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topic 17028

Stop rust on delicate owl bookends, cast iron w/ bronze finish


2002

I recently bought a vintage pair of arts & crafts owl bookends from around 1910, cast iron with a bronze finish. The owl design is quite delicate; I believe that these were made by Bradley and Hubbard though there is no makers mark. They are lovely, but not in good condition. In spots, the bronze finish has worn through and the iron is rusting. I know that some antique pieces are more valuable with the original finish untouched, but I think this piece would be much more attractive if restored, and I'm not really worried about its value. I'd at least like to clean the rust off and stop further deterioration before the owls are obscured further. Any ideas for how to gently clean the rust off, stop further rusting, and perhaps restore the bronze finish? Thanks much

Solveig S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Silver Spring, Maryland, USA


2005

I would suggest a very light rubbing with a very fine 0000 steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] only on the exposed iron areas to remove the loosest surface rust, then either rub on a light coating of hot wax (heated in a double boiler) or rub on a little cooking or perhaps sewing machine oil. the oil will have to be reapplied occasionally. The idea is to prevent the metal from being exposed to the air which causes oxidation. The wax should not harm the patina of the bronze, if you apply it hot. Sculptors heat their newly chased bronze castings with a torch or in a kiln then, while the piece is still really hot, brush and buff the wax into the surface to deter the oxidation process.

Lauren O'Meara
- Buffalo, New York, USA



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