By Clementene Coates, May 31 2015 03:01PM
Most of the furniture I paint is antique (like the piece above) and one of the wonderful things about this is that the hardware (i.e. the handles, hinges, keys and escutcheons) is often very beautiful, with wonderful intricate detail.
Over time the hardware can tarnish due to exposure to air and the overuse or misuse of polish. Some people will think nothing about throwing hardware like this away to replace it with cheap, nasty reproductions, to which I cry “No…what are you doing!!!”
Provided that the hardware is attractive and functional I never throw it away. On occassion, I decide to add a new set of handles to a piece to create a different look, for example, I may want to add glass handles to create a more delicate look. In which case, I simply store the antique brass set away as I know I’ll find a use for it on another piece.
In fact, I’m currently in the process of restoring and painting a beautiful antique bureau. When I purchased the piece the handles, whilst beautiful, were rather cumbersome and I don't think they were the original handles. So, I removed them, stored them away and then replaced them with another set I’d taken from a previous piece I had painted. The new (old) set of handles complete the piece and I'm thrilled that I kept them.
The great thing about doing this is not only will you save yourself some money (and trust me, a set of beautiful antique brass handles can be very expensive indeed!), but you’ll also be doing your little bit for the environment too.
Lecture over. Now, what can you do with the old hardware which is looking dirty and a little sorry for itself? Well, there are various ways of cleaning brass and I’ve probably used most of them. Here, however, I'm going to show you how to create a really elegant and antique look using only the following:
• clean lint free cloths
• mineral spirits (white spirit)
• small paint brush
• black gilding wax (e.g. Ebony Rub ‘n’ Buff)*
• gold gilding wax (e.g. Gold Leaf Rub ‘n’ Buff)*
First, clean the hardware with a little mineral spirits to remove any grease and grime. Next, using a paint brush, apply a little black gilding wax making sure you get it into the cracks and crevices (do this if you want to create an aged patina, alternatively, skip straight to the next bit).
Remove any excess black gilding wax with a clean cloth and leave it to dry for a few minutes.
Then, using your forefinger (you get the best control using a finger but feel free to use a cloth instead), lightly rub the raised areas with a little gold gilding wax. Again, remove any excess and leave it to dry for a few minutes.
Finally, using a clean cloth gently buff the wax to create a natural, gorgeous sheen. Here’s a before and after photo to show you the different between a handle which hasn't been cleaned and treated to gilding wax and one which has.
What a difference! And, if you want to go for a really eye-catching, bold gold look apply only the gold gilding wax and use a brush to get it into all the nooks and crannies.
Here’s a picture of Beau, a beautiful bureau I painted in Annie Sloan’s Graphite Chalk Paint®. I applied gold leaf gilding wax to the handles to make them pop against the soft slate coloured paint.
As always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch. I always love to hear from you.
*You can purchase gilding wax online or in a craft shop.