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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Polishing Polymer Beads

Hi Everyone
I'm planning on using Wednesday blogs to explore techniques and tools. Each week I hope to look in detail at such things. Last week, I focused on my new tumbling/polishing machine. I thought I would share the necklace produced from the first bead polish, showing the extent of the 'shine'.

I'm impressed with the final finish and although I probably don't want to polish all my work to produce this finish, it's a great option the have. The photo isn't giving the true shine - trust me.

Staying with the polishing theme. I do use a Dremel Tool for most of the final finishing processes with my polymer clay beads. I make my own felt polishing pads for the Dremel. I'm not sure if it's possible to buy these felt pads but I saw something on the Internet a few years ago describing how to make them. They are simply ordinary felt circles (cut to size) - I tend to stack 3 or 4 felt circles, make a hole in the centre and attach to a Dremel accessory via a little screw (comes with the tool). I've made the pads with 5 and 6 layers and they are too bulky (causes damage to the bead). The size of the felt circles are important - I go for 1.7 mm diameter. When I first started making these pads, I did make them too large and this makes them floppy and ineffective. There is a balance, too small and the Dremel attachment (metal part) touches the beads and makes unsightly marks or makes the bead fly away (from my grasp). Holding beads while polishing is quite a skill ! I often find my beads flying around the room !! Here is a closer look at the felt pads :

This pad is a week old and has been used every day for about 10 mins. I put a small dab of wax onto the pad and then polish at high speed - most satisfying to see a subtle sheen evolve. If a shiney finish is required, I can get a good result eventually but it takes several layers of wax and polish for up to 1/2 hour. This is not sensible unless a very small number of beads are involved. You can understand how the tumbler comes into the job. This is the brand of wax I use.

If you don't have a Dremel, beads can be sealed/polished by hand using this wax. I often do this and use a piece of old denim. The hand/denim technique can produce good results but does take more time.

Thanks for reading.