Tag Archives: metal cleaning

A Tale of a Vintage Metal Bistro Set

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A Tale of a Vintage Metal Bistro Set

To say I’ve been obsessed with upholstery is an understatement. Its hard not to get passionate when the universe keeps providing signs that this is what you are supposed to be doing! And I will take the signs of cute, all be it sad and neglected, free pile furniture as a sign.  Dan would be quick to tell you its a sign of a future episode of Hoarders. But I take it as a sign I’m supposed to give life to once grand pieces.

When my neighbor moved out at the end of July and her vintage metal bistro set was up for grabs I knew it was left for me. Dan and I, very ninja like, swiped the table and chairs and carried it up our very steep drive way into the apartment.
The score of the summer PRE me working on it

The score of the summer PRE me working on it

Once in the apartment I examined the project. There are two bistro chairs with cute legs and a matching bistro table, all with a fair amount of surface rust but overall very study. Two very gross, smelly, cushions.  But the cherry of the set was the glass! The round glass top was in perfect condition and in tact! Working in a salvage yard, I have learned that the glass is the most sought after piece because without that the set is worthless. I had the set and the ambition. Now if I only knew how to clean surface rust off metal.
a close up of what lay ahead of me

a close up of what lay ahead of me

Table actually looked worse than the chairs...

Table actually looked worse than the chairs…

After some research I learned to clean surface rust you can either sand the metal OR sandblast the metal. I wanted to sandblast it! I watch the restoration shows all the time and it didn’t look THAT hard.  Sadly to say, it was going to be far too much work to sandblast the chairs and table. I was going to have to do it old school and sand the set.
But I am one smart gal and on my way home from HomeDepot, I had 2 sets of sand paper for metal, steal wool, gloves, and of course face masks.  SAFETY TIP: Do NOT sand metal without a mask! Breathing in the metal particles is bad for the lungs. On my way home I picked up some beer, I had no intentions of sanding the set alone and I knew Dan would need a little persuading, After one movie, a pack of beer, and lot of sandpaper, the set was sanded and ready for painting. I went with Rustoleum Shell White and a clear gloss protective coat.
Perfect for a vintage-y look

Perfect for a vintage-y look

I was at a loss for a cushion fabric.  I knew I wanted it to be a neutral fabric for easy resale but I still wanted it to have personality. While I was home in Eastern Wa visiting my mom, we found ourselves at the fabric store and there on the flat fold table was the perfect fabric: a blueish teal, Sumbrella outdoor fabric! Best part? It was on SALE! I snapped it up and in a day had 2 cute new cushions.
Check out the legs and curves!

Check out the legs and curves!

I ordered new feet for the set and got rubber glass bumpers but the rest was all down hill.   Once it was complete it was ready for sale.  Sadly (or not too sadly as I’m still not sure I want to sell the set) I didn’t finish it in time to sell before the end of the season.  At the moment, it is being stored safely in my storage unit waiting for the promise of warm sunny days ahead.
Secretly want it for my house ;)

Secretly want it for my house 😉

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Ketchup Isn’t Just for Fries

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The brass, vintage feet from a mid century chair, was in desperate need of polishing. Now I’m sure everybody is thinking, ummm she is going to write a whole blog post about how to use brasso?! And my response is simply no. Brasso is great, don’t get me wrong.  It will polish brass quickly and remove the grime, the patina….and the look of 70 year old brass.  So I used my own advise I give customers…polish them with Ketchup.

What I started with

What I started with

Sounds gross I know, but the acid in Ketchup works wonders on cleaning the tarnish off brass (and silver).  Having never used the ketchup method on anything but faceplates (and didnt want to stain my carpet) I went about it a little differently.  Poor Dan watched in both awe and horror.

Step 1: Using warm soapy water, gently clean the brass.  It might be that you like the look of the piece once the dirt layer is removed.

Step 2: Lay the dry brass on a rag (I would use a dark colored one since the ketchup will stain) and goop on the ketchup.

Step 3: Practice the P-word (patience) and let the brass and ketchup sit and “marinate”.  The longer it sits, the more the acid will break down the patina (my feet which probably had never been cleaned/polished/loved took over being soaked over night, but I’ve seen it work in as little as 10 minutes)

Step 4: After the ketchup has sat on the brass and helped break down the dirty, tarnished patina,  rinse it. Grab a clean lint free rag and start polishing.

Polishing took a while; even if i’d used Brasso, polishing would have taken awhile.  They were REALLY bad!! But the end result was great!

Check out those legs

Check out those legs