An Ode to Rub 'n Buff
First, let me say the internet is a freaky amazing tool, duh. I was thinking to myself (as one often thinks) about writing this post concerning my favorite product and a bar cart I had recently refreshed with said product, when it occurred to me that my most often commented on (instagram) light fixture is also gilded in rub 'n buff. I thought, well there's no photographic proof of what it was before, I bought it off the clearance at lowes in 2012 or so, and never took pic before the project ensued, so that's probably out. Au contraire, just google 'Lowe's chandelier 2012", third pic down, seriously. Thank you internet you continue to amaze. As usual I've wandered off topic.
Rub n' Buff! I love it.
There's your before and after. It was originally in the arena of $250, I definitely paid less than $100. I swapped the contemporary shades for the cheapest opaque globes you can buy and ta-da! She's a beaute!
I think my aforementioned dining room chandelier was the first major thing I used it on. Brass was rather freshly back on the scene then and our new (older than dirt) house was pretty brassy in it's Victorian era finery. Nearly all of the light fixtures, furniture etc, was stripped out for an auction in the early 90's. Cheap ceiling fans and gold painted plastic sconces abounded when we moved in. One original fixture remained, it was brass, as were all of the doorknobs, hinges and original drawer pulls in the butlers pantry. I was fantasizing about my brass kitchen before we signed the papers. Soon after, I came to the sad realization that brass fixtures were few and far between or cost about four times my budget for whatever piece. So what's a poor girl to do? How can you turn something that is oil rubbed bronze to brass? OH internetttt????? Lots of googling later and I ordered 4 tubes of rub n' buff in antique gold from Amazon.com. It's like a wax based finish that has real metallic properties. It doesn't look fake, like spray paint, in my estimation it's kind of brushed brass or time worn unlacquered in appearance. But you have to do it right and it takes a bit of practice. Really the technique is just what the name implies, "rub 'n buff'.
I picked up a bar cart 2-3 years ago at a local antique mall, I paid $35 for it and was ecstatic. BRASS! LUCITE!!!! BAR CART!!!! Well the brass was rubbing off a bit then and I feel bar carts were on their way out already. They are somewhat useless in everyday life. No running water. In a different room than the ice source as ell as a sink for the dirties. While I usually am all for cuteness over convenience this is a bit much. I'm rather serious about my cocktail consumption and so are my friends. However, I find a cart quite useful in the holiday season when you are serving up far more than the the usual number of cocktails, to many more people. As much as I love my kitchen, in the month of December I prefer my guests lounge in the living room, near the fireplace and sparkle of our tree. Enter the cart. The people will be where the booze are, so relocating something here is the perfect solution. Or if you are hosting a sizable party, having two "watering" stations will reduce congestion, using the bar cart for a signature cocktail with minimal ingredients or better yet wine, that requires no mixing or cooling. I thought yesterday was the perfect time to bring the dusty and tarnished gal out of the basement, give her a good rubbing and buffing to set my week(s) of entertaining up for success.
You can see in the above photos that the finish is worn away, while it was still gold-ish, it really isn't living up to it's full potential (something my dad was very fond of reminding me during my teen years) Enter rub 'n buff. Below, as you can see it's back to full on brass.
To apply you must first have a completely clean surface preferably free of corrosion. So use a hot wash cloth and a bit of dish soap to cut any potential greasy buildup and whisk away dirt and dust. Allow it to dry completely, water + rub 'n buff do not mix. Just ask my mom's kitchen faucet of a few years ago. That's a story for another time. Just know major kitchen fixtures are not acceptable subjects for this treatment. It's called rub n' buff, if it's going to get heavy use, you are gonna rub that stuff right off. Dusting with a damp cloth on occasion is totally fine in my experience.
After it's clean and dry I like to apply it with my fingers, I rub in a sort of circular motion elongating my circles each time, working fairly quickly. Just play with it a bit, you can actually just rub it off if it's not working out. Start with just a pea sized dab and work up from there, layering it on is your best bet.
I'm getting ready to do some light fixtures with my sister which will be the part two of this post. We are waiting on a shipment from amazon and time off from school. She's a teacher. I will take video when I do it, so you can get more detail on the process. However, I am pretty confident that any one with a hand and a little finesse can handle this with no instruction. Also, the packaging suggests you use a cloth but I find the cloth gets saturated, to the point that you can't use it anymore. Definitely have some on hand (that you can ruin) to wipe you hands occasionally. You will get messy.
Happy Rub 'n buffing!! Have any of you ever tried it? What has your experience been?