I knew cleaning a chandelier couldn’t be done before breakfast, but I didn’t quite realize it could become a day-long project. It had been cleaned once before, cleaned without removing the crystals from the frame. After a two years in storage and up to twenty of being around in one of four locations, it seemed time for a complete scrub-down.
This fixture is said to have come from the Fort Pitt Hotel in Pittsburgh. I’m not sure where that story originated, but it’s certainly possible. Someone had cut the top of a Ricotta cheese cap and made a dust cover over the top, so I used the white space to write record the Fort Pitt hotel note and addresses where I know the chandelier to have hung. To me, we’re lucky these stories exist, even if they can’t be proven. As a collector and steward, it’s our job to make sure they don’t get lost.
After removing each chain of crystals, they were sprayed with Windex (I have used the chandelier cleaner, but find Windex works just as well, as does vinegar. Each crystal was wiped clean and the crystals are hung back on the fixture. Soaking is also an option, but be careful not to get the strings tangled. It’s also an option while you have it apart to replace the pits that hold each crystal together. They’re available here.
The last point I’d like to make about this project is that a lot of time and attention is paid by decorating magazines and shows on using sponges and other devices to create texture. None of this ever looks very good, at least not close-up. A nice crystal chandelier can provide ample texture from its reflections, and its texture that goes away in the daylight to leave a room that’s classically quiet.