March 28, 2015 - Michele Woodburn
Greetings Royal Friends and Followers,
It is finally Spring! Time for Spring cleaning! This is the time of year when we clear our nests and get ready for a new growth spurt! This is when we decide that some of our things have grown tired looking or we have grown tired of them. In the process of clearing the nest, though, there are a few things you should never do…….let me explain.
- Never throw it away without knowing what it is. And never assume that it has no value. We have been to Estate Sales where we happily picked through the dumpster and pulled out old postcards, theater programs, advertising, signs, soda crates, broken chairs, a pair of thoroughly black sterling silver candlesticks, and mid-century modern furniture. Now we are very sure that none of our Royal friends and followers would ever make those mistakes, but you would be amazed at what people do throw away. It is always wise to ask an expert before you trash an item. Even broken things can be re-used in creative ways. Set it out in a sale and see if it generates interest! You can always free-cycle, donate, or toss after the sale.
- Never clean or polish – especially if it is copper! I had a dear friend who found a pretty hammered copper ashtray at a sale. It was completely brown. She took it home and polished it to a gleaming bright copper. By polishing it, and removing an intentionally applied patina, she reduced it’s value significantly. Had she left it unpolished, she would have had an Arts and Crafts ashtray valued at a few hundred dollars. She liked it, and that was what really mattered, but it is important not to remove patina without being sure that it was not meant to be there. Generally on metal items, just gently cleaning with a soft cloth is best. Remove dust, not patina. If it is clearly marked silver, it can be polished with my personal favorite, Wright’s Silver Creme. It is always wise to consult an expert if you have even the slightest doubt. If you are selling, remember that many people prefer items in “as found” condition. Sometimes cleaning is the very act that destroys a delicate piece of fabric. I remember some lovely silk napkins that simply shattered when washed on the delicate cycle. Had I hand washed them, they might have been alright, but I did not know that then (I was very young). Watch for upcoming articles specifically about cleaning fabric items.
- Never store items in an area that is poorly temperature controlled or damp. Attics and basements, while favored storage sites, can be problematic unless finished and insulated. Cedar chests may stain delicate fabrics, and plastic allows items to “sweat” which leads to mold and mildew. If you will be storing an item, be sure air can flow around it. Wrap breakable items loosely in tissue or roll end newsprint. Using newspapers can leave ink behind, and plastic wrap for long term storage will “sweat”. If you are using a cedar chest, lay acid free tissue on the floor of the chest, and loosely wrap the items around the walls of the chest. White tissue only! Colored tissue may “bleed” and leave stains. Most white tissue now is acid free, but check labels to be sure.
- Never keep things just because you think they are valuable, because they were a gift from someone important to you, or because they used to belong to a family member, even one who has passed on. If you don’t love it, it doesn’t fit your life, or your decor, and you are holding on out of habit, let it go. Send it out into the universe to find a new home. Someone else will love it, and you will have room for something you like better. If it was an inheritance, you will still have the memories. If you must, take a photo of it and put it in your scrapbook. If you feel it may be too valuable to simply put into a yard or garage sale, consult an expert. There are many ways to sell more valuable items and many people who make their living doing so. In the Royal castle, when an item becomes questionable, we ask everyone if they still love it. If even one member of the family says yes, it stays. Of course it goes into their room then!
- Never put out an item you are just not sure you want to sell. If you have even the slightest doubt that you might use it in future, that may be an indicator that you are just not ready to part with it. Once it is sold, you can’t get it back.
This may all sound like simple common sense, but when the Spring Cleaning fever hits, we all get a little overzealous at times. Even Her Stupendous Majesty has made a few colossal errors in her day! Remember the best rule of thumb is that if you ever have a question or doubt, consult an expert! We don’t pretend to know everything, and asking someone who knows more than we do has been a lifeline! Happy cleaning!
Ta Ta for now,
Her Stupendous Majesty, Queen Michele