If those words sound weird or unfamiliar, I am referrring to Fordite. For those of you who may not be familiar with this uncommon material used in bead and jewelry, it is now a rare find and is one of my foremost favorites. I have always been drawn to materials that seem quite ordinary but have been revived with new light and treasured for their peculiarity.
I was introduced to Fordite by the fascinating lapidary rockhound, Gary Wilson, at the 2010 Bead & Button show in Milwaukee. This was a very memorable bead show for me as I was an exhibitor alongside my mom, and I was 8 months pregnant with my second child!
I wobbled about the show in search of treasures and discoverd MANY at Gary Wilson’s booth. Sadly, his website has very nil to offer so it’s best to find him at a trade show.
So…a little bit about this fascinating substance…. *Fordite is a unique automotive enamel material with an interesting history. The original layered automotive paint slag “rough” was made incidentally, years ago, by the now extinct practice of hand spray-painting multiples of production cars in big automotive factories.
The oversprayed paint in the painting bays gradually built up on the tracks and skids that the car frames were painted on. Over time, many colorful layers built up there. These layers were hardened repeatedly in the ovens that the car bodies went into to cure the paint. Some of these deeper layers were even baked 100 times.
Eventually, the paint build-up would become obstructing, or too thick and heavy, and had to be removed. As the story goes, some crafty workers with an eye for beauty realized that this unique byproduct was worth salvaging. Sadly, the techniques that produced this great rough years ago, are no longer in practice. Cars are now painted by way of an electrostatic process that essentially magnetizes the enamels to the car bodies. This leaves little, or no overspray.*