The Art of Restoration and the Copper Pot.

Jul 05, 2017
As little ones, my brothers and I and all about knee high to a grasshopper were often going out to auctions and buying things with our pop long before picking was even a term, which then led to tinkering away restoring and fixing things, and to this was just normal life we knew no different.

On one day, it would have been around the age of 10 when we were working away with our pop, that he hit us with another one of his stop and think questions. He said "What is the art of restoration?", he had me cold, as young whipper I immediately thought, "there is an ART to restoration" this must be important then, but as usual I had no Idea as to what this art must be, he just left me hanging on the question, making me think.

His reply came later in the day and it was very simply "The art of restoration is to use the least amount of time and money, for the best possible result".
Looking at today's market and how it can be a tough trade to go out picking and to turn a dollar, you are often asking yourself at what point do you decide to put any effort and or money into a restoration or part restoration of an item? and with that question old pop's advice all of those years come running back and really do make a whole heap of common sense.

Next to the question of do we restore or repair an item is the next best question, do you even bother fixing something up? there are those who swear that you should never touch anything and those that dib in and restore up some items, and that is one question where nobody is wrong or right, in that it is really up the individual to make that call based on their beliefs.
One thing we all can agree on is what I would call the restoration butchers, these people only seem to destroy and devalue anything they seem to touch and regardless of which side you are on, we all cringe at these people.

All of that brings us to the copper pot story, this copper pot dating back quite a few years was dull, lifeless and looked to be worth a few bob at best. Based on the above for me it did warrant a rustic restoration, it did not need to come back like a new pin but it did need a tidy up to make it more presentable and at the same time possible add some visible value to the item.

Using the formula of the least time and money for the best result, the first step was to fill the sink with the hottest tap water and one cup of vinegar, throw in the pot and to let it sit till the water went cold. This takes very little time as you can go off to do other things, no good sitting there and watching paint dry.

For anyone that does not know vinegar and hot water have been used for years to clean copper and salt was also used an abrasive, I remember as a tacker cleaning our coppers out back most weekends with hot water vinegar and salt to a new pin, it works magic and will also work well with brass.

After the first soaking in the vinegar water, it can be seen that the pot had cleaned up a level, so it was decided just to repeat that process at this stage, again only a few seconds to refill the hot water and vinegar then onto other work.

With any restoration most people would agree it is not about brute force but shades of improvement, if you can see slight improvement by going gently then just repeat that process, it is not a race and we do not need to get out the super duper heavy duty scraper to bang into it hard and in one go, as the only result of this, will be one of our restoration butcher's damaged items.

Once the second soak had completed the pot came up clean, and again this is where some people can get a little ahead of themselves where they would have just banged out the polish first. As the name says it is a polish not a cleaner, and with this they may spend half a day polishing for better words to get a result half as good, so if possible always clean the metal before polishing the metal.

With the clean pot I just grabbed a toothbrush and some dishwashing liquid along with some 0000 grade steel wool (used for metal) to finish cleaning of any remaining dirt or markings from the pot, all in all less than a few minutes work here.

Lastly a quick polish that also took a few minutes and with probably no more than ten minutes in total work time the pot was transformed back to a rustic look and ready for a new life for many more years to come.

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