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Many of the lighting fixtures and lamps that we see at House of Andala are made of brass or brass plated. Brass fixtures are durable and make excellent candidates for restoration. Many times just a simple rewire and professional cleaning is all that is needed to restore a brass lamp to new life.

What is brass?
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The two metals are melted together and when the mixture cools it crystalizes into a solid compound. Brass has been produced for a thousand years and is valued for its beauty, workability and corrosion resistance.

There are many different kinds of brass, depending mainly on the ratio of copper to zinc. Modern brass is 67% copper and 33% zinc, with 2% lead added to make brass easier to machine cut.

Brass is used in our homes for everything from bolts and pipe fittings to jewelry and lighting fixtures. Because it can be produced in a range of colors from deep red to golden yellow, brass is valued by artists and architects for its aesthetic properties. In addition, brass can be finished with a mirror or highly polished finish, a soft or hand-rubbed finish, and many other types of antique, bronze and verdigris (patina) finishes.

Solid brass vs. brass plating
If the material is pure brass then it is solid brass.  Even if the shape is not solid, as in a hollow candlestick or chandelier arm, it may be solid brass. 

Brass plated items are most often made of some other metal, usually steel or zinc.  Molecules of brass are then electroplated to the base metal. To protect the plating, a lacquer is usually then applied to the plating.  Because brass plating is very thin, it will deteriorate over time.  To restore the shine, the lacquer has to first be thoroughly and carefully removed and then the item may be re-lacquered. If the plating itself has deteriorated, it may need to be re-plated.

You can use a magnet to tell whether something is solid brass or brass plated. The magnet will not stick to the item if it is solid brass.  So if the magnet sticks, you have a brass plated item. If the magnet doesn’t stick, use a sharp knife to scratch a hidden area.  If you see bright yellow, the item is solid brass.

Care and cleaning
A solid brass fixture can always be polished and restored to its original shine. If however, the brass has been lacquered or you have a brass plated fixture, polishing will damage the lacquer and it will appear cloudy. Instead, use a very soft, dry or moistened cloth to dust and clean a lacquered fixture.

If you aren’t sure how to take care of your brass or plated lamp, bring it in to the shop for advice on the best way to clean and maintain your lamp.
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