Thursday, September 1, 2011

Marjorie's Iron Bed.

My mother-in-law's name was Marjorie. Marjorie was the BEST MIL any girl could ask for. She was kind, gentle, hard working, generous,  humourous and best of all she was the momma of my best friend and true-love, Timothy.
When my FIL, Vince, was emptying the family homestead in preparation for selling the old house, many pieces of furniture, china, silver and other stuff collected through their lifetime of living together was dispersed to Tim and his siblings. We were fortunate to receive many beautiful treasures, one being an antique iron and brass double bed. I am sure that everyone in his family slept in that bed at one time or another. Last week our daughter Ali was reminding me of one time when she and her cousins, Elizabeth, Jacqui and Erin were joyfully jumping up and down on the bed, laughing and giggling like young girls do when they are together with their cousins when all of a sudden CRASH! BANG! the bed collapsed, the matress tilted  and they went flying, bonking heads and elbows!!!  Ali is in her twenties now and still laughs when she recalls that story!
So here she is. I will call her Victoria, because she comes from the Victorian era, it is a pretty name and it suits her.

Victoria had endured many years of use and had accumulated just as many coats of white paint. Her finish was overly distressed, grossly chipped, rusty in parts, and surely reaking of lead paint. For the last five years she has spent some quiet time disassembled and resting in our garage. Tim pulled her out of the pile of furniture a  few weeks ago and I earnestly began her summer 2011 transformation.
I had some large old cardboard boxes which I opened up and placed on the lawn in the back yard. I did not want the old paint and stripper gunk to land on the lawn. Next I set up the bed and pulled an old diaper changing table out of the barn to use as my work table. (I got that change table out of the dump 20 years ago and it has been used for many purposes such as a storage shelf, potting bench to name a few.)

My favorite stripper is Heirloom Fast Acting Paint and Varnish Remover.
It is very caustic so it is vital that you wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from chemical burns and the fumes are poisonous so you should work in a well ventilated area. I prefer to work outside when I use it. I pour the stripper into an old tomato can and use a natural bristle brush to apply it. It works best in warm weather. After you apply the stripper give it time to work and loosen the paint. After 5 minutes scrape a bit off to see how the chemical is working. Depending on the temperature you may have to wait longer, but don't wait too long or the chemical will solidify again into hard old paint. I have a collection of old paring knives, paint scrappers and wire brushes to scrape off the softened paint.

I go to the Dollar store and buy 10 or so pairs of rubber gloves to use when I am stripping furniture. When the gloves begin to dissolve from the chemicals I just throw them in the garbage with the paint gunk.

I have a cardboard box handy so I can scrape the gunk off the knife as I remove it from whatever I am working on.

See the lovely scrollwork? It is caked with old paint. The middle bar is brass, but has been painted over.

She was suffering from a bit too much body cancer/rust. Way beyond Shabby for me!

You can see the brass fittings in the middle of the footboard in the picture below.

In the process of stripping off the paint I came across the original manufacturers brass plate. Victoria was made by the Hard Manufacturing Company of Buffalo New York. I did a quick Google search and it appears that the company is still in existance, but now they manufacture hospital beds. I love Google!
After MANY gruelling hours of paintstaking stripping off of the old paint, Victoria was left naked. Her hardened steel structure was exposed. Now she needed to be scuffed up in preparation for her new finish.

I used an electric drill with a wire brush attachment to remove any dried gunk residue. (I love the word gunk!!!

Now I have noticed that my pictures are out of sequence so just bear with me for a bit. Then I used some BRASSO and cleaned the exposed brass fittings on the head and foot boards.
After all the gunk was gone I wiped the frame off with an old towel rag with paint thinner on it. It removes the dust from the wire brush and makes the paint adher better.
Next I wrapped newspaper and masking tape around the brass fittings so they would not get painted.
I turned the frames upside-down and proceeded to spray paint them. I used Tremclad high gloss white spray paint. I found some 25% more cans at Walmart, each can was $5.74. I used six cans in total for about three coats. Paint was applied over a four day period. YOU MUST be patient and allow the paint to cure properly. I will be leaving the paint to cure for at least one week in this covered outside building. After all that hard work I don't want to damage the finish!

I forgot to mention the absolute importance of wearing a dust mask and safety goggles when you are using the drill and brush and when you are spray painting. If you chose not to wear protective equipment you will inhale the tiny dust particles and the tiny paint particles and SERIOUSLY! INJURE YOUR EYES AND LUNGS!!

So her she is after two coats. I gave her the final coat this morning and now she is just waiting patiently/curing for the next week. I have to buy a new boxspring and mattress and then she will be moving into our guest room.

Stripping furniture is very time consuming, but I believe that it is worth all the hassle in the end.
Once I get the mattress I will show you what she looks like set up in her new home!

Wow!! It feels so good to be back in Blogland!
I'll be back soon, so stay tuned!!
Love and warm hugs, Laura


  1. Hi Laura!
    Welcome back to blogland!! I'm happy to hear you are enjoying your new job - minus the meanies!
    life is too short to let those kind of people bother you.
    I am so impressed with your restoration of the iron bed and bringing it back to life. You did a wonderful job and it is now a treasured family heirloom!
    Enjoy a wonderful day my buddy!

  2. Where you be Miss L????? Missing you!

    Love, Rebecca