Friday, March 15, 2013

Polishing Silver

Do you enjoy the process of polishing silver, or do you dread the task? I fall into the first category; I enjoy it. There's something satisfying about seeing a piece of silver go from tarnished to sparkling in a matter of minutes.

Recently I was looking for something in the dining room cabinet and I came across a pair of vintage sterling candlesticks. They belonged to someone in my family, but I'm not sure when they were purchased. The bottoms are marked with "Prelude, International, Sterling, Weighted Reinforced, N212." After doing a little looking online, it appears Prelude is the pattern name, and the company name is International.

Quite honestly, I've hardly used them over the years. Suddenly I had a hankering to shine them up and put them out on the dining table for spring.

Below are the "before" and "after" photos. There's something nice about the tarnished candlestick, don't you think? It almost looks like pewter. Which do you prefer?
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Getting tarnish out of the nooks and crannies of an intricate design can be difficult and frustrating. I just learned a great tip in this Martha Stewart video about polishing silver. Use an old toothbrush to get into the hard to reach areas. Martha's expert says to use a toothbrush with natural bristles, not one with nylon bristles. But all I had was an old, soft nylon toothbrush, so I made sure to use it gently. It worked great! The video is very informative and covers more about silver than just polishing.

Is there a special product or method you recommend for polishing silver?

12 comments:

  1. I actually don't try to polish the crevices in silver because I think the contrast is so interesting and makes the design stand out. Sometimes I use liquid Tarn-x on jewelry because it does get into the nooks, but it smells horrible. On my candlesticks and serving pieces I use Wright's silver creme. Your candlesticks are lovely.

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    1. Heather, I agree with you. I like some tarnish to remain in the detail of things like these candlesticks. Makes it more interesting.
      Claudia

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  2. I love the look of perfectly polished silver for serving a special meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas. It gives a touch of elegance and really puts the stamp on the day. However, I decorate with a lot of old silver which I allow to tarnish for that lived in look. It makes the breakfast room feel homey and a bit historical, like our family has lived here for generations.
    Sheila

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  3. I love to polish silver and prefer the look of shiny rather than tarnished in our home. I actually took some pieces out of a cabinet today and thought I would place them around the house, they are still sitting on the dining table so far. I tried a green non toxic polishing method a few months ago that I saw on Pinterest and it worked well.

    Fill a sink with lined with aluminum foil and hot water, add salt and baking soda, and stir to dissolve. When you add the silver pieces, a chemical reaction occurs, removing tarnish. I was able to do a lot of silver at once. Definitely got into the nooks and crannies of the ornate pieces. Will definitely use this technique again. Also have Cape Cod can of polishing cloths that my mom buys me.

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    1. That's a great tip, Cindy. Thanks! I like the fact it's an all natural method.
      Claudia

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    2. I second this! Lol once I bought two huge boxes of "various silver" some trays, some goblets, etc. I lined my whole bathtub with foil and made the little concoction and in about an hour I had like 20 new pieces of silver! I love love love silver. And even like polishing it. My friend who I antique with says it fills some psychological need of mine to polish all tarnished silver. Haha

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  4. This is great! I'll check out the link. I have lots of silver and polish frequently. This piece is so pretty and it really sparkles after a bit of polishing:) Have a nice weekend.

    Leslie

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  5. I love polishing silver, just as I love ironing! So very satisfying. We have tons of family silver and we DO use it all the time. When my daugher is here we will use the silver tea set, just as she and I did when she was little, every afternoon after school! It';s a very special memory for her.
    I just inherited all my mother's flat silver which is so worn after 70 years of use! I love it! Not a pattern I would choose, but oh, the tarnish and wear and tear and nicks are fabulous!

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    1. What a lovely ritual you had with your daughter, Libby. So sweet! It's no wonder she has special memories of that time with you.
      Claudia

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  6. Hi there, I enjoy reading all of your posts. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

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  7. And don't you just love how smooth and silky silver feels when its clean?!! Your candlesticks look beautiful. We're always very careful about cleaning too much in the crevices as the darker coloring helps to show the details, and in the world of silver, is a good thing!
    xxoj.

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  8. I can’t remember where I read this tip, but I use cigarette ashes to polish my silver. The original article said they used cigar ashes but no one I know smoke cigars. So I tried cigarette ashes instead. They work great. I wet a couple of my fingers with water and dip them into the ashes. I then rub the item gentle in a circular motion. Within seconds the tarnish starts to lift. Once the whole piece is finished I rinse with water and buff with a soft cloth. I too like some tarnish left in the crevices, especially on cutlery. Many of the old pieces I inherited from family have amazing patterns on them. That little bit of tarnish highlight these great designs.

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