That was the year, that was.

Posted in bathrooms, Renovation with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by pimpmybricks

So, 2012 was the year of Supreme Folly.  The year when we started work on pretty much the worst house in the area and discovered it was even more dire than we’d imagined!  It was the year when whole rooms were mere piles of sand and lumber, when floors collapsed, when walls revealed themselves to be nothing more than giant honeycombs of termites’ nests.  It was the year of the Long Dark Night of the (restoration) Soul when more and more and yet more damage was pulled out of a hat by some malevolent magician until it became difficult to see how the house had not collapsed internally into a pile of steaming rubble. We were stretched further than we ever have been with a restoration (and there have been seven of them) –  mentally, financially, and most of all, emotionally.  Looking back at the end of the year, we had to ask ourselves the inevitable question – would we have done it if we’d known?  And the honest answer?  Probably not.  Maybe not.

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But the fact remains that we have started, and having started, we must continue. (And besides which, we still love that bloody house).  So armed with our one solitary New Year’s Resolution, the only one we could logically make – to survive! – and with pith helmets firmly clamped on, stiff uppers in place, our hysterical gibbering selves closeted once more in the….closet?… we’re ready for the final onslaught. May it not be too bloody. At least not after the floors have been laid.

So ladies, gents and mint juleps, I think it’s time for another little snapshot of progress.

Please allow me to introduce to you the Jungle Lav.  So named because Esteemed Architect originally conceived of it as a sort of high-up, diminutive conservatory, a verdant eerie where we could take tea of a Sunday afternoon and have a natter. You know – our ears nuzzled by potted palms, our cake dusted with fern spores; that kind of thing.  All of which was a wonderfully evocative idea until the humdrum clamour of waterworks started up and it was decided the room should retain its waterclosetory function as a guest bathroom.  As they say, you can never be too rich, too thin or have too many bathrooms. Especially if you might need to sell the house in a hurry on your way to the debtors’ gaol or the insane asylum.

Here is how we found it – an utter joy to behold.

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It had a sheet lead floor which, in our enthusiasm, we thought we’d seal and keep until OH&S and the builder intervened and it was escorted from the premises under armed guard.  It also had a polystyrene ceiling.  With nary a stretch you could reach up and inscribe your name or football team with a fingernail – imagine!

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But what you can’t see from these pictures  is  that when enthroned you gaze out onto this:

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Nice, innit?

When the conservatory idea was set aside the idea of its glass roof remained, which has had an unexpected boon.  On the landing outside there is this rather handsome window which lost the bottom section of itself when the Jungle Lav was originally built (the JL being an early extension).

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You can see how it relates to the JL:

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Somehow, the exact manner yet to be determined, the new glass roof will free the window from its truncated state and allow the bottom portion to be re-instated.

And here is the jungle lav as it now is, in all its transitional glory.  We put in a black and white stone floor.  Thuper cheap.  The border is not a border but water proofing, bee tee dubs.  The hound, however, is a hound:

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The glass roof (above). And ditto the yellow – it too is water-proofing.

Here are the tiles.  I’m not so sure I like them. In fact I’m quite sure I don’t much like them. I don’t think they sing from the same song sheet as the floor tiles.  They were a decision made very quickly, in the sense of ‘let me out of here’, at the end of a verrrrrrrry long session in the tile shop.  I always meant to cancel them and think again, but didn’t because I got buried under a mountain of other decisions that needed to be made at the same time.  Lesson to self – if everyone’s screaming at you for tile choices and you haven’t made one – get a pair of noise cancelling headphones and carry on thinking.

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But that being said, I have hopes the basin might bring them together:

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It’s a little bit Biedermeier. It’s a little bit cast iron.  And it was a little bit cheap –  ten per cent of its original price.  So obviously, it was a done deal, innit?

And that, said John, is that (for today).  I need to gather myself for the onslaught of the weather – we are promised bush fires and temperatures of 40/104 degrees.  And I need to attend to my other  New Year’s Ressie (I lied) – which was to make the bed before lunch time.  Every single day.  Toodlepip.

The King is dead – long live the King!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2013 by pimpmybricks

If, like Mr Big here, you’re plum-tuckered out from all the partying, renovating, or just plain whatevering,  I wish you a chill New Year’s Day.  The chillest.

remo

To everyone who reads this blog, who trots along with me on this lunatic steeplechase journey of ups and downs, who forgives my periods of silence while missing in action, who nudges me when I’ve been silent too long – thank you.  Thank you for your patience, your advice and your humour.  Gawd knows, I need all three! May this coming new year bring us all goodly dollops of health, fortitude, generosity, and a lot of what we wish for. X

Rush rushery and a few ‘during’s.

Posted in bathrooms, Renovation, silver with tags , , , , on December 24, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Enter stage right, a small figure scuttling beyond the spotlight to slide a wrapped package unobtrusively onto the floor .

Greets, Ladles and Jellyspoons. I know! I’m late as the proverbial plate yet again, and this is my very last chance to slide a leetle sumsing in before most of the world shuts down tomorrow.  Apols for going awols.  You know the drill by now. You’ve read the headlines so many times before – “Struggling restorers sink into pits of black despair as more termite damage and cracked lintels are uncovered in inner Sydney Regency Wreck…”  It being blogland and all, and moreover blogland approaching Christmas, I have been loathe to come and spread my glooms abaht the place.  No Bah Humbuggery here!

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But wait, because in amongst all the doom and gloom, in all the tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth (they are mere stumps I tell you),  there has been the occasional sighting of that rare and lesser spotted beast – p.r.o.g.r.e.s.s.  Which is serendipitous because I’ve received a few requests for during shots and I’m nothing if not attentive to requests (unless, of course, you require me to don tutu and dance the Nutcracker Suite, in which case I would have to demur in the cause of Public Order).

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Tubby strictly honest I’ve also dawdled a bit because progress shots are so…well… incomplete somehow and every time Ive seen said piece of modest progress I’ve had the feeling that if I only waited another day or so those tiles may have been cleaned of grout to reveal their lustrous sheen, or the showers might have arrived. Or this or that or the other.  But work has now stopped for the holidays and nothing will happen until the New Year, and so without further procrastination I offer up a few morsels for your delectation.

But because we’re in the act of flinging a few things into bags and scurrying up to the farm, I’ll spread them over a few days, if that’s permissible.  Herewith, today’s little ration.

This unprepossessing little room was earmarked by HRH Princess Pimp as her bathroom:

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She wanted it dark.  And by gum she’s getting it dark:

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Those tiles – they are tho thexy. The patch of light you can see to the left is the window in the pic above, which will be transformed into steel and glass doors onto a tiny Juliet Balcony from where, if you turn your head to the right, you’ll get an eyeful of the Harbour Bridge.  This was granted us by the Powers That Be because there was once a balcony on the back bit of the house.  Precedence – thou art a wondrous thing.

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And while we’re on the subject of tiles, let me show you this place of unaccustomed glam, which is the en suite.  The very en suite which, if you remember that far back,  may never have come to pass.  Which may have remained, if the purists had ruled the day, a mere twinkle in my eye as I hauled myself down four flights to use the bucket in the back garden.

This is it before:

en suite before

We would have preferred to keep the wooden floor but here in Uh Straya such things are verboten.  We bought the limestone tiles as a job lot for $50 a crate at a rather sad liquidation sale a couple of years ago. In the cause of full disclosure I should say sad for them, lustful for us.

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Avec crazy bath and the fireplace stripped back to metal:

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et the lav and basin:

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These are the very tiles which are still smeared with dried grout and don’t yet reveal their shimmery glory, but here’s a patch that have been cleaned:

ensuite tilesI must admit that when I first saw the bathrooms I was a little shocked.  I feared we had imposed too much on the house and felt we should maybe have found a way to minimise our impact.  But someone said the other night that they could still see the beauty of the rooms, even though they’ve been rendered functional, and  I was glad to hear that.

So anyway.  That’s the lot for today.  I sit here in my pre-breakfast frowsiness on the unmade bed while the day outside gathers itself for a full-frontal furnace assault. I must up, up and away before the roads melt and become a shimmering mirage.  Laters, potaters XX

 

Deck the halls with indecision

Posted in digressions, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, hallway, Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , , , on November 23, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Hola mis bellezas, mis peanut sellers and usherettes,

Firstly, a slight digression if I may (if indeed it’s possible to digress from what you haven’t yet begun).  A visit to my stats page recently revealed that someone arrived at this blog via, of all things in this vast and crazy universe, a search for “in my country we smoke lion fur”.  Not once, I hasten to add, but twice.  The mind fair boggles, so it does.  And to compound the mystery further, I could not see how that got them here because when I also typed the same thing into google it didn’t lead me home.  In fact it didn’t lead me anywhere in particular.  Which actually was a shame, because stress is currently so great on the house (and several other) fronts that I was hoping to find a bit of a ‘how to’ on smoking lion fur.  Maybe even a u tube video or two – you know, a sort of wildlife Mrs Beeton.  “Firstly,  trim the manes of two dozen lions…”   But maybe it’s not quite as strange as it first appears because we did, after all, as undergraduates, used to hang our old banana skins over radiators in the vain hope that they might produce datura-esque effects.  Alas, all it ever did was add to the squalor.  And what can I say in our defence?  – nothing, other than that we were all lost to Mr Ginsberg at the time.  Khaddish and all that.  I even used to wear an old 50s leather jacket which moaned and split every time I moved.

So anyway.  Let us begin. Recently we had a demand from the builder for all of the ceiling colours.  All of them! A bit of a surprise, I can tell you, because some rooms don’t even have ceilings.   But I hopped to it and by the skin of my teeth (and a leaking paint pot which erupted all over my hands as I was transporting it to the house) I made the delivery on time.  Cue scenes of builder and painters at the front door tapping their waiting toes, consulting their time pieces – you get the gist, minus a bit of hyperbole if you’re feeling pedantic.   All of which has served as a warning that wall colours might also be demanded with menaces at any unpredictable time and that I must, to put it bluntly, shift my arse accordingly.

Now I love colour.  Love it with a pash.  But my usual MO when choosing it is to take forever, pottering and pondering, doing little pigment mixings, taking note of how the light falls on it,  thinking for a month or two, having a crisis or three, and then finally deciding.  It ain’t gonna happen like that in this house.  We’ve paid for the house to be painted, and painted it will damned well be. But oh!  I deflate like an elderly balloon at the prospect of having to specify all that colour!  And all at once!  Because in so doing we’re back to that great imponderable – what ‘mood’ does the RW want to be captured in?  A rather plain and sober mood that shows off its beautiful classical proportions?  Something a little more Rococo and playful?   Something feminine?  Masculine? Eclectic?  Contemporary? Moody and dark?  Light and airy?  Egads, Sirrah, you do tax me most unfair.

A friend and I were talking recently and one thing we felt was that the house would not look good dressed all in unadorned white.  Not unless we had a vast collection of vast artworks, which, alas, we do not.  Without the vast artwork, we felt, it would be a little boring. Like someone left standing in their petticoats, awaiting the maid to dress them. So colour it must be!  But what?  And where? And how?  My friend suggested I gather together a palette of colours that I like, which all harmonise well. She is right, of course.  I know she is absolutely right, but I am dragging my little hooves to the task like that proverbial horse…  Instead I find myself concentrating on individual areas, hoping they will somehow all end up speaking to one another. Willy nilly and without any help from me. Never ask me to match-make your aunty, or do the seating arrangements for dinner parties. (Did you know, bee tee dubs, that some people do colour boards for their seasonal entertaining? I discovered this quite by chance recently and was aghast but unrepentant about my own failings).

So anyway anyway.  Back to business. My area du jour is the hallway and staircases.  Which are built to a large scale, but which, because we have the extra ‘wing’ at the back, lack light at the ground floor (though it is bright above). I have been playing housey dress-up and fished a few things out of the box.

Firstly, this is the hallway, to remind you.  Or rather, this is the hallway as was, before the builder set about it.  It now sports a bath, a mountain of wood and a very racy (actually mind bogglingly depressing) earlier colour scheme in death-by-yew green and dried blood:

and

Now then.  The sober mood. I have a great love for Farrow and Ball’s Elephant Breath, not only because of the name (and I must say that when in Zimbabwe and surrounded by elephants I didn’t so much notice the colour of their breath as their propensity to tiptoe.  Have you noticed that about them?):

In this sober mode, I’ve wondered about  adding a bit of Grisaille on the right hand wall as you come in, just up to the arch.  I’ve been out and about (digitally) visiting Zuber and de Gournay and the like, but a conversation about money yesterday (conversation would be the polite word for it anyway)  has seen me scuttling from their front doors like a mouse in plain worsted.  This, though, is a manageable version from G&W:

Or this from Cole and Son, but mucho more coconuts:

So that’s one option, and quite sober it is too.

However, my pink furnace is still burning away and I’m thinking possibly this, on the same wall:

but in this colour way, with splashes of a similar hue on various landings:

But having tipped my cap at pink,  I also have to say that a certain blue persistently tugs at me.  Tugs and tugs and won’t leave me alone. There is this, by Axel Vervoordt (stolen from a waiting room mag – you can still see the fold lines):

I like the broken quality of the colour and the way it wraps onto the ceilings.  There is also this:

and even this:

or a pale and interesting version (on seeing this was a pub in London I thought to hasten me back to Blighty where I could sit lose hours (weeks!) with my G&T in a narcotic blue haze):

On other days, however,  a bit of pattern seems to float the boat:

or this (but probs not):

and I positively love this, but wouldn’t do it (or would I?):

This one I pledged my troth to some years ago:

So how to choose?  Sober? Pink? Patterned? Blue?  All or none of the above?

And here are a few more miscellaneous hallways, just for good measure (and further confusion):

 

And before I go,  let me just slide in one last digression, which is slightly more admissible on a housey blog than lion fur and banana skins – I’ve had a few requests for progress shots of the Regency Wreck and they are imminent (honest),  but I am rusticating at the farm for a few days and hope (hope!  what an expensive commodity!) that vast swathes of tiling await my return, photos of which I will then plaster liberally all over t’t blog.

Toodlepip.

Don’t mention the war.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Once upon a time (or at least a little while ago), Esteemed Architect, gawd bless ‘im, announced that the Regency Wreck originally went by another name.  Really? It was not always called the RW? Well, shiver me timbers.  As he delivered his news, a small moue of ambivalence flickered across his features but we heeded it not, being altogether too gung ho to know more.

I don’t expect you can read this, but here is ocular proof that the house was once known as Pyrrhus.  And I must tell you that when I saw this a little colour drained from the day because, I confess, I am just a tinkly tad superstitious.  Quite against my will, I might add, but I was doused in it from an early age by my mother, who always touched wood and never tempted fate nor crossed her knives.  All of which has left me one of those strange hybrid creatures – resolute and doughty in my rational denial of all such nonsense, yet surreptitiously chucking my spilled salt over my left shoulder.  Just in case.  You know how it is – a little insurance never hurts.

And just in case your days of Greek Lit in Translation are a little fogged and hung about with the rheumy skeins of time past, I’ll remind you that it was Pyrrhus for whom the phrase ‘Pyrrhic Victory’ was coined.  He was the gent who won the battle but lost the war.  Wiki tells me that his victory was one with  such devastating cost to the victor that it carries the implication that another such will ultimately cause defeat.

More than a little contemporary truth in that, I’d say, when I recall our triumphal glee at the auction and contrast that to our feelings now.

So anyway, this was our man Pyrrhus before the battle.  Off to war with a fleet wind behind and a good horse beneath. Full of vim and vigour.  Because, I ask you, how could you go wrong with a metallic six pac like that?

And this was him after,

surveying the future with a sort of grim resignation, poor bugger.  Tired, careworn, utterly over the whole thing and yet compelled to go on.  Much as we sometimes feel really.

If you’re interested, John Dryden’s translation of Plutarch’s Pyrrhus, 75 AD reports that:

“… they had fought till sunset, both armies were unwillingly separated by the night, Pyrrhus being wounded by a javelin in the arm, and his baggage plundered by the Samnites, that in all there died of Pyrrhus’s men and the Romans above fifteen thousand. The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward.”

So on that basis I’d say that the Pyrrhic legacy seems to extend further than just our house because there are more fallings out and schisms in one tiny area than I’ve ever come across before.  Which is a shame and a half.  I put it down (mostly) to the cumulative and collective stress of an entire area in transition.

But all this got me to wondering why on earth John Flavelle – he who built the house – gave it such an odd name.  A name with such a penumbra of  unfortunate associations. Was our Irish jeweller a Greek scholar maybe?  Was he a man who wanted to give wry expression to life’s capriciousness? To its steeplechase-ness?  Or did he name the house as he did,  blithely ignorant of its classical associations?

A little internetty delving suggests the latter.

Because as it turns out, Pyrrhus the second was a racehorse!  One, what’s more, in Australia.

I found them both nestled in the classified section of The Courier in 1855.  (Mssrs Google, how I love thee. I will name my first racehorse in thy name). And after wading knee deep through ads for The Crinicrescent Cream, a PREPARATION like no other which will produce so beautiful and magnificent HEAD of HAIR,  the Practical Treatise upon the Cultivation of Sugar Cane, and Row’s embrocation (Beware Of Spurious Imitations), good for the cure of cankerous tumours on cows – in the middle of all that fascination, I found

“J_ Ferbt, Logan River, the Blood Stallion

PYRRHUS THE SECOND,

By New Warrior (imported) out of Doctressby

Doctor Jenner (imported). For terms apply to

WM. DRYNAN”.

separated just a column inch or two from

“FLAVELLE BROTHERS & ROBERTS

BEG to inform the Public that they have

secured the services of Mr. Samuel

Whitby, a thoroughly prictical watchmaker.

From his experience (acquired in London and

Melbourne) and ability, they feel satisfied that

all orders entrusted to them will be thoroughly

and efficiently executed. Watches sent by pri

vate hand or otherwise can be safely returned

by post”.

A long bow?  Probs. But in the absence of any shorter, I shall twangle its strings.

 

Up close and fairly personal.

Posted in digressions, farm, Herberts with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2012 by pimpmybricks

You know,  I want to thank everyone who takes the time to leave a comment on this blog.  A big arm flinging sort of a thank you.  Sometimes it can get to feeling  like I’m wittering away to myself in a corner.  But then  someone’ll pop up and suddenly it’s more like a conversation and all is well.  So thank you, those what does.  Especially those what does regularly.

So anyway and anyway, while the rest of the world is sliding into all that mist and mellow fruitfulness ( please can I come and stay? in about a month?  for about three months?), we in the antipodes are enjoying a brief and lovely seasonal interregnum before we hit the glass wall of  Summer.  When the sun will press the days into flat, metallic discs and the heat will stretch and shimmer as far as the mind can see.  Further, even.

I have been getting up close and personal with the beasts of the land recently – and I must tell you, it’s better than a shot of vitamin B, or a night at the disco.  It fair plumps up the old membranes with cross-species joy. Indeedy.

At the farm the other week, the weather had started to warm up and  so we had the annual procession of the reptiles into the sun. All very stately and solemn it was.  Our resident Carpet Python, a very suave McLaddy, staked a place in the purple herbaceous baxon to sun himself.  Until, that is, the Herberts and all the birds took great umbrage and wapped him with a crescendo of barking and claxoning until he slithered off in search of a quieter life. (His parents, you know, used to over-winter wrapped around the hot water tank in the roof, until the plumber came across them one day, two pairs of yellow eyes regarding him in the dark.  The neighbour was called (we being away), who summarily stuffed them into a hessian sack and dumped them in the Strawberry Field.  Whereupon they went off in a state of high dudgeon, never to be seen again.  They did, though, leave us their offspring; he of the buttery yellow belly and lazy ways. This is not his picture – he is too camera shy and I am too camera slow, but it is a relative of his.

There were also sightings of the Lace Monitor who has taken up residence under the house and is the cause of great canine clamour every evening, the dogs seeming to believe that obsessive licking of the floorboards will deliver him to them. He emerged one afternoon for a stroll and  was promptly chased up a tree by, once again, the Herberts, fearless defenders of the ancestral acres they, whence he stayed for the best part of the afternoon, motionless, pretending to be a branch.  At dusk, when I had distracted them, he gingerly inched his way down, only to be mobbed by a parent magpie as he  trundled with utter dignity and as fast as his stumpy little legs would carry him until he was only a speck at the far edge of the field.  I did photograph him, but the sun was in the lens and he looks nothing more than a very large twig in a very large tree, so here is his cousin who lives somewhere on the internet.  You can see how beautiful he is:

 There were delights of a somewhat more ambivalent nature when I emerged from the house one afternoon to find two tiny red and green finches sitting on the verandah.  I spoke to them politely, as one does, and they seemed to regard me with little surprise or alarm and so I got down at their level and conversed a little more.  Their beaks opened and shut, red little beaks, but no sound came and it finally dawned on me that they had flown into the window and stunned themselves. They allowed me to place them in my hand (oh!) and from there I transferred them to a bush for safety (the tireless Herbs being just around the corner, lounging, but not for long).   Later they were gone. Flown off to safety.  You know that somewhat mawkish sticker ‘Magic Happens’?  Well, apparently it doth. In the garden.  When you least expect it.  And are wearing your scruffiest wellies.

But wait, there is more!

When we arrived we found the dams perilously close to dry and the cows up to their knees in mud, drinking from the puddles still left at the centre.  There followed much unhilarity with ancient and new pumps and finally  a hose spurting fresh, clean river water was taken up to them.  I’ll wager a bet that when you think of water fun, your mind doesn’t turn automatically to frolicking with Belted Galloways in the mud, but I am here to testify that you’re  missing out.   Afterwards I felt as good as if I’d been to the seaside for a day with old friends. You know, buckets and spades, sandy sammies and feeling sick in the car afterwards.  Joy!  They’re excellent sports, cows.  Gawd love ’em.

Other than that, there was the usual Spring parade of floriferous glories and olfactory delights:

And at the end of it all, there was honey still for tea.  Because the farm’s that sort of place.

Red herrings en route to the Mercuridome.

Posted in Inspiration, Renovation, silver, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 20, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Greetings dearhearts.

I am on a mission!

Back in the days of yore, before we discovered the full extent of the Termite Inheritance, I fell in love with these doors and wanted them for the dressing room.

It was in that faraway time when when we were bathed by a sort of  pre-lapsarian innocence, believing that the budget would provide for everything.  It was before we realised just how bad the house was and how much of our money would go on re-building walls and floors and joists. You know, those things  they tell you are necessary.  Though me,  I’m not so sure.  Floors, I say? Surely all we need are wings, willpower and the merest dab of mousselline.

Since that heady time, my various houseyhousey passions have wandered their usual fickle paths, but to the mirror doors they have remained true.  So unusual is this, I must tell you, that I have been considering a proposal of marriage, or at the very least a long term arrangement.  But even  back then when the world was golden, an investigation into the  cost of antiqued mirror revealed a price that would have sagged the sails of even  the most intrepid retail voyageur.  It was quite bezonkers.  However, being of a ‘can do’ mentality (at least sometimes), I began, undeterred, to collect the hows and the whyfores to do it myself.

And it has taken me –ooo— the best part of a year to gather together  all the gubbins needed for  the alchemical transformation of  new mirror into ‘old’.  I tell you, it’s tough out there in the non-digital world! Mental, physical and temporal co-ordination don’t come easily.  Nothing like the instant gratification to be had at the end of a cursor!

But anyway,  eventually I got my arse into  (low) gear when we were at the farm and I was ill but not prostrate, and in need of a project.  So what follows is not a tutorial exactly, but a scruffy and ramshackle account of how to (and how not to) Do It.

Firstly, gather thy apparatus.  To wit, one pair of red and white polka dotted rubber gloves (colour and dots optional), one spray bottle, one bottle of hydrochloric acid, one tin of paint remover, sundry mirror tiles, and the requisite dollops of time and mental space. Oh, and a mask suitable for inhibiting fumes.  I hang my head hung in shame and admit that I omitted this item.  Or rather, that I tried using a face mask suitable for dust because it was to hand, found it (quelle surprise!) of no use and thereafter held my breath while doing fumey things.  This is why this is not a tutorial.

Proper blogs would have a picture of the equipment. I was in too much of a hurry. Here is a picture of the back of the mirror tile instead.

Secondly, don thy rubber gloves, take thy mirror tile, and consider its reverse side which will probably be coated with a grey plastic layer.  Smear said plastic liberally with paint stripper. And I do mean liberally.  At this juncture it’s advisable to go away and have a cup of tea, read a book, chase some cows or get on with another project.  Because along the same lines as watched kettles, mirror tiles are shy when undressing.  As for how long to drink your tea or read your book – this is a delicate equation that I didn’t manage entirely to crack.  Overnight was too long for my tiles – they came with a copper layer under the plastic layer which I found it best not to dislodge, bearing in mind I wanted a more subtle end result.  On the other hand, a quick cuppa and cursory flick through a mag was too short.  Let’s say – oh – two hours then.

Thirdly, take thy rubber scraper and dislodge the by-now softened plastic layer.  Go about this Gently Bentleyish.  Channel the spirit of a gentle breeze just caressing the tops of waves.  Do not even think of Bob the Builder.  It is less important to remove all of the plastic than it is to not  scratch the copper or reflective surface underneath.  Because, forsooth, those scratches will be visible on the final product.

Ask me how I know about the scratches.

Left hand tile demonstrating the hung-ho method, with most of its copper backing removed. Right hand tile demonstrating restraint.

Fourthly, wash thy mirror gently, and dry.  Treat it as you would a baby’s bottom, but without the talc. Then take thy spray bottle and make a 50/50 mixture of hydrochloric acid and water.  These measurements are  entirely haphazard, by the way; plucked from the ether.  Take a roller tray, or similar somesuch,  fill it with water and have it close by.

Fifthly, identify thy aesthetic and consult it whenever in danger of gung-ho-ness with the spray bottle. If you want a full-on look, give your tile a full-on spray.  If, like me, you prefer a gentle foxing, go at it as would a good butler, with restrained hand and circumspect manner.  Observe intently for any slight changes in the mirror backing – this may take less than a minute – and immediately submerge in your tray of goodly water. Those minute changes will grow and enlarge and may, if you are not quick enough, become a mutant mess that gobbles away all your backing until all you have left is plain glass.  It is easier to re-spray than it is to start again.  Naturally, this stage whizzed by so fast there was no time for photos.

Too much hung-ho, too much time, too little backing.

Sixthly, decide on thy backing colour.  This will be cover thy bare glass patches. Some  people slather the backs of their mirrors in black paint.   Some favour a melange of brassy, silver and other tones.  Me,  I tried silver and found it too pale.  In the absence of a handy spray can of darker silver in the shed I tried grey.  And what I will say unto you is Nah.  Not quite.

And this is the end result.

Looking positively distrait – in reality it was a little less so.

A little calmer, out in the grass.

Not as I would have wished, but passable.  A little uncouth for my liking.  A little short of finesse.  I did several experiments, rearranging the parameters each time and what I concluded was that the process is easy to do but hard to control. The hardest thing of all was taking photos of mirror without making a cameo appearance in it myself.  Even so, I can imagine making something like this:

But wait!  It doesn’t end there.

Because it seemed to me that no matter how proficient I became, the end result was never going to have a certain quality of softness that I was lusting after in the original picture.  So.  Cue more internet trawling, and what I discover I actually need is mercury glass.  The wherewithal for effecting such being readily available.

So, as they are so fond of saying, watch this space…