During the first lockdown, in between shows of The Tempest, I spent 45 minutes of my life watching a guy in a garage using loads of chemicals.
One of the boxes in my living room contains a large quantity of silver plate. It looks shiny. It looks valuable. It has the word silver in it. Silver is valuable. “All you need to do is get the silver off it,” I reasoned. “Even if it’s a crap object.”
The guy in the garage video cuts a silver plated dish up. He dissolves it in nitric acid. He tallies up the cost as he goes, and when that little bar of silver finally comes out of his work it has cost much more than the value of the silver in the price of the acid. Plus it’s dangerous and takes him a whole day.
Looking at his equipment and his precautions I know for certain that his route is not for me, even if somebody gifted me with a thousand gallons of nitric acid tomorrow. I’d gas myself, burn my arms off, set fire to the planet and finally emerge covered in soot and blood with a tiny sliver of nickel in my teeth.
If you Google “what to do with silver plate” you get lots of people talking about selling it to arty crafty people or to hipsters. To repurpose or to be retro. “Outside of that it’s worthless.”
Christmas Carol has a box of old plate candlesticks and kettles and so forth that get rolled out every year. With no real value at the moment they just come out in a normal December for set dressing. They live in a box the rest of the year gathering dust.
It even tarnishes, the bastard stuff. You expose it to air and it starts to go black. You have to polish it all the time…
So, I’ve got this box of metal that looks valuable but ain’t valuable. Plus it’s FILTHY with tarnish. Every piece of it is black as hell. I had a few hours free this afternoon.
Can’t sell it. Can’t melt it. No theatre set to build it into. I buffed up some the ones I like. Now I’ve got black hands, and a useful shiny salt bucket where this morning was a cardboard box of Malvern Sea Salt.
I’ve also got a huge decorative teapot for my late night chamomile habit, although the first batch of tea tasted suspicious on account of it lying unused for decades, so I’ve left the tea in there overnight to embed.
I’m finally putting those few bits to use, but space is at a premium and I have to reduce further, not start liking everything. So, what about the rest?
Maybe I’ll buff it up and try it on eBay. Maybe I’ll add it to the Carol pile. Maybe I’ll give it away. The one thing I won’t do is treat my attic like the oubliette it’s been for years and take it back up there. Nothing is going up there unthought.
Another little skill. Another little plan. But I’m lagging behind myself. I need this lockdown to make my launch pad.