Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Venus Project - Part 1

My sewing machine obsession has struck again! But this time, I'm in deep. I'm going to try to rescue a truly antique machine; her name is Venus.

I first spotted her online, in an ad on for an auction scheduled in Balderson, ON for the Victoria Day weekend in May. The picture caught my eye because of its rather gothic Victorian ornamentation. Look at the detail on the big wheel, and the pointy doodads around the base.

I looked at it for a long time, then suddenly realized that the thing at the front was a presser foot - it was a sewing machine! This picture was taken from the back, which led me to believe that the auctioneer didn't recognize what it was any more than I initially had. I searched online for a picture of a similar one but could find nothing. Out of curiosity, I went to the auction, on a VERY hot day, and sat through hours of sales of Amish-style furniture until this item came up. I couldn't find it at first, but finally located it, tossed in a box among some rusty old axe heads! I carefully pointed out the box to one of the auctioneer's workmen, to be absolutely sure it wouldn't be overlooked and dismissed as a pile of metal junk.

Long story short, I got the box! (And I was right, they *didn't* know it was a sewing machine! They only mentioned the axes.) I brought it home in triumph, and then started taking a close look at the machine.

Frankly, it was a mess. I'd never seen something so dirty and rusty. There was an ancient spider nest in the head of the machine, and bits of dead insects falling out of the innards. The balance wheel at the end could turn, but it moved nothing - the cog wheels weren't engaged, and anyway, they were all rusted and immobile. A few flecks of gold paint could still be seen on the serpentine arm at the top, but scarcely anything else. I'd cleaned up the old Singer, but this was a different order of decrepitude. Not hoping for much, I poured some sewing machine oil on the base and gently wiped away the dirt.

To my delight, a gold floral decal emerged, practically intact!

The black japanning was dull and chipped around the throat plate, but this actually looked pretty! I decided to take a chance and try to revive the machine. The decoration might be beyond saving where the rust was heaviest, but maybe... just maybe... I could get this machine to actually move again!



Blogger Tina said...

Oh what a beauty! Congratulations on your wonderful find! It will be a challenge to find (or make do) all the bits and pieces to get it operating. And of course, that kind of challenge is the treasure hunt that makes it fun. :-)

I've managed to acquire a spinning wheel missing its flyer and bobbin. It's an "Ouellet Canadian Production Wheel", according to the facebook spinning group. I was shocked that they were able to immediately tell me what it was and who made it! There's nothing like the knowledge than expert hobbyists amass!


9:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try Kroil from Kano labs. (find them online). It will take care of the corrosion.

10:48 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I've heard of Kroil, but I'm not sure if it's available in Canada. However, I'm going down to the US in a few weeks, and I'll check the hardware stores to see if I can find some to bring back with me.

It's absolutely amazing how much accumulated knowledge is available through forums and internet bulletin boards. Imagine how hard it would have been to research these antiques 30 or 40 years ago! It would have meant personally visiting libraries and museums, and it might be just a matter of luck if you ever located what you were looking for. Now you can locate people who know, and usually they're *happy* to share their knowledge.

In Part 2 I'll tell you how I discovered her name was Venus!

11:00 pm  

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