Friday, February 25, 2011

James Blanchard's "Fordite" Jewelry

Fordite (or “Detroit Agate”) was taken in its raw form from the spray booth at the Ford River Rouge plant in the 1970s. Chunks of layered automotive paint were painstakingly scraped from the conveyor, then cut and polished into gems. Patterns emerge from the Fordite depending on the angle of the cut or depth of the polishing. Since technology has replaced the spray booth, Fordite is becoming increasingly rare and valuable.

Is that a... ring!?

James Blanchard makes jewelry because it feels good. Each tiny sculpture he creates inspires him to make another. Working primarily in sterling silver, clean lines are formed using simple geometry and balance. He considers his approach to be “contemporary.”

Typically, his pieces are constructed using bright metal and a gemstone as the focal point. Lately, he’s been experimenting with Fordite cabochons set in oxidized sterling settings that have been filed to create a distressed finish.

Because he didn’t go to art school, he considers himself an artist of his own making. James rarely works from sketches, relying on an uncanny ability to transmit designs directly from his brain to his hands. His hope is that the work stimulates the senses and evokes questions.

James shows at about 5 art fairs annually and is represented exclusively through Gallery Fifty in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan.