Bespoke Cutter And Tailor

Apprentices => The Apprentice's Forum => Topic started by: Schneiderfrei on May 07, 2016, 03:19:18 PM

Title: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Schneiderfrei on May 07, 2016, 03:19:18 PM
Restoring MOP buttons


It sometimes happens that you damage the beautiful lustre of Mother of Pearl buttons.  This is especially likely if you wash them in modern  washing detergents for clothes.

These strong detergents contain powerful enzymes (thanks for the reminder of this from Peterle).  Designed to facilitate the removal of stains by dissolving proteins, unfortunately they don’t differentiate between the proteins in strains and the protein in mother of pearl, or silk and wool for that matter.  Mother of pearl is protein made by the oyster. So eventually these beautiful buttons can be badly dissolved by washing in standard clothes washing soaps.

So what to do if you damage your rather expensive MOP Buttons?

If it’s not too far gone you can reasonably easily restore the surface of the buttons which will bring back their lustrous gleam, to a large extent. Here is what I did.

You need:
(http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii605/Schneiderfrei/Stuff_zpsdxpnxq2x.jpg) (http://s1262.photobucket.com/user/Schneiderfrei/media/Stuff_zpsdxpnxq2x.jpg.html)

A small packet of Cerium oxide – from an ebay vendor most likely.  It shouldn’t cost more than $10.00 for much more than enough.

An electric drill

A small stick of ¼ inch / 5 mm wooden dowel or plastic rod.

A small wad of cotton cloth.

A wad of bostich/blutack or similar sticky stuff.



The MOP button sits on top of the bostick on the dowel in the drill.

(http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii605/Schneiderfrei/Blutack_zpsvkoisblr.jpg) (http://s1262.photobucket.com/user/Schneiderfrei/media/Blutack_zpsvkoisblr.jpg.html)

You dampen the wad of cloth and dip it into a small amount of the Cerium oxide

(http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii605/Schneiderfrei/Cerium%20and%20cloth_zpsfwatzahn.jpg) (http://s1262.photobucket.com/user/Schneiderfrei/media/Cerium%20and%20cloth_zpsfwatzahn.jpg.html)

The button is stuck to the end of the short rod and balanced carefully.

The spinning button (not too fast) is gently brought against the wad with its cerium.

About 2 minutes makes a difference.  4 minutes a button is good.

The orange cloth is polished and shiny – the grey cloth is milky and dull, despite both still showing the lustre of the MOP underneath

(http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii605/Schneiderfrei/Button%20Comparison_zps0kawxvtl.jpg) (http://s1262.photobucket.com/user/Schneiderfrei/media/Button%20Comparison_zps0kawxvtl.jpg.html)

It is time consuming, 4 minutes times 10 odd buttons plus a gap between each, comes to around an hour a set.  So you would only do it if you really loved the buttons or couldn’t get the buttons easily or cheaply.  BUT you can do it.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: hutch-- on May 07, 2016, 04:08:59 PM
This looks like a very good technique for high end clothing. Even if a garment has had it, if it has MOP buttons worth saving, it means you can use then on another garment.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Schneiderfrei on May 07, 2016, 08:23:58 PM
Admittedly, it would be an emergency measure :)
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Greger on May 08, 2016, 03:18:22 AM
It is faster to take the buttons off, wash the shirt, and then, resew the buttons on.

It is nice to see a way to polish the buttons.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: posaune on May 08, 2016, 04:07:45 AM
Well Greger! Maybe.
lg
posaune
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Schneiderfrei on May 08, 2016, 09:19:16 AM
Greger you have to take the buttons off inany case.  you ony would go to this length if you had damaged buttons that you didn't want to throw away.

Sure a set of MOP buttons can be got for around $20 dollars.  But where I live that will take 3 weeks to get to your door and the ones I like are very individual and would be better kept if possible.

You know they are fished out of the sea in Western Australia, shipped to Italy for processing and sold out of the USA and bought by me back in Australia,  It seems silly not to look after them.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: spookietoo on May 08, 2016, 11:29:14 PM
I think hand washing the garment in an appropriate cleaning agent would be easiest.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Schneiderfrei on May 09, 2016, 01:35:21 AM
I do wonder if folks are getting the point?  If the buttons are ruined, you CAN restore them.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Henry Hall on May 09, 2016, 07:43:50 AM
But how do they get ruined apart from when people soak them in oxy bleach? Mild enzyme detergents don't damage MOP buttons all that much. I hand-wash all my shirts with MOP buttons and they're still as shiny as before.

The sort of people who can afford all their shirts well-made and with MOP buttons usually don't do their own laundry anyway (like that profligate character from An Overpriced Wardrobe). They have people to do it for them who know better than to bung them in the washing machine with a ton of powder.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: hutch-- on May 09, 2016, 09:44:18 AM
I think the technique is a good one if you have the problem but I would also take the point that avoiding the problem in the first place makes sense. Use the correct washing powder/liquid that does not damage natural substances and the problem would rarely ever happen. Picking the right washing agent makes sense in many areas, for example you should never wash stretch fabrics that contain elastane in anything that contains eucalyptus as it attacks the elastane.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Henry Hall on May 09, 2016, 10:56:03 AM
I feel bad for helping to undermine this thread. On the other hand I have been given a suggestion of how to remove the concentrated scratches on a pair of binoculor lenses.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Schneiderfrei on May 09, 2016, 01:32:46 PM
Cerium oxide is perfect for the glass lenses.  It wont help any optical coating though.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: Henry Hall on May 09, 2016, 01:53:02 PM
Ah yes, the coatings. I was getting ahead of myself. These are rather old, so I don't know if they are coated, but I should find out. Today is my last day in England (holiday) so I'll check that when i get back.

I got some collar canvas and other bits & pieces while I'm here. Saves on carriage costs.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: spookietoo on May 09, 2016, 06:00:27 PM
Actually I appreciate knowing how to restore the polish finish also. I think I should order some of the cerium oxide just to have around. I wonder if it would work on fiberglass.
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: posaune on May 09, 2016, 07:00:07 PM
O.T.
Hehehe
Hutch, I have no washing powder which contains eukalyptus. Is there really??!!
not being done under
lg
posaune
Title: Re: Restoring Mother of Pearl Buttons
Post by: hutch-- on May 09, 2016, 07:40:22 PM
posaune,

I get this from a friend of mine who has been making sports stretchware for many years and she long ago warned me about using eucalyptus based washing detergents and powders on lycra. Its probably not common in Europe but occurs in many products here as it is also an excellent antiseptic.

Now the real fun is about to start as I have just bought half a truckload of fabric from my friend who has just retired, mainly good quality wool and while some of the colours are not what I can wear, there is a mountain of smaller sized bits, a few metres here and there and a large roll of very good quality off white linen so I have some to learn.