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  1. #1
    Registered user. Sooth's Avatar
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    Default Cleaning Cloisonne Case

    Is there a preferred way of cleaning the brass sections on cloisonne (enamelled brass) decoration? I have a book on antiques restoration that explains that care should be taken with cloisonne because it's essentially glass over metal. No abrasives should be used...

    I was thinking of using something like a jeweler's polishing cloth (ones used to polish gold rings). These cloths are embedded with jeweler's rouge, and shouldn't do anything to the enamel decoration. Thoughts?

    For the record, this is the same clock as the "dirty, discoloured mercury vials" post. The clock is a Japy Freres crystal regulator with green onyx top/bottom and cloisonne decorated corner "segments" and dial.

  2. #2
    Registered user. glr1109's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Sooth...Photo? I'm having a difficult time understanding your question. Is the brass you want to clean...between the cloisonne? What is the matter with the brass as it is? Tarnished?

    greg

  3. #3

    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Sooth:

    If I'm understanding what you have, I've had real good luck cleaning enamel with nothing more exotic than plain ol' Lacquer Thinner. In every case I've used it, it gets everything spotless.

    I had a wall clock I bought which had a enamel dial and pendulum both of which were filthy and coated with 100+ years of whatever. Five minutes worth of scrubbing with the thinner and a rag made them looked brand new.

    Pretty easy stuff.

    Bryan
    [At Curly's funeral] The man ate bacon at every meal... you just can't do that! Phil Berquist - City Slickers - My clocks

  4. #4
    Registered user. Sooth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Well the problem is that the clock is tarnished (all over) so badly that the brass is now at a light brown colour. The owner wants the clock back to a brilliant gold shine (brass), and I don't blame her one bit.

    The problem with cloisonne (enamelled decoration inside a brass 'fretwork'), is that the enamel is basically glass, and if handled carelessly the pieces can chip or fall out. I'm not too worried about this, but the info I read said to use no abrasives.

    I was just going to use Brasso over the whole thing, but that's abrasive, which is not the best solution.

    Lacquer thinner is pretty strong, and I don't know if I would feel comfortable using it on this clock case. I also don't think that it would bring the brass back to a brilliant shine.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Yes, I was just suggesting you use it on the enamel to clean it which it will. Do you have a picture of the section you are talking about. Maybe other can weigh in on this also.

    You said, "Lacquer thinner is pretty strong, and I don't know if I would feel comfortable using it on this clock case. I also don't think that it would bring the brass back to a brilliant shine. " I don't think it will have any effect on brass, only clean the enamel. You will have to do something else with the brass.

    Can you take apart the brass pieces? If so, you could polish them. I'm just guessing here. Don't know what the construction is

    Bryan

    [At Curly's funeral] The man ate bacon at every meal... you just can't do that! Phil Berquist - City Slickers - My clocks

  6. #6

    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    It seems to me that any abrasive cleaner that would be soft enough not to affect glass (such as plastic cleaner) or fine enough that it will polish glass, would be ok to use. I'm not sure where jewelers' rouge or Brasso fit into the hardness/fineness scale, but if you do a test on a piece of plain glass and make sure it doesn't visibly dull or scratch the glass, it should be ok for use on the enamel.

    Jeremy
    Jeremy

  7. #7
    Registered user. glr1109's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    I would think that your polishing cloth would be fine, probably the best solution. You may have to clean afterward(with what ever you use) with soap to remove the residue from the "cracks". Would love to see before and after!

    greg

  8. #8

    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Sooth:

    Have you tried Never Dull impregnated wadding? I use it to clean delicate metal items.

    Pattye

  9. #9

    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Don't use Brasso! It contains phosphoric acid, which, if not completely removed, will cause corrosion of the brass. I think it would be impossible to get it out of the tiny cracks in cloissone.
    Are you sure it's brass wire? Usually it's copper, because when brass is heated to the melting point of glass (and that's how cloissonne is made), it tends to break apart; also, copper has about the same coefficient of thermal expansion as glass. I remember when I was a teenager, helping my cousin the artist make cloissone tchatchkes in the basement, we only used copper.
    Perhaps the wire was originally gilt, and the owner has now polished off all the gold.
    Anyway, to me, shiny cloissonne just screams CHINESE!

  10. #10
    Registered user. Sooth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Bill, I don't think it's REAL cloisonne, because it's not made with wire. It looks more like just a grooved (cast) brass trim with all the hollow areas filled in with different coloured enamels.

    The enamel itself looks fine, I just want to clean the brass.

    I can take as many photos as I want, but without a computer, I can't post them. (I am still using the public library PC).

  11. #11

    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Oh, that what's called champleve enamel.

  12. #12
    Registered user. Sooth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Here is a before and after of the fully restored clock. For additional photos, find the thread called "ID Japy Freres Crystal Regulator"




  13. #13
    Registered user. glr1109's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    WOW! That's beautiful! Great job. Glad to see you weren't just laying around!

    greg

  14. #14
    Registered User Robert Gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Sooth:

    How did you improve on the "Poor Stone Repair"?

    RobertG
    Robert Gary "Learn something. Skill does not desert the life of a person ever." Dionysius Cato (ca. 230-150 BC)

  15. #15
    Registered user. Sooth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Cloisonne Case (RE: Sooth)

    Robert:

    I plan to make a separate post explaining this, but the quick and simple answer is that I used a combination of clear epoxy, and epoxy that I tinted green with a tiny amount of enamel paint. I got the glue to dry flat/flush by using clear tape directly over the epoxy.

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