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Antique Furniture Repair: Adhesives as Part of the Solution


Sometimes antique or vintage furniture breaks. Temperature change starts a small crack and alternating humidity and dryness takes its toll.  We here in Colorado understand this problem at a scale like very few other locations.  Instead of throwing the old piece along with the rest of your obsolete materials in the back corner of the garage, bring it out, repair, restore it, and put it back to good use.  Antique (over 100 years old) and vintage (over 20 years old) furniture, are one of the best re-purposing items one can find in a second-hand store.  Furniture is one of the handful of best investments, future generations will profit from by owning.  Because adhesives make the repair of that furniture easier, we are going to discuss its use here.

The “judicious” use of Adhesives is one of the best solutions for antique furniture repair.  I say judicious because typically the inexperienced DIY person believes that the more glue you can slather on something, the better it will hold.  Nothing can be farther from the truth.  Not only is too much glue detrimental, it is also ugly.  Older furniture was assembled with craftsmanship and accuracy, but wood dries out over time.  Holes expand as they dry and tendon that go into those holes, shrink.  Eventually the once tight joint, loosens and weakens, becoming prone to breakage

Originally glue was not a common material used in assembling bigger furniture pieces during the original manufacture.  When the old craftsmen build furniture, the tolerances were close, joints were tight, screws were used.  When glue was used, usually it was made from the rendering of “animal hide” and hoofs.  Remember hearing or reading about “sending the horse to the glue factory?”  That’s where it comes from.  Removal and replacement of that old glue and rebuilding the dried up joints and tendons becomes a necessary part of the repair process today.

What glue to Use.

There is a lot of glue available for antique furniture repair.  Some holds on contact without any pressure while others requires around thirty-minutes or more of pressure to safely and completely bond.  It is always best to buy the recommended glue, instead of the off-brands.  The use of adhesives, such as the commonly known white wood glue is the most preferred when repairing wood furniture.  For example, Elmer’s Wood Glue is a staple in my shop.  Other wood glues are perhaps just as good, but I grew up with Elmer’s in my Dads wood shop. I have come to trust it.  Not to be confused with the Elmer’s paper glue used in schools.  That glue taste good, but wood glue doesn’t.  At six years old, I learned the difference.

I use wood glue the most, especially for raw wood gluing of joints and seams.  You will too.  Because it is water-soluble, I mix it with wood shavings or sawdust, making a sort of wood paste to build up a loose joint or fill in an enlarged hole.  This trick came from my Dad.  I’ve used oak sanding dust mixed with Elmer’s to repair a small crack in an oak table. I clamped it and once dried, I sanded it down, and you can hardly tell where the crack was.  I re-sold that table for a healthy profit afterwards.

Because wood glue is water-soluble, it is easier to clean up, leaving behind no residue. You want this because you will need to paint or stain over the exposed section of the repair.  Note however, that if you’re new to wood repair, fully read and follow the direction indicated on the product labels.  If you have questions, contact the company and ask.  The kid in the paint store who is stocking shelves won’t know, but the pro in the company tech department will.

Sometimes, the repair entails a single leg of an antique chair or table that has been broken.  This is not a simple glue it together and be done fix.  Fast-setting water-soluble type glues are not suitable for this kind of repair.  You will need to use an epoxy type glue plus either nails or screws.

You may find that some of the new catalytic type glues that are mixed together, may be needed.  Think of a surgeon repairing a badly broken leg.  The hidden screws pull the joint back together; but cannot provide the full repair.  The glue is to strengthen the joint and serves to bolster the holding power of the screw.  Together they make for a good repaired joint; one that you would feel safe in using.  Separately they are a small percent of the repair.

Right Glue for the Job

You have to be careful in choosing the right glue for antique furniture repair.  Do not buy cheap glue or plastic glue from a hobby shop, because they are suitable for anything which takes a lot of strain.  Model glue depends on chemically melting and mixing with plastic to hold.  Furniture of any purpose takes a lot more strain then this glue is capable of holding.

Impact adhesives in rubbery or jelly like textures, are rolled or sprayed on. They are best used for sticking large areas such as big pieces of veneers.  Small cans of this glue are also used with small flat disposable brushes, for repairs of raised or damaged veneer.

Epoxy resins come in double tubes that are equally mixed before applying. These are highly suggested for securing anything that is not porous. (glass, ceramic, metal, etc.)

There are many more adhesives available, each varying on the particular need of antique furniture repair.  You just have to pick the right and the most suitable one. Once selected, the repair of a fine antique becomes a lot easier, enjoyable and more profitable. Plan your work carefully then work your plan.

The ultimate goal in any repair project is to repair it, so that no one knows it has been repaired. For that reason, my repair glue cabinet with all the variety, is almost as full as my paint and stain cabinet. \

Ever wanted to go into the business of reselling? 17% of the American population shops in second-hand stores.  The business is easy to learn, fun to do and best of all, profitable.  Learn how.  Download a copy of “2nd Hand Flip, by going to https://goo.gl/7Bc21R  Use coupon code RT93L at checkout for a “Thank You” discount on your purchase.

 

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Action Figures (don’t call them dolls)


It’s been awhile since I have been able to write. Longer then I wanted, that’s for sure. Added responsibilities in my teaching career, plus a personal loss in my family took me away for quite some time. I’m back however and I will try to keep up once again.

As you may know, my husband does furniture restoration and we have some beautiful pieces for sale in Space B26

1964 G.I. Joe Viet Nam Marine
GI Joe Action Figure

at American Classics Marketplace next to my linen shop (B30). Some he refinished or repaired, but most are as he found them in his daily travels. What you may not know is that he’s a big kid at heart. That will become apparent when you see the collection of #G.I Joe Action Figures that he just put into his case in B26. He came across them at an estate sale and couldn’t pass them up.

I have to laugh at a grown man playing with #action figures, (don’t call them dolls) but that is exactly what I caught him doing one afternoon when I walked into the living room. He says he was just trying to see how many different positions they would actually bend too and I say he was playing. The decisive factor came when he sat two of the figures into the 1/6th size Jeep he is selling with them. Yep, he was playing.

He put them on sale in his side of the business. I tell you this because if any of you would like to start your kids or grand kids on collecting, the G.I. Joe Action figures are a good place to start. They just keep going up in value. The 12-inch full size ones he has in the showcase feature two of them from the original 1964 series, one still in the box. He also has some of the original Cobra 1984 small (3 1/2 inch) version. There is an interesting history of these toys found on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.I._Joe

Now to my linens. I was told that we were the only Linen and Lace store south of Wyoming devoted to vintage linens. A person who came all the way down from Denver to purchase one of our Quaker Lace tablecloths told me this. I’m not sure about all of Colorado, but in checking the I25 corridor south from Wyoming to Pueblo, it appears she may be right. That also brings up my mentioning of some new stock I just put in. The same estate sale that my husband found the G.I. Joe’s in, yielded some beautiful hand done lace tablecloths and Italian linens. I have to admit, I had a hard time parting with these.

I’ll end here for now. I promise to be more vigilant in my writing, but until next time, enjoy the Super Bowl weekend coming up. Once again, if on the weekend you stop by the store and see a woman with her nose buried in linens, it’s probably me. Stop in and say hello.

 

 

Getting Things White for Spring – Glorious Spring.


Linen
Linen (Photo credit: Rameez Sadikot)

We have been busy and it has been good but I have been neglectful, so I hope today’s entry makes up for it.  The new site in American Classics is growing in customers and we are happy as can be.  We added the Victorian Section and that too has grown in popularity.  The other day I spoke with a woman who was getting married and she was going to have a Victorian / Steampunk wedding.  Because of our yellow tag sale, she bought things right and left.  That would be a fun wedding to attend.  I hinted my behind off, but to no avail.

Another lady asked me how to get older linens white.  Here’s a quick formula I use for the linens here.  It’s a gentle remedy.

In a large roaster or pot, (I use the roaster we roast the Turkey in.) fill with hot water and several slices of lemon.  Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and add your linens.  I sit the roaster over two of my top burners.  Use a wooden spoon to push them down until they become completely submerged and saturated with the water.  Cover the pot and leave overnight.  I cover mine with tin foil.  The following day, rinse well, wash with mild detergent and water as usual and then lay the items out in the sun to dry.

Another way to do this, especially while it’s still cold outside when you would end up with frozen linens, is to use Biz & Oxyclean  Use 1 Scoop Biz and 1 Scoop Oxyclean to 1 Gallon Hot Water.  Soak in the hot water for up to 48 hours, then rinse and launder as usual.   Use the scoop that comes with the Oxyclean.  This works very well. 

By the way, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for spring to get here.

Caring for Satin


Satin bedding
Satin bedding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember me telling you about the material we obtained from a retired vintage doll maker?  Maybe I put it on our Facebook site.  (Linens2Lace.)  Well in addition to the faux mink and beautiful lace, we also put a large selection of beautiful and affordable satin into the Willowstone store.  This is dress material weight in a variety of Victorian colors.  First question asked of us, by the visitor holding up the beautiful black satin bolt, was “Can you wash satin?”

The answer is “of course you can – provided you follow the rules.”

Satin has a smooth silky feel that makes it appealing for many items from garments to bed sheets.  It comes in various weights and thus ranges in durability.  However, there is a limited amount of cleaning options.  The cleaning and care tags that come with your garment should give you all the instruction you need.  However, what do you do with fabric that you have used to make that beautiful one of a kind gown?

Here’s our advice.

Rule 1:  Only wash satin by hand.  If you do use a washer, the gentlest silk cycle is best.

Rule 2:  Cold Water only.  If you do have to use soap, use the gentlest soap you can.  Woolite is good.

Rule 3: Wash satin as you would silk.  Let it soak in soapy water for awhile, then gently squeeze the wash through the satin by hand.  Rinse the fabric real good with cold clear water.  If you leave any soap residue behind it will whiten and show up as spots.  It’s hard to get these out once they set.

Rule 4:  Leave the dryer off.  Never put satin in the dryer.  The dryer will shrink and put a permanent wrinkle in the material.  Instead, lay it flat on a dry towel.  Don’t wring it out, rather roll it up in the towel, squeezing out the excess water as you roll and then put it out onto another dry towel, laid flat away from the sun until dry.

Rule 5:  You can iron satin, but on a light setting with no steam.  I find that going from the inside out works best but don’t linger.  An expensive satin blouse with a burn mark in the shape of an iron on its back, is only humorous in a sitcom.

Rule 6:  Vintage satin should be dry cleaned only.  Use a dry cleaner you have experience with and who you trust.

If you have any other tips, send them to me.

Until next time.

Summertime, summertime, summertime.


English: Taken at a Chicagoland Flea Market. R...
English: Taken at a Chicagoland Flea Market. Rosemont, Illinois on Sunday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just looked at my timeline for the first time in a long time.  My o’ my, where has the time flown.  It’s been six plus weeks since I have posted anything.  You would think I fell off the earth.   Actually, I have been quite busy with back to school things.  Things like getting the daughter prepped and ready for school and getting myself ready for the back to school grind.  Actually that part was easier this year because I taught summer school for the first part of the summer and the daughter attended two band camps of which I participated by being the second camp chauffeur .   The hubby did the first camp during my summer school phase.

Then there were the busy summer sales at both stores.  We put these on in between band camp and summer school.  I love summer sales.  I was trying to decide just what items to put on sale when the hubby said, “Just put it all on sale.”  So we did.  He’s so practical.  In the afternoons and on the occasional weekend, we did manage to get out and go picking.  He’s into collecting and selling “netsukes” and vintage pens and I let him put some in “Dad Corner” in my space at American Classics.  He also has his display in Case 409 there as well.  I love our excursions to the antique stores, estate sales, and garage sales.  Together, we love the flea markets.  It’s where he occasionally finds some of his best treasures.  The weather was hot most days, but we endured.  (it’s a tough life isn’t it?)

So that’s my excuse for not writing and I’m sticking with it.  Been too busy to write and too busy being busy.  In all fairness, I could have simply sat around all summer and complained about the heat.  I know many people who did; so I let them, all by themselves while the hubby and I played.    But now, it’s back to work time.

However, every weekend and after school many times, you will still find me in one of my locations, nose deep in my linens, getting my weekly fix.  If you see me at either the Treasure Shoppe (B4) or American Classics (C30) and I have that glazed look in my eye, know that I’m in my own little heaven.  Feel free to grab a handful of freshly laundered linens and join me.   It’s OK, I know what you’re feeling.  You’re welcome here.

Squeeze your wet linen


Drying rack
Drying rack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wet vintage linen can be delicate.  When the fibers are wet, they become fragile.  Tears or separations are commonplace.  So, how can you dry vintage linens safely?  The best way is to use a large towel.  Lay the wet linen on a large towel and roll it up, squeezing the water out of the linen as you go.  Repeat as many times as you need until the linen is fairly dry, then drape the linen piece over a drying rack.  Make sure you support the linen across the entire drying rack and not just one rung, as one rung will stretch that area touching the rung. Let it dry – then fold it.  Try it – you’ll never dry fine linens on the line or (shudder) throw them into a dryer again.  I have more tips like this on my new public Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mom-Me-Vintage-Linens-Lace/335108499846187?sk=page_insights  Join me and share your tips as well. 

Lick that Lacquer


English: Sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogenca...
English: Sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogencarbonate, sodium bicarb, “baking soda”, “bread soda”, “cooking soda”, bicarb soda Deutsch: Natriumbicarbonat, Natriumhydrogencarbonat, “Natron”, “Backpulver”, “Bullrich-Salz” natriumvätekarbonat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You see a beautiful brass or copper antique pot, kettle or other metal object in the flea market but some fool has lacquered it.  You know it’s a vintage piece, but its value is greatly diminished by the now yellowing lacquer.  However, the price is right and when you point out that its been lacquered; the seller offers to make you an even better deal.  So you buy it with thoughts of leaving the lacquer and using it for a trash can.  (shudder)

What can you do with that lacquer?  Try this.

Mix ½ cup of baking soda with

1 gallon of boiling water

Put the newly found lacquered pot into this solution and let sit.  When the water cools the lacquer should peel right off.  Be careful not to use any sharp metal instruments around the crevices or tight areas.  Use a toothbrush instead.  If any lacquer remains, repeat the process.  You should have a completely restored piece by the end of the day.   We’ve not tried this on varnish or an other finish other than lacquer.  If you do and it works, let us know.  We’ll pass it on and give you credit for the advice.

Diapering with Damask


Damask

Let’s talk about “diapering.” No, I’m not talking about a baby’s butt, but diapering as it applies to Damask Linens. Diapering is derived from the French term diaspre, (bed of flowers) and means to adorn or bejewel. Vintage Damask linens were used to “diaper” walls, windows, tables and bedchambers. When used in a fashion sense, ladies of the French and English court were said to have had their bed chambers “diapered” with fine Damask linens.  And (I’m speculating here) probably someone “bejeweled” a baby’s butt with a piece of Damask linen and a whole new use for the term “diapering” was coined.

From the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, most damasks linens were woven in a single color, with a glossy warp-faced satin pattern against a duller ground. Two-color damasks had contrasting color warps (fatter thread) and wefts, (thinner thread.) Polychrome damask is often gold or other metallic threads or additional colors as supplemental brocading wefts. Medieval damasks were usually woven in silk, but wool and linen damasks can also be found.  (Thank you Wikipedia)

Today’s Damask is usually a single-color produced from silk, linen or linen-type synthetic fabrics. Damask weaves appear most commonly in table linens, but also in clothing and furnishings.  Many repurposers take a Damask tablecloth and repurpose it to beautiful Damask evening dresses. For a wide variety of Vintage Damask linen, visit our vintage linen and lace store in The Treasure Shop. Space B4.  We are exclusive linens and lace, and we’ve been in the same location for many years. Repeat customers come from all over Colorado to “pick” our finds. If you have never been there, we invite you to try us. Let us know what you are looking for. Send me an e-mail. If we don’t have it (yet), we may know where we can get it.

Patience and Talent


What happens when you combine patience with talent?  You get one of the most unusual bedspreads we have ever seen.  Done by hand, we were told it was a bedspread, but as big as it is, it could just as well decorate a large table.  It’s in the store now.  See what you think. 

The Reason I Collect and Sell


The other day, I was in the store straightening up the linens and repackaging some lace that someone had left out, when Kitchen Towelsa woman came in a started browsing.  I greeted her and she replied in kind then without another word, went about her browsing seemingly with purpose.  I went back to my straightening up and yet occasionally I could hear her softly chuckling to herself, as she would pick up one tablecloth or drapery at a time.  Soon, she started fingering the napkins and then the bed linens; all the while softly talking to herself or, as I said before, softly chuckling.  Eventually she got close to me and I commented, “Beautiful aren’t they?”  She looked at me and with a slight twinkle in her eye said, “Oh my, do I sound like an idiot?  I’m so sorry, but I must sound like an old nut job.  When I came in here earlier this week, I had to stop myself from smiling out loud.  I keep forgetting that other people are around.”  I told her not to worry, that she didn’t sound like a nut, when she continued to explain, “It’s the linens dear, the lace, they so much remind me of when I was a little girl, helping my mother wash and press the linens.  Every Wednesday was our wash day and my job was to iron and fold the little tea napkins and kitchen towels, when I wasn’t in school.” 

I could see the memories in her eyes as she very carefully folded each towel back up and neatly placed it back on to the stack.  I could tell she was doing it the same way she did as a child.  Rose (that was her name) eventually bought two 50’s hand towels and a couple of lace dress tops I had salvaged.  She said she was going to make a gown with a lace top for her granddaughter.  As I thanked her for her purchases, she stopped me and said, “No, thank you for the memories.  I’m going back home at the end of this week, and this little shop has added a special memory to my trip. 

I have to admit that prior to Rose coming in, as I was ‘cleaning’ up after people, I had asked myself if all the work I put into this shop was worth it.  In one brief encounter, Rose made it all worthwhile.  Thank you Rose – wherever you are.  You are the reason I collect and sell vintage linens.  You managed to put a smile on my face on a day when I needed it the most.