Polished to perfection

 

Volunteer applying polish to fireplace poker in the Family Entrance at Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

Volunteer applying polish to fireplace tongs in the Family Entrance at Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

On a lovely sunny Saturday, before the downpours that we have endured recently, two of our conservation volunteers were hard at work in the house, cleaning metalwork.

As part of another ‘Conservation in Action’, our trusty volunteers were demonstrating how to clean metalwork.  In our post ‘Ssshh! No talking in the Library‘, we explained some of the techniques for cleaning these objects, with preparations such as bubble-wrap on the table to provide protection for the objects and placing acid-free tissue over this.

This time, the fender, tongs, shovel and poker in the Family Entrance were being cleaned, using the same techniques, as outlined in the post mentioned above, before the team turned to polishing the objects.

As visitors were on their way out of the house, via the Family Entrance, some came over to the table where our two ladies were working and saw them dusting the steel implements with the small brushes shown below.

Brushes, cleaning pad, muslin, gloves, cotton wool buds and scissors for cutting muslin lying on a table covered in acid-free tissue. All used for cleaning fender and fireplace implements in Family Entrance at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Brushes, cleaning pad, muslin, gloves, cotton wool buds and scissors for cutting muslin lying on a table covered in acid-free tissue. All used for cleaning fender and fireplace implements in Family Entrance at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Dusting before polishing is important because otherwise you could end up scratching the metal with any remaining dust or grit.  Once this process was completed, a tiny amount of polish (a mild abrasive paste) was applied with a cleaning pad to get rid of any tarnish, before a piece of muslin cloth and a cotton bud was used to get rid of surplus polish and to bring up the shine.

Volunteer polishing fireplace tongs at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Volunteer polishing fireplace tongs at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Close-up of poker mid-polish in Family Entrance at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Close-up of poker mid-polish in Family Entrance at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

In the picture above of the poker, hopefully you can just about see a difference between the  polished part on the right of the picture and the untreated part on the left.

Next wax was used to protect the surface, as recommended in the Trust’s Manual of Housekeeping.  Once the tongs, poker and shovel were cleaned, the fender was also given the same treatment.  All in all, it was a good day for our trusty volunteers, with visitors able to see how the National Trust conservation teams clean metal and pick up some tips at the same time.

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