repair

Cleaning vintage jewelry and other tidbits

On a beautiful day this Autumn I stumbled across this gorgeous enamel pin tucked into the chaos of an antique mall shelf in Hopkins. It was one of those moments where you say, "Yes, I shall buy that. I know it." I could just tell by looking at it in that one glance I wanted to touch it and hold it and wear it. And it was a good price ($12) to boot!


I noticed right away that it smelled strongly of antique mall. I didn't think much of it. It had a goo weight in my hand. I loved the color and the size. I loved how different the shape was from most enamel flower pins I come across. And it's red! I love a pop of red. 

I've worn it several times now and each time my nose starts tingly after an hour or so. The smell has not abated. I have tried rinsing in plain hot water. Also with soapy water. After a suggestion from my mama I also tried a solution of mouth wash. The mouth wash helped a little and so I give that another go before eliminating it from my solutions list. So far, Google searches and forum scrolling havne't yielded anything helpful...

Knowing that issues like these just come with the territory, dear reader, here is another short list of problem remover solutions to help you out with your vintage jewelry woes...


For removing light scuffing from Bakelite, Lucite and other plastic jewelry... Brasso!

Brasso contains ammonia so be sure to use outdoors or in another, well-ventilated area. If you do a little research on restoring Bakelite you'll see that folks use all sorts of methods and products. Brasso is commonly available in your local hardware store (maybe even the grocery store!) and inexpensive. While you aren't likely to remove much patina from Bakelite with Brasso alone it is great for cleaning up the surface and improving the appearance of scuffs and smudge marks. 


For tweaking, opening, closing, fixing and monkeying... a good pair of needle nose pliers!

This happens all the time, right? You find that awesome necklace/brooch/zippered dress and you have the darnedest time getting it open and closed. One of the great things about vintage and antique goods is that it was loved before. Sometimes really loved. Clasps get yanked, zippers get caught, catches get squished. I have more than a few items that needed just a tweak from my trusty pliers to regain their life and easy of use. Having the right tools can help protect and prolong the life of your most-loved vintage and antique pieces. Just remember to treat them gently. 


For so many cleaning, primping and polishing needs... q-tips and cotton balls!

Instead of tearing off bits of toilet paper or paper towel, do yourself a favor and grab a cotton ball or a q-tip. Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, well, duh... But you know you've done it. Trying to clean something up and cutting corners because you just want to get it done and fast. One of the biggest benefits of cotton balls and q-tips is that the materials conforms to the shape of what you are cleaning. Trying to wedge a bit of towel into a crevice doesn't give you much control and it exhausts really quickly. If you are using a cleaning agent the cotton will hold and apply it evenly. Cotton is also very gentle and if you get buts stuck you can usually pull them out as the fibers stay intact, unlike paper towel or tissue that breaks apart. 

I love this storage idea! If you click on the image it will bring you to a whole slew of fun mason jar storage ideas from Hip2Save. 

I'll update you on cleaning my enamel flower. If you have any tips I would be most grateful!




Today's post is brought to you by coffee. Spilled on me leaving the house.

Laziness and a lack of knowledge ruin wardrobes. It's true. I'm sure that when lots of us get an oil stain or some such thing on ourselves we think, "Well, there goes that dress/shirt/skirt/whatever." Particularly with t-shirts. It just never seems worth pursuing an alternative... or does it? When you rock vintage, me-made or otherwise investment garments you need to know your way around a stain remover.

Today I'm gonna share a few of my most favorite solutions to those wardrobe-destroying woes. All thanks to my mama, really.

I grew up with an amazing mom who just knew how to do... anything. Install a toilet? Make a perfect Christmas cookie? Sew a shirt? Yup. Remove a stain? Absolutely. She would re-attach buttons, shorten pants and fix busted seams. I thought it was normal. I wanted to be just like her. I keep these things in my cleaning closet just for those occasions when life, you know, just seems to happen.


#1 Carbona Stain Devils
I remember picking these up in the super market when we ran out of some formula. I don't remember which ones we kept around. I just knew that there were special formulas depending on what your stain was made of. In grad school I understood much better the chemistry behind these and what a miracle they really are. In my house as a grownup I keep the Fat & Cooking Oil formula as well as the Wine, Tea, Coffee and Juice formula.
You can order them online or find them at your local Jo-Ann's.


OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder Large Image
#2 OxiClean
I hardly think there's a person in US who hasn't heard of this one. But, what you might not think of with OxiClean is that it is wonderful for removing age spots and marks from vintage fabrics and linens. Whenever my mom (who now runs an antiques shop) or I come across linens that look well taken care of but no less dingy and needing a little love, we use this. A recent batch of vintage homespun napkins came home with me covered in spots and emerged from oxiclean soaking to be a clean, even cream color. As they should! Remember to run anything you've soaked through the regular wash, too.


#3 Synthrapol Detergent
Looks boring and bland, right? Wrong! While I would use Carbona for known stains and OxiClean for less known stains I use Synthrapol for all sorts of fabric cleansing. When clothes are very dirty, have sweat stains, keep shedding dye (like when you buy an indigo-dyed fabric), Synthrapol is my go-to. I started using this in college during my Fibers classes to rinse hand-dyed textiles. It's safe for home use and super efficient. A very small amount go a long, long way! I'll soak the family tablecloth in this after a holiday and have an easy-peasy time getting the marks out. It's gentle on fibers and tough on stains. Also, it has no added colors or fragrances!

All three products are pretty affordable and findable. I've included links in the title bits of each for your easy reference. Keep these ideas in your back pocket (or laundry closet!). It sure helps to know there's hope for your "ruined" clothes when you are livin' la via me-made!

xo
Sarah