Sometimes, I stumble upon the most wonderful treasures at the thrift store. Although you could chalk it up to luck, I can’t help but feel like there are times that these treasures are there just for me. Last Sunday was one of those times. I had only planned to stop in for a quick minute to return some blouses I’d purchased on Friday. They were impulse buys and I hadn’t tried them on in the dressing room. Since I can’t just walk into a thrift store without giving the place a once over, I meandered to the back area where they have lamps. I was looking for a shade to decorate for our floor lamp but instead I found something far more unusual.

I found this…


I have been pining over a candlestick phone for quite awhile. Every time Detective Murdoch uses his in Murdoch Mysteries, I think about how much I’d prefer it to a smart phone. (Don’t try to reason with me! I have no desire to be practical.) At first, I wasn’t sure if it was actually a candlestick phone or just a fake one made into a lamp. When I went to pick it up it weighed a ton, which was a good sign. It didn’t take too much investigating to discover the words “Western Electric” stamped into the metal’s surface. It was real! And really hideous with all that gloppy gold paint on top.


I knew immediately that I had to buy it—for $5.99, no less—and return it to its former glory. (I had a glimmer of hope; just look at the ear piece and you can see the phone’s true color peeking through!) But how do you strip gold paint off a metal and Bakelite phone without killing every brain cell you have? I went with Citristrip for my toxic-chemical-of-choice. It is definitely less heinous, but still very strong smelling. I had to work outside because it gave me a terrible headache from the get-go.


It did not peel the paint off magically. It loosened it up and made it possible to scrub it off, but it wasn’t magical. It took me three hours, four steel wool soap pads, five tooth picks, six Q-tips, and two toothbrushes to remove all the gold paint. I was able to take the top apart and clean every part individually. This also allowed me to remove the remaining lamp pieces.


The finish beneath the paint has a gorgeous patina. I left a little gold paint around some of the text because it really highlighted the lettering in an attractive way.


I wiped the entire thing down with coconut oil and now it looks beautiful! I’ll buy some replacement cord, since the one it has is frayed and painted gold.  I won’t be making any calls with it. But I feel compelled to take a stroll in the park with my phone like everyone else and pretend I’m taking a call. I can bring my typewriter along if I feel the need to text anyone 🙂