Your Fordite Cufflinks Remind Me Of My ’66 Ford Pickup

Fordite d

And for a good reason, since the pale yellow paint is the exact same stuff in both cases. Fordite is nothing less than the ultimate wearable automotive history jewelry, made from chunks of old paint booth residue that collected over the years in automobile factories.  Turns out Fordite jewelry has been around for some twenty years, but I just read about it for the first time the other day in a NYT article.

Fordite aimage credit: m e sweeney’s flickr page

Fordite is the byproduct of the old hand-sprayed paint before modern robotic paint booths replaced them, and the paint overspray collected and hardened on the tracks and skids of the booths. The build-up had to be removed periodically, but wasn’t appreciated for its vivid colors and jewelry and nick-nack potential until the late seventies or so.

Fordite cimage credit: m e sweeney’s Flickr page

Fordite isn’t just from Ford plants, so you GM and Chrysler lovers can find matching cuff links too (who wears those anymore?). Why it acquired the name is unknown, especially since Fordite from Henry’s factory in the twenties would have been pretty boring (all black).

Fordite b NYT

There is a steady market for Fordite jewelry and products, but working with it requires some caution. There’s lead in that old paint, and it’s hard as a rock, so grinding and polishing it is bound to release some of that. And of course, Fordite is a finite resource, as it hasn’t been made in a long time. Some folks are hoarding their remaining giant slabs of it, lamenting the fact that it used to be hauled off to the landfill.