coppertime

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the somewhat “special” table we have in our living-room was turning green. It’s a quite unusual copper-coloured table, covered in an egyptian design. Like many sharehouses, our furniture is a hodge-podge of things found, inherited, or just — such as all the cake tins Fiona and I discovered this morning in our cupboards — bloomed overnight, like mushrooms. This particular table is a large, circular affair about a metre in diametre that I’m told came from previous housemate Nikki’s grandmother, although I’m not sure. It’s tacky but we all agree we love it.

Anyway, its metallic top is some kind of copper alloy, and if there were any doubt to its copper content, the recent blooming of green corrosion product (as conservators call it) has made that at least certain. Of course it has a general greenish patina to it, especially in places where it gets a lot of use, but there are some areas that look like this:

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So I had a google, and found the Victoria & Albert Museum’s guide which conveniently 1 – didn’t require a specific identification of the metal (I don’t think it’s brass, but I’m not certain it’s just copper) and 2 – advised the use of methylated spirits, which we happen to have at home, and of a bamboo kebab stick, which we also had at home.

One of my traits from earliest childhood was a keen desire to pick away at things, such as the particles on cork tiles and the mortar on walls, much to my parents’ despair. This destructiveness will hopefully be re-focused into conservation… regardless, I enjoyed scraping away at the green corrosion probably more than is helpful. Probably in a year or so I will look back at the way I treated this table-top and shriek with horror…

Before treatment:
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Gently scraping away the powdery green corrosion:
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Swabbing the surface clean:
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You can see how happy I was fussing over my table:
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It’s just… really fun!
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I was going to take more pictures but then we had to run to the shops and then the sunshine was gone. Winter solstice here in Australia = shortest day of the year. And COLD!!! most mornings it’s 1°C when I leave the house.

Tomorrow I’ve got a nice bike ride (20km each way) planned to go visit my friends and their baby who I haven’t seen since he was an actual baby — from what I’ve seen on Facebook, he’s apparently a real person now, who can walk and everything. Here’s hoping the cold won’t thwart my plans by making my fingers or nose freeze off!

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