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26-02-2014 Antique street lights shine again after silvering.

"I want some light in the darkness" a Belgian customer started a recent conversation. The good man was a passionate collector of art nouveau street furniture. In his collection, he had three original 120 year old Parisian art nouveau streetlights. The inside of the lamps were fitted with spherical glass elements, which were supposed to be silvered on the outside to give an optimal light reflection. Were supposed yes, because the silver layer had virtually disappeared after 120 years of exposure to the elements. My client wanted the streetlights to - literally - shine again on his estate and asked Schitterend if restoration was possible.

Yes, restoration was possible. To let the streetlights shine as once before, I had to remove the old corroded silver layer. Only then I was able to silver the glass elements again. The first step in the process was the removal of the old paint layer, which protected the original silver. I did that with a homemade stripper according to a recipe from 1880. Why no modern strippers? Because the old lead-based paint was too strong for the strippers which are sold on nowadays markets. The second step was the chemical removal of the remaining layer of silver on the glass. Once that was done, I cleaned the glass as clean as possible through various acids. Only after all these steps I could actually start silvering through manual spraying. The last step was applying a protective coating. This last step protects the three streetlights from weather influences for the next 120 years again.

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