Standen

What goes on behind the scenes at Standen House, an Arts & Crafts family home


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Black and Silver…

The Tarnished Silver Coffee Pot

The Tarnished Silver Coffee Pot

Silver is one of those metals that tends to tarnish very easily, especially if it exposed to the air or if people are handling it. As both of these things are hard to prevent, silver objects start to develop blackish patches and generally do not look as nice as they can.

We have a silver coffee pot that sits on a tray outside the Dining room. We moved it into the kitchen for Christmas and realized that, in better lighting, it was in need of a clean.

Silver Dip

Silver Dip

We are careful about using chemicals to clean objects because, more often than not, chemicals tend to take off layers of material. We dust items regularly, using pony hair and hogs hair brushes and sometimes specially designated cloths. But the coffee pot had tarnished beyond that point (or at least the point where it would take several hours to clean one small area).

Cleaning the Coffee Pot

Cleaning the Coffee Pot

We use a product called Silver Dip to clean silver objects. It works by removing a single layer of silver (along with all of the tarnish) to reveal the clean silver underneath.

Using a  small piece of cotton wool dipped in silver dip, I rubbed a small area of the coffee pot gently and in a circular movement until all the tarnish had gone. Then using another piece of cotton wool, but dipped in water, I rubbed the same area in a circular motion to remove any left over silver dip. If silver dip is left on and not cleaned off it can go through several layers of silver and ruin the object. Any excess water is removed by dabbing tissue paper on it. This is then repeated until the

Shiny and Clean

Shiny and Clean

whole of the object is clean. To get into the small nooks and crannies along the lip and the handle, I used a cotton wool bud, repeating the above. The pot was then buffed to bring out the shine.

 

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Good Clean Fun….

One of our annual tasks in the house, is to deep clean all of the rooms. Recently, I have been helping to finish off the Dining room before its goes to a night-time scene at the end of this month.

Brush dusting the sideboard in the Dining room

Brush dusting the sideboard in the Dining room

Every morning we will dust flat surfaces and vacuum the visitor route but the deep clean takes it to the next level. It means moving most of the objects off any surfaces, dusting and inspecting both, checking for any damage. IT also means crawling under tables and chairs to get rid of cobwebs and dust as well as inspecting the carpets for insect activity like carpet beetle and clothes moth. This happens in every single room and corridor in the house that is open to the public.

In the past, the majority of this deep clean took place in the winter months when the house was closed. But this year it has been different. We are now open for 363 days of the year, leading to interesting debates on the effect this may have (or may not have) on the collection. So the deep clean is now being carried out whilst we are open and in front of volunteers and visitors.

As we are open longer, we have already noticed an increase in our work so trying to fit in deep cleaning can be difficult. Our Assistant House Steward always tries her best to plan days where at least one person can do the deep clean but it is the nature of heritage that things pop up.

The Dining room has taken us 5 days over a 1 month period to complete and there is a noticeable difference to the room. A lot of the plates that look like they are cream are actually an off white colour, whilst the dust on the tablecloth also made it look yellow but it is now a lovely snowy white.

Now that the Dining room is complete, it is off to start the next one – the Drawing room. This is by far one of the more complex rooms to deep clean as there is so many objects and pieces of furniture. I got to clean the Mosque lamp this morning, which matches the one in the Conservatory and were both bought during Mr and Mrs Beale’s world tour in 1906.

Cleaning the Mosque lamp in the Drawing room

Cleaning the Mosque lamp in the Drawing room