How to Care for Ornaments


Cleaning rare and valuable objects or jewellery should only be done by pro­fessionals. Some ornaments wear graci­ously and should not be cleaned, but just dusted occasionally.

Take care even when lifting orna­ments. For example, a valuable statue should not be picked up by its head or hand, but should be supported at its thickest point, often the base, by both your hands. Often handles of heavy vases or rims of large bowls are not strong enough to support the entire object, so think before you lift.

When hand-washing fragile, hand-painted ornaments, use a plastic bowl in case they slip out of your hand and warm, not hot water, with a little mild detergent. Only put one object in the bowl at any one time and do not use abrasives but clean crevices with an old toothbrush used gently. Rinse in warm, clear water and dry carefully or drain on a soft towel or a pile of paper towels.

Ornaments

Special cases

Alabaster

Alabaster is absorbent and will be stained by water. It should be wiped gently with white spirit, petrol or paint solvent. To remove stains, rub the alab­aster with a piece of flannel moistened with turpentine and dipped in pow­dered pumice-stone. Polish well with a little beeswax dissolved in turpentine or with a wax furniture polish.

Bone, horn, ivory and tortoiseshell

Bone, horn, ivory and tortoiseshell are all likely to become dirty and greasy quickly. To clean them, rub gently with a little methylated spirit on a clean soft cloth. Polish spots with whiting and methylated spirit.

If you want to, you can lighten the colour of ivory and bone by bleaching. Make a paste of whiting and hydrogen peroxide, cover the piece and then let it dry in the sun. Remove the paste with a damp cloth and buff with a soft cloth. Or rub the object gently with fine abras­ive powder on a dampened cloth.

Tortoiseshell can simply be kept clean by rubbing it gently with a cloth dipped in a little olive oil.

China (from porcelain to earthenware)

All china not labelled as suitable for a dishwasher should be washed by hand in warm water with mild detergent. Use a plastic bowl in your sink if you have a tendency to let soapy items slip out from between your fingers. Never use strong abrasives on china or you will damage the glaze. Most domestic stains can be removed from china by rubbing with moistened household salt or bicarbo­nate of soda. Coarse china is porous and stains easily, for example, tea and coffee stains in mugs. Clean them by soaking in bleach occasionally.

Glass

Glass can be machine-washed unless old, delicate or painted. Always support the bowl of a glass while cleaning or drying it, by placing your fingers either side of the stem and cupping your hand under the bowl. Always rinse glass well in warm water and dry it carefully with a linen glass cloth. Until drying, leave the glass upright and, when possible, filled with hot water. Pouring out the water at the last minute will make the glass easier to dry. Never drain glasses by standing on their rims. Polish decorative glass with an impregnated silver wadding.

If glasses have stuck together, put cold water in the inner glass and hold the outer one in warm water. If a stop­per is jammed in a decanter, apply a mixture of 2 parts white spirit, 1 part glycerine and 1 part salt to the join between the bottle and the stopper. Leave it for a day then carefully tap the stopper and see if it will come out. If it has broken inside the neck, expand the neck by running hot water over it.

Ornaments

Glass vases and jars

To clean badly stained glass vases, jars, decanters, etc, fill with a solution of warm water and biological detergent or a solution of \ pint (150 ml) vinegar and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cooking salt. You could also use some hot soapy water and a little clean silver sand or fill the vessel with water and a denture cleaning tablet. Leave overnight and occasion­ally shake gently.

To remove lime deposits use a pro­prietary stain-removing tablet in water or soak the glass in rainwater for a week and then scrub with a toothbrush.

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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