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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Think Spring!

Officially, the first day of spring (or the Vernal Equinox) will be on March 20th of this year. Equinox means, literally, equal night. Because the sun is positioned above the equator , day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes. The vernal equinox for the Northern Hemisphere will occur on March, 20th, 2010 at about 1:32pm EDT. It is the exact moment that the Sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator. At the same time, the Southern Hemisphere will begin the autumnal equinox, and those folks will now be gearing up for the cooler temps of autumn and winter. Interesting, yes?

The first day of spring is a couple of weeks away yet, and especially if you live in the Northern states, as I do, it won't really seem like spring until late April. Or May. We've had snow in May before!
I've been getting about two flower catalogs every week in the mail now, so I guess the nursery folks are ready to tempt me with their new offerings. My double fuschia tulips don't seem to know that it's a little early for them to appear either; I saw a couple little sprouts poking up through the mulch yesterday. I've never seen sprouts this early!

Warmer weather is always welcome to a Wisconsinite, believe me! It also signals the time when I can continue the never-ending chore of removing paint from hardware. I always wait until it's summer to work on this project, because it's easier to do it outside.

I posted earlier this week about this "paint situation" here. I love the old hardware on the solid wood doors in our house; you can't buy stuff like this anymore! But somebody thought they should just sloppily glop paint over ALL of it. Hinges, knob collars, keyplates, escutcheons, sash handles....everything that remained was covered. Or half-covered, as evidenced by the picture above (this was the inside of the door in my office). I think it's even funnier that they had fancy keyplates on both the outside and inside of the doors!

Here's a horrible image: this is one of the hinges that is on the linen closet door in the upstairs hall. I chose this one because they didn't bother to paint the inside of this door with the white paint, so you can actually sort of see the decorative hinges a little better. There is paint on these, it's just brown instead of white. Look at the lazy sloppiness of how this was done! I mean really.....who does such a thing?
The hinges are very fancy, with finial end caps. Most of the doors still have their end caps; a couple of them are missing downstairs, but most of them have survived.

This is the knob that is on our bedroom door, which somehow miraculously survived from being slathered with white paint. Either the knob was moved or a different collar was on here at some point; you can see the circular markings where it used to be. But this shows how pretty the hardware is, and the black glass knobs. There are three doors upstairs that have knobs and key plates that were spared from the white paint treatment, but all of them have their hinges painted.

Here are a couple of pieces that I cleaned last summer. The square one on top is a sash handle. All the windows in the house have one of these, (painted over, of course!). The bottom one is a key plate from the bathroom door.

I was able to see at least 5 layers of paint on these as I was cleaning them. I had tried every product I could find to remove the paint, but the only thing that worked was told to me by a man who owns a restoration and salvage shop near where we live: a mixture of lye and water and then soak and scrub. It took two days of soaking and scrubbing with a wire brush to get it all off. I even soaked and scrubbed the little screws, because they had paint on them too! As I mentioned before, I do this in summer because I have to do this outside. It's actually harder to find lye than I thought, but usually I mix it up in a large bucket and then dump all the pieces in the bucket and let them soak. The fumes are really, really bad and I have to wear heavy rubber gloves because lye is really nasty and it will burn your skin.

After a good 24 hrs of soaking, I start in with the wire brush. I saw layers of paint in :white, light blue, brown, green and then the last layer was a cream colored paint which I strongly suspect was enamel. I found this type of cream-colored paint under other layers on a baseboard that I stripped and re-finished in the parlor as well. The old kind of enamel paints are virtually impossible to get off wood and it might well have been what the wood was originally painted when the house was built.

Once the pieces were free of paint, I rinsed them really well and had them dry on paper towel. And, since they were exposed to air for the first time in who knows how long, I sprayed them with Rust-oleum and then a clear acrylic over the top to prevent rust formation.
It's tedious to get all the hardware off and then takes days to soak, which is why it takes so long.  I'm not sure what we'll do about the hinges on exterior doors. We can't really take the door off for two days!

Thanks for stopping by! See you soon!

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Why are people so darned sloppy when painting...especially when the hardware is so beautiful, then to have the nerve leaving the mess for someone else to clean! You are so lucky to have most of the original hardware to work with.