Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Musings on the cleaning process

My dad was a research chemist and his hobby was photography.  So growing up I had access to his "lab" where I learned to develop my B&W negatives and prints.  I loved the smell of the chemicals and pottering around in the lab.  So from age 8 until I was in my 20's I spent a lot of time in our various home labs developing my prints.  I ended up doing my degree in photography and used my home darkroom a lot during that time.

I noticed today that my laundry room - which now houses my collection of finds and all the cleaning tools, equipment and chemicals evokes those days.  I can spend almost a much time cleaning my finds as it took to dig them up.  I keep learning new tricks and discovering great things under the rust and dirt.  Todays finds include 2 items that revealed themselves as I processed them.

The copper circle in this eagle (boy scouts?) pendant revealed itself after I dunked it in a white vinegar and salt solution.  I had tried a brass wire brush at first and the copper did not show.  The text in the circle reads: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1903".  I coated it with Renaissance Wax to preserve the shine.

This boy scout button also involved special treatment.  The steel loop on the back was so encrusted in rust that it was filled in.  I used electrolysis in a vinegar/baking soda solution to remove the rust, and actually went a bit too far as the process ate through part of the steel back, but now the loop is slightly loose as it might have been originally.

This star shaped pin badge says: "We're here for you!".  It's probably from an insurance company.  When I tried wire brushing it the black paint started coming off.  I guess they didn't spring for cloisonne.

The other cool  find is the1975 UNA PESETA coin that also benefited from a brief dunk in vinegar salt solution to remove some corrosion that then was easy to remove with a brass brush.

I also got this surface find - a junk jewelry brooch, obviously a fresh spill from one of the flea market seller's tables.

These look too clean to be musket balls, they look like they had some brass plate over the lead and I don't think that was done historically, but they are the right size to be musket balls.

The copper sheet and large open ring cleaned up well enough in vinegar to put in my copper recycling bin.

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