Thursday, 25 February 2010

Fabulous Fordite

ForditeHave you seen or heard of 'Fordite' before?

If not, would you believe that this beautiful stuff is made of paint? It's layer upon layer of car paint. Fordite comes from old automobile factories and it's now in limited supply because it was a by-product of the hand spray-painting process which no longer happens. All cars are painted by machines and high-tech processes these days.

ForditeThe pieces of Fordite in these photos came from the British Leyland factory in Cowley in the early seventies. How can I be so precise? Because my Dad made these! We have three pieces of Fordite (or 'Leylandite' as Dad likes to call these) but I can only find two of them at the moment. I remember sitting on Mum's bed as a child having a good old sort through her jewellery box and these pretty pieces always fascinated me. Back in the day Mum used to wear the triangular one as a pendant. Groovy!

ForditeDad said that the overspray from the car painting process used to build up on the trolleys that carried the car bodies, colour upon colour, layer upon layer and these pieces of Fordite/Leylandite contain all the British Leyland car paint colours from the early seventies. Dad and his workmates used to chip off chunks of built-up paint with a screwdriver and they would then cut and polish them into all sorts of shapes. Dad said it is very similar to working with acrylic or Perspex.

ForditeI think this material is fantastic - it's like funky agate. You can still get hold of it in the form of cabochons and shaped pieces on eBay and suchlike but as I said, it's no longer made so what's out there is all there is. There is a great website dedicated to the wonder of Fordite - www.fordite.com - which has a wealth of information on this wonderful stuff. There is also a whole host of photographs of handmade jewellery featuring Fordite over on Flickr.

Fab stuff!

16 Comments

hello gorgeous said...

how fabulous! And VERY funky! ;o)

hugs

hello gorgeous xxx

Helen G said...

Fascinating, never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing xx

Crystal Velvet Weddings said...

It's fabustuff. Your are really nicely coloured.

It's also known as Dagenhamite

Laura said...

It's pretty, isn't it?

Crystal Velvet - yep, and it's also called 'Motor Agate' and 'Detroit Agate'. I guess it all depends on where it came from in the first place.

blue eyed night owl said...

That is really cool. i had never heard of it before.

Thanks for posting!

Mel P said...

These are beautiful Laura, thank you for the links too, I shall be looking at them later :0) xx

Sue Doran said...

Psychadelic or what?! I'd never heard of it either - fascinating! Must be nice to have a personal connection to the pieces you have as well. My dad had a green Ford Escort for years in the 70s, must see if I can find a bit with the right colour in it! I'm not sure he would wear it tho' ;-)

eve said...

I have seen these a few times now and i love the designs, such groovy colours, would love to get my hands on a few pieces,x

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura, I am sure we have some kicking around at my Mum's as well since she and my Dad and my brother all worked at British Leyland. (Its an Oxford thing of course, I narrowly missed working there and went to work in the University as Dad said it was a more secure job!) I must get Mum to find them out, I remember having key fobs made out of it. Wow, what a blast from the past!

Lynne S

Laura said...

Hi Lynne

Wow! Fancy that. If you manage to find it you'll have to send me some pics - it'd be interesting to compare them!

Laura x

Pretty Things said...

Reminds me of rainbow calsilica, which I can hardly find anymore! Love it!

Cinnamon Jewellery said...

It's lovely!
I've nominated you for a Sunshine Blog award! http://cinnamonjewellery.blogspot.com

Hearts of Glass said...

How cool and beautiful! Sounds like your parents are quite the interesting characters. :) I love the idea of a random side-effect being unexpectedly beautiful. Reminds me of the crystals that can form in smelting chimneys, or the transformation of discarded copper-impregnated factory firebrick into lapidary slabs!

Laura said...

Ha! Yep, my Mum was a wonderful lady (I think she fancied herself as a bit of a hippie back in the day) and my Dad was and still is totally random.

You would never think that leftover paint could be so pretty, would you?

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

This is probably the most awesome post I have read all week! I love this concept! It looks similar to a technique we do in polymer clay called faux Mokume Gane (fashioned after a Japanese metal working technique). It is fantastic these men thought to make jewelry with the paint chips. Way too cool!

Laura said...

Cindy - it is very similar to Mokume Gane. Because the paint fell unevenly it would leave a bumpy surface (kind of like minor valleys and hills) as opposed to a totaly flat one. Then more paint would fall in to and on top of the uneven surface. Of course, when the paint was cut and polished all the contours of paint were shown in cross section. I guess that is much like the building of Mokume Gane in polymer clay and then slicing it with a knife.

Laura :o)