Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Say hello to my little friend...

One of the latest projects I embarked on was cleaning and polishing a solid brass lamp. A lamp that I happened to find for $1 at a local Salvation Army. All of the lamps were one dollar that day and this one was placed in an odd spot in the store so it was overlooked I'm sure. Can you believe I actually hesitated to bring this home? I thought the boy would have my head. Luckily I convinced myself that for only $1 he wouldn't mind.(Something I do often.)

The lamp has a sticker on the bottom that reads Frederick Cooper Chicago. I came home to find that these lamps sell for close to $600!!! Here I was with my $1 lamp and I was ready to make it shine again. The lamp was in decent shape but the base had some oxidation spots. I researched ways to clean this up and tried several to no avail. I started off with good ol' ketchup known for its superpower cleaning abilities and that didn't work. It also made the lamp smell like, how can I put this, KETCHUP! I then tried some white household vinegar and that didn't work. I mixed the vinegar with some salt and flour to make a paste and that didn't work either!

How am I supposed to clean this thing?! I guess I'm going to have to resort to a real brass cleaner.

I looked into Brasso but read about the *new formula* not being as good as the old one. I then remembered other bloggers working with Barkeeper's Friend. He is a true friend indeed. With my two buddies, Mrs. Elbow Grease and Mr. Barkeeper I started cleaning up the lamp.

Here is what it looked like after some good ol' scrubbing a la Cinderella.

I must note that this was my first time cleaning brass. See all of those little bright spots, that's where the oxidation was worse. I thought those spots would end up looking like the rest of the brass on the lamp but instead they cleaned up brighter. Uh oh. I then realized I was going to have to clean up the whole lamp. After A LOT of scrubbing and Barkeeper's friend here is the bright and shiny lamp.

I also ended up buying some Brasso to lightly protect it from tarnishing again.

Does anyone have good experiences about cleaning up brass that they would like to share?


  1. Gadzooks. First, it looks amazing, and I am really loving your blog in general but also your hard work in restoring and rescuing these lovelies.

    Second, I saw a lamp that looks VERY similar to this one at a dingy thrift store last month and didn't buy it. I figured that Mr. SixBalloons would refuse to allow it into the house so I left it. Maybe I'll zip by there this week and see if it's still sitting neglected!

  2. I know that we are always hearing you shouldn't take the patina off metal, but this proves that theory WRONG! Amazing job and the lamp is lovely!

  3. Update to my previous comment... The lamp was still there but it definitely didn't have nice bones like yours, and no Freddy Cooper tag so I left it!

  4. Thanks for the lovely comments!

    @sixballoons... I was hoping that lamp would still be there for you. It's a shame it wasn't what you expected. There will be others and now you know that they can be (fairly) easily spruced up. Happy Hunting!