Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cordelia's Hinges

I've been continuing to chip away at the paint-smothered antique hardware around me as time has permitted. Here's a pictorial update on some of the gems I've unpainted over the last couple of weeks. I do it partly from curiosity and partly because I enjoy it...and maybe because that little "Anne Shirley" down inside of me likes to imagine that I am really Cordelia living in a fancy estate. (Naomi just finished reading Anne of Green Gables, and I couldn't help picking up a chapter or two myself. It always gets my imagination going.)

First off, most of the windows still have the original window pulls on the bottom, a couple were missing, two were broken, but I counted eight that were intact. They looked like this:
That's a diamond in the rough if I ever saw one. I couldn't resist.

And would you believe what I found on the back?

Yes, that says PatD (Patented) OCT 31 1871! Too bad I don't own the house or these window pulls or I'd take them to the antique road show.

But even more tempting are the ornate hinges throughout the house. Many are broken or have no doors on them anymore, but they just look like they should be beautiful so I finally tackled one today.
It was only half of a hinge with no door attached so I thought it would be a good place to start. Once I finally got the screws loose and cut it away from the paint I was greeted by another cockroach graveyard. After an hour of scraping through tan, green, pink, cream, white, and lime colored paint I hit what I can only imagine was a primer. It stared me down and said something like, "I've been on this hinge for 95 years, and I don't intend to come off without a fight." But it didn't know how stubborn I can be once I get an idea in my head.

The hinge took a nice long CLR bath, but the primer still wouldn't budge for steel wool or an exacto knife. And all those little ornamental divots you see provided it extra protection. I gritted my teeth and dug out some paint thinner, but said primer would not budge after a long paint thinner bath either. I scraped and scraped at the stubborn white stuff while helping Naomi with two-digit subtraction and reviewing consonant blends with Hannah. I scraped until my wrist and elbow were both sore from rotating the exacto knife inside every divot with all my might, but that stupid primer wasn't giving up. At least the other paint jobs had been sloppy and had surrendered to the razor blade without so much struggle.

I considered giving up, but I couldn't really put the hinge back up looking like it did, and I could never bear to paint over it again, so I pressed on. Somewhere around the time I should have been cooking dinner I thought of a bottle of nail polish remover in my dresser drawer. Ha ha ha, who'd the smart one now? Soon after that Hannah asked, "Mommy, what's that good smell?" and I answered something like, "That's one bowl of CLR, one bowl of paint thinner, and one bowl of nail polish remover all sitting under your nose." Then I sent her to open the back door and breathe deeply. And after a nice long bath in acetone even that primer crumbled under my exacto knife. Six hours after I had decided to try cleaning up one hinge before lunch, I won the battle.

Unfortunately, the end result was so stunningly beautiful and rewarding I know I'm doomed to repeat this process again, probably tomorrow. At least I know to go for the nail polish remover first now. And if any of you out there know of a cheap place to buy these on the Internet, please don't tell me or I will feel totally deflated. Just let me believe that I have saved the last remaining ornate door hinge on the planet, thanks.


  1. that is the most beautiful door hinge that I have ever seen! I cannot believe your tenacity! You are amazing! You need to post pics of the whole house room by room! or did I miss those from a previous post! I think you saved the last ornate door hinge on the planet! way to go!

  2. Lol, Lea, thanks for your encouragement. There are more pictures of the house in earlier posts, but I wasn't really done moving in when most of those were taken. Sometime I will post the "final product" but with my eye for details it could be awhile before I consider myself done. I will go forth now with renewed energy!