I just loooove a fun field trip so when I heard about this one organized by the Roebling Chapter Society for Industrial Archeology, my name was on the list within minutes and it did not disappoint. (In fact I was so excited I showed up a day early. I’ve given up wondering why I’m not like other girls who like shoes. Hmmm, a tour of a shoe factory would be awesome. )
The destination was Colbar Art in Long Island City, NY. Colbar specializes in sculpting, cold-casting, custom mold making and fabricating in acrylic, polyester and clear resins. They are the largest manufacturer of Statue of Liberty models in the world (right here in Queens?) and are also known for producing art reproductions that are sold in museum gift shops and limited edition artist works. Pretty cool stuff.
Our tour guide was Ovidiu Colea, the charming hands-on owner who came to the US from Romania in 1978 with a dollar, a dream and an appreciation for Mr. McGuire’s prediction about plastics (for anyone too young to remember, it’s a line from The Graduate). Mr Colea walked us through the manufacturing process and explained the different materials. Did you know that polyester resin is made with ground marble or limestone dust? Who woulda thought?
For me, seeing this plant in action with busy US workers was a reminder to keep looking for that Made in USA label. Buying local keeps the good people at Colbert and other US businesses going. www.colbarart.com
The Society for Industrial Archeology is a nonprofit, interdisciplinary organization that brings together people of varied backgrounds who share a common interest in the archeology of industry, engineering, and technology in general. It includes architects, archeologists, engineers, industrialists, museum specialists, planners, historians, preservationists, teachers, retirees, and also your garden variety of just plain curious folk, like myself. Check out their site to find a chapter near you. www.siahq.org
PS- For those of you who are sticklers, here’s the direct quote from The Graduate, 1967
- Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
- Benjamin: Yes, sir.
- Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
- Benjamin: Yes, I am.
- Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
- Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
- Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
- Note: the bolded line is ranked #42 in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.