I absolutely love this job, but find it difficult to sum up what exactly I do on a day to day basis – its so varied, especially during the Winter Clean!
Cleaning the alcoves in the Blue was interesting, as I got to have a good luck at a clock I had not really paid much attention to before. Getting to spend time cleaning such intricate and beautiful items is the best part of the winter clean! This clock is absolutely gorgeous,and it was really satisfying to clean as it only gets done once a year so you can really see the difference your making! The same can be said for areas behind other furniture or the ornate woodwork over the doorways on the landing. Cleaning these areas makes you realise how much dust does get into the property over a way, and what good we are doing by cleaning regularly.
Another thing I really noticed was the damage done to the curtains in the Blue by sunlight over the years. After we had finished cleaning the alcoves we pulled the curtains too, to give them a rest from being tied back constantly. Seeing the two sides of the curtains hanging there really shows the damage light does to textiles, the difference is amazing! In the middle you can see the areas exposed to the sunlight, and to the side the more protected part of the fabric. Even them Emma said this is not a patch on what the curtains used to look like, there is a scrap of the fabric in the textile store and she says the difference is really significant!
Working on the winter clean is a brilliant opportunity to really get to grips with the different methods used for cleaning different types of items, and the scale of the operation means you get plenty of practice! I had a good basic knowledge from working at Greyfriars’ but the vastness of Powis’ collection has been incredibly beneficial! I have cleaned every type of objects in the collection now!
I feel confident enough in my knowledge now that yesterday I was happy being in charge when we moved the winter clean over to the ballroom, directing one of the lads who comes in to help us out, and the two of us managed to clean over half the bookcases in the Ballroom in a day! Then me and Emma did all the scaffolding work in two days. I got to dust the Tiger, checking taxidermy off my to do list. I really enjoyed looking at the fabulous paintings in the Ballroom up close and seeing the details you can’t see from the ground. What was not so nice however was removing all the dead insects from the Imari vases on top of the bookcases.
Then we moved into the Clive Museum, and we got to go inside all the cases! We took most of the objects out of each case to give both the items and the interiors of the cases a through clean. I absolutely loved this, getting to handle theme amazing, priceless objects, having a close look learning more about them. I really do love this job! I had to laugh when Megan was inside the case where we keep the cloth of gold clothes, she was cleaning the inside of the glass pane and tried to talk to Emma, but we couldn’t hear her through the glass. It made me think of the second Pirates of the Caribbean; part of the team, part of the museum!! I got my chance to go inside a display case when we took the palanquin out and I cleaned inside it’s case. We were practically finished in the museum in two days, as there were more of us working on the clean at once than I think I’ve seen so far!
At this rate we should be finished in no time! Which will be a brilliant sense of achievement but I will miss the detailed cleaning and spending time on one objects or one area really getting it looking its best! It is such a good way to get to grips not only with new skills, but also with the individual objects that make up this amazing collection! It has been really nice getting to know the collection, especially as the other members of the House Team are so knowledgeable and I’ve learnt a lot about the history behind the individual objects.