for rainbow cal silica, I remember when the folks at Colbaugh Processing first started selling it and at first they tried to tell folks it was natural. Then I started hearing that it came from the settling bond of a Mexican tile manufacturer. I'm pretty convinced that the folks at Colbaugh who sell it also make it. They run the Kingman mine in Arizona and stabilize lots of turquoise in addition to making lots of reconstituted stuff in a variety of colors. Their rough rainbow cal-silica has gotten a lot more uniform and linear over the years and the rough is in brick form now. When I first saw it the rough was at least in layers that evoked some natural formations. So my vote for rainbow cal silica is that it's intentionally made from reconstituted rocks whereas Fordite is accidentally made from paint overspray."

A rough hunk of rainbow cal silica. Definitely manufactured.
David also works with bowlerite--cabs cut from BOWLING BALLS. Yes, definitely set aside a couple hours to look at his stuff. Your welcome.

I love working with new materials and love artists that think outside the conventional jewelry box bringing us unusual materials to use! To the first artist that cut a hunk of Fordite into a cab--THANK YOU!

Do you love working with unusual materials? If so, please share what you've created. I think it's great to venture outside your comfort zone, experiment, and play with new toys. It's how we expand and grow as artists!!! Show me your toys!

Now, go make something AMAZING!

5 comments:

stacilouise said...

I am in love with the strands of beads that Gary Wilson has at shows. They are made from odd things like that, bowling balls, pieces of sidewalk, slag glass, ect.......someday I will get one for me ;)

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

When I bought that Fordite, I knew you would make something fabulous with it - and you did! :) Love the ring - and those cabs...swoon! I love this stuff!

I have seen beads made with bowling balls - it is all just so fascinating!!!

Great post!

Lee Anne Messerschmidt said...

I love Fordite! I have 2 pieces and I guess I am saving them for something..LOL. Maybe after the first of the year I will make myself something out of them!!
Great info in this post. Thank you.

Carol Dekle said...

Wow, the Fordite is just beautiful! I love the patterns it makes. I bet it's even prettier in person, with the shiny metallic specks. What you made with it is amazing as well! I have a neighbor who restores old fords, and that's all he drives. I will have to make him a keychain or something for christmas! He would absolutely love it.

Therese's Treasures said...

Thank you for sharing the story on Fordite I am new to the lapidary world and have just started making cabochons. I have seen cabs made with Fordite and have been wanting to get my hands on some. Your pendant and ring are beautiful. I am going to check out Bob Caveglia and David Vance's pages.
Therese

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