Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spring Cleaning: Getting the Funk Out

Honestly, I have no idea if I got one of the Mother Lode models listed on the Breyer web site tonight. Like everyone else I spent 10 minutes trying to log on, and then having it taken out of my order queue when I went to pay.

Then they reappeared again, about an hour later, and my order allegedly went through. I figured that the worst that could happen is a cancellation phone call or e-mail from Reeves, right?

Look, I can accept not getting a super-limited model. I’ve been really lucky the past couple of years, with the Glossy War Horse, the White Moose, the Buried Treasure Lusitano, and the first Vault Sale. So missing out on a pretty gold Lady Phase would be no biggie. (My favorite was the Gold Buckskin! The "common" one of the three, allegedly.)

It’s the waiting that kills. If I’m going to be disappointed, I want the pain and suffering over with quickly, like pulling a Band Aid off. That’s all I’m asking.

Moving on…

I had an interesting experience with a piece of vintage fabric over the weekend. I wanted to give it a quick rinse or two to get the flea market "funk" out of it, but it turned into a two-day-long ordeal to vanquish the "Old Lady’s Ashtray" smell emanating from the washtub. I’ve had stinky fabric before, but this so bad I was having flashbacks to a particularly odoriferous family road trip in 1979.

(Four chain-smoking adults in a GMC Jimmy with the windows rolled up most of the time because of the rain. Good times!)

"Destinkifying" is a topic that comes up with regular frequency in my e-mails, and since flea market season is in full swing, it’s probably a good time to bring it up here again, for reference.

The Cellulose Acetate that Breyers are made of is semi-synthetic, and semi-permeable. In other words, it can absorb stuff it comes into contact with: water, grease, oil, cigarette smoke, perfume, and all manner of airborne pollutants.

Cigarette smoke is among the worst: not only does it make the model smell bad, the nicotine from the smoke also makes the plastic look dingy - and in more extreme cases, darkly yellowed.

The first step should be a basic cleaning: dunking and soaking in very warm water with a good amount of high quality dish soap. Dawn seems to be the brand of choice among most hobbyists, but if some other brand works well for you, it should work for your horses, too.

This should get the top layer of grime off, and unyellow the model slightly by consequence. I wouldn’t recommend a dunk any longer than overnight, because the model will start to absorb the water as well, possibly lifting the finish. (Glossies are especially prone to this!)

Naturally, this is not an ideal solution for any model with labels or stickers. And surprisingly, anything with metallic paint - either as tack trim, or as the base body color. If you’ve ever had any experience with vintage Decorators, you know that the gold paint that Breyer has used in the past has been of variable permanence: it fades, it tarnishes, it corrodes.

It’s not that those models can’t be cleaned or unyellowed, but they should be done with extreme caution.

Squirt bottles are a useful tool for those models that can’t or shouldn’t be dunked. Mix up a solution of warm water and a little bit of dish soap, and set to stream. Spray and blot quickly, as necessary; a cotton swab comes in handy for the nooks and crannies of the mane and tail. But again, be gentle: there are some finishes that are prone to rubbing (Alabasters and Dapple Grays), and the less pressure you put on their finishes, the better.

Once the initial cleaning is done - by dunking, or by spray bottling - put the model in a sunny window with cool exposure: this should dissipate the remaining odor after a couple of days. If not, either repeat the procedure, or take the cleaning process to the next step: baking soda.

Sprinkle the model liberally with baking soda and seal it in a plastic bag, preferably with the rest of the box, and let it set for several days. Periodically pull it out and check to see if the funkiness has reached an acceptable level.

I’ve also been told that dryer sheets could do the trick, but this is something I haven’t risked yet, as Vita finds them to be a treat of the same level of desirability as the "candy" the deer leave on the lawn. She hasn't shown any interest in my horses lately, no need to give her any incentives, right?


bubbasmom said...

I tried for a Mother Lode, too, but when the pics came up The Hubs and I decided we didn't like it enough to spend that kind of $$ on it. So I passed. Saving the $$ for Bfest;^)

Katie said...

I never even got a chance to see the models until 9:15. By that time they were sold out. Not too dissapointing though because I didn't like them. My favorite was the pinto though. I do hope you get one, let us see how she looks in person.