I have a thing for old wire baskets.
Well, if you do too it seems we’re not alone.
Have you noticed how pricey they can be at old-wares stores and antique markets nowadays? Man!
Anyhoo, after I shared this pic of Charlotte’s new bedroom shelves a few weeks back…
…I received quite a few comments and questions about the sweet old wire basket I had used.
Wanna know a secret?
It’s actually far from old (as in, it’s completely brand new!).
Though it’s not an expensive vintage replica.
It’s simply one of these…
…after a few toasty hours in a nice, hot fire!
I bought several of these baskets (for around $5 each) years ago with the intention of experimenting with removing the plastic in some way (I found my baskets at Kmart though it seems they may no longer sell them however they can be found in lots of other stores).
I thought I could probably melt the plastic off using either; a heat gun, a blow torch, an oven or a fire. How hard could it be, right?
Well, our domestic heat gun wasn’t hot enough, nor was our mini blow torch (a commercial grade heat gun or blow torch might do the trick though).
The oven melted the plastic to some extent though not enough before it actually began to “bake”. I don’t know, maybe I had the temperature too high or too low, or maybe I didn’t leave it in for long enough? Regardless, it didn’t seem to be the best method anyway as any melted plastic merely relocated itself elsewhere on the wire.
Note: Just in case you’re wondering, I placed the basket on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper then heated it for around an hour at 150 C (300 F).
As I’d suspected from the start, it seemed a fire would be my best – and easiest – bet!
I was going to wait until we next had a little outdoor bon-fire (I guess you could use a pit or drum fire too) though then decided to simply throw it in my parent’s enclosed wood burner.
Two hours later and my perfectly vintage-afied basket was revealed! And it looked so cool!
Not only had the heat melted away ALL of the plastic it had somehow given the wire a gorgeous, grungy patina.
The predominately dark graphite wire is accented by chalky white patches. I don’t know where the white freckles came from though they’re not plastic remnants.
I was impressed (if I do say so myself).
How awesome is it that any cheap plastic coated wire could receive this treatment and it takes absolutely no effort on our part! The fire does all the work.
Thank you fire.
Note: I did some research and discovered that fumes released from heating most plastics only become toxic if the material burns. Obviously, putting plastic in a hot fire like I did results in the plastic burning which is why I used an enclosed wood burner which vents directly outside. I wouldn’t advise using an indoor open fireplace however any outdoor pit-fire, drum-fire or bon-fire (or similar) located in a well ventilated area should be fine.