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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 Eighteen Drawer Apothecary Clerical Desk
C. 1920 Eighteen Drawer Apothecary Clerical Desk
IndustrialArtifact
$2,650.00 USD
Midcentury Industrial Stenciled Butcher Block Drafting Cabinet
Midcentury Industrial Stenciled Butcher Block Drafting Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$2,700.00 USD
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
C. 1920 Industrial Crank Base Dining & Conference Table
C. 1920 Industrial Crank Base Dining & Conference Table
IndustrialArtifact
$9,500.00 USD
C. 1910 Barber Shop Japanned Copper Garment Rack
C. 1910 Barber Shop Japanned Copper Garment Rack
IndustrialArtifact
$2,850.00 USD
Antique Porcelain Enamel DeKalb Poultry Research Farm Sign
Antique Porcelain Enamel DeKalb Poultry Research Farm Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$5,850.00 USD
Vintage 12 Drawer Apothecary Cabinet With Display Case
Vintage 12 Drawer Apothecary Cabinet With Display Case
IndustrialArtifact
$2,900.00 USD
Industrial Wire Storage Baskets (4)
Industrial Wire Storage Baskets (4)
IndustrialArtifact
$60.00 USD
Vintage GE 4 Blade Fan
Vintage GE 4 Blade Fan
IndustrialArtifact
$650.00 USD
Pair of Vintage Cast Iron Brackets
Pair of Vintage Cast Iron Brackets
IndustrialArtifact
$1,200.00 USD
Antique Gulf Transmission Fluid Barrel
Antique Gulf Transmission Fluid Barrel
IndustrialArtifact
$365.00 USD
Antique CF Pease Cast Iron Drafting Table
Antique CF Pease Cast Iron Drafting Table
IndustrialArtifact
$3,500.00 USD
Turn Of The Century Drafting Table by Dietzgen
Turn Of The Century Drafting Table by Dietzgen
IndustrialArtifact
$4,500.00 USD
Vintage Tufted Wingback Recliner Chair In Oxblood
Vintage Tufted Wingback Recliner Chair In Oxblood
IndustrialArtifact
$1,850.00 USD
Industrial Antique Two Section Hairpin Leg Flat File By Hamilton
Industrial Antique Two Section Hairpin Leg Flat File By Hamilton
IndustrialArtifact
$3,200.00 USD
Industrial Antique Two Section Hairpin Leg Flat File By Hamilton
Industrial Antique Two Section Hairpin Leg Flat File By Hamilton
IndustrialArtifact
$4,000.00 USD
Industrial Antique Hairpin Leg Flat File By Hamilton
Industrial Antique Hairpin Leg Flat File By Hamilton
IndustrialArtifact
$2,500.00 USD
Industrial Antique Four Section Flat File By Hamilton
Industrial Antique Four Section Flat File By Hamilton
IndustrialArtifact
$5,500.00 USD
Vintage Tufted Leather Sofa in Oxblood
Vintage Tufted Leather Sofa in Oxblood
IndustrialArtifact
$5,950.00 USD
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$100.00 USD
Antique Butcher Shop Neon Sign
Antique Butcher Shop Neon Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$2,500.00 USD
Vintage Wooden Craftmans Box
Vintage Wooden Craftmans Box
IndustrialArtifact
$325.00 USD
Early 20th Century Chippy Apothecary Cabinet
Early 20th Century Chippy Apothecary Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$3,500.00 USD
Industrial Antique 14 Drawer Kitchen Island
Industrial Antique 14 Drawer Kitchen Island
IndustrialArtifact
$6,300.00 USD
Vintage Neon Blue Crucifix
Vintage Neon Blue Crucifix
IndustrialArtifact
$2,500.00 USD
Antique Industrial Copper Heater Lamp
Antique Industrial Copper Heater Lamp
IndustrialArtifact
$395.00 USD
Porcelain Double-Sided Polk's Milk Advertising Sign
Porcelain Double-Sided Polk's Milk Advertising Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$4,500.00 USD
Antique Double-Sided Wooden Fish Sign
Antique Double-Sided Wooden Fish Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$4,000.00 USD
Antique Folk Art Folding Storage Box
Antique Folk Art Folding Storage Box
IndustrialArtifact
$550.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Boys Tech Swing Arm Stool Drafting Desk
Vintage Industrial Boys Tech Swing Arm Stool Drafting Desk
IndustrialArtifact
$2,500.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Wooden Picnic Table Lunchroom Table
Vintage Industrial Wooden Picnic Table Lunchroom Table
IndustrialArtifact
$749.99 USD
Vintage Industrial White Cast Iron Soda Fountain Stool
Vintage Industrial White Cast Iron Soda Fountain Stool
IndustrialArtifact
$324.99 USD
Steelmaster Single Drawer Industrial Index Card File Cabinet/Card Catalog
Steelmaster Single Drawer Industrial Index Card File Cabinet/Card Catalog
IndustrialArtifact
$94.99 USD
NOS Vintage AHI Erector Set Model Machine Shop Milling Machine
NOS Vintage AHI Erector Set Model Machine Shop Milling Machine
IndustrialArtifact
$160.00 USD
NOS Vintage AHI Erector Set Model Machine Shop Power Press
NOS Vintage AHI Erector Set Model Machine Shop Power Press
IndustrialArtifact
$130.00 USD
NOS Vintage AHI Erector Set Model Machine Shop Circular Saw
NOS Vintage AHI Erector Set Model Machine Shop Circular Saw
IndustrialArtifact
$130.00 USD
Antique 8 Drawer Wooden Greeting Card Advertisement Sign Storage
Antique 8 Drawer Wooden Greeting Card Advertisement Sign Storage
IndustrialArtifact
$900.00 USD
24" MobilOil Gargoyle Lollipop Sign
24" MobilOil Gargoyle Lollipop Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$2,500.00 USD
Antique Industrial Flat File Coffee Table
Antique Industrial Flat File Coffee Table
IndustrialArtifact
$2,800.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Equipto 8 Drawer Steel Parts Cabinet
Vintage Industrial Equipto 8 Drawer Steel Parts Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$250.00 USD
Vintage Western Auto Patch
Vintage Western Auto Patch
IndustrialArtifact
$5.00 USD
c. 1960 Bent Wood Mid Century Chair - Set Of Three
c. 1960 Bent Wood Mid Century Chair - Set Of Three
IndustrialArtifact
$1,250.00 USD
Vintage Maple Bowling Alley Bench
Vintage Maple Bowling Alley Bench
IndustrialArtifact
$3,250.00 USD
Vintage Remington Rand Chair
Vintage Remington Rand Chair
IndustrialArtifact
$250.00 USD
Electroweld Vintage Industrial Locker Cabinet
Electroweld Vintage Industrial Locker Cabinet
IndustrialArtifact
$675.00 USD
Rare Mid Century Modern Cycolac Chairs by Borg Warner - Set Of Three
Rare Mid Century Modern Cycolac Chairs by Borg Warner - Set Of Three
IndustrialArtifact
$975.00 USD
16 Drawer Early American Handmade General Store Parts Bin
16 Drawer Early American Handmade General Store Parts Bin
IndustrialArtifact
$450.00 USD
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$100.00 USD
Vintage Mid Century Modern Patrician Sofa and Chair Set
Vintage Mid Century Modern Patrician Sofa and Chair Set
IndustrialArtifact
$5,500.00 USD
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$100.00 USD
C. 1990 Mid Century Style Spun Wire Sailboat Art Leather Canvas Framed
C. 1990 Mid Century Style Spun Wire Sailboat Art Leather Canvas Framed
IndustrialArtifact
$260.00 USD
Mid Century Metal For Rent Sign Advertising
Mid Century Metal For Rent Sign Advertising
IndustrialArtifact
$90.00 USD
Mid Century Metal Exit Sign
Mid Century Metal Exit Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$90.00 USD
Vintage North Star Gas Station Letter R Porcelain Advertising Sign
Vintage North Star Gas Station Letter R Porcelain Advertising Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$174.99 USD
Mid Century Metal Entrance Sign
Mid Century Metal Entrance Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$90.00 USD
Vintage Working WW2 Army Sherman Tank Periscope
Vintage Working WW2 Army Sherman Tank Periscope
IndustrialArtifact
$175.00 USD
Antique Deco Glass Five Bulb Chandelier
Antique Deco Glass Five Bulb Chandelier
IndustrialArtifact
$395.00 USD
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
Vintage Al Capp Illustrated Hanging Store Ad Sign
IndustrialArtifact
$100.00 USD
Midcentury Butcher's Cleaver
Midcentury Butcher's Cleaver
IndustrialArtifact
$175.00 USD
Antique Cast Iron Lamb Cake Mold by Griswold With Original Documentation
Antique Cast Iron Lamb Cake Mold by Griswold With Original Documentation
IndustrialArtifact
$225.00 USD

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