26 November, 2009

A Medieval Knight, a Horse, and a Dragon -- Our Latest Sconce Stripping Project

The last pair of original sconces that needed to be stripped and refinished at The Box House came from my mom's room. We think, because they sort of match the medieval theme of the living room electric fireplace, they originally came from there. Our guess is that they migrated to the bedroom when a previous owner removed the sconces and plastered over the electric boxes. But we'll never know for sure. What we do know is that it was a crime to have painted over them. Seriously, how ugly is this?

When we removed them from the wall, we revealed evidence of  half a dozen layers of paint, from mint green, tan, and chocolate brown to plain-old white. It's hard to imagine this room was painted dark brown, as it's at the back of the house, and quite dark to begin with, as the windows face north and there is only a five-foot gap between buildings. Talk about living in a cave. (Mom says she's come full circle—her childhood bedroom was mint green and chocolate brown.)

This was my most difficult paint stripping project to date. There were some absolutely beastly layers on here, including some kind of thick enamel paint that laughed at my attempts to remove it with the heavy-duty nasty stuff. Five strip-and-rinse cycles overall.

Here it is partway through the process; you can see traces of the red and blue polychrome and the emerging detail. And lots of horrible mint green.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the finished sconce and the one that still needs to be stripped. Can you believe the difference? We decided not to re-polychrome them, at least for now. Mom's room is being painted lilac, and she wanted solid-colored light fixtures. I am, however, using two different shades of gold. It's kinda hard to tell from this picture, but there is a more coppery color in the background behind the knight, which makes him pop out. (Update: Ted just informed me that these were the pictures I took before I finished with the two-tone gold treatment, so don't strain your eyes trying to see the difference. The coppery gold is only on the crown in these pictures.)

The sconce even looks smaller without all the extra paint.

The (most-recent) previous owners' granddaughter told me the sconces had been covered in paint for as long as she could remember. The family had bought The Box House in the early sixties, so the rich detail of the metalwork has been hidden away for longer than I've been alive.

I absolutely love the dragon, and the little knight at the bottom supporting it all. I can't wait to finish painting Mom's room and get these back up on the wall.


LadyCiani said...

those are freaking adorable! congrats! all your hard work paid off big time!

Jan Marie said...

Look at all the detail they put into casting back then. Every detail is crisp. You just don't see that in today's castings.

All the cast fixtures I have purchased for my house do not match each but I am hoping I can unify them by using the same color.

You did a great job.

Tonia said...

You and Ted are my role models! I may be a couch potato, but I'm very industrious -- vicariously through you. The sconces are amazing. It's hard to believe there was so much paint on them that stripping it off reduced the overall size of the sconce.

Lady Quilter said...

Now I can't wait to get my bedroom finished. I have some great fabric to make a quilt but need to finish several others first. Arg! Colors for the room are lavender, black, white with moss green accents. Will post pictures as we go along.
Boxhouse Mom

Karen Anne said...

What would possess someone to paint over those??

Tonia said...

I was telling my family about this over Thanksgiving, and it really is amazing the details that came out when the paint layers came off: the details in the shields, the armor, the crown, even the expression on the dragon's face. You are an urban archeologist.

Anonymous said...

hi - so do you know when these were made? i live in cleveland ohio and i have the same double sconce and just discovered a matching single sconce. please let me know. i think they are great. mine has a few jewels on them.