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Face Time With ... Nathan Rock

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Nathan Rock of Industrial Artifacts is seen Friday at his shop in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Nathan Rock’s DeKalb business is so interesting that he has been courted by multiple TV networks about appearing on reality TV series.

Rock owns Industrial Artifacts, 230 N. 10th St., which repurposes antique industrial items from the Industrial Revolution dating back to the late 1800s. The shop does all of its sales online, selling items including lighting, seating, storage and artifacts. His Etsy shop can be viewed at www.etsy.com/shop/IndustrialArtifact.

He’s also creating his own documentary web series about antique dealers.

Rock recently spoke with reporter Andrea Azzo about his business ventures.

Azzo: How did your business begin?

Rock: My old man and I were machinery dealers. I worked on my own over the years doing machinery restorations. We started making furniture out of junk we couldn’t use anymore because it was outdated or outmoded. It all happened so fast. It’s been so well received. Once we started, we had to keep going with it.

I was working for my old man five days a week hunting through old warehouses, shops and factories. It got to a point where I was running out of places to buy stuff. In the places I was encountering, you’d see neat things no one ever thinks about as antique. That’s why I do it. You always save your grandfather’s tools, but you never save the toolbox. People were looking at this as junk. It’s really beautiful stuff.

Azzo: Why do you do shoot documentaries about antique dealers?

Rock: There’s this really mystical culture that surrounds antique dealers. These people carry on as historians. They are the curators of American history. We want to tell their story. People you meet, you’d never guess if you saw them, but they have deep and intricate knowledge of something you would never think has a back story. We’re halfway through shooting the first season. If all goes well, we’ll try to pitch the idea for a network show. I want to launch the first season no later than March.

Azzo: We heard you might be getting your own reality TV show. Any truth to that?

Rock: We’ve been approached multiple times by shows networks. A lot of times there’s a misunderstanding about what we do here. The show “Oddities” wanted to profile us until they realized we’re not eccentric dealers. We were recently contacted by the co-creators of “Pawn Stars,” and they’re trying to pitch it to producers. We submitted a casting video, but they never got back to us. I don’t know much about reality shows, the protocol or how long it takes. My focus is on the documentary web series.

Azzo: Tell me a story about an item you made you were most proud of.

Rock: I built an 8- or 10-foot table. It took me months. There are a couple of ways to build a table. Watching YouTube videos is probably not the way to do it. After lots of mistakes and startovers, within a week of finishing it, I found a buyer for it. It was a moment we could say we were furniture builders as well.

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