I Did A Thing: Fixing Up A Meiji Era Wallet For Love

I wanted to do something special for someone special to me. I actually did this quite some time ago, but I wanted to keep it quiet until the recipient of the wallet was ready to show it off. It really is a work of art. All I did was clean it up.

This was a very different cleanup from what I usually do. Let’s have a look!

I took those pictures in my lap the moment it arrived. I am so fucking professional. Our two major issues are busted-ass embroidery stitches and that she’s filthy. I got it under my big fuck-off lens to see how filthy. Basically years of being handled have matted down the knots and discolored a shit ton of the imagery.

You can really see the grime in the fibers. The silk threads are matted to the point where they’re legitimately hardened in some places. It is not pleasant.

We’ve also got a lot of broken embroidery.

So our first order of business was to clean her up, because I want to try to pass a needle through all of that petrified grime the same way I want a goddamn fork in my eye. Which is less than you might think. For this, we’re using the vinegar and glycerin method with a soft scrub brush. I used warm but not hot water. Most of the grime is going to be sweat and oils from human hands, I should think, so glycerin is a good choice to lubricate those stains while the vinegar breaks them down.

What with it still apocalypsing a bit outside when I got it, I did not attempt to taste the stains. Also, I wouldn’t on a wallet anyway. I had a teacher get trench mouth from holding money in his lips once. Don’t Google that. Human hands are goddamn disgusting.

Anyway, I recovered a short video of my scrubbing action from my dead ass computer. It’s artifacted all to hell. Enjoy.

SUDS. You can actually see the fibers coming clean through the painful pixelated mess!

Check out the fucking gunk that came off this thing! My god humans are gross! -violent vomiting-

It took a few treatments, but we got nice and clean.

Look! Color! And those knots are all nice and fluffy again, so you can actually SEE their texture. Some of the discoloration is permanent–there’s only so much you can do with embroidery in this environment. But it’s clean and soft again, and the colors are significantly brighter and more constant. Now it’s time to do some sewing! Kill me! Let’s do this. ROADHOUSE.

I also drove the needle through my fucking thumbnail. I am grace. Behold:


But bit by bit, I recovered the missing line work and broken threads in the embroidery. This involved a very sharp needle, a lot of patience, and a ton of cursing.

I kind of just did that for several days. It was very difficult because the backing that this is all embroidered to was deteriorating. I stabilized it and took zero pictures of that. You know what else I took zero pictures of? The finished, clean wallet. I just jammed it the fuck into a box and shipped it the fuck off to it’s new home.

It’s okay, though. Roza got some bitchin’ pictures for me. Here it is, home, clean, and apparently smelling great. The silver was also polished up a bit. Just a little to bring out the details.

To my friend Roza. Who’s encouragement of my insane shitposting is no small part of the reason I keep going, even through the anxiety and the pain setbacks. You know, she thanks me for a lot of stuff, but I don’t think she knows how lucky I am to have her. I said what I said.

Here she is with it.

Join me next time, when maybe I’ll finally get to that boat. This boat:



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