Monday, 29 February 2016

2 Willow Road - Winter Clean 2016

Erno Goldfinger's desk - Studio 2 Willow Road
I so enjoy guiding at the home of Erno Goldfinger that I really miss the house when it closes in November not to open agin in March the following year. So where there is a will, there is a way, you can go between times by volunteering to come in and help with the winter clean.

The house, once closed is systematically checked over, every nook and cranny, from top to bottom, from light switch to roof felt. The wear and tear of the floors, walls and doors are checked and logged The house is allowed a max of 10,000 footfall, and we often wonder about what we would do when we reached 10,001! 

Dining Room

The conservation staff at 2 Willow Road are mainly part-time so they have their work cut out.  It is a pleasure to help them.  Last time I was on cotton bud wielding, light switch duty. Painstaking and laborious, so hoped I would be on lighter duties this time. No pun intended.

To my delight I was given more archaic 'lights' to work on, the candelabra’s.The family heirlooms from Erno’s mother’s side to clean up. My initial instincts were to grab a bottle of silver cleaner, but of course this would not do for a museum piece. The candelabra are fragile and the worry is that bits might break or fall off.  The implements of choice are paint brushes. Hogs hair is stiff and used for the first once over, to remove dust and dirt. Then on to Pony Hair, softer and starts to clean and burnish the silver. Goats hair brushes are also used, particularly for textiles, books and paper.

Often when cleaning larger pieces chairs, book cases it is important to use a suction tube from a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust you are removing so it does not contaminate other objects. Not essential for the candelabra but the little mats upon which they sat, need a vacuum to remove accumulated dust.

There is of course a special vacuum cleaner to use which has a piece of gauze or cheesecloth over the nozzle. You then place a mesh over the mats to work over, this stops any threads loose or embroidered being sucked away, or compromising the textiles.  

I was fascinated with these little squares of hand embroidery. They reminded me of Eastern European work I had seen on clothes, shawls and tablecloths during my time working with antique textiles.  I have a feeling they once were part of something larger, perhaps a huge tablecloth border and were then recycled as doiliesm, edged in blanket stitch. 

Here is a before and after, can you see the difference?  The circle is created by the base of the candelabra, and fading which has occurred over many years of being in the bright sunlight.

I was supervised by Jennifer who had been busy for many weeks cleaning the items on the windowsills of the dining room and studio. So many artefacts tenderly cleaned, the glassware with cotton buds. A labour of love.

My next job was in the kitchen, I done the clean out here last year.  I put on my vacuum backpack, Ghostbuster style and once the shelves were cleared sucked out any dust.  I photographed the shelves before emptying, but do sometimes end up with a tin wondering where on earth that went in the jigsaw of groceries. 

All dating back to 1991, some with the prices still on them, yes everything has doubled in price since then!  I also hasten to add, except for the bowl of ‘petrified’ Christmas pudding, all the tins are empty.  However, some of the sauces are still as they were, and Tomato Ketchup becomes HP Sauce colour if you keep it long enough, I can assure you no taste test made! 

On the same day a fellow guide, Anne, was carrying on with the task of logging all the books from the bookshelves.  Not as onerous as it might first seem.|In fact most diverting for all of us, as she discovered notes, bits of paper, book marks of interest, and signed copies. Also interesting to see the special packaging used for books that have lost their covers or are particularly fragile.

2 Willow Road is open again on 2nd March. Open Wednesday to Sunday.
Please check the National Trust Web Site for full opening times and guided tours. 
Non guided viewing commences at 3pm.

MissB will be Tour Guiding at Willow Road on: 
5th March, 19th March and 2nd April at 11am & 1pm
5th May 2pm
19th May 11am & 2pm
2nd June 11am & 2pm
30th June 2pm
On all the above dates, I will also be present for non-guided viewing from 3pm.

A shining candelabra!

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