Wednesday, August 5, 2015

let's talk brass.

I want to talk about brass.
Brass polishing, brass laquered, solid brass and brass plated.

This is going to be long.
Mostly because I'm wordy and long winded and get sidetracked easily, but also because there's a lot to say on this!

I recently put this pair of lamps in the shop.

Pretty, right?

Well as shiny and as gorge as they are they had some flaws.  Namely some patina in the form of speckling and some surface scratches.

These 2 photos above show the worst of it.  Likely that it would be hidden when a lampshade was attached anyway.

These are solid brass, but it's sheeting, not a 25 pound block of solid brass.  But solid and not plated nonetheless.  

Why not just clean them up before listing?
Well they also had a lacquered finish applied originally to reduce tarnishing.
It doesn't actually do that, and often times makes the item look worse if it's been manhandled at all.

I can remove the lacquer finish and polish at that point, but removing that lacquer is hard work.  Can be done, I've done it a lot, but these were quite large and I didn't think it would be as cost effective to spend an entire day to remove something that didn't truly detract from the piece.

But then I had an interested party inquire about them, she noted the "damage", and insisted I take into account they needed to be replated.

Say what?  No no no- I tried to explain but she was firm in her thought process, and she's entitled.  I wasn't going to convince her otherwise, but then I got to thinking, well shit if one person thinks this - it's entirely possible others will and these beauties will just sit here.

So I took them down, took them apart and spent all day yesterday removing the lacquer and polishing them up!

In process...

and done-

Will be assembling them fully today and reposting them back in the shop.

They will need an occasional light polish to keep them this shiny going forward.

So here's what.  Many older brass pieces have a lacquer finish to resist tarnish.  And in my opinion, it's not so great.  Often times it shows shiny overall, but can't just be polished and shows lots of scratches (often dark) on the piece.  
(you can buff through it, if you've got the machinery, but it WILL take much longer and those wheels and rouge cost $$ people!)

Once you remove that lacquer you find the piece doesn't have as many scratches (as it's possible it does have some actual scratches in the brass)  and will polish up great and easily.

Here's a piece that has a failed lacquer finish.

It's still quite shiny, but has those horrible speckles all over it.  Granted, some like that look, but it's not for me.
(These are part of another lamp I'm in process of redoing- I'll post finished pix of the birds down the road as a full before after for that lamp)

I'm kind of shiny or dull not shiny with speckles all over it.

Here's some geese, one has a lacquered finish, one doesn't.

From a distance mr lacquered looks bright and shiny, but up close - all those damn scratches.  Mr non-lacquer has a deep even patina and could be easily polished from this point.

Ok so you want to know how to remove the lacquer?

Nothing crazy or secretive.  But I will tell you this is rough on your hands and you will be sore in the back from all the rubbing involved.  

Let some sit on the piece until it evaporates.  Then add more.  Then start rubbing with a rag, micro fiber or something with some texture works best.
Keep soaking the rag as you go so the rag is damp with the acetone whilst you're rubbing.

Lots of rubbing.

Once it's gone, you'll be able to tell as you're working through it.
You'll want to rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly prior to any polishing.
Pic below is in process, the whitish areas still have the lacquer but have acetone applied.

These don't, they're just cutie little brass animals with good ol' oxidation and even some tarnish.

Ok, so now let's briefly discuss brass plated or brass like finish items...

Like this awesome side table base.

Shiny and purty as she is, there's some tarnish and pitting on some of the rungs.  These will not polish/buff out.  This is a piece that if you don't like how it looks, you'll need to replate it to get the original finish.  It's not solid brass, just a finish.
Lots of vintage coffee and side tables are like this.
Thank you 80s.

Admittedly, some of this knowledge comes from handling so many pieces.  It is something you may not be able to determine straight away.  Hopefully the piece you're buying is coming from someone who DOES know and can advise you the best method for the look you're trying to achieve.

And what about polishing?
I use several products and it really depends on the finished look you're seeking.

Brasso isn't something I use - I find it gives a duller, softer golden finish which is just not my preference but many, MANY people use this.
Bar Keepers Friend does a great job of removing layers of tarnish off of heavily oxidized brass pieces.  I use this as a first step to get an easier time using the next methods.  But I do not use this to polish to a high shine on brass.

There are not so chemical based methods available on the internets - something about flour and vinegar - I don't know I've tried a few of those and found it to be a waste of my time. Not good results, made a mess, wasted pantry items, and just left me a little deflated.  You may have more success, and I hope that you do if this is your route.

For serious polishing for the shiny shiny gleaming pieces - you'll need to use either Flitz polish or Simichrome.

I would say Simichrome is more heavy duty and while Flitz also does a fantastic job, this actually finishes with a silky, almost protected finish.  Both are multi-metal polishes. They both work well on silver plated and copper items really well also.  (And Flitz will clean your lucite/acrylic pieces too!)

Ok, that's it, you have gotten MOST of my trade secrets here.  Hopefully it will help you in your own brass adventures!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Deal of the Year and pretending I haven't been MIA

Hey strangers!

Wow that was pretty lame of me, talking all these medical issues than just dropping off the planet!  How rude!

Happy to report all is well health wise in my house and anxious to get back into some projects.   It almost feels like spring, when you just have a new vigor and want to purge and redo as much as you can!  
It’s a fantastic feeling and I’m happy to have it again!

3 cups of coffee in and I’m ready to chat kids!

My little paint sprayer is still. in. the. box.  But really hoping the humidity breaks relatively soon so I can start spraying everything I can get my hands on!  
Not unlike using a can of gold spray paint for the first time…EVERYTHING would look SO much better sprayed in gold!   I’ve mentioned this before, it is actually a continuing problem.

I’ve been limited this summer to stocking the shop from local sources, and really missing traveling and scoring more obscure finds, like this super cool mounted brass deer head…

It wasn’t easy to list this guy.  Nevermind the treacherous job of polishing him, I actually made Matt help because I was certain that baby was going to fly off the buffer and definitely impale me.   But, I really wanted to incorporate it into my bedroom, drape some pretty necklaces from it, or use if for hand towels in our bath,  but I can’t keep everything and I’ve still got a lot yet to still pare down.  I don't desire to live minimalist by a long shot, it’s not my goal, but I don’t care to come home to a hoarding intervention either.  Besides, he’s a star and should be highlighted as such and he wouldn’t be in my room as it is designed now. 

I’ve noticed this sort of refined rustic or rustic glam popping up everywhere, and I’m kinda digging it and this guy would be ideal in that type of setting.  

 I also think the way I’ve seen it done it well, wouldn’t be too trendy or so specific that you’d be locked in and dated down the road. Okay, so maybe this is not a necessarily NEW concept, since every photo I sourced was a year or 2 old... but it’s reached full saturation stage.  Which is a good thing if you like the look, because you’ll find a lot more great bits to incorporate, along with a lot more representations to aide you in your path.  There is also a lot of ways to bend this so it’s not so specific.   Lots of shine or sparkle, fresh whites and neutrals, tastefully mixed well with worn woods/leathers and classic fabrics, think linens and wools.  But not without a rich pop of color like a teal or coral, or whatever they are calling those colors this year... 
It’s probably a bit tricky to get started, as it does lean toward the more minimal side,  but easy to follow once you’ve got a good beginning.  It’s definitely inspiring me and some of the changes I want to make in my own home.

Items I think would compliment this style nicely?


not for nothing, this bowl weighs a ton and is the perfect balance of worn but not beat up, and that teal is so rich in person!

I’ve been on the lookout for a few rugs to fill in throughout the house, but I definitely struggle here.  I have no doubt discussed this before.  What I like, and choosing from the sheer amount that I like, along with making it work aren’t always super easy for me.   This is for sure my biggest "design" struggle.  Which results in no rugs, or "temporary" cheap rugs that I ultimately despise.

 And then there is the cost.  
Look everyone has their dollar perception- like I wouldn’t think twice about dropping a wad on a pair of shoes, (or a weekend in vegas!)  but I hesitate with the same cost on a rug! 
Which I am fully aware is silly since I'll get a lot more wear out of a rug that looks great vs a pair of shoes that I will only wear once in a while.  I get it, I just can't help it.

 So although I can’t explain it, I bet we all have those sort of balances.  Or unbalances as it were.  It could be all my time spent hunting and searching for the perfect items at the perfect price point that has jaded me a bit, or at least its a contributor.

I saw this sweet baby at a local thrift shop and immediately said, Oh, this is good! 

 Colors were perfect and pattern was fresh and not so style specific.   Price tag was only around $100.  But I waited. I know, crazy right?  Mostly because it was on the smaller side and I was doubting my ability to place it in a way that I’d like.  And not having any other rugs in this style in the house made me nervous it would stand out in a bad way.  Yes, even at a clean hundo I could not pull the trigger.  so sad.

So fast forward a few weeks, and it was marked 40% off, SAY WHAT?!   (just so you know 40% equates to 50% in my head - I don’t know, I don't have reasons for all my irrationality)  So imagine my sheer delight when she rang it up and it was, in fact, 60% off?!  

I only paid $36 and some change for this wool rug. 

  It definitely needs a cleaning, but at that price tag, the high cost of cleaning is offset pretty darn nicely. I found the perfect spot and it looks better than I could have hoped.  

Kismet, dolls.  
Sometimes something is just supposed to be yours!  
ha, it’s easy to say that when you actually get the item you first passed on and should have nabbed.  Trust...this is not lost on me.
Of course the bar is set so high with this transaction I may never find another rug or deal like this again…

You will hear about it if I do!

It’s September again, and time for all the holiday hoopla to begin.  More so now having a retail shop, I’ve got to give more consideration to my timelines.  Yes, I’m going to be one of those early birds listing Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah items in September! 
 C’mon you have to respect those that have their shizz dialed in ahead of time and organized like and shop for these holidays in advance! 
 I’m shooting to be one of them, well at least with the shop.  Because I know my procrastinating self will still be Christmas shopping come December 16th!  I’ve got a large assortment of beautiful vintage ornaments going up within the next week.  (even though I want to keep them all to myself - muahaha!)  

I’ve missed doing this and the projects that go along with, I’m happy to even just FEEL like jumping back in!  


Monday, February 24, 2014

Don't call it a comeback

Because it's more like a set back.

Nobody likes a whiner, but I'm going to just bang it out real quick and move on.
Last fall my husband found out he had 3 herniated discs, this has been pretty debilitating for him and still not over.  He's not one to lay around nor complain, so I know this has been super hard on him.  Surgery soon.
In addition to this, early in January I passed out cold in my kitchen whacking the granite with my noggin on the way down.
Thankfully my husband hadn't left for work yet, as we had a friend in town, and he found me on the kitchen floor out cold in a pool of blood.
so dramatic...
So concussed and 6 staples later I was definitely a bit loopy and not functioning at normal capacity.

I'm not working out, I'm barely cleaning the house, laundry and grocery shopping only gets done when there really isn't anything left, it's been an ugly couple of months.

My husband and I are usually pretty in tune to each other, and without a doubt each one's strongest supporter so with us both out of whack, it's taken a toll.

I'm definitely better from my injury, and the only residual is some slight sense of sloth that kind of took over the house. But I'm climbing out, slowly, but climbing.  He's got surgery in less than 2 weeks and we're really hoping it will enable him to get back to normal.

I've been listing new items in the shop and I'm sort of spring cleaning as it were.

Purging some old furniture and rearranging bit by bit.

Planting some flowers when it's not raining.

I pick up these brass planters often.  Originally my intent was to polish them, but the patina is so deep I just can't commit the time right now.  And being that they're for my back covered patio, the chances of them staying shiny is minimal.

I have an outdoor sofa, oversized bench, that we had on our front porch.  But since we haven't really spent any time out there as of late, the squirrels took it over.

They pretty much partied on it every night.  Acorn shells an inch deep on the ground surrounding the sofa and ON the sofa.  
I had splurged on some West Elm pillows for this to have a comfy layered come flop on me with a book and a cocktail look.
Those damn squirrels DESTROYED them.
I won't go into further detail, but I think when you think of them partying on it every night you can fill in the imagery for yourself.

So since I purchased the sofa at World Market, I was hopeful they had at least the base replacement cushion.  And they do, but man, I am so cheap when it comes to this sort of thing!  Besides, I got the set marked down so spending that much on a replacement cushion, which isn't that cushiony anyway - to be honest, seemed silly.

I'm all -I'll just get some raw foam cushion and sew a cover myself.  I didn't want a fancy box cushion cover, I mean it would be nice, but I don't have that sort of focus right now.  
 Although I have no chance of getting a proper cover sewn any time in the next weeks, you just have to go buy that foam when Joann is offering it a 50% off.
It's a rule.

So in the interim I've got a brightly colored blanket from Mexico kind of folded over the cushion. 

Which may actually stay, but better attached, because I like how it looks with the rug.
It's a lot of color and it's bright, but an outdoor patio can certainly handle it.

It's getting there, it already feels like an improvement, and I'm going to keep tweaking.  But I like the flavor of the direction it's going.

Nevermind when you turn to the other side, you've got this view...

Which is my giganto photo area.  Yes, needs to be and should be better.
One thing at a time!

There's a table in between the 2 sides, but I'm over them.  I need a new set up.

Why oh why didn't I take these when I saw them, for $199 each complete I might add!

The brass one in all it's Chinoiserie glory wouldn't really have looked right out there, but it doesn't change that is was AWESOME.
Even now looking at these pix that I took months ago, I'm still getting a headache about not getting the first set.

And let's not get too into why I'm focusing on this area at all when I've got so many more inside projects or just things to address in general that are way higher on priority list!
My natural rebellion?

On Thanksgiving I bought a bunch of small succulents and plopped them into little white porcelain lotus bowls for the table.
I already had a huge round glass bowl to move them to after.

And I'm happy to report they're still alive and kicking!  Although I'm thinking a good drop of water may be in order.

Seriously, if you aren't plant friendly, I cannot push succulents enough! 
They really take a great deal of neglect, should it mistakenly occur, and when you knock off a piece, you just stick it in some water or down in the soil and that baby fights to keep going!

I make no promises, but I've got quite a few projects in limbo, and I'd love to get them up here way sooner than later!

Thanks for checking back in!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Project list just growing?!

I'd love to say I have painted that console table since last posting...

 I bought paint.  And a sprayer.
And it's still not painted.

Going with that Tabriz Teal for the console.  The truer emerald greens, although pretty all over the internet, in person I just couldn't do it.  This has just enough blue in it I think.

I got a couple brass handles for the drawers, from Etsy, thinking I'd buff them up all super shiny and whatnot, but after I got them I realized the brass is just too thin.  If I put them on the buffer all the design will be lost for sure.  I may still attempt to hand polish... but that's really, really low on the list.

And because I don't have enough unfinished projects, I got these cuties -

One will be above teal and the other will be that Liberty blue with metallic gold in the grooves and the insides of the legs.

I usually use Behr paint, but I haven't been feeling super great lately and the Sherwin Williams store is evidently 1.5mi away.  So Sherwin Williams it is!
Kid was great, accepted my coupon and gave it back for me to reuse.  He also said they always have some coupon running and if I don't have one with me, they'll find one for me.

I think I'm going to try out my sprayer on these littles first before I destroy that Hooker console.  And they'll be heading in the shop.

Saw these babies on CircaWho

so naturally I want to paint my bedroom dressers in that Liberty color.
Higher on the list than the handles, but not by much.

I found 20 brass chargers, some from India, some from Denmark, but same size overall.
Thought they'd be awesome in time for the holidays, add some sparkle to a tablescape. But they have been a total bitch to polish.  And while I did manage to polish the top sides, the bottoms now look worse comparatively.  
But seriously, if you invite someone over for a nice fancy sit down dinner and they start picking up your chargers and looking underneath them they should not be invited back!

That justification didn't really work on me either, so I'm slowly getting through the undersides.

Also acquired this pair:

Thayer Coggin Milo Baughman bitches.
And they hug me when I sit in them.
They're very low and pretty narrow seating allowance, but OMG.

That peachy-pink velvety fabric is actually in pretty damn fine condition less a little surface dirt in a couple areas.

I am super torn with this pair.  If I sell, it's a nice chunk toward my bike fund.  If I price them like they do on 1st dibs, I could buy the damn bike immediately. 
But I won't, promise!

Yes, I have a bike fund, doesn't everyone?
We got rid of our streetbikes when we moved to Florida, and the Ruckus is fun, but I miss having a bike.

Those club chairs really are spectacular...  guess we'll see.

I heard it snowed in Jersey yesterday...this was a couple weeks ago here:

In full disclosure, it wasn't really hot.  I mean I had my bathing suit on, but underneath my clothes and they didn't come off.
And it's like 50 degrees today, and my hot water isn't working. (hour 3 of waiting past the scheduled repair guy arrival time)
See?  Balance.

Hoping all your projects are moving along faster than mine and you're enjoying Fall or Early Winter with great boots, scarves and some cashmere! Speaking of cashmere - sidenote: ew which I'm wearing today and recently discovered it's goat hair? 
Anyone confirm or deny this?!