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Friday, January 30, 2015

The initial cleaning of chandelier parts

The first step to cleaning the various parts was to lay a soft towel in the bottom of the sink. Then I added Dawn dish-washing liquid - seriously this will soak the grime off of anything - and filled the sink with very warm water. Then I carefully laid all the pieces in carefully to soak for a bit.

It was surprising how well the brown layer of grime on the glass went away with just the soaking. A little light rubbing with a soft dish rag (some needed a little help from an old toothbrush) and things were starting to look pretty good.

The metal parts were heavily pitted, perhaps rusted, with a lots of dark areas on them. There was also a layer of varnish that on some parts gave the appearance of brass. Since this was going to be restored as a silver or nickel colored chandelier I gave no thought to cleaning the metal parts with a Brillo pad. Using this also let me give the parts a brushed nickel finish. I'll do some research to see if I need to re-coat the metal to preserve the great color and finish it is now.

note the gray and rusted colors before cleaning
after a good soak and scrub
after and before cleaning the candle cups

Where to begin? A thorough analysis

We'd studied the chandelier for more than a week before doing anything else. The antique shop owner thought it would clean up to a brass frame. As we studied it it became apparent that underneath the grimy glass that covered the arms it was a silver color. Searching the Internet we came to the conclusion that it was probably a nickel plated iron. Yes, the silver color made much more sense and will be spectacular once we get it cleaned up, rewired and put it in its new home in the dining room.

glimmer of silver color
underneath dirty glass
removing a few parts
revealed a silver color frame

center of  chandelier
is open 
An unusual aspect of the frame is that the core or center of it is open. It looks like some decorative parts are missing, but what? We think there was a crystal chain that hung from arm to arm as the top of the chandelier is a little plainer than the ornate bottom arms candles and crystals.

The next step was to do an inventory of what we had, how many parts were missing, what needed a good cleaning and what needed to be replaced. I love spreadsheets so I made one to help keep track of it all. 

Highlights of the inventory included:
  • Almost all the glass and crystals were in good condition. Some are chipped, but will work fine. After all this is antique.
  • We were only missing five of the 32 crystal prisms. A search of the Internet told me we had colonial style prisms, but I was unable to find prisms with the notches to match. I'll continue to search but will probably have to substitute un-notched prisms for the missing ones.
  • All the glass on the arms were there as were the decorative glass flowers
  • The light at the center bottom looks like it is missing a shade or other glass piece. We haven't decided what to do there yet.
  • It looks like there should be a finial underneath the top glass dish like the finial at the bottom of the chandelier. There should probably be a ball hanging from both of these.
  • Yes, we are definitely rewiring the entire electrical, wire, sockets and new candle sleeves.

looks unfinished -- what kind of shade? 

missing finial and ball?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

WOO HOO a new project!

The past year has been strife with a remodel of our bathroom. A lot of work, a lot of stress, and living in our tiny yet comfortable garage apartment for about three months but we are now rested and recharged and ready to take on new smaller projects.

One project will be finishing up last year's remodel and maintenance projects. We will be tearing up our walkway, adding drain tile and building a raingarden to deal with the large amount of water that falls from the Aframe roofs onto our walkway between the garage and the house. This will start in the spring when our excavator is ready to start work for the season. This will be a good size project with us laying pavers after the excavator prepares the area and then planting and establishing the raingarden.

A not so Gothic antique find
As we are completing the last bit of trim and finish work in the bathroom we are excited to take on a chandelier restoration. We've been looking for a chandelier for our dining room ever since we moved into the Red Cedar house. The chandelier that came with the house is absolutely atrocious.

I found the project chandelier recently in an antique shop in Menomonie called Estate Emporium. A wonderful shop that opened about a year ago. When I spotted it there I thought it looked rather Gothic with its brown crystals and overall brownish cast. However it had a very interesting shape and had most of the crystals and other parts. I was intrigued. It obviously needed rewiring, so I sent a photo to Todd asking if he wanted to help tackle a new project. I was surprised at his quick and vehement YES answer. So I ran back to the store the next day to purchase, loaded it into my tiny car and drove slowly home hoping not to break any part of it.

When I got home I took a long hard look at it. It wasn't a brown or dark colored crystal chandelier -- no it consisted of a metal frame covered in glass. And, boy-O-boy was that dirty glass. Grimy, dirty brown glass. The bulk of the restoration will be in the cleaning,  not the rewiring and repair as we had expected.

The chandelier has been sitting here for over a week. We've been studying it, guessing, theorizing, discussing and trying to figure it out. The one thing we know for sure is that it will be a show piece once we complete the restoration. I can't wait to tear the thing apart and get started.