Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fordite : Recycled Car Paint Jewelry by Urban Relic Design

By on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 4 Comments

Fordite is a really cool multi-colored, banded and completely manmade material. It is also called Detroit or  motor agate due to its unusual origin.  Decades ago, cars used to be hand spray painted.  Layers of enamel paints built up on the tracks and skids on which the car frames rested.  These layers were repeatedly baked during the paint curing process.  Over time, they had to be removed.  Workers realized the novelty of the colorful layers and saved them. 

The super hardened material is ideal for jewelry as it can be lapidary cut and polished just like natural gemstones as shown by these beautiful cabochons.  They were created by Cindy  Dempsey of Urban Relic Design and Fordite.

 This is raw fordite :

Cindy first came across fordite in the 1970's.  A family friend who worked in a car factory knew she was into painted rocks (pet rock era!) and minerals at the time and showed her some chunks of salvaged "paint rock" as he called it.

Over the years, Cindy combined her two loves - fordite and jewelry making and started creating some drop dead gorgeous designs.  She admits to being  fordite addicted and has been collecting it for years.  She said on her website "...it is actually more advisable to just give in to the Fordite Gollum than to fight it!" 

Who can blame her?  Her one of a kind psychedelic art jewelry is not just eco-friendly but comes with a certain amount of nostalgia for older cars and poignancy with so many car factories shut down.  Nowadays car paint is applied automatically via an electrostatic process which leaves minimal to no overspraying.

Cindy also said in this New York Times article about fordite and her work, "People call from all over to talk about where the plants were and where the landfills were and where all that waste material would have been."  A futile hope because "the fordite mines are now dry!"

Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. This the first time I have heard of fordite and sounds really interesting

  2. I bought a piece of fordite a few years ago intending to design a something with it. I was so fascinated by it, I had to keep it for myself. I loved reading this post and drooled over each image you shared. I need more fordite.

  3. WOW! This is so cool! I want some :)

  4. Never heard about it before! Cool!