Sunday, 13 July 2014

Restoration Project and a fun art lesson :-)

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I am very excited as I have a brilliant restoration project on the go. I was lucky enough to win the auction for an old-style library card catalogue from the Bibliographical Department at Stafford.

The magnificent beast :-)

It is quite huge - it has 72 drawers. Thanks to Al - who delivered it on Friday. It did take some getting into the house :-) We now want a bigger house just so we can keep it and have it in an office.

Well, I'm keeping it anyway - even if it does take up half the lounge. We are not sure how to renovate it. Looking on the 'net lots of people have stripped them down completely, sawn off the legs and painted them modern colours. (Have a look at this one or this one)

Some of the 72 drawers

It seems a shame - the wood on this one is beautiful and it is so well-made. We have started to remove the brass plates on each of the drawers and have experimented with various techniques and substances to clean them up. We tried lemon juice (slow - but smells nice), Viacal (not as good as on limescale!) but the best way seems to be good old Brasso and a lot of elbow grease and old pants!
I think we are making a good job of them.

The inbox and the outbox

Anyone have any suggestions about what to do with the wood?  It is quite grimy - so we are thinking of cleaning it up with some white spirit and them buffing up the natural grain of the wood with some linseed oil or spray lacquer?

Any helpful suggestions welcome :-) N wants it to look all Steampunk with gleaming brass. It reminds him of Warehouse 13 :-) We'll be able to keep all our mysterious artefacts in it!

Naked drawer

I'll keep you updated on progress!

Also this week we did something we haven't done for quite a while - we painted a picture!

This is the one we were copying :-)

I saw in The Sentinel an advert for a Painty Party at Portofino - where you could go along to the restaurant in Hanley and an actual artist would show you how to paint a picture - and you also got pizza! Sounded like a fun idea so we booked  it and turned up. Craig (the artist) and the other would-be painters welcomed us - they were so friendly!

Nathan's on the left and mine on the right.

There were easels already set up with a variety of paintbrushes in front of each one. Craig got us to put on aprons and then showed us what we were going to paint - it was a canvas he'd prepared earlier :-)

We had paper plates to act as palettes and containers of acrylic paints.

We followed him step-by-step as he recreated the picture again in front of us. Considering we were all copying him - it was amazing how different the pictures turned out. Everyone had their own style!

N chatting to Craig

After an hour and a half of intense concentration we stopped for food. We were served pizzas, salad and wedges which were delicious. We hadn't realised how hungry we were, we had been so absorbed in our art! Then we carried on until 10.30 perfecting our masterpieces! I was pleased with my two seagulls that I put in at the end.

Stop for food!

By the time we left at the end of the night it was like leaving old friends! We had all bonded and had such fun. Everyone has an inner artist!! The next one is on 5th August - so we are thinking of going again. If you fancy joining us let us know! He can fit up to 20 people in and the food was yummy too!

There are more photos of our event on the Painty Facebook Page.


  1. You'll be able to hide (or at least minimise) scratches on the wood by rubbing it with walnuts. I found the tip on one of those Buzzfeed lists the other week, and successfully tested on bits of furniture around the house. Each nut contains a little oil, and when you rub hard enough it seeps out and fills in the scars. You'll need a hoover standing by to collect bits of crushed nuts, though!

  2. Definitely in favor of the lacquering, Berni! When Chris and I first moved in together I took with me an old bookcase one of my mother's boyfriends had made for her. It was painted an ugly green color, but we stripped off the paint and lacquered the wood, and it's BEAUTIFUL--and has lasted without any additional work until now--21 years later! Painting wood is silly, but it was apparently very 'in' for a long time--if you lacquer you won't believe the difference. Try it!