Bringing a Tole Chandy Back to Life

Bringing a Tole Chandy Back to Life

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As I mentioned last week, during a recent trip to Philadelphia, I got REALLY lucky at Goodwill and scored a vintage tole chandelier for $5.99. I'd been wanting one forever- but couldn't really rationalize spending much on it- and when I saw this one I was practically giddy with excitement. I love the design- sort of a spiky palm frond look, which is my very favorite when it comes to tole. Exactly what I wanted! 

It sort of reminds me of a less ornate version of this one from 1st Dibs...

I wasn't lying about the price!

I decided right off the bat that I wanted to re-wire it. I had no idea about its age, and unlike with a vintage lamp that you can just plug in to see if it works, with a chandelier you can't really tell until it's installed. I've re-wired a zillion lamps so I figured I'd see if doing a chandelier would be similar- and it looks to be. First I just removed the covers from the sockets, then loosened the screw that holds each side of the wire in place. 

After unfastening all the wires from the sockets, I removed the bottom cover and simply pulled the wires out. Boy was I glad I decided to re-wire- the bottom part of the wires was brown with rust- gross. 

I kept the old wires for future reference to show my friends as Ace Hardware. Basically, you have a wire for each arm that are all attached together with a simple clasp, and then another wire that goes up through the middle and is what wires into the ceiling. It really seems pretty easy.

Next I simply undid the screw that affixes the main "stalk" of the chandelier to the section with the arms. And was left with this. Total dirt and dust. The whole thing was basically filthy. It must have been sitting in a basement. 

Really the only way I could think of solving the dirt problem was rinsing it off gently in the sink (making sure not to get the sockets wet, of course, so that won't interfere with the re-wiring). I still need to get out a toothbrush and get into each and every cranny, but it looks much better already.

I noticed when wiping down the center part that it looks like this chandy was originally gold. As in, gold italian tole. My heart sank. Why would anyone paint over the gold tole? I don't dislike the white, but to know there's gold underneath is annoying!

So now my question is what to do about the whole white/gold dilemma. To strip the white paint off the whole thing would be next to impossible- there are so many little cracks and crevices that I'd never actually get everything off, minus using some sort of chemical stripper, I guess. Plus I'd be afraid I'd ruin the gold underneath by scrubbing hard or using chemicals. So I'm thinking of maybe letting the gold peek through in some parts, though that's kind of a rustic look. Or I could paint the whole thing another color. Thoughts?

I will post more as I progress with the project!

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