Need help with fern stand - brass and something else?

dreamgoddessFebruary 5, 2012

This fern stand came out of an estate sale at an old Victorian home. Silly me, I thought all the pieces of it were brass (not realizing brass wouldn't rust). I definitely know better now.

I took it all apart so it would be easier to clean it and started out by polishing the legs. Then I started trying to remove all the rust and polish the top and bottom square pieces, which obviously wouldn't polish because they aren't brass.

Now I've ended up with shinier brass legs and dull square pieces. I don't know what to do with it now!

Also, there looks to be what I guess would be pitting on the legs and some green gunk still at the bottom of the legs that I haven't been able to remove.

I'm totally stuck on what to do now and I think it looks worse now than it did when I bought it (at least the coloring was basically uniform then)! I took it to an antique dealer here where I live and she suggested I paint it, but I'd rather not do that unless there are absolutely no other options.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can fix this? Is there a way to repair it without having to resort to painting it?

TIA!

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lindac

OMG! Don't paint it!!
You now have the iron clean....put some lacquer or tung oil on it to keep it that way.
The brass will clean up more....use 4 ought steel wool and brasso.....and lots of elbow grease.
I think the iron lacy parts were originally painted.....and I suppose you could do that again......but I like it like it is.
Great stand....now to grow a fern!!
Linda c

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 5:07PM
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calliope

Yes......what Linda said.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 5:59PM
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dreamgoddess

Linda, that was my reaction too! I'm really glad to hear you say no paint. Thank you for the suggestions.

What exactly is tung oil? Will it change the color of the iron?

I do have some steel wool, but it doesn't have the gauges on the package. I have "coarse", "medium" and "fine". Would the medium or fine be better to use? Will the steel wool scratch the brass?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 5:59PM
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javaandjazz

I have cleaned rust like that by soaking it in straight vinegar and then just scrubbing it right off. I might have used the finest steel wool. It was so easy and then I just rubbed some canola oil right afterwards and I couldn't believe how great it came out.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:07PM
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dreamgoddess

Curious, why did you rub it with canola oil?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:26PM
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javaandjazz

When it started to dry in some areas it started to show some rust again and because I was hanging it in the house canola oil was the only oil I had and it doesn't have an odor, plus it made the metal frame look richer. My rust was on an old arts and crafts gray metal frame that was so rusted. I was amazed how nice it came out in the end.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:37PM
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lindac

Yeah....canola oil will work....but tung oil is better. I know some "junkers"...people who buy stuff to garage sale out....who spray their piece with Pam. But canola and pam never really really dry....and they get dust stuck to them.
Tung oil is meant to be used on furniture....and I think it has a drier in it. An alternative would be spray on lacquer....but you want to be sure you get it into all the groves or you will get rust again. An oil you brush on is best.
As for the steel wool....use fine...it will scratch....but by using the fine, the scratches will be....fine!! Dip the steel wool in Brasso or BarKeepers Friend with a bit of water and scrub at those dark spots. I have a pair of mid 19th century brass push up candle sticks that were black as pitch....they had been in a fire.....they are now wonderful polished brass. Keep at it....it will happen and 10 years from now you will remember what a pain it was to clean up!!!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 7:08PM
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dreamgoddess

Linda, the tung oil will prevent the iron from rusting again and I shouldn't use it on the brass legs, right? If I use tung oil on the iron pieces, I don't also need to spray it with lacquer, do I?

I've got some BarKeepers Friend, so I think I'll try polishing the legs with it tomorrow afternoon. Should I lacquer the legs once I get them cleaned up?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 7:26PM
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lindac

YOU NEED TO SEAL THE IRON....UNLESS YOU WANT IT TO RUST.
Scuse the caps...
If you want the legs bright and shiny forever....lacquer them....it you want them to gently tarnish and to polish them every 2 years.....skip the lacquer.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 10:43PM
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dreamgoddess

Linda, thank you for all the help! It is very appreciated. Ok, I'm going to make sure all the rust is gone from the iron and then seal it with tung oil. I definitely don't want the legs to stay bright and shiny so I won't lacquer them.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 2:54PM
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