Saving Ms. Lizzie, Part 2

By: Corrie Habib

12/16/21: What kinds of cleaners and finishes are safe for antique wood? I’m in the Google rabbit hole. Antiques Roadshow says to use Butcher’s Wax…what the heck is that? Oh yeah, whatever happened to that million-dollar native American blanket that the older guy had on his sofa? I’m here on their website so maybe there’s an update somewhere. But first, the popup asks if I have donated to GPB? “Hey babe, did we already donate to public TV?”

Refill coffee mug. Resist eating Trader Joe’s Chocolate Babka, for now.

Corrie, get back on track. Close this Antiques Roadshow tab, send the overdue work email, and then get back to your question. Hmmm, the local antique furniture guru says oil can damage and darken wood? Oh no, I’ve been using Howard’s Feed and Wax on everything. Wait…that’s ok actually but it’s not ok for paint. What kind of paint is this anyway? What kind of paint was around back then? Oooooh look at that decorated hope chest from the 18th century, wonder what that sold for at auction? Are there even antique auctions anymore?

Butcher’s Wax…come on, Corrie. Get something accomplished. 6 oz for $19? You have got to be kidding! I’m sure I can make this myself. “DIY butcher’s wax” into the search bar. Oh, a YouTube video with a bearded guy in a leather apron…looks promising. 8 oz melted beeswax to 6 oz mineral spirits. I have so got this. I should make it right now. What will I use to melt the beeswax? Wonder if there is a can in the recycling…(walks to the recycling bin and passes the stack of packages needing to be mailed). Oh crap, I need to go to the post office this morning!

Thank you for coming to my TED talk on peri-menopausal, caffeine-fueled, chain of consciousness.

Post post-office I decided to finish the son’s girlfriend’s Christmas present cowl instead of cleaning Ms. Lizzie. A completed project is a very rarely sighted beast in my neck of the woods. It turned out better than expected–and so far, she has as well. (Free and fabulous knitting pattern from an indie-dyer I adore…on Ravelry: “Marled Alaska Cowl.”)

12/17/21: I’m totally ignoring you, Ms. Lizzie.

(3 hours later…)

Oh boo, I can’t ignore you! Let’s see what happens when I clean you up. 3 C hot water, ⅓ C dish soap, 1 T borax, 4 T vinegar, and a soft rag. Fancy girl! Your paint is GREEN! There are even fingerprints from the person who lovingly painted your wheel post. So cool. Now to see if that wheel post will come out to get cleaned up properly. Come on, Ms. Lizzie let go. Rubber mallet tapping time. My mind wanders, “Just how does wood get so stuck anyways? Isn’t it supposed to get loose with age? I mean, my dining room chairs are all loose and yet this post is in there so tight!” Powdery dust and a little squeak and it is free. And what do you know? There is a ½ circle of leather down there at the bottom of the hole holding the post. That’s different. Vacuum up the dust piles and throw out the grimy water. Time for photos!

12/18/21: The hormonal goddesses have beckoned me pre-dawn from the land of slumber yet again. I’m trying not to be annoyed that my ovaries are still pumping out their girl-roids, but I am annoyed at their randomness and roller coaster of intensity. Determined to make lemonade out of these lemons, I decide to make the homemade beeswax concoction. After coffee, of course. One benefit of getting older: not giving a crap if grinding coffee beans disturbs the spouse or the college offspring.

Check email while the magical elixir brews. Oh, exciting, both antique restoration companies I contacted have responded about what is the proper wax for this project! Oooooohhhhhh, double exciting, they both recommend the same thing. So, my 6:00 am DIY project is a go. Vitamins–check. Big mug of joe–check. Jar for the homemade wax–check. (Thank you, universe, for the wisdom of saving that pesto jar and lid.) Damaged beeswax candle from the found objects in Dad’s basement–check. Um, what to melt the wax in? If the son and the sun are not up yet, there’s going to be no rummaging in the craft room. What to melt the wax in? What about making a little flat-bottomed bowl out of aluminum foil, putting it in my little saucepan, and melting it on the stove. OMG, honestly, I am feeling very Tim Gunn because y’all I am Making-It-Work!

Corrie’s DIY Beeswax Concoction Recipe:

  • 3oz mi neral spirits {I used the “green” kind. I also measured by the lines on the side of the mason jar. So 3-ish. I mean, honestly were craftspeople 200 years ago measuring out the turpentine? No…they were not. FYI this goes in the jar first, then close lid and wait for the wax.}
  • 4 oz melted beeswax {Ok y’all. Not 4 oz of the solid candle because that’s like 10 teardrops worth of melted wax. Don’t ask me how I know that. Also, if you unwrap the layers of an old candle that you found in your dad’s basement, you should either wash that outer layer or not use it. It’s dusty. It doesn’t look dusty, but it is. And if you were thinking that dust would make brown jellyfish in the melted wax–well, you would be correct. If you make like Dumbledore using his wand to swirl up memories in the pensieve and use a toothpick, you can solve your dust problem, but y’all, just wash the candle.}
  • Pour beeswax into jar of mineral spirits. Swirl. Put on lid.
  • Let cool for several hours before using and, for goodness sake, do not use this indoors!!!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.