I am starting a new commission for a client in Illinois. The piece is a used, 1953 Pontiac hood ornament with the amber-colored plastic Indian head. The job is to mount the ornament on a suitable block of wood and illuminate the amber Indian head. It arrived by mail yesterday and I discovered it to be in good structural condition with very little corrosion to the base metal, a very shiny plastic head with no crazing or interior dullness, but with considerable wear on the chrome finish. Closer inspection revealed that someone had painted the metal with silver paint and perhaps 20% if it remained firmly attached, such that a rotary brass-bristle brush would not remove it. The Indian chief head has a name and the date “2016” inscribed on the side of the socket, so I suspect that it is a newly made insert.
After removing the plastic head and some remnants of Scotch tape, I applied paint stripper to the metal, let it sit, rinsed it and then proceeded to buff the finish with the brass rotary brush as usual. This produced a much more even and shiny surface, although the remaining chrome plating is very thin and the copper under-plating is evident across most of the metal ornament. This I find to be attractive. Anyone can go out and find a reproduction ornament with a perfect chrome finish, but to locate an original piece with virtually no metal corrosion and the original plating still in this good a condition is not easy. In fact, more and more classic car auction houses are recognizing the value of unrestored original automobiles, rather than ones that have been rebuilt from the frame up to better than original condition.
Now, to find suitable piece of wood.
I am still trying new show venues to find those that provide the most effective exposure for my works.