Here is a strange and interesting thing: Fordite.
A coworker pointed me at the website, and it is fascinating stuff. As their site explains:
Fordite is a unique automotive enamel material, with an interesting history. The original layered automotive paint slag “rough” was made incidentally, years ago, by the now extinct practice of hand spray-painting multiples of production cars in big automotive factories.The oversprayed paint in the painting bays gradually built up on the tracks and skids that the car frames were painted on. Over time, many colorful layers built up there. These layers were hardened repeatedly in the ovens that the car bodies went into to cure the paint. Some of these deeper layers were even baked 100 times. Eventually, the paint build-up would become obstructing, or too thick and heavy, and had to be removed.
As the story goes, some crafty workers with an eye for beauty realized that this unique byproduct was worth salvaging. It was super-cured, patterned like psychedelic agate, and could be cut and polished with relative ease! Wow!
If you look at the cabochons page, you can get an idea of the amazing variety such paint build-up produces. They’ve started classifying the different types of Fordite, as well. I’m fond of the Great Britain Type 3, as you may note from the image I chose above.
I’m very tempted to get some, because, as their website also notes, “The Fordite ‘mines’ are dry, so get some while you still can!” Maybe Mark should talk to his relatives with automotive industry connections to see if there are any overlooked mines in the Michigan area anymore. I wonder if something similar ever happened to other vehicles, like airplanes. They probably wouldn’t be as colorful, though. Bikes, maybe? Motorcycles?
-posted by Dana