Helpful Hints for Antiques & Collectibles**

Care and repair of antiques and collectibles is always a must - in some cases you'll want to spot clean new additions. This can involve something as simple as removing sticky residue left by a price tag or buying something you love, taking it home and 'fixing' it up.

Many of the tips below can be applied to most items that fall into the categories, however, there are exceptions to everything, so when cleaning or repairing an item always use common sense. And, if there is any doubt as to results or procudure, or if the item has significant monetary or sentimental value - DON'T do anything - rather take the item to a conservator or someone professionally trained to clean and/or repair fine antiques.

How to clean alabaster, cast iron

Alabaster - Never use water to clean or soak alabaster items. They should be dusted with a soft brush and then wiped with a dry cleaning agent. Item can then be polished with a paste furniture wax if desired. We would recommend testing the wax on the bottom for results.

Bottle Stopper - if a stopper is stuck, try using a little Liquid Wrench. Wash both bottle and stopper to remove any residual residue.

Embroidery - fine hand embroidery should have a raised look and proper ironing will help maintain its beauty. The piece to be ironed should be placed face-down on a soft towel and then pressed. Depending on the item to be ironed, you may also find turning the item inside-out helps. Always use a light touch when ironing embroidery.

Glass - Residue left by masking tape, price labels or anything else sticky for that matter can be removed using commercial hand cleaner (non-abrasive), goo-gone or - in a pinch - vegetable oil from the kitchen. Pat the chosen agent onto the residue, let it sit for a few minutes then gently rub it off with a soft cloth and wash the glass. Never use any of these agents on anything that is porous or could absorb the oil, etc. leaving a stain or possibly change the color.

How to clean gold leaf, rhinestone jewelry

Gold Leaf - can be cleaned by lightly rubbing the gold leaf with a soft, lint-free cloth that has been dipped in onion juice.

Iron - for cleaning small pieces of cast iron, try soaking them in white vinegar for 24-48 hours. Rinse and dry very well. Skillets and other cooking utensils can then be seasoned.

Rhinestones - should never be washed in or under water as this will tarnish their foil backing. To clean rhinestone jewelry use a Q-tip or small soft brush (toothbrush works well) and some glass cleaner. Do not spray the cleaner onto the rhinestones but rather dip the Q-tip or brush into a small quantity of liquid and lightly brush. Rub dry with a soft dry cloth and allow to completely air dry. Never clean any jewelry over an open drain sink you may lose stones and not be able to retrieve or replace them.

How to clean soot from fireplace, rugs and how to repair damaged wood veneer

Stone Fireplace:
  • Remove smoke stains using an art gum eraser.

  • Soot on the carpet in from of the fireplace can removed with regular salt. Sprinkle dry salt on the sooty area, wait 30 minutes and then vacuum. Repeat if necessary.
  • Olive oil will remove most alcohol stains from wood. Apply a small bit of the oil with a soft, clean cloth and rub in following the grain line. Wipe any excess off with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Loose veneer can be repaired by making a small slit in the wood (be sure to follow the direction of the grain when cutting) and then apply a small quantity of wood glue underneath (a toothpick or the tip of an Exacto blade works well for this). Press the veneer into place and wipe off any excess glue. If needed, place a piece of non-sticking paper - something like wax paper or plastic wrap - on top of the repair, and then use a heavy item to hold the surface flat as it dries.

  • This method of veneer repair is not recommended for a valuable or collector piece of furniture but should be considered a last-ditch effort on a piece you'd be willing to sacrifice if the procedure fails - and as always when in doubt about any results or procedure - DON'T.

    For bubbled up and loose veneer, try placing a piece of cardboard on the wood and press with an iron set at medium heat. The heat should soften the glue and you will be able to feel the wood give a litte. Press down and weight the spot until the glue has re-dried.

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