Magazine

From the June 2013 magazine.

June 2013: Rich details

Stripping away the old ugly layers reveals the beauty inside

After we purchased our 120-year-old house, there were many surprises in store for us. As we painted each room, we found that the hinges on the doors were hand-crafted original brass and copper masterpieces full of rich details. However, they had been painted over numerous times, which made it impossible to see their original beauty. At some point a previous owner had decided that it would be easier just to paint over them than to remove, polish, and replace them each time they renovated a room. Maybe they didn’t feel the hinges were important enough to warrant all that work. Or maybe they decided that somehow they looked better painted. Either way, I am certain that the person who created the hinges never intended for them to look the way they looked now.

We removed the hinges from all the doors and discovered there was several coats of paint on them. We knew restoring the hinges to their original beauty would take some hard work. I had no idea how to go about this, so I spent some time doing research on the internet, until I found a site that seemed to have the answers. Then I went to work. First I boiled the hinges in vinegar, taking them out periodically to use a wire brush to dig the paint out of the detailing. I had to do this several times. Next I made a paste of lemon juice and baking soda. I brushed the solution onto the hinges, and then I gently polished away the tarnish with a soft cloth. This, too, I had to do several times.

-- Mary O.

LaGrange, Illinois

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