After years in the shadows of, until recently, unchallenged champion of home metals- steel, brass has made a quite unexpected comeback. With so many connotations and links to naff Olde English items like horse brasses and country beer garden ash trays, I must admit that this one came completely out of nowhere. I guess it developed from move towards homelier homes and away from the previously popular minimal style interiors. It may seem unlikely but large, world level events actually have a huge influence on home trends. Our home is our sanctuary and it reflects our moods, so during the late 1990s when we all smugly felt we could do no wrong when it came to property, we perhaps didn’t need quite so many home comforts to feel snug and safe, so the rise in popularity of minimally styled homes was fairly simple to explain. A decade on from this time and things are a little different- we are at war, terrorism has become something that, through increased media attention, has seeped into our public conscience and we are also facing the biggest recession since war times. It is therefore only natural that we would want our homes to be much more comforting places to be. And it is through this that previously dated home decoration such as wallpaper, carpet, china and brass has begun to appeal to us once again.
Brass is wonderfully warm metal. Much like wood and leather it takes on a beautiful patina as it ages and is therefore probably the only metal that looks equally as good when it has aged as it does brand new. Follow the guide below to keep your brassware in tip top condition- that way you can get it down from the loft looking pristine the next time we suddenly look to Emmerdale for home styling tips!
Most brass items are coated with lacquer or urethane, which neither tarnishes nor requires polishing. You can wash coated brass fairly easily with warm water and mild dish soap. If uncoated brass becomes tarnished, simply give it a rub with a commercial brass polish. To determine whether a brass item is coated, rub with a soft cloth and brass polish. If a black residue rubs off on the cloth, the brass is uncoated.
When lacquer becomes worn, air penetrates the fine scratches in the finish and tarnishes the brass underneath. The brass will appear stained because polish won’t remove tarnish under the lacquer. To remove the tarnish, you’ll need to remove the protective coating. To remove lacquer from small items, brush with lacquer thinner or paint, let stand for 5 minutes, and remove with a soft brush. Larger items will need to be professionally polished.
Protect the lacquer on brass items with a twice-yearly application of paste wax. Apply the wax according to the manufacturer’s instructions and wipe off with a soft cloth. Most brass polishes contain oils that slow the build-up of tarnish, so maintain uncoated brass by polishing it when it shows signs of tarnish and by keeping it clean and dry.