Cleaning a Chandelier

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.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url will point to the latest updates on this weblog.


I have successfully used a product called “Crystal Kleene.” I do not think it is for very grimy clean-up jobs but it will very effectively remove 1 to 2 years of dust. I just sprayed it on, approximately 1/2 bottle for a mediums sized chandelier, and let it drip off. I put several thick towels on the table underneath to catch the drips. You do not have to dry it. It dries crystal clear.

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