The Wilde Olive Blog: How to give vintage brass new life!


How to give vintage brass new life!

Monday, March 19, 2018

As someone who loves finding vintage treasures, from flea markets, thrift stores, to estate sales and online sites like Etsy, I tend to hit the internet to find out the best way to improve my beloved found pieces because let's face it, not everything looks better with age! When it came to the brass pieces I've been collecting over the past several months, I got pretty lucky and found pieces with age but were fine just cleaned up a bit with soap and water. However, when we started deciding to resale some of my finds, I decided to see what I could do to make them even better! 

 The candlesticks pictured here, however, I'll be keeping as mine... all mine! I found this pair on our recent trip to Waco, TX at one of their amazing antique stores Savage Finds. Have you seen the rose wall? I didn't realize the Instagram shot in front of "that wall" was a thing, but I can definitely see why! This place was a treasure trove and given more time and more spending money, I could have found many more treasures I'm sure! 

I found a couple of tips online to help with this brass improvement mission. First, you need to know if what you have is solid brass. If your piece doesn't identify as solid brass you can put it to the test with a magnet. I magnet will NOT stick to solid brass. However, if your item is brass plated the magnet will stick! This will determine how well you may be able to polish your brass. If it's just brass plated, it may be better to just clean with soap and water because what I'm going to suggest may just take the finish right off!

These pieces are certainly solid brass and definitely have a good bit of age! Oh, how I wish I knew their true history! Many of the brass pieces I have come across are made in Taiwan and India. I have found that both of these stamps typically mean they are solid, but the two definitely have different qualities. The pieces from Taiwan tend to shine up a little brighter, so that may be something you look for if you are searching for some beautiful brass. These pieces did not have a stamp or any indication of the manufacturer. However, they do have this amazing patina (completely unrelated to where they are made)! My goal with these pieces was to shine them up the best I could without taking the green!

After you determine if your brass is in fact solid brass, you'll need to wash your pieces with warm soapy water and a soft rag. If there is stuck on dirt, a soft toothbrush or microfiber cloth should help to get any of that off. If you have a piece with an open bottom be sure to let warm water run in and out of the opening then do the best you can to clean the inside out. I recently added two geese (or maybe they are swans?) to our found collection at Wilde Olive and they had definitely been the home of a dirt dobber in their previous life.

After your pieces have dried, open the windows or go outdoors and don your protective gloves. My recommendation for getting Brass it's shiniest is Brasso, but's it's strong stuff y'all. Also, that is an affiliate link, but you can find it at Walmart as well. I stay away from chemical cleaners most of the time but there are times when you need the heavy duty. This is one of those times. I'm exaggerating, but if you are sensitive be sure to take precautions and always read the label when using any kind of cleaning product!

For these guys, the Brasso did the trick and I was able to apply it to the cloth and clean the patinaed area without losing all of the green! I am SO pleased how they turned out!

They are not perfect, but why would I want them to be?

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