Easily restore vintage brass

October 11, 2013

So last night the Bub, one of my BFFs and I took what has become an annual trip out to a local barn sale. The folks at Restyled host it every year (here in central Indiana) and it’s a fun fall event:

restyled barn sale

I only picked up a couple items and already did a little update to one. I found an old brass compote that just spoke to me – it was unique and a beautiful shape and I just loved it.

It had a patina to it but it was almost too much – I wanted it to look more like antique brass. And yes, I do like some brass. I can even handle some shiny brass in small doses. TINY doses.

It’s fairly quick and easy to get some of the original finish back! I’ve had this polish for years and it works great:

brass polish

You apply it with a soft rag or if the finish is really stubborn you can use a scrubbing pad. I used both on this one.

Just be sure not to put the polish directly on the item, at least a big piece like this:

restoring brass

It works really well. :) (I spilled some in there.) But on something bigger like this there’s just not enough in the bottle to get the whole thing looking like that. (You’d have to put it directly on the entire thing.)

So put it on the rag or sponge and then buff like crazy, then rinse and dry. It’s really very easy, just takes some muscle. But eventually the original finish will start to come through:

white pumpkins in bowl

I didn’t want it to be too crazy shiny so I tried not to scrub too hard.

Some parts are shinier because they had some more damage on the surface. To get rid of that I had to work harder with the scrubber:

cleaning brass

I have found that the thinner brass shines up easier (the bowl part) and the thicker metal (the base/handles) keeps it’s patina a little more. So just watch for that if you don’t want too much shine.

The handles I barely touched:

brass compote

Seriously, how cool is that? It’s a fish handle. The fish head is kind of angry looking but I still love it. ;) This is certainly a piece you’re not going to find just anywhere and that’s what makes decor interesting and unique. If you’re into unique that is. ;)

Of course I had to add some fall touches with the white pumpkins:

restoring brass

Who doesn’t love white pumpkins? Nobody, that’s who. (If you don’t don’t tell me.)

There you go – a quick fix to brighten up an old piece. Before (I forgot to take a pic) the finish was almost too dark, it looked dirty. A little polish brought back a little of it’s original glory. ;)

Fall is such a fun time for outdoor barn sales, festivals, all that good stuff. Do a search for your area and you may be surprised at how many you find this weekend! Have a great one!

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  1. gorgeous piece Sarah, I bought a brass polish recently but have not tried it yet since I kinda still love patina in my brass, but the update does look good in yours. Hmmm, maybe I should open up my bottle already. :-)

  2. what a gorgeous piece!
    the Pumpkins really set off the finish..
    and the piece is so versatile..
    imagine all the seasonal decor it will hold....
    the possibilities are endless!
    thanks for sharing!

  3. I love a good brass find! Beautiful with the white pumpkins! Life to the full! Melissa @ DaisyMaeBelle

  4. Love the compote! I love to find old high quality brass, it has a depth and mellowness to the color that is really beautiful.

  5. It's so pretty. Just perfect. The shape and detail is amazing. Such an awesome find :)))

  6. That barn is awesome!! What a fun event. Love your new treasure! especially paired with the white pumpkins. so pretty!

  7. Okay - what a gorgeous bowl. I've been crushing on brass for a while now (and I think it's starting to make its way back! Woot!). I clean my brass with salt and lemon juice, or with ketchup. (Crazy, I know). It cleans up so nicely!

  8. That is a great piece, and the barn sale looks like so much fun! I'm off to a vintage flea this weekend, and can only hope to find such an awesome piece!

  9. So bummed to have missed this! If it's whereI think it is, it's only about 10 minutes from where I live. Was this a special event or do they hold these sales all the time? It looked a lot more "festive" than the other times I've visited (IF it's the same place).

  10. Oh my this is such a pretty piece and a terrific find. Love the pumpkins too. Hugs, Marty

  11. I have that EXACT SAME BOWL, only in silver. It was a wedding gift 12 years ago! So, out of curiosty, how much did you pay for your treasure??? It looks great with pumpkins.

  12. I have this same brass compote, fish and all I use it on my coffee table now but it has been a dining centerpiece and even a catch-all on the bathroom counter.


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