Antiquing Furniture And Other Items Such As Antiquing Brass



The word “antiquing” has more than one different meaning in today’s world.

One meaning is the act of searching and browsing for antique items, by visiting all kinds of antique shops and general markets, eventually discovering some nice items, then haggling or negotiating with the seller in an effort to bring home a wonderful bargain.

Another meaning is the technique of giving an old or aged appearance to items such as wooden furniture. This is also known as distressing. It does not just apply to wood, as many other materials and items can be worked on, for example brass items such as bells or nameplates.

The second method, that of distressing, will be the focus of this post. We will look at some of the methods and techniques that are used, along with some help on how to go about actually doing it for yourself.

Antiquing Wood:

When it comes to antiquing wooden items of furniture such as tables, chairs, lockers, cabinets, the general process can be broken down into these four stages: stage one, preparation; stage two, applying a base layer; stage three, applying a glaze toner; stage four, completing the task by sealing with varnish.

By far the easiest way to get all the required ingredients is to purchase an antiquing kit. These kits have a range of finish colours, allowing you to choose one that you like, or that closely matches any existing furniture that you already have.

Please note that all the procedures involved are not destructive, i.e. they are not going to cause any harm to your pieces of furniture (when used correctly, of course). Also note that it really is not considered a good idea to try any of these methods on actual antique pieces, as doing so would greatly reduce their value.

Stage One, Preparation - Often, this stage will require the most work. First you should dismantle or disassemble the item completely. Remove any handles or hinges with a screwdriver, remove any drawers, or any other items fastened to the piece that you will be working on.

Ensure you have ample workspace, remember that pieces will have to be let dry for periods of time. Some good ventilation is really recommended, as sometimes the smells and fumes can be a bit strong.

Stripping and sanding comes next. If the item is not previously painted, then it is likely that it has a coat of varnish. If the item is painted, perhaps even with several layers, then you might consider removing the paint with paint-remover. This may not always be necessary, as you can do the antiquing process over the paint. Generally speaking, the natural colour of the wood is more attractive, but you must be the judge of that, considering the effort required to strip it down.

Then you need to carefully sand down the entire surface. Medium grade sandpaper is usually good enough, but if there are any delicate patches such as carvings, then try to use fine sandpaper for those areas. When sanding by hand on flat surfaces, wrap the sanding paper around a small block of wood to make it easier. Do not go too heavy near the corners and edges as you may bevel them too much.

If there are any holes or large cracks, it is best to fill these with plastic wood filler or something similar from the hardware store.
There should be no shiny spots left when you are finished sanding.

Wash the surfaces using water and any household cleaner, and then rinse with plain water. Remember that water is not the best friend to wood, so dry it off as much as possible with a cloth, and then leave it to dry completely before moving on to the next stage.

Stage Two, Applying a base layer - Best to refer to the instructions in the kit, but it is similar to ordinary painting. Stir the tin properly to ensure that it is completely mixed, make sure there is no layer of sediment at the bottom. Then apply just like paint. Leave to dry for the appropriate time, usually 24 hours, or whatever is instructed, until it is completely dry to the touch.

You may sand lightly at this point, but that is not always necessary (remember to dust if off properly if you do).

Stage Three, Applying a glaze toner – Carefully read the instructions at this point, because timing can be very important here. The toner is the actual colouring layer that gives the desired antiqued finish. In brief, apply a layer of the toner, leave it set for a short period of time as specified in the instructions, and then wipe it off with a cloth or cheesecloth.

So prepare everything beforehand, ensure that you have plenty of rags or cheesecloth, and have some mineral spirits also, just in case. Depending on the drying time, you may need to work on just one surface at a time.

When wiping it off, try to achieve long even strokes, avoiding any lines or creases. Try to picture the desired finish result, an aged appearance might mean that you need to leave some areas darker than others.

If the toner has set for too long, mineral spirits can be used to remove it.

If too little toner has been applied, or if the finish is not dark enough, or if it has been removed too soon, then this entire stage can be repeated.

Remember that you can be creative at this stage. When the first layer is complete and dry, maybe reapply the toner to certain parts of the furniture, to vary the shades and colours throughout.

Stage Four, Completing the task by sealing with varnish – When the toner has completely dried, and you are happy with the result, it is usually advisable to finish by adding a final coat of varnish. Usually a clear matt varnish is the best choice, as you do not want it to appear shiny.

When finished, step back and congratulate yourself. Now you know what antiquing furniture is all about. Be sure to tell all your visitors that you acquired this ‘precious’ antique for peanuts!

Note: Amazon provide a great antiquing kit, you can have a look by clicking this link Antiquing Kit

Antiquing Brass:

There are three main stages involved when working with brass. Stage one, preparation; stage two, applying the antiquing solution; stage three, completing by waxing.

Ammonia is one of the common chemicals used in the antiquing solution, so beware. The fumes can be quite strong, even intolerable. Best advice is to purchase a brass antiquing kit, which will contain proper instructions on diluting the solution, along with the recommended times involved. Normally, the longer you leave the solution on, the darker your brass gets.

Use rubber gloves at all times, both for your skin protection, and to protect the metal from fingerprint stains.

Stage One, Preparation – Make sure that it really is brass, solid brass, and not some other metal, and not plated. First, you need to completely remove any dirt, varnish, or lacquer coating. That means cleaning it thoroughly with a mild solution of soap, vinegar, or alcohol. Then use varnish remover or lacquer thinner to remove any coating. You need to be extra diligent here, completely remove any coating, or you might end up with spots on the finished result.

Stage Two, Applying the antiquing solution – There are various methods that can be used here. Often it depends on the shape of the object in question.

Small or flat objects such as nameplates, jewellery, can be dipped or completely immersed in the solution. Refer to the kit instructions for the time duration involved.

Larger objects, perhaps bells, might be difficult to immerse, so fuming is the next best option. Get a container with a sealed lid, such as a plastic bucket. Put in something to act as a small shelf, and place your brass object inside. Then pour in some of the solution, enough to cover the bottom of the bucket but not touching the bell. Then seal the bucked and wait for the appropriate amount of time.

If either of these methods are not possible, then the solution can be applied by standard means such as spraying with a small sprayer, dabbing on with a cloth, or even brushing on with a brush.

Whichever method used, you may need to dry or dust off the brass when finished.

Remember that it is usually OK to re-use the antiquing solution, just store it in its original container, or anything airtight (put a proper label on it saying what it is).
The solution can then be used again in the future, although it might get weaker over time, and this would affect the length of time involved in the application process.

Stage Three, Completing by waxing - When finished, and when satisfied with the result, it is best to apply a coat of wax such as beeswax. This helps to preserve the colour, or else the brass may continue to darken.

Many other surfaces and other metals can be antiqued in some way, and the process is usually similar to the ones mentioned above.

P.S. I provide a free antiquing email course. You can read more about it by clicking here Antiquing. Have a look, and sign up by entering your name and email address and clicking the button.

P.P.S. Here is the link again to the website for antiquing kits Antiquing Kit

Filed under: Antiquing

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