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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

Vintage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Bar
Vintage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Bar
IndustrialArtifact
$4,500.00 USD
Industrial Cast Iron Machine Base Butchers Block Cafe Table
Industrial Cast Iron Machine Base Butchers Block Cafe Table
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Antique Butcher Block Cast Iron Maple Top Table
Antique Butcher Block Cast Iron Maple Top Table
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Patrician Mid Century Modern Black Vinyl Furniture Set Herman Miller Knoll
Patrician Mid Century Modern Black Vinyl Furniture Set Herman Miller Knoll
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Mid Century Modern Arne Jacobsen Design Red Egg Chair
Mid Century Modern Arne Jacobsen Design Red Egg Chair
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$995.00 USD
Antique Wooden Hamilton Flat File
Antique Wooden Hamilton Flat File
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$850.00 USD
Antique Porcelain Enamel DeKalb Poultry Research Farm and Hatchery Sign Combo
Antique Porcelain Enamel DeKalb Poultry Research Farm and Hatchery Sign Combo
IndustrialArtifact
$5,700.00 USD
Antique Printmaking Cabinet
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$4,500.00 USD
Vintage Industrial 30 Drawer Green Wooden Parts Cabinet Counter
Vintage Industrial 30 Drawer Green Wooden Parts Cabinet Counter
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Vintage Pinstriped Brass Holophane Acorn Swing Arm Dental Light w/ Working Pulleys
Vintage Pinstriped Brass Holophane Acorn Swing Arm Dental Light w/ Working Pulleys
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Large Original Smaltz Sand Paint Atkins Saws Trade Sign
Large Original Smaltz Sand Paint Atkins Saws Trade Sign
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$4,500.00 USD
Cast Iron Machine Base Oak Pub Table
Cast Iron Machine Base Oak Pub Table
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$2,850.00 USD
Live Edge Walnut Slab Table w/ Industrial Style Steel Plow Base
Live Edge Walnut Slab Table w/ Industrial Style Steel Plow Base
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$3,500.00 USD
Antique Industrial Cart Wheel & Axle Set by Nutting
Antique Industrial Cart Wheel & Axle Set by Nutting
IndustrialArtifact
$225.00 USD
Antique Primitive Farming Scythe
Antique Primitive Farming Scythe
IndustrialArtifact
$125.00 USD
Vintage Mid Century Hadrill Horstmann Modern Drafting Articulating Desk Lamp
Vintage Mid Century Hadrill Horstmann Modern Drafting Articulating Desk Lamp
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$425.00 USD
Vintage Mid Century Modern Gold Eyeball Orb Table Lamp
Vintage Mid Century Modern Gold Eyeball Orb Table Lamp
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$124.99 USD
Vintage 2 Drawer Metal Filing Cabinet Storage
Vintage 2 Drawer Metal Filing Cabinet Storage
IndustrialArtifact
$74.99 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 Steel Cantilever Tackle Tool Box
Vintage Industrial Steel Cantilever Tackle Tool Box
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$200.00 USD
Mid Century Chrome Cafe Chairs
Mid Century Chrome Cafe Chairs
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$200.00 USD
Vintage Industrial OC White Articulating Resonator Arm Wall Sconce Lamp
Vintage Industrial OC White Articulating Resonator Arm Wall Sconce Lamp
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$850.00 USD
Iron-On Patches - Random Assortment of Five Vintage Patches
Iron-On Patches - Random Assortment of Five Vintage Patches
IndustrialArtifact
$5.00 USD
Iron-On Patches - Random Assortment of Five Vintage Patches
Iron-On Patches - Random Assortment of Five Vintage Patches
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$5.00 USD
Vintage Porcelain Enamel Women's Restroom Sign
Vintage Porcelain Enamel Women's Restroom Sign
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$175.00 USD
Large Vintage Quaker Ful-O-Pep Feeds Embossed Tin Sign
Large Vintage Quaker Ful-O-Pep Feeds Embossed Tin Sign
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$675.00 USD
Early Glass Front Farmhouse Storage Cabinet
Early Glass Front Farmhouse Storage Cabinet
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$1,800.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Curtis Leger Fixture Co Cast Iron Garment Rack
Vintage Industrial Curtis Leger Fixture Co Cast Iron Garment Rack
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$2,500.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Allsteel 40 Drawer Steel Parts Cabinet
Vintage Industrial Allsteel 40 Drawer Steel Parts Cabinet
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$650.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Nautical Brass Explosion Proof Wall Sconce Lamp
Vintage Industrial Nautical Brass Explosion Proof Wall Sconce Lamp
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$295.00 USD
Antique Barber Shop Japanned Copper Garment Rack
Antique Barber Shop Japanned Copper Garment Rack
IndustrialArtifact
$3,200.00 USD
Antique Industrial Cast Iron Base Dining Conference Table
Antique Industrial Cast Iron Base Dining Conference Table
IndustrialArtifact
$3,300.00 USD
Antique Wooden Multi Drawer Lawyers Cabonet
Antique Wooden Multi Drawer Lawyers Cabonet
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$3,500.00 USD
Vintage Apothecary McCracken Steel Smooth Arch Metal Prescription File Box
Vintage Apothecary McCracken Steel Smooth Arch Metal Prescription File Box
IndustrialArtifact
$40.00 USD
Vintage Standard Oil Patch
Vintage Standard Oil Patch
IndustrialArtifact
$5.00 USD
Vintage White Holophane Acorn Shade Swing Arm Dental Light Fixture
Vintage White Holophane Acorn Shade Swing Arm Dental Light Fixture
IndustrialArtifact
$1,895.00 USD
Antique Hand Painted Reflective Farm Grain Markers
Antique Hand Painted Reflective Farm Grain Markers
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$65.00 USD
Vintage Bedroom Large Mirror
Vintage Bedroom Large Mirror
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$275.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Original Jielde Articulating Task Lamp French Design
Vintage Industrial Original Jielde Articulating Task Lamp French Design
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$1,195.00 USD
Mid-Century Modern Haywood-Wakefield Chair
Mid-Century Modern Haywood-Wakefield Chair
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$875.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Depression Era 36 Drawer Handmade Wooden Small Parts Cabinet
Vintage Industrial Depression Era 36 Drawer Handmade Wooden Small Parts Cabinet
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$1,200.00 USD
Vintage Industrial OC White Articulating Lamp W/ Milk Glass Petticoat or Enamel Helmet Shade
Vintage Industrial OC White Articulating Lamp W/ Milk Glass Petticoat or Enamel Helmet Shade
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$1,200.00 USD
Vintage Regency Armchair and Ottoman
Vintage Regency Armchair and Ottoman
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$895.00 USD
Vintage Midcentury Hamilton Art Deco Dental Cabinet
Vintage Midcentury Hamilton Art Deco Dental Cabinet
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$1,250.00 USD
Antique Refinished Cast Iron Machine Shop Cart
Antique Refinished Cast Iron Machine Shop Cart
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$1,200.00 USD
Vintage Industrial F. A. Hardy Oxidized Copper Adjustable Artists Drafting Table
Vintage Industrial F. A. Hardy Oxidized Copper Adjustable Artists Drafting Table
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$1,200.00 USD
Large Mid Century Modern Framed Abstract Canvas Print
Large Mid Century Modern Framed Abstract Canvas Print
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$950.00 USD
Vintage Industrial Antique Sander Drum 40" Pub Table
Vintage Industrial Antique Sander Drum 40" Pub Table
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$1,700.00 USD
Vintage Mid Century Modern Accesso Desk Tray Office Organizer
Vintage Mid Century Modern Accesso Desk Tray Office Organizer
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$100.00 USD
Vintage Nickel Plated Perpetual Calendar
Vintage Nickel Plated Perpetual Calendar
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$135.00 USD
Vintage Porcelain Enamel Men's Restroom Sign
Vintage Porcelain Enamel Men's Restroom Sign
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Antique Cast Iron Cobbler's  Anvil
Antique Cast Iron Cobbler's Anvil
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Antique Brass Table Lamp
Antique Brass Table Lamp
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$250.00 USD
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World War II Era Army Cot
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$275.00 USD
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Antique Art Deco Ashtray
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$275.00 USD
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Vintage Butcher's Cleaver
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$275.00 USD
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Vintage Industrial 4-Drawer Dorman Parts Cabinet
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$250.00 USD
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Vintage Industrial White Toledo Soda Fountain Chair
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$274.99 USD

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