About Fordite (a.k.a. Detroit Agate or Motor City Agate)
Fordite is a beautiful “pseudo-gemstone” that exhibits brightly coloured swirls and psychedelic patterns, similar to agate. It is actually a unique, historical, man-made material that is composed of layers of enamel automotive paint from the mid-1900s. The name “fordite” is an homage to Ford and the renowned automotive factories of Detroit / Michigan.
How is Fordite made?
Before modern electrostatic painting technology, car parts were painted by hand with spray guns. To achieve a nice, thick, coat of enamel, a lot of paint was sprayed on and it was common to have excess paint dripping off. This is excess is known as “overspray,” which would drip onto the factory tracks of the assembly line production.
The next step in this process would be to send the parts through an industrial “oven,” where the enamel paint would be baked and hardened. The overspray on the tracks would also be hardened in this process and, though the car parts themselves would move on, the overspray remained for the next round of painting. Thus, many layers of hardened automotive paint (referred to as “slag”) would build up and eventually need to be removed from the tracks.
Though the “rough” fordite can be ugly on the outside, someone ultimately realized that cutting into the layers revealed beautiful colours and patterns. And what better use for this unique, super-cured substance than to cut, polish and turn into statement jewellery pieces?!
As more people became aware of this unique material, the more it was sought after. However, now that technology has improved, the overspray that was responsible for creating fordite has been virtually eliminated. This makes fordite a truly unique artifact of limited supply.
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