Skip to main content

How to Restore Old Brass Without Losing Patina

Brass is really trendy right now. Much of the home decor brass commercially available is cheaply made and will not retain it's beauty long. But brass made in the first quarter of the 20th century and earlier, develops an exquisite patina. Assuming of course that it has had reasonable care throughout it's long life. Sometimes, a good piece of brass will have just a tiny bit of verdigris, that is the crusty blue green stuff caused by oxidation and tells you corrosion is setting in. I see this a lot on furniture with brass mounts, lamps, chandeliers and light fixtures. Most brass tutorials give directions only on bringing brass back to it's super bright finish. Many antique dealers restore brass to it's bright finish, removing the patina and then apply a commercial solution to darken it again. I can always spot those. They never look quite right.
There are some pieces that devalue when you remove the patina.  Natural patina enhances the beauty of a piece, like this close up of  an antique French Demilune table. The brass pierced gallery is wearing an untouched natural patina..( soon to be in our Chairish store.) It has aged appropriately along with the mixed wood marquetry. To make it shiny bright would devalue and detract from it's beauty.

Today I am going to show you how I clean up old brass without removing the patina of age and in fact enhancing it. All non toxic.
This is an antique hanging light fixture from the flea market that I did a couple weeks ago.It had a major amount of verdigris setting in.

First I cleaned it with 7th Generation disinfecting wipes. I use this brand because it contains thymol, from the herb thyme and it safely disinfects and kills any mold spores. I have never had it damage any antique.
After that I applied a paste of white vinegar and baking soda to the corroded area. This mix will remove the verdigris from the metal, I then add a bit of salt to the brass and rub it well into the area to act like an exfoliant because verdigris is somewhat crumbly and thoroughly wipe it off using the wipes again.
I wiped dry with a lint free cloth and gave it about 30 minutes to make certain all traces of dampness are gone.
Then using a dark non toxic wax intended for chalk paint, I rub down the brass. Areas that are too dark can be lightened with clear wax.  I let it sit about 3 minutes then wipe off. The dark wax fills in the natural pitting that occurs in aged brass and seals it from developing more verdigris. And it adds more depth to the brass which is what I really love. If you want a more matte finish let dry and buff it up a bit. If you want a shinier finish you can seal it with a micro crystalline wax likes Renaissance Wax. I left mine in a matte finish as I prefer the additional  warmth and depth of the matte look.

I love using brass accents around my apartment, don't you?

Until next time...


Popular posts from this blog

Antique Wardian Cases

When I moved into my present city apartment, a mere 680 square feet,  Things had to serve a purpose. No longer could this antique wardian case hold trinkets for display, it had to be functional. So I gave up a rather large chunk of my micro kitchen to grow fresh herbs. I figure it is a fair trade off. I have a full spectrum vita light shining on the plants and they seem to do quite well in there.
I adore wardian cases, terrariums and the like.
They were a fixture in the Palace of Versailles like the one above, and later the Victorians made great use of them when it was discovered that they could successfully transport rare species of plants home from  around the globe. I thought I would share some pinned photos of various styles..

Imitation cases are usually zinc and plexiglass ,like this one I spotted at a local market.

You can tell the age of a real one by the thickness and color of the glass.The glass will most often be 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch. They are always quite heavy. Antique …

How to Make a (tres chic) Fromage Blanc

This lovely concoction is a  basic fresh white cheese , otherwise known as Fromage Blanc, made into a dessert cheese by adding a pear infused balsamic vinegar reduction and pairing it with fruit, chocolate and cajun spiced pecans. The fromage blanc is from an old New Orleans recipe a friend living on Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville told me about several years ago.
It is relatively simple to make from milk, no special equipment or ingredients are needed, yet it will definitely impress whomever you serve it to. Fromage Blanc can be made in a variety of textures. It can be made with low fat milk if you so desire, and it can be a dessert cheese like that above or a comfort food like the creamy herb cheese I made here.

The preparation is so easy, here is how:
You will need-
1 qt.milk, raw or store bought but make sure it is not ultra pasteurized (regular pasteurization is fine)
1 cup buttermilk
11/2 tbls. strained juice from fresh lemons or limes
1/2 tsp salt, I prefer pink salt
a stain…

Antique Dealers Secret and Essential Oil Candles

Have you ever walked into one of the really big high end antique shows and noticed a distinct fragrance? That  wonderful fragrance isn't there to entice you to buy. It is there to keep insects out of the priceless furniture.  Having antiques in a show exposes them to potential insect infestation much like taking your dog to the dog park increases his risk of fleas. Some dealers still depend on citronella candles but the past decade or so, high end sellers have developed some lovely fragrances of their own that keep away pests.
My favorite combinations are bergamot vetiver, patchouli lemon, and lavender cedarwood. All of those combinations repel pests and smell fabulous. I use these scents at home because living in the South, well, we have a lot of bugs. Woodworms have damaged more antiques than you can imagine. Spiders also love old wood. And please, let's not even talk about moths..they can reduce a wool rug to dust in less than a week and are the bane of fine antique uphols…