Caring for Your Hummel Figurine
by Evelyn Whitaker
There's more to taking care of your Hummels than you think! The value of Hummel figurines never goes down, only up - so it is important to know how to preserve your keepsake. Read on to learn some interesting facts about preserving the value of Hummel figurines.
The best way to clean your Hummel:
Over time your Hummels will be come dirty. There are a few important things you should know about Hummel Figurines before you clean them.
M. I. Hummels are made of earthenware, a type of ceramic. Any part of the figurine not protected by a glaze is able to absorb moisture.
These Hummels are also created with an air hole. These holes are usually in a spot where you wouldn't notice. The reason for the hole is so gasses can escape during the firing process. If this hole was not there, the Hummel could be ruined.
The insides of the figurines are not glazed. If you put a figurine in water to clean it without covering the air hole, water can get inside. Once this happens, you will have moisture in the inside, which can gradually discolor the figurine. This discoloration process starts from the inside out and eventually the colors will start fading on the outside. So many people wonder why their Hummel's colors fade even though they keep it out of direct sunlight. Little do they know it was because of the way they were cleaning it!
If you cover the air hole, cleaning with water should not hurt it. I would still be careful about leaving it in water too long though. Just be sure to use a mild soap or shampoo or just wiping with a soft cloth will do it.
Important - A Hummel figurine can be as slippery as ice when coated with soap and water. Clean over a surface that would protect the Hummel just in case it should slip out of your hands.
How to get rid of that silvery sheen:
Ever seen this? It looks like shiny spots and has a silvery look to it. No matter how hard you try, it cannot be removed! It's called oxidation. It's caused by re-oxidation of the metallic oxide paint used by Goebel artists to hand-paint the figurines. The oxidation can be caused by excessively damp storage or by wrapping the figurine in silk paper. How do you prevent this? Just make sure you store your Hummel in a dry cool place and avoid extreme temperature changes. Make sure they are wrapped in colorless foam or some sort of bubble wrap. But what if it's too late? What if your Hummel already has this silvery sheen? How do you get rid of it? Well, you'll be happy to know there is a cure! Professional refireing will restore the figurines to its original appearance.
My Hummel looks like it has spider webs growing on it:
Have you ever seen figurines that look like they have spider webs on them? This is usually a bigger problem than getting cracks or chips in your Hummel. Crazing is hairline cracks in the glaze on the Hummel. It doesn't hurt your Hummel, but it's not the prettiest thing to look at! To prevent crazing, keep your Hummel in an area where the temperature and humidity levels are fairly consistent. High humidity areas are not good because then we are back to the moisture problem, which can cause discoloration. Moving your Hummel from humid areas to dry areas back and forth will cause expansion and contraction and this is how the crazing begins.
How to keep your Hummel from discoloring:
Try not to keep your Hummel in direct sunlight. If your Hummel is displayed in a windowsill, move it! Direct light over time will discolor your Hummel. Also, take care in cleaning your Hummel. Make sure you cover the little hole we talked about earlier.
How to store your Hummels:
A lot of people like to store fragile items in newspapers. But I can tell you that this is one big "no no" for Hummel Figurines! Why? The ink from the newspapers will start to blend with the colors on your Hummel. Don't get me wrong - this is something that can be fixed, but it's time consuming and not all that fun!
The best way to store your Hummel is to keep the box and the padding to protect it. Always store this way if you can. If you don't have the box anymore here's what you can do:
Wrap the figurine well in something like colorless foam or bubble wrap. Try to put it in it's own box if possible for the best protection. As I mentioned earlier, make sure that the Hummel will not be stored in an area where there are extreme temperature changes (crazing) or excessive humidity (discoloration).
Make sure when you are purchasing a Hummel from a retailer that it is coming from a secured cabinet. Retailers that care about their Hummels will keep them stored this way to prevent damage from customers constantly picking them up. How would you know if the Hummel you are buying does not already have moisture build up or damage on the inside? You probably wouldn't. But making sure it is coming from a reputable retailer that takes care in displaying his merchandise will give you peace of mind. After all, Hummels don't come cheap!
Evelyn Whitaker writes articles for Deutsches Haus http://www.deutscheshaus.cc which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Deutsches Haus offers German collectibles, souvenirs, gifts and foods.