The guidelines for furniture maintenance are pretty simple. If the furniture is used wisely and handled carefully, it will need very little in the way of routine maintenance. But in cleaning and polishing furniture surfaces and hardware, and in re-upholstering, some well-intentioned caretakers introduce damage. In fact, a lot of what furniture conservators do is respond to destructive maintenance practices.
For the most part, maintaining furniture simply means keeping it clean, carefully. Wood furniture usually needs to be cleaned only when there is a buildup of wax or dirt. Only unfinished wood, painted wood, or wood with a sturdy finish should be cleaned. The finish on giltwood is often applied with a water-soluble size, or adhesive; it should be carefully dusted, not cleaned, or cleaned only by a professional.
Before cleaning wood or coatings, the first and most important step is to evaluate the surface and make sure that the surface or coating is stable and not apt to be damaged by the contact required in cleaning and polishing. If the surface is unstable, the polishing could knock off loose portions. Damaged surfaces should be referred to a conservator.
After the soundness of the surface has been established, the next step is to find out what the dirt is and what the surface is. If you can't determine these exactly, find out what removes the dirt without affecting the surface underneath it. Often, dust can be removed with the careful wipe of a damp cloth. Oily dirt or waxy residue can be removed with a mild detergent and water solution or with mineral spirits. However, it is vital to make sure that the cleaning solution does not affect the underlying surface. Even when you determine a cleaning method that works successfully, proceed cautiously.
Loose dust on the surface can be removed with a soft, lint-free cloth, gently rubbed over the surface. Dust is an abrasive and can scratch the surface, so be careful. Uneven areas can be dusted with a clean, natural bristle paint or artist's brush. Again, do not try to dust a surface that is severely deteriorated. Cloth fibers can catch and tear away pieces of the finish, veneer or loose parts. Even rough edges can splinter. Carving, fretwork, and other delicate work can be dusted with a soft bristle brush, with a vacuum cleaner host held close enough to take in the dust one it is dislodged by the brush. Do not use feather dusters, as they can scratch and pull off loose fragments of veneer.
Surfaces in good condition but with a heavy accumulation of dust can be cleaned very carefully with a vacuum cleaner. Use the lowest suction available and the round brush attachment. Don't let the metal or hard plastic parts of the vacuum bump into the surfaces; they can scratch the finish or wood. Much damage, in fact, occurs as the feet and bases of pieces are hit with the vacuum cleaner.
Dirt that cannot be simply vacuumed off may be removed with cleaners mixed in a dilute solution, but only if the finish is in good solid condition. First, determine which solvent removes the dirt without removing the finish. Those to be tested include mineral spirits (white spirit), paint thinner, and naphtha. Second, test a small spot in an obscure area with the solution on a cotton swab. All areas that appear to be a different coating or material must be tested separately. Only if the solution does not damage the test area should it be used to clean the rest of the piece.
For finished wood, dampen a cotton cloth with the solvent or cleaning solution, and gently rub over a small area at a time. Avoid using too much liquid, as they can cause damage. Then, wipe the cleaned surface with a clean dampened cloth to remove any cleanser residues, followed by a dry soft cloth.
Following simple cleaning, further protection and aesthetic enhancement can be obtained through the application of a stable, hard furniture polish, such as a hard paste wax. The hard wax surface can be dusted more easily because it will be more smooth, and the dust will not be imbedded in it as it would in an unwaxed surface. Waxing need only occur infrequently because the wax itself is not readily removed and it does not degrade chemically. Waxing too often can result in a built-up, clouded surface.
This simple approach avoids the problems created by popular methods of "furniture polishing" - such as sprays and oily polishes - that may result in cumulative damage to furniture. Many polishes and residues continue to be a vexing problem for furniture conservators, as they can build up over time and with numerous applications, trapping and adhering airborne dirt onto the surface.
Dusting upholstery can be accomplished by a vacuum cleaner. Place a soft screen on the surface to prevent any snagging or abrasion from the vacuum tip, and using a brush attachment, carefully vacuum the surface.
Stains and other damage to upholstery should be referred to an upholstery or textile conservator for further treatment.
One never-ending concern of furniture caretakers is for the hardware, including handles, brackets, hinges and escutcheons attached, usually with nails, to the outer surface of a piece. The metal in hardware might be brass, silver, gold-plated bronze, depending upon the style, date and country of origin. Contemporary hardware attachments sometimes have a clear lacquer finish that gives them a shiny appearance. Antique hardware is also sometimes coated by restorers and conservators to eliminate the need for constant polishing. There is currently a lot of debate in the conservation field as to whether metal hardware should be lacquered or polished. Neither is an option is there is evidence of an original varnish or if abrasive polishing would remove some other original surface treatment.
Furniture hardware may become dirty and tarnished with use and exposure to the atmosphere. In such cases, polishing it can be justified. However, even this step is sometimes a poorly informed one. One common example of the damage is created by polishing hardware supposed to be brass, when it is really gilded bronze that is simply dirty. Polishing removes the gold, damaging the surface of a beautiful sculptural element.
If you choose to polish, remove the hardware from the piece, noting the exact location of each screw and nut. Polishing the hardware while on the piece damages the surrounding finish and also allows polishes to run beneath the hardware that can further damage both the metal hardware and the finish.
Clean hardware carefully with a 50/50 mix of acetone and alcohol to remove any dirt and oil residue, scrubbing the piece with a soft bristle brush. After drying, the surface can be polished with a fine, lint-free cloth of felt block charged with a very fine abrasive, such as calcium carbonate or jeweler's micro polish, in an alcohol or mineral spirits slurry. Commercial polishes can contribute to the deterioration of the hardware, as they frequently contain harsh cleaners that corrode the metal.
If the hardware cannot be removed safely from the furniture it can be polished and coated on the object provided the following precautions are scrupulously followed. First, the surface of the wood and varnish must be completely protected. Acetate sheets, such as those found in office supply stores, can be notched and slid under the hardware from both sides to form an overlapping barrier. Without this precaution, attempts to polish the hardware will likely end in disaster.
Since this hardware cannot be doused with the acetone and alcohol mixture, cleaning must be done by dipping swabs in the solution, then rubbing the metal surface with the swab. Polishing must also be done more carefully, perhaps on a smaller scale.
After polishing, remove all residues. The surface of the hardware that has been removed from the furniture can be easily coated with a transparent resin before the hardware is replaced on the piece. Particular care must be used in applying any coating when the hardware cannot be removed, to make sure that no protective varnish for the hardware gets on the furniture piece itself.
Shoe Sizes of the World Why They Aren't the Same Everywhere
Shoe sizes are so different that some people probably think it is a conspiracy. However, it is only a simple marketing method that encourages customers to be loyal to a specific brand. This is one of the biggest reasons that shoe sizes vary from brand to brand. Shoe sizes also vary from country to country, too. Whenever you plan on purchasing a pair of shoes that were not made in your country, it is always a good idea to check the size of the shoe carefully. If you do not know or understand the differences between sizes you have several options. There is such a thing as an international shoe size conversion chart. This will tell you what size you wear in almost any country. Also, if you are still uncertain about converting your shoe size, you can always visit a reputable shoe store. Larger department stores and specialty shoe stores and boutiques, usually train their sales associates on converting shoe sizes. Most would be more than happy to help you find your correct size in the shoes you are searching for.
When shopping for shoes, there is no need to worry about variations in shoe sizes. Whether you are asking a sales associate for help, or looking at the size conversion chart, you can always find the correct size for your feet. One thing can make shoe shopping easier, especially if it is international shoe shopping is to make use of an international shoe size conversion chart. Some of the countries represented on shoe conversion charts are Mexico, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil and the United States. Using the shoe size conversion chart can help you determine what size you will wear if you are purchasing shoes overseas.
Most businesses know that most people are not willing to pay international shipping for shoes that may not fit. Therefore, most companies reach the local shoe consumers within their region. However, there are many people that enjoy the luxury of a fine Italian shoe. Some people collect shoes from all over the world, especially during travel. If you are traveling and wish to purchase shoes while you are away, consider packing a shoe-sizing chart. This is especially helpful if you decide to enter a series of countries, such as an extended trip through Europe, where sizing will vary.
Shoe sizing also varies because many shoes are handmade to custom to fit a person's individual foot. This is especially true for very expensive shoes bought in other countries. Many people prefer the fit and feel of custom-made shoes. Most big shoe companies try to stay as close to the standard shoe sizes of their native country as possible. However, the sizes always vary slightly, because the shoe styles are different as well. An athletic shoe might vary by a half size or more in comparison to dress shoes or heels.
When looking at shoes, it is sometimes hard to see the difference in an 8 wide or a 9 narrow shoe. This, as well as the process of making shoes requires much time, patience and skill. In fact, there are many people go to school to earn four year degrees to learn the art of shoe design. Many of these people often go on to design their own line of shoes or work for large shoe companies.
Not everyone who designs shoes earn a degree in that field. There are many people who have a desire to design and construct shoes. These people often start out small, designing and making shoes for their own use and end up starting their own design business. Costume design is also a way that some shoe designers get their start.
New machines and new technology can cause other variances of shoe sizes. Businesses change too, causing shoe sizes to be different. Learn more about world shoe sizes by looking at an online search engine. Type in the phrase world shoe sizes to research shoe size difference and to find shoe-sizing conversion charts.
If you are ready to purchase a new pair of shoes made somewhere else other than your own country, be prepared for the differences in shoe sizes. Many different things including the type of machines that the company uses can cause the differences in shoe sizes. Before buying your next pair of shoes, check your size and compare it to the international shoe size conversion chart or ask a store associate for help in determining the correct size.
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