Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The instance of trying to fix a compact

This is the case of trying to save a compact and perhaps getting it a little wrong. I first wasn't going to blog about this, i'm slightly filled with guilt and was going to hide it away, never admit to doing it and end up never blogging about this compact. But I feel like I should - we all make mistakes and perhaps this is an instance of when you shouldn't try and mend all vintage things. Sometimes their past and their stories are engraved in the dirt and mess that comes with them. But let me get to the point and introduce you to one of my new compacts;
Before being cleaned - showing the markings and discolouring to the metal
It's an over sized flapjack compact approximately  4 inches across - its size indicating a compacts of the 1950s era when they had been growing in diameter since the fashionable tiny compacts of the 1930s and limited metals of WWII. While its unbranded it is gold toned, engraved with a shell like grain with a outer circular band of flowers and leaves, in it's centre a blank cartouche possibly left for an initial to be engraved. The lid lifts up to reveal a fixed in large mirror with a sifter and original puff under a flap - the latter held in place by a metal lever.
The bottom of the compact pre cleaning - containing sellers price label, lipstick/make up marking and black stains to the metal
I half fell into buying the compact because of it's state - it felt like it needed loving and cleaning and I somehow thought I could make it better, or at least try. At £4 you couldn't go wrong - I was either going to end up with an amazingly well cleaned and fixed compact or one that was a bit tainted, worn out and tired, but one that I hadn't broken the bank for. Even a quick glance you can see what I was up against - there was clear discolouring of the metal on the compacts top surface - the appearance of a gold tone of copper was starting to show through, on the bottom stickers markers came up against old make up and black stained dots and spots. Cleaning this wasn't going to be easy.

When it comes to cleaning compacts you don't need anything fancy - normally just cotton buds and a duster to remove any loose powder, furniture polish sprayed onto a duster to give any [metal] compact a shine and some window/glass cleaner for the mirror. The key is to be gentle and take your time. Now this fail safe method I've used on all my compacts and it's one that's recommended on countless websites and books - but there's always an instance when things can fail. But once part of the metal casing had started peeling sometime in its former life, any even gentle rubbing of a cotton bud isn't going to help matters and sadly resulted in only more of the metal surface being removed.
The after - a now slightly pink compact - oops.

Don't get me wrong I'm glad I tried to clean it - and in you do only see the extreme in the metals in the brightest of lights - weirdly the back and the insides of the compact have cleaned up marvellously - the mere downside is that is the part you see has been affected by its past [and me] the most. This compact was never going to be the star of the show but I'm hoping I saved it from a trip to the junk yard or worse a mere bin. Sometimes you should leave things be if they've already had a hard life, but I don't have the heart to throw it away. It's part of my story now.


  1. well done on saving the compact, dont feel guilty about it. I should feel guilty as I dont tend to clean any of my new additions eek! I love the smell of the old powder. Great cleaning tips though, i may be brave and give it a go :o) Scarlett x

  2. Thank you scarlett - I just feel bad for probably rubbing off more of the metal covering - hence why it seems more pink. I do love the smell of the old powder too - and seeing all the colours they use to have. Love how pink and vivid they were - well still are which is amazing considering some of their ages.

  3. oh this is so sad, i guess sometimes we shouldn't really mess with vintage stuff.