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Featured Shop: Industrial Artifact

Jun 24, 2013

by Nathan Rock

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

I’m Nathan Rock, of Industrial Artifact in DeKalb, Illinois. Industrial Artifact is a four-man shop where history meets home. I’m the owner, maker, and resident mover and shaker. Ethan Ridl is our online operations manager – he handles customer care and restorations. Austin Cliffe works on re-wiring and restoration. Matt Grodowski is our warehouse manager – he takes care of item listings and shipping. We spend a lot of time driving across the country going to auctions, estate sales, and factory liquidations hunting for unique pieces from the American industrial revolution. We try to find pieces that capture the history of the places we visit.

From left to right: Matt Grodoski, Ethan Ridl, Nathan Rock, Austin Cliffe.

From left to right: Matt Grodoski, Ethan Ridl, Nathan Rock, Austin Cliffe.

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As the son of a used machinery dealer, I was exposed to the industrial foundations of this country at a very young age. I spent just as much time in various factories as I did in school. In my youth, I found these settings to be rather dreary, but my old man always seemed to see through the rust and dirt to the lasting beauty of the pieces and places we encountered. With age, I grew to see the craftsmanship in these items as well.

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Many of the items we deal with on a daily basis are at least 75 years old. Oftentimes they come to us requiring some maintenance, but the quality of their build is why they’ve endured. It is a pleasure to see rapidly disappearing items reborn, and to rescue them from becoming scrap. Appreciation for the design and build of yesteryear drives our desire to preserve the pieces we work with. Simply put, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to!

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Our favorite piece we’ve made together is our large adjustable industrial table. Building this table was truly a learning experience for everyone involved, and every step of the process required us to learn a new skill. Prior to this project, the largest table I’d ever made was roughly 30″ x 48.” It was Ethan’s first chance to glue a table top, and Austin’s first experience staining and finishing a large table top (it should be noted that Austin is now a wizard with pre-catalyzed lacquer and conversion varnish). This table was not only invaluable to us as a team-building exercise, but as an opportunity for everyone in our shop to develop and hone their skills.

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I think all the members of our shop agree that we have a great deal more satisfaction in the day-to-day activities we accomplish here than in jobs we’ve held in the past. In one day we can transform an item from a dirty, non-functioning relic to an attractive, working showpiece. We often meet challenges which require us to learn new skills, and we’re constantly surrounded by an ever-changing array of interesting artifacts. As an added bonus, we also get to explore some incredibly unique locales in search of our finds.

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Etsy has been instrumental in reaching folks who see the enduring strength and beauty in our pieces, and it has been our single strongest vehicle for sales, growth, and input from the vintage and antiques community. I first heard about Etsy from a friend who runs Secret Agent Arts, but I was luke-warm to the idea of opening a shop. The big eye-opener came on the day we created our shop and almost immediately made our first sale. We soon realized that Etsy was our single-most influential marketplace, and we never looked back.

All photographs by Industrial Artifact.

Featured Shop Archive

C. 1920 Industrial Cast Iron Machine Base Butchers Block Cafe Table
C. 1920 Industrial Cast Iron Machine Base Butchers Block Cafe Table
IndustrialArtifact
$2,175.00 USD
Patrician Mid Century Modern Black Vinyl Furniture Set Herman Miller Knoll
Patrician Mid Century Modern Black Vinyl Furniture Set Herman Miller Knoll
IndustrialArtifact
$4,400.00 USD
C. 1920 Industrial Crank Base Dining & Conference Table
C. 1920 Industrial Crank Base Dining & Conference Table
IndustrialArtifact
$9,500.00 USD
C. 1950 Modern Milo Baughman Nickel Plated Glass Expansion Table
C. 1950 Modern Milo Baughman Nickel Plated Glass Expansion Table
IndustrialArtifact
$3,700.00 USD
Midcentury Industrial Stenciled Butcher Block Drafting Cabinet
Midcentury Industrial Stenciled Butcher Block Drafting Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$2,700.00 USD
C. 1910 Barber Shop Japanned Copper Garment Rack
C. 1910 Barber Shop Japanned Copper Garment Rack
IndustrialArtifact
$2,850.00 USD
Pair Of Vintage Aged Oxblood Wingback Chairs
Pair Of Vintage Aged Oxblood Wingback Chairs
IndustrialArtifact
$2,400.00 USD
C. 1910 Koken Barber Shop Coat Rack
C. 1910 Koken Barber Shop Coat Rack
IndustrialArtifact
$2,400.00 USD
C. 1950 Wayne 60 Narrowbody Gas Pump
C. 1950 Wayne 60 Narrowbody Gas Pump
IndustrialArtifact
$2,725.00 USD
C. 1930 DeKalb Poultry Research Sign Pair
C. 1930 DeKalb Poultry Research Sign Pair
IndustrialArtifact
$5,850.00 USD
Antique Soda Fountain/Drug Store Sign
Antique Soda Fountain/Drug Store Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$6,500.00 USD
C. 1940 Blackhawk Bottle Jack Metal Totem Display
C. 1940 Blackhawk Bottle Jack Metal Totem Display
IndustrialArtifact
$4,900.00 USD
C. 1930 Industrial Swing Stool Dining Table
C. 1930 Industrial Swing Stool Dining Table
IndustrialArtifact
$4,800.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Hard Hat by Schneider & Jensen
Vintage Industrial Hard Hat by Schneider & Jensen
IndustrialArtifact
$90.00 USD
Vintage Anatomical Skeletal Foot Model
Vintage Anatomical Skeletal Foot Model
IndustrialArtifact
$85.00 USD
Vintage Anatomical Foot Model
Vintage Anatomical Foot Model
IndustrialArtifact
$85.00 USD
Vintage Anatomical Hand Model
Vintage Anatomical Hand Model
IndustrialArtifact
$85.00 USD
Vintage Schoolhouse Pull Down F.C. Hardacre Map Cabinet W/ Early 1900s Illinois Maps
Vintage Schoolhouse Pull Down F.C. Hardacre Map Cabinet W/ Early 1900s Illinois Maps
IndustrialArtifact
$1,895.00 USD
Vintage Hand Painted Bisque Owl Ceramic Cookie Jar
Vintage Hand Painted Bisque Owl Ceramic Cookie Jar
IndustrialArtifact
$85.00 USD
Antique A. Gettelman Brewing Farmhouse Crate
Antique A. Gettelman Brewing Farmhouse Crate
IndustrialArtifact
$100.00 USD
Vintage 1979 US Army Iraq War Cooler w/ Tanks
Vintage 1979 US Army Iraq War Cooler w/ Tanks
IndustrialArtifact
$350.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Cast Iron Machine Base Butcher Block Console Table
Vintage Industrial Cast Iron Machine Base Butcher Block Console Table
IndustrialArtifact
$2,050.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Chic Coffee Table
Vintage Industrial Chic Coffee Table
IndustrialArtifact
$1,000.00 USD
Antique OC White Industrial Articulating Desk Lamp
Antique OC White Industrial Articulating Desk Lamp
IndustrialArtifact
$340.00 USD
Industrial Chic OC White Articulating Desk Lamp
Industrial Chic OC White Articulating Desk Lamp
IndustrialArtifact
$245.00 USD
Antique Historic American Hav-A-Tampa Cigar Case
Antique Historic American Hav-A-Tampa Cigar Case
IndustrialArtifact
$740.00 USD
Vintage No Snowmobiling Road Sign
Vintage No Snowmobiling Road Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$415.00 USD
Mid-Century Modern Brass Figural Sculptures
Mid-Century Modern Brass Figural Sculptures
IndustrialArtifact
$245.00 USD
C. 1950 Reynold's Aluminum Home Decorating Aluminum Sign
C. 1950 Reynold's Aluminum Home Decorating Aluminum Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$390.00 USD
C. 1920 Rit Fabric Dye Tin Sign
C. 1920 Rit Fabric Dye Tin Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$240.00 USD
C. 1950 Painted Tin Parking Sign
C. 1950 Painted Tin Parking Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$650.00 USD
Steelcase Mid Century Modern Black Vinyl Furniture Set Herman Miller Knoll
Steelcase Mid Century Modern Black Vinyl Furniture Set Herman Miller Knoll
IndustrialArtifact
$1,500.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Blue Apothecary 6 Drawer Medical Cabinet
Vintage Industrial Blue Apothecary 6 Drawer Medical Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$2,449.99 USD
Antique Sculptor's Calipers
Antique Sculptor's Calipers
IndustrialArtifact
$45.00 USD
Vintage Porcelain Enamel Notice Dangerous Electrical Warning Safety Sign
Vintage Porcelain Enamel Notice Dangerous Electrical Warning Safety Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$315.00 USD
Vintage Industrial 36 Drawer Modular Flat File Typeface Cabinet
Vintage Industrial 36 Drawer Modular Flat File Typeface Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$2,250.00 USD
Vintage Mid Century Modern Simmons 3 Drawer Metal Dresser Norman Bel Geddes
Vintage Mid Century Modern Simmons 3 Drawer Metal Dresser Norman Bel Geddes
IndustrialArtifact
$700.00 USD
Mid Century Kitchen Pantry
Mid Century Kitchen Pantry
IndustrialArtifact
$135.00 USD
Turn Of The Century Yawman & Erbe Stacking Executive Flat File
Turn Of The Century Yawman & Erbe Stacking Executive Flat File
IndustrialArtifact
$2,200.00 USD
Iron-On Patches - Random Assortment of Five Vintage Patches
Iron-On Patches - Random Assortment of Five Vintage Patches
IndustrialArtifact
$5.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Danger 3200 Volts Metal Sign
Vintage Industrial Danger 3200 Volts Metal Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$90.00 USD
1900s Nickel Plated Ornate Benjamin Cluster Ceiling Sconce
1900s Nickel Plated Ornate Benjamin Cluster Ceiling Sconce
IndustrialArtifact
$910.00 USD
Vintage Midcentury Art Deco Workbench by Hamilton
Vintage Midcentury Art Deco Workbench by Hamilton
IndustrialArtifact
$575.00 USD
Antique Industrial Fuse Panel Wall Display
Antique Industrial Fuse Panel Wall Display
IndustrialArtifact
$325.00 USD
Antique Industrial Fuse Panel Wall Display
Antique Industrial Fuse Panel Wall Display
IndustrialArtifact
$325.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Mr. Plum Wooden Fruit Cage
Vintage Industrial Mr. Plum Wooden Fruit Cage
IndustrialArtifact
$34.99 USD
Vintage Industrial Perfection Pharmacy Apothecary Prescription File Case
Vintage Industrial Perfection Pharmacy Apothecary Prescription File Case
IndustrialArtifact
$225.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Nuchief Washington Pear Wood Fruit Crate Box Bin Decor
Vintage Industrial Nuchief Washington Pear Wood Fruit Crate Box Bin Decor
IndustrialArtifact
$85.00 USD
Antique Industrial Fuse Panel Wall Display by Chicago Switchboard Co.
Antique Industrial Fuse Panel Wall Display by Chicago Switchboard Co.
IndustrialArtifact
$425.00 USD
Vintage Midcentury Art Deco Wastebin by Hamilton
Vintage Midcentury Art Deco Wastebin by Hamilton
IndustrialArtifact
$355.00 USD
Antique Kerosene Farmhouse Canister
Antique Kerosene Farmhouse Canister
IndustrialArtifact
$90.00 USD
Antique Glass Barbicide Germicide Disinfectant Comb Bottle Storage
Antique Glass Barbicide Germicide Disinfectant Comb Bottle Storage
IndustrialArtifact
$85.00 USD
C. Early 1900s Optometrist Advertising Counter Top Trade Sign
C. Early 1900s Optometrist Advertising Counter Top Trade Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$390.00 USD
Vintage SunKraft UV Lamp With Original Carrying Case
Vintage SunKraft UV Lamp With Original Carrying Case
IndustrialArtifact
$520.00 USD
Pair of Vintage Watchmakers Tins by Elgin National Watch Company
Pair of Vintage Watchmakers Tins by Elgin National Watch Company
IndustrialArtifact
$43.00 USD
Vintage Royal Globe Insurance Co. Perpetual Calendar
Vintage Royal Globe Insurance Co. Perpetual Calendar
IndustrialArtifact
$395.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Articulating Work Lamp
Vintage Industrial Articulating Work Lamp
IndustrialArtifact
$415.00 USD
Industrial Cast Iron Swing Stool Dining Table
Industrial Cast Iron Swing Stool Dining Table
IndustrialArtifact
$7,000.00 USD
Antique Industrial Cast Iron Adjustable Factory Machine Base
Antique Industrial Cast Iron Adjustable Factory Machine Base
IndustrialArtifact
$6,500.00 USD
C. 1920 Wooden Bankers Swivel Chair
C. 1920 Wooden Bankers Swivel Chair
IndustrialArtifact
$650.00 USD

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