Except that I was the only one who felt that way. My mother, arbiter of all that is good taste, declared it "appropriate for the period of the house." My husband, arbiter of all that is expensive to replace, declared it "inoffensive." My father, arbiter of all that can be repaired, declared it "unable to be lowered without rewiring the whole chandelier, and I don't feel like doing that." Outvoted at least temporarily, I bided my time until the electrician we've been having rewire the whole house made it to the dining room. As long as the chandelier is down, wouldn't it make sense to replace it now?
So we went to a lighting store and found one that I thought would look nice:
And I subsequently found it online for almost $300 less than the lighting store wanted for it. But the more I thought about it, the more expensive it got, considering we already had a working light for the room. And it looks an awful lot like the one we already have, with the cut glass and the candles and such. Not nearly as ugly, but still.
So while we had the chandelier down, I pulled off one of the more accessible parts and tried polishing it. It was solid brass, and polished pretty easily in the sections where the lacquer had worn off. So I stayed up until 11:30 last night disassembling the sucker so I could polish the rest of it.
But before I could polish it, I needed to strip the lacquer. Online searches found numberous cancer-causing chemicals that were recommended for stripping lacquer, as well as a number of suggestions about using boiling water and baking soda, of all things. Today I went and bought enough chemicals to start a Superfund site in my basement, then decided to try the baking soda trick first.
I had also read that you could use any acidic liquid to help remove tarnish from brass, with suggestions ranging from vinegar and ketchup to Texas Pete's Hot Sauce. I was fresh out of Texas Pete, but I had some of the other substances, so I set up a comparison. On the stove - a pot of boiling water with baking soda mixed in. On the counter - one bowl of white vinegar to soak the de-lacquered pieces in. And also on the counter - one bowl with one piece of de-lacquered brass covered in ketchup, just to see if it would work. And finally, also on the counter, one can of commercial brass polish. With the baking soda and vinegar and boiling fuming things, it felt like a science fair volcano just waiting to happen.
- I'll be darned. Boiling the parts for 15 minutes in a mix of 1 TBS baking soda to 1 quart of water (give or take) works to strip the lacquer off of brass. I don't know where it goes, because it didn't peel off or anything - it was just gone. Woohoo!
- Ketchup does bupkis to remove tarnish from brass.
- White vinegar does loosen the tarnish a little, but you'd have to leave it soaking pretty long to get it completely clean.
- Tarnite metal polish totally rocks! On previous brass pieces we've used Brasso, which works but requires more elbow grease than I'd like. Tarnite required me to rub it with a soft cloth - that was it. Woohoo!
So tomorrow I'll be returning half of the Superfund chemicals (and the steel wool) and starting to re-lacquer the pieces I've polished so far. If I can get the right tool to disassemble the rest of the chandelier, I should be able to rewire the sucker this weekend and have it ready for the electrician on Monday. And it will have flame bulbs, and it will have a long enough chain, and it won't look like it's been festering in a dumpster for the last 40 years. I don't expect to love it, but I also don't expect to hate it, and it didn't cost me $550. Hurrah!