Friday, May 31, 2013

How To Clean Brass with Natural Products

Cleaning Stained Vintage Brass - A Tutorial

Hollywood Regency Floor Standing Solid Brass Candlestick Holders

While cleaning a vintage item is never in question, whether to polish or not to polish brass, copper and silver is for many vintage sellers.   In general, patina is highly sought after, removing patina from vintage and antiques devalues the item.  Given the choice, I always opt for patina, in my shop I opt for a jeweler's cloth to clean and lightly polish most vintage jewelry.  However, with metal home decor and kitchenware the line is blurred.

Patina is one thing, stains are another.
I was faced with this exact situation recently with these three extra large floor standing brass candle holders.

The tallest candlestick stands 26 3/8 inches , the medium candlestick 21 1/2 inches and the smallest 18 inches tall without candles. These mid century solid brass Hollywood Regency style vintage candle holders were meant to be elegant and beautiful - to make a visual statement.  To have a presence in a room.

Taking this into consideration, I decided to polish.

All three had staining similar to the one pictured here on the left.  Who knows what from or how deep the reactive stain reached, committing to them was a risk.

I knew I could use a commercial brass cleaner and 0000 fine steel wool, available in the grocery and hardware stores.  Very expensive and who wants that in their kitchen sink and going down the drain?  As many of you know, last year I moved from Orlando, Florida to the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Moving to a more natural location has heightened my senses to be even more ecologically minded in the way I live. Our cabin, on septic, is located right across the road from the Taccoa River, so I wanted to be ecologically responsible in my choice of treatment.

I found several web and blog sites recommending this or that all natural treatment.  What was lacking was examples of how well the suggested treatment worked as well as before and after photographs.  Several of which didn't work, or didn't work well enough to deal with the staining on my brass candle holders.  I'll talk more about that later.  Let me share what did work the best first and what you'll need to get started.  Relax it's all natural and probably in your kitchen pantry right now!

Things You'll Need

  • Spoon - I used a stainless steel spoon, a wooden spoon would work also.
  • Flour - I used regular unbleached all purpose flour.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Vinegar 5% to 6% acidity - I used cider vinegar but you could use white vinegar.
  • Bowl - I used a plastic mushroom container which I wash and keep for projects like this.
  • Cotton Swab - To apply the paste directly on the stain.
  • Sponge - to apply the paste for over all treatment.
  • Olive Oil - to protect the metal from the air after it has been cleaned and polished.

Prep Work

If your candle holders break down into smaller pieces - take them apart one at a time and wash with warm soapy water and dry with a soft cloth or kitchen towel.  This will remove any oils,dust and surface dirt allowing the mixture to reach the metal more efficiently and uniformly.

Many older pieces of brass have been lacquered.  It's important to know if your piece has been lacquered you will have to use more traditional treatments to remove the lacquer prior to polishing.  This treatment will not remove lacquer.  For pieces which are lacquered you can use a traditional brass cleaner with 0000 fine steel wool, being careful not to rub in a circular motion or apply so much pressure as to deeply scratch the surface of the metal.  Fine marks can be buffed out with a lamb's wool buffer attached to a drill.

Step One

Mix the paste.  I wasn't and didn't exactly measure the ingredients and I made them in batches; treating and cleaning over a couple of days without issue.  I did attempt to stay somewhat consistent and used a heaping 1/4 cup of flour, kosher salt and vinegar per batch.  I doubled this when applying the overall treatment.  You can adjust for too much vinegar if your paste is too thin by adding equal parts of flour and salt until the mixture is thick enough not to run.

Staining prior to treatment.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring 2013 Casual Fashions Accessories and Jewelry

Spring 2013 Casual Fashions - Vintage and Handmade

It's been an unusually cold spring, but mid May brings thoughts of dressing our homes and ourselves for warmer weather.  My thoughts wander to lightweight and comfy clothing, dipping my toes into the warming waters.

Enjoy the kiss of spring, the caress of soft breezes and the glint of sunshine on silver and nature inspired jewelry in this casual chic outfit.  Anyone who has been in my shop knows my love of vintage Taxco, Native American and Southwest jewelry.  I can't help but imagine beautiful casual jewelry paired with some of the finest vintage and handmade spring and summer fashions available on Etsy.

Beach Inspired Jeans & Tee 

Beach inspired, in soft grey and black, this striped tee paired with Levi jeans is accessorized with beautiful simplicity:  Coach purse, vintage Taxco and handmade sterling silver jewelry.

Whether you're walking the boardwalk on the east coast or west, you will turn heads in this outfit which goes easily from day to evening.  A slightly nautical striped tee in long sleeves will keep you warm as the sea breezes cool and the sand has given up the heat of the day.

The neutral tones will accentuate your features and you will shine!

1. Vintage Taxco Sterling Silver Chandelier Earrings by TheInspiredTrader
925 Taxco Mexico Sterling Earrings Drop Chandelier Style w Hematite Signed
Vintage Taxco Sterling Silver Earrings by TheInspiredTrader
2. Handmade French Stripe Bamboo Jersey Blouse by THIMBLEandACORN
3. Vintage Black Levis 501 Jeans by Flying A NYC
Vintage Levis 501 black jeans size 31 x 31
Vintage Black Levis 501 Jeans by Flying A NYC
4. Handmade Rainforest Jasper and Sterling Silver Ring by AstrasShadow
Rainforest Jasper and Sterling Silver Ring: Green, Pink and Gold Colors Orbicular Rhyolite Ring Size 9 New Handcrafted Jewelry
Handmade Rainforest Jasper and Sterling Silver Ring by AstrasShadow