For about 40 years now, a line of ten half-buried Cadillacs have welcomed millions of visitors along the infamous Route 66. Just west of Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch has seen its fair share of dirt, wind and paint clouds.
In the true spirit of creativity and art,
visitors are encouraged to deface the Cadillacs by spray-painting the bodies of the half-buried cars. When my family moved into the area, we couldn’t help but partake in the tradition.
There is something freeing and exciting involved in spray painting a car…
even if the next person will come along in five minutes and paint over your masterpiece.
My children and I have been more than once to let our creativity sore. The picture below is of my son, when he was just three, painting the cars. Look closely in the background and you will see my other son who couldn’t help but get carried away with painting his shirt as well!
Most recently I have been intrigued with the thought of turning the paint chips from Cadillac Ranch into cabochons, similar to what most people know as Fordite, but calling it Cadilite.
There is a local Amarillo artist by the name of Bob Lile who has been doing this very thing for three years now. He sells his Cadilite jewelry all over the world. Inspired by his work, and with the weather beginning to warm up around here, I headed back out to the Ranch to gather paint chips.
As the layers of paint build up on the cars,
the drippings grow rather large and some eventually fall off. People will climb to the top of the cars for the perfect photo opportunity, knocking layers of paint off as well. It is not difficult to find paint chips lying around, especially when it is estimated over one million visitors come through Cadillac Ranch per year.
I gathered my goods and came home to begin making cabochons! My face mask was secure and eye protection was in place as I sawed, filed, and ground away layer after layer of paint. Each color telling a story in my mind…what word, or picture, or memory did my paint chip hold?
The results were astounding for my first try at this!
They are by no means perfect but I am happy to share the results with you if it inspires you to branch out!
The Cadillac Ranch paint can be quite brittle as it is not the same standard of Ford factory car paint that creates Fordite. To obtain the shine, after designing the look I wanted to accomplish, I spray painted each piece with an acrylic top coat. I also found warming the pieces in a small toaster oven in a well ventilated garage softened the pieces enough for me to flatten the cabochons when desired.
I will admit, this is messy.
It is so important to wear the proper protection from breathing in the
dust and fumes. Although these pieces are one of a kind, and have special meaning, this is not a career I will be pursuing, as the talented Bob Lile has, but it sure is fun to explore and learn new techniques!
And, if you are ever passing through Amarillo along Route 66, take a few minutes to make your mark at the Cadillac Ranch. Who knows, I may just be out there and say hello!
Finding joy in the journey,