Forms of Decoration - Polish

The finish applied to antique furniture when it was made was to rub it down with fine abrasives until it was as smooth as possible, apply linseed oil or a mixture of beeswax and turpentine and continue to rub until the desired gloss was produced. This made a hard-wearing surface, especially when the process was continued occasionally in the home. About 1820, came the process known as 'french polishing', in which a shellac varnish is applied to the furniture by means of a 'rubber' made of linen wrapped round cotton-wool. A french-polished surface is not as hard-wearing as the original method, it is damaged easily, but is much easier to apply and quickly came into general use. In the course of time, most old furniture has been repolished by this more modern method, and it is very rare indeed to find an untouched piece with its original surface.



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