Dedicated to Historic preservation and restoration of the Victorian Era and my own spin on why things are the way they are. Paul Willham, Editor & Publisher
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Polychomed light restoration.
I recently completed a fun project which I thought might be of interest to my readers since I know not all of you are mired in Victorian decor. We picked this piece up several years ago on a buying trip through the south
Now it might surprise you that I would buy Art Deco but actually when I first started collecting (back in the 1980’s) I started with art deco. The good stuff, not the 1950-60’s stuff passed off as Deco today. We chose to buy this price because it was good piece, nice design and the polychoming made it more unique that the average light fixture.
Normally, you find these in a basic bronze finish, so the polychome paint job made all the difference. These older fixtures often have issues like cracks. Those can be filled by use of ‘liquid weld’ which is a high temperature filler that you can sand if need be but it bonds well to metal and I find works well with these old fixtures. This particular fixture was ok in that regard but the paint was cracked and faded. A common mistake people make is using the wrong paint. You can’t use latexes. It won’t bond to the original paint and remember this is a light fixture, which means it’s exposed to heat. And the bulb face down, which means the heat rises. I use enamels for this kind of work. You can find them at hobby store. Even model car paints will work if you can find the right colors, or know how to mix them.
Now if you want to polychome a fixture that has not been painted you can prime it with the appropriate primer for the paint you are using. Actually red auto primer is a good base color if you are going with a gold finish. For this one colors were dictated by the original colors which I matched but if you are starting from scratch I recommend researching polychomed fixtures to see the appropriate color combinations used.
I have been involved in Historic Preservation and Restoration for the last 25 plus years. I am president of Victorian Antiquities & Design. I am proud to be a part of restoring the architectural history of our country.