Monday, January 10, 2011

A Story of a Katrina Casualty's Restoration

It was a hot and dusty June day in 2006, at the Canton, Texas Flea Market, and I was hot and tired from walking down row after row and acre after acre of tables and booths heaped with "treasures" like the ones in this picture I borrowed from the Internet ...

I was almost ready to call it quits for the day, when I spied an old rusty chandlier lying in the dirt beside the path. I was always on the lookout for antique chandeliers, especially those made in Spain or Italy, and, although this one was pitiful looking and totally covered in rust, I could see it had potential.

When I saw "Made in Spain" embossed inside the ceiling cap, my heart skipped a beat and I asked the lady how much she was asking for it. I can't remember what she said, but, after bargaining back and forth a couple of times, I bought the chandelier for $40.00. I asked her if she knew anything about its history, and she said it came out of an old house in New Orleans, that was flooded during Katrina. That made me feel a little better about paying $40.00 for a rusty chandelier that was probably destined for a landfill somewhere if I hadn't come along and rescued it.

I lugged it home, and a couple of days later took some "before" pictures of it. This was before I became interested in photography, so, unfortunately, my pictures leave a lot to be desired, but I think you can at least tell what sad condition the chandelier was in.

After taking the pictures for "posterity," my husband helped me take the chandelier apart and I spent hours washing it and cleaning it. He had to put a lot of the pieces on a grinder to remove the heavy coat of rust covering the brass. The "candles" couldn't be cleaned, so I sprayed them a matte black, then took a dull gold paint and highlighted the candle "drips," which were originally gold. I also painted the black "bowl-shaped" piece at the bottom.

It was a messy, rather disheartening job, but I was inspired by being able to picture it the way I knew it could look. Finally, I was satisfied with the results of our labors, and we reassembled the chandelier.

All of that happened in 2006, and I didn't have a place I wanted to hang it at the time, so it lived in our attic until we moved to Vicksburg in September of 2007, at which time it took up residence in our garage.

Last October, I decided to take the chandelier to a lamp shop in Jackson, and have them wire it. I picked it up last week and couldn't wait to see it "turned on." My husband "hot-wired" it for me, and we rigged up a way to hang it so I could finally take my "after" pictures.

So, here is our chandelier, in all its glory, just the way I pictured it from the moment I laid eyes on it in the Texas dirt on that hot June day in 2006:

Ceiling Cap

Mark under Ceiling Cap

I will always wonder about the house in which it hung before Katrina sealed its fate — was it a grand old mansion along St. Charles, or, perhaps, one of the thousands of "shotgun" cottages in the Garden District? And I would love to know what happened to the family who lived there.

Of course, I will never know the answers to those questions, but I do know where it's going to spend the rest of its days ... and that's in the house we're going to build this year — where, hopefully, we will spend the rest of our days, too.


Deb said...

what a beautiful piece...I'm so glad you rescued it...and shared it with us..

Judy said...

It turned out fabulous! Not to mention the historical factor, too bad the chandy can't "talk" to tell you what lovely home she came out of.

Stay warm!

Carolyn said...

This is just beautiful. I confess, I would have walked right by and missed this treasure. Looking forward to seeing it in your new house.

Jenni said...

Wow! You did a fab job! And I love that it has a "Story" too.

Thanks for sharing with us.


Tonja said...

It is wonderful! You can just build and decorate a room around that! I cn tell it must have been lots of work...but that is what makes a piece so vauable. It gets your blood, sweat and tears on it, and it only enhances its beauty! LOVE it!
I've heard of the Canton, Texas flea market. Wonder if it is anything like the Canton, Mississippi flea market?

nanny said...

So Beautiful....I can't wait to see it in your new home!!!

Casey Ann said...

Absolutely gorgeous - and a wonderful story. You never know, maybe one day the previous owner will see it on your blog.

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

I love it Janie. and the story about how you acquired it! I know your new home will be beautiful! I look forward to seeing pictures of it as it is built!