Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pretty Vintage Porcelain Doorknobs

Today, hubby and I were putting some things into our storage garage and I picked up a box to move it to another spot...I took a peek inside and it was a box of vintage doorknobs that I had purchased at an auction in Virginia many years ago.  I made some hat/coat racks with some of them back then, and just never used the remaining ones for anything.  I decided to bring some of the porcelain ones inside, clean them up and see what I could do with them. 

They were really dirty, and some had old paint on them.  I went online to see how I should clean them to minimize the chance for scratches or damage.  I found several references to cleaning them with boiling water and dishwasher detergent.  So I got out a large aluminum pan, put in the door knobs and poured a generous amount of dishwasher detergent all around them.  I covered them with boiling water and let them soak for five or six hours.  I could see that the paint was beginning to lift and it looked like it would be easy to wipe off.  

I took them out, one at a time, and working over the kitchen sink with the water running, I scrubbed them with a no scratch kitchen scrubby sponge.  For the stubborn spots of paint, I used a plastic knife to scratch it off, then used the sponge again.  It was amazing how clean and shiny they became!

They still have some stained places on them, especially on the back, but I'm okay with that. I don't want to remove the discoloration, as that's the beauty of the vintage doorknobs.  I love being able to see the little spots, crazing and imperfections in the porcelain.  

While letting them dry, I searched online to learn how to stop the rust, preserve the metal and give them a soft sheen...I've seen pieces like old tools in antiques stores that looked like this, but I wasn't sure how they had treated the metal.  I found references to chemicals and cleaners that I didn't have on hand, so that wasn't much help to me.  I looked around the house to see what I did have, and I found my Kramer's Best Antique Improver.  This wonderful stuff is sold at some antiques stores in our local area, and I've found it to be great for adding new life to old wood furniture, and as I read the label, I discovered that it should work for my rusty metal, too!  I really didn't want to have to go out to the store to buy something else, so this was great. After the doorknobs were completely dry, I used a little of this magic stuff on a cloth and rubbed it in.  It does say that it probably needs two or three treatments, but look at the difference after just one!

In the next pic, can you tell which one has been treated?



I now have these pretty clean porcelain doorknobs...fifteen of them.

First, I put them on the silver platter...

...then I put them in a wooden bowl....

...but they ended up all piled up in an ironstone tureen. For now, they are pretty to look at just like that...even though they sort of look like eggs!  

This little cleaning project has me all interested in that box of doorknobs now.  I think I'll go dig around some more tomorrow and see how many more I can pull out to clean up.  Then, I'll have to figure out what I want to do with them when I'm tired of just looking at them in that dish!

I've started a Pinterest board with ideas...link here.

Thanks for dropping by!

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  1. That Kramer's works like magic! I've used it before on various things with great results. They sell it locally at Fairhope Antiquery. Your knobs are wonderful. (That doesn't sound right)!!!!!

    1. Leslie Anne, you made me laugh out loud...with iced tea in my mouth. At least it's unsweetened so there's no sticky to clean up. I needed that laugh. Thank you!

  2. I love your collection of doorknobs! Piled in the ironstone tureen is perfect, and the fact that they look like eggs ~ even better! I too love the discoloration on them. Great tips on cleaning them. I have some Kramer's and will use the rust-stopping tip in the future I'm sure! ~Ann
    Tarnished Royalty

    1. Well, it seems us antique loving ladies all know about Kramer's already. I'm not surprised as it is wonderful stuff. Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving the nice comment!

  3. Your porcelain knobs are beautiful...great tips for cleaning them to bring out their best. Thank you for your visit and very lovely comments.
    Mary Alice

  4. I never knew about Kramer's, but obviously it works great! The doorknobs look amazing! That's a lot of work. It reminds me of when I scored 250 skeleton keys back in PA. I soaked them in vegetable oil, then rubbed them with steel wool, then dried them with a thick terrycloth towel. The rich brown patina on the rusty ones was beautiful and I made a killing selling them in lots on ebay.

    1. Thanks for that info! When I run out of Kramer's, I'm going to try the vegetable oil. That old rusty patina sure is pretty when it's all cleaned and oiled...and, I wish I had known about the skeleton keys back then. I love them!

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