I Can’t Dance, But I Can Cut A Rug

(Click any image to embiggen)

A few years back, Ken found this adorable little rug at the trash dump site he visits once a month. He got it from a guy who was pulling junk out of his pickup truck, just before it would have been thrown into the back of a garbage truck. As you can see, its fringe had seen better days. And this is AFTER I cut about two inches off the fringe to get rid of the worst of the damage.
Such a lovely rug – such nightmarish fringe.
Let’s take one last look at that fringe before I start carefully snipping it loose. This fringe will return to the same trash drop off from whence it came.
No fringe! Happily, every attachment hole is still intact, and can be re-used when I tie on the new fringe.
The rug’s backside. That whip-stitched edging is the material the rug was hooked into. A two inch border beyond the hooked area had been folded over and sewn to the backside. The thread was rotting, so I re-whip-stitched it all the way around. The fringe holes were punched directly into that fabric, too. It’s clear to me that this wasn’t a factory manufactured rug. Everything about it shouts, ‘handmade’. A friend surmised, “About twenty years ago there was a great rush of handwork as China really began to enter the marketplace. Quilted duvets, patch work, embroidery, and, yes, hooked carpet. This may be something like that, where Chinese manufacturing met Chinese cottage industry.” It’s certainly a possibility.

It’s new fringe time! I bought a spool of cooking twine on Amazon, the kind you use to truss up a roast. I would need two pieces for each hole. To keep them uniform in length, I used my Kindle Paperwhite as a ruler – it’s just over 7″ tall. And the Kindle stayed put better than a ruler would, allowing me to snip snip snip a zillion pieces. I then used a crochet hook to pull two strands through each hole, then looped and tied them.

Ta Da! Even Chives thinks the refurbished rug looks much better and is now the perfect spot for a cat nap. Speaking of animals on a rug… I AM going to flip this one over, liberally sprinkle it with baking soda, and leave it overnight before vacuuming. As I was re-tying the fringe, I had my face very close to the rug. And my nose told me that in its previous life, napping dogs may have been involved. That will be easy to take care of, though. All in all, I’m very happy with this little restoration project.

Social Distancing 101: A “Restorative” Video

Today’s Social Distancing tip is to relax and watch magic for a half hour. Christine McConnell—gothic artist, creator, restorer extraordinaire—has released a half-hour episode on YouTube in which she gives new life to an old gramophone. I wouldn’t call this a ‘restoration’ as she doesn’t do anything to the actual working parts, but she performs real magic on the horn and cabinet. This was originally intended only for her Patreon supporters, but she felt we could all use a distraction. I can’t think of a better way to spend half an hour, now that I’ve watched as many of “The Repair Shop” episodes as an American is able to see. Relax and enjoy.

Need more Christine McConnell? Subscribe to her channel on YouTube.

A Necklace To Fan Over

A long time ago, I moved from Seattle to New Jersey. It took a while for me to get employed and back on my feet, so I frequently shopped at (or sold things to) a nice second hand shop. On one of my visits to the shop, I noticed an unusual necklace and it was love at first sight. I paid five dollars for it. Not a lot of money, I suppose, but at that time it meant I’d have to skip dinner. But I had to have it.

I wore it a few times, but it really did look dirty and sad, and the clasp was loose. So, it’s been tucked in the bottom of my jewelry box for… eons. This week I decided it was well past time to try to restore it to its former beauty. Here’s the ‘before’ pictures.

Damascene Necklace
A bunch of googling tells me this necklace was produced by the Amita Company of Kyoto, Japan, in the very late 1930s or sometime in the 1940s.
Damascene Necklace
It’s well-worn and shows its age, but nothing is broken. The clasp got a little loose, but it’s just a wedge of metal. I found out it was easy to bend by hand to get a tighter fit.
Damascene Necklace
I can see Mount Fuji in the background, and some cozy homes up front. I’ve now learned that what I thought was black stone is oxidized steel. Sadly, the hanging tassel is really scuffed up. It may be the first piece of the necklace I try cleaning up.
Damascene Necklace
There’s that easy-to-bend clasp. Each side of the necklace has four fans featuring birds, butterflies, and village scenes.
Damascene Necklace
I can’t wait to start cleaning this necklace up. I hope it sparkles!

Can I get a drum roll please! Here come the ‘After’ pictures! After doing lots of research, I used Q-tips, plain warm water, and ivory soap. My method: Dip the Q-tip in water, rub it on the bar of soap, then gently scrub each fan. I went over the entire necklace (including the clasp) three times. Those Q-tips looked disgusting, which I found encouraging. For a final step, I heavily soaped up my hands and picked up the necklace to give it a gentle soapy massage. Then it got a final rinse in clean water. I pinned it to a cork board overnight to air dry, and this is what I woke up to. It’s a very sunny day here, and it just glistens in the sunlight! I’m very happy. I’ll be looking for a reason to wear it VERY soon.

Restored Damascene Necklace
The large fan really cleaned up well. All the details of a fishing village in the shadow of Mount Fuji are there. The silver will always look muted, but now it stands out more clearly.
Restored Damascene Necklace
The tassle is much better. Before cleaning,the three flowers didn’t look like flowers. It’s still not perfect, but I didn’t feel comfortable scrubbing it any more than I did.
Restored Damascene Necklace
Everything shines!
Restored Damascene Necklace
A view of one side, and the clasp fastener. There are four different scenes, which are repeated in the same order on the other side. The second fan from the top has a muddy Mt. Fuji and part of the silver fan wouldn’t clean up. I notice the metal ‘handle’ isn’t shiny either. I wonder what happened to this fan?
Restored Damascene Necklace
This side, and the clasp cleaned up quite nicely. The chain looks a lot better too. Just soap and water, who knew?

If you are interested in learning more about Damascene jewelry (I know I am!) here are some links to get you going.

The History of AMITA Co., Ltd.
About Damascene Jewelry (with pictures of the process)
Vintage Damascene Jewelry
Damascene Jewelry – Art and Science in Two Hemispheres
Vintage Damascene Jewelry: Three Key Traits