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Shiny Polymer Clay by Using Dremel!

On the BPCG Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/bpcgAdmin), Helen White mentioned that she was having trouble buffing her jewellery pieces with a Dremel tool. I came clean and admitted that I had never successfully managed it either — but after a few days of trying I have finally learned how to make things shiny with the help of a Dremel tool.

dremel tool

My Dremel tool setup

It’s sometimes hard to see it on the photos, but I have really cracked it and can now reliably buff pieces to a lovely glassy shine.

Here is one example:

dremel buffing experiment - mmm shiny

And here is a piece where I’d just made a part of it shiny:

part matt part buffed

Once I started I couldn’t stop:

dremel buffed shiny flower

This time I went for ‘just a bit shiny’, rather than mega-shiny:

dremel buffed shiny polymer clay flower

I’m just about to go away for the weekend, so IOU some step-by-step pictures of how I achieved it, but basically it went along the lines of:

1) I started by wet-sanding with 400 grit sandpaper

2) Then moved onto 800 grit sandpaper

3) then moved onto 1200 grit sandpaper

4) With a cotton buffing wheel attached to my Dremel, I rubbed a bit of Renaissance Wax onto the cotton wheel and set the Dremel going at nearly its fastest speed (20,000 rpm).

5) barely touching the polymer clay piece to the buffing wheel, I constantly moved the clay piece so that it was briefly touched by the wheel but wasn’t gouged by it. (It made a lot of dust, so I had to put on a mask and some goggles.)

6) The piece was definitely smooth by then, and a bit shiny, but not really shiny. So I turned the RPM down to 5000 and applied more Renaissance Wax to the cotton wheel, and was amazed to find that my polymer clay piece was shiny at last. Yay!

It’s hard to describe the process very well in words, so I definitely need photos of how I did it, but I’m just really glad that I persevered and continued to experiment even after I thought I would never be able to get my jewellery shiny.

Here is one of my first attempts, when I hadn’t learned that (a) you need to only barely touch the piece to the cotton buffing wheel, and (b) you really do need to keep moving the clay piece around very quickly, or it will get all gouged and lumpy:

polymer clay Dremel buffing experiment - too lumpy

 

This is the cotton buffing wheel that I used (about an inch in diameter). I bought it from Ebay, I think:

dremel cotton buffing wheel

Categories: Uncategorized

100 Days of Polymer Clay Necklaces: “95”

95 days to go until the polymer clay cruise…

Today I went to a WI meeting and lots of people happened to be wearing necklaces. My friend Joy was wearing one made from round glass beads which were very simply ‘strung’ on links of wire. So when I came home I made some malachite-y beads and baked and varnished them, then turned them into a necklace:

100 Days of Polymer Clay Necklaces: “97”

97 days to go until the polymer clay cruise. Yeah!

Today’s necklace used the butterfly that I made the other day:

necklace "97" necklace "97"

It looks OK from a distance, but as I mentioned when I made it, its poor wings had cracks all over them. Varnishing didn’t help – it just made the cracks look worse! So my number 1 lesson from today is not to use substandard butterfly wings in my jewellery:

necklace "97"

My number 2 lesson is to try and find a different way of hanging pendants instead of just creating a loop of clay at the top of the back of the piece. It makes the piece top-heavy so it tilts forward all the time (I’ll try to put a picture here later to show what I mean…).