Something Swell from Detroit

Stainless-Steel-_-Motor-Agate-Fordite-Cufflinks-1132_largeI came across one of the coolest designers this week, If you are a car nut like I am you will agree this stuff is great. A company called Urban Relic Design has created some swell mens and ladies jewelry from what they call Fordite. They do lots of jewelry in gemstones and metals, and plenty of recycled materials, which I really think is pretty swell of them, but what I fell in love with was what they call Fordite. Fordite is kind of a play on words, the root being the Ford automobile and the Suffix “ite” to sound like a natural gemstone, they also call it Motor agate.Sterling-Silver-and-Motor-Agate-Fordite-Ring-1066_large

What Fordite actually is, is material that was created through automakers’ former practice of spray painting cars by hand. Overspray in the paint booths gradually accumulated on the tracks the vehicles rested on while they were painted. Over time, hundreds of colorful layers would build up in the ovens where the cars’ paint was heat hardened. Eventually, the built-up paint had to be removed. No one can say how and when it first left the plants, but some pieces were likely simply saved as souvineers. Since most of the plants that produced Motor Agate have been since closed, this material  has somewhat nostalgic appeal.urban_factory

Stainless-Steel-_-Motor-Agate-Fordite-Cufflinks-1-1139_1f59b411-a718-4b2a-8d3a-1928731fadf7_largePaint slag has been around since the 20s it is dried paint that built up in auto factories long ago. why it’s called Fordite I couldn’t say, it is a byproduct at all old auto plants, not just Ford’s. Cars and trucks are now painted in a manner that eliminates overspray so the auto companies are no longer producing slag for Fordite. Hardness is the reason it can be cut and polished, the old paint process combined single applications of paint, primer and hardener which formed the slag as hard as rock. Much of the old paint does contain lead, but it isn’t harmful unless consumed.

Sterling-Silver-and-Motor-Agate-Fordite-Ring-1174-1_largeUrban Relic has done a great job of recycling this once worthless waste material into something very attractive. The paint slag naturally lends itself to some visual appealing jewelry since it is layered with all of the vibrant colors of paint from all of your favorite dream machines of days gone by. those rich tapestries of color and pattern really do look like the best examples of fine agate that it is compared to. Come on, who wouldn’t want a pair of cuff links with Candy Apple Red, Grabber Green or Plum Crazy in it?

They are selling rings, pendants, bracelets and cuff links. Most of their pieces are under $200, and all of them are unique do to the various paint colors. Thinking back to the heyday of the American automobile and of motor city Detroit, Michigan  it is easy to understand the draw to this jewelry. The nostalgia is palpable, the designs are whimsical, the idea is noble, and the jewelry is swell.

(images courtesy of Urban Relic Design)

One response to “Something Swell from Detroit

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