Unlike cleaning silver (which really smells), cleaning the rest of the metalwork at Nostell is much better, as the wax smells lovely and harks back to the days when housemaids would give a ‘bit of spit and polish’ to metal to clean it on a regular basis. Nowadays, we clean our metalwork once a year.
Nostell has a very large collection of fire irons (pokers, tongs and coal shovels). We invited our volunteers along for a day to share with them the skills and techniques used to conserve our metalwork. Having the volunteers with us for a day was fantastic, as it meant we got all of the metalwork in the house cleaned!
In this blog post you’ll find out how we go about cleaning our metalwork. Steel, iron, brass, copper – you named it we cleaned it!
Blue nitrile gloves are worn to protect the metal from the sweat, chemicals and grease that exist on our hands.
Brushes we use include the metal brush (top) which is used to buff up larger items (particularly copper kitchen ware) and the hog’s hair brush (bottom), which is used to gently brush dust into the nozzle of a low-suction vacuum cleaner.
We use the finest steel wool to gently rub away any rust that may have formed on the metalwork.
After the fire irons have been brush vacuumed and de-rusted, we can wax them using Renaissance wax and cotton wool.
Once an object has been waxed, we can buff it up using a blue duster (above). An important rule with metalwork is that ‘whatever you put on, you must take off!’ The aim is to buff away the wax residues.
Thanks to all of the volunteers who came on the metalwork conservation workshop – it was a really good day!
We also had a big sort out and inventory of the fire irons, as over the years parts of sets have been moved and swapped to different rooms. After a lot of head scratching, ee managed to arrange them in their correct sets and put them back in their correct rooms. Job well done!