In admiring Cynthia McGrath’s latest collection of jewelry, one would never guess the source of the colorful agate-like material she uses to craft necklaces and rings. What appear to be intricately patterned gemstones are actually carved and polished pieces of the built-up residue left behind in car painting facilities — a byproduct called Fordite.
As McGrath writes in her Etsy shop description, “During the mid 1900s, cars were painted in paint booths with sprayers. Over time, overspray would build up on the walls and drains in these facilities. After a while, this overspray would need to be cut and removed. There can be thousands of layers of paint that make up a single Fordite stone.”
After completing a very involved process of cutting and shaping the raw material, McGrath mounts the Fordite “stones” in silver to variously serve as pendants and rings.
McGrath also uses another recently popularized recycled material in her designs. As the name implies, Surfite is a byproduct of surfboard production. In a fashion similar to the Fordite gathering process, Surfite is made from the resin waste left over during the surfboard glassing process.
Each Fordite or Surfite piece is unique, featuring a variety of colorful swirls, striations, and bullseyes. Not only is the jewelry attractive, the pendants and rings also make for great conversation starters.
McGrath has been recycling and repurposing a variety of materials for years. On her website she writes, “I love using found objects, organics, and reclaimed materials.” These can include natural elements like sea glass and sharks’ teeth — foraged during her frequent beach walks, and unlikely refuse items like old computer boards, discarded license plates, and vinyl records. For McGrath, other people’s trash is her treasure.
Cynthia McGrath’s Original Cyn designs can be purchased through Etsy at OriginalCynMV.