Jewel in a Dust Heap

Y’all know I am an avid thrift store junkie. There have been times I have gotten lucky and found some beautiful antiques like glassware and china and even a book or two. Most of the time the stuff is in very good condition and only requires a handwashing. Sometimes they are beyond repair but still have charm and beauty in them. Once in a while, I find something that does require a healthy amount of elbow grease but at a loss as to how to go about restoring it. This time I was determined to find a way.

Last week, I was checking out a local antique store and was lucky enough to snag a cute little vintage evening purse. I love the things, though I seldom justify their use. Still, they look cute on a shelf. The owner pointed out a new find she had from an estate sale: a small Lucite purse. I was fascinated but it was very rusty and dirty.

lucite purse 1

lucite purse 2

Pretty bad, isn’t it? But I figured there had to be something I could do to clean it up. I researched the materials that were used back in the 1950’s for these handbags, and found that Goo Gone™ spray gel was gentle enough for use with a soft rag on the plastic and for use with steel wool (very fine) on the rust. First, I had to remove years of dust and dirt, so I washed it with mild soap and warm water. Then I got to work on the plastic. The gel removed rust stains and left everything gleaming. There was some spilled nail polish on the handle, and I used non-acetone remover very carefully on it. Next, I used the gel with the steel wool on the rusted areas, finely buffing everything. It was a bit messy, but the results were amazing. Unfortunately I couldn’t remove all of the rust from the metal, but I was able to sand it smooth. Once I washed the gel off the purse and let it dry, I began to use Rub’n Buff™ wax metallic finish in Antique Gold on the metal body. I sponged it on in one layer and let it dry. After applying the second layer, I buffed it a bit and voilá!!

lucite purse 3

lucite purse 4

I love it!! It is so unusual and delicate and so very vintage. I want to make a liner for it, so that if ever I use it one evening out in the far future, no one can see all the stuff in it. But that’s in the very far future.

I hope this gives y’all some motivation to take on a new project. I can say this was a lot of fun and a lot of work, but in the end it was very satisfying learning new ways to bring back beauty in old things.

Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


2 thoughts on “Jewel in a Dust Heap

  1. Nicole says:

    Sooo pretty! That’s a lotta elbow grease investment. 🙂

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