How to sand and buff polymer clay pendants
How to sand and buff polymer clay pendants. In this article I’m going to show you the process I go through to sand and buff polymer clay pendants. This process can really give your pendants a beautiful professional look and shine.
Here is a list of the items needed
bowl of water
sandpaper 400 grit – 10,000 grit
Dremel with accessories
Cleaning your pendant
At this point your polymer clay pendant has been baked, you want to make sure you give it time to cool. If you want to know how to create a polymer clay pendant, you could refer to a previous post Create a Polymer Clay Pendant in 6 Easy Steps! After it has cooled completely I like to clean it with some 91% Isopropyl alcohol or 100% Acetone (nail polish remover). You can just use a cotton ball or Q-tip to dip into the alcohol. Wipe the polymer clay pendant. This will help remove any dust, finger prints, or marks on your piece. Once that’s done you are off to the next step.
This pendant has been untouched other than cleaning. Notice the sharp edges on the top.
Using a rotary tool a.k.a. Dremel
when using the Dremel on your polymer clay pendant always wear safety glasses and tie back any long hair.
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The first thing you may want or need to do is sand off or do some shaping on the pendant. You can do this by using a dremel. A dremel is a brand name for a rotary tool. Using burrs on a dremel will allow you to give shape to your piece quickly and easily. In this case I won’t use the dremel sanding bit for the flat areas of this pendant. Only for the edges to round them off a bit.
These are some sanding accessories I use when using the Dremel on my polymer clay pendants. Dremels have many accessories, these are just the ones I use pretty routinely.
The dremel is also a nice tool to have for buffing your piece in the end. The right 3 accessories in the picture above are buffing accessories I use on my pendants. It took me a little practice to get use to this tool. I don’t suggest using it for the first time on a piece you really love. Do some practice runs first. It’s easy to take a little too much clay off at first and that can’t be fixed. But once you get the hang of it, this tool is spectacular and offers fantastic results.
Using wet/dry sandpaper
You don’t need much to get started with sanding your polymer clay pendant. I start out using wet/dry sandpaper with grits starting at 400 all the way up to 10,000. The lower the grit number the more course the sandpaper will be. Using the higher grit sandpaper will help get that nice shiny buffed look.
The next thing you will need is a bowl of water or you can just fill the sink with water. I like to use luke warm water but only because I don’t want to get cold hands from using cold. The temperature doesn’t matter as far as the sanding process is concerned. The water helps to keep the dust out of the air so you don’t breathe it in while sanding and polishing your piece. It also helps to keep the sandpaper from getting loaded up with clay rendering it ineffective. Which will in turn prolong the life of the sandpaper.
To begin sanding I start out with the 400 grit paper. I don’t necessarily need to use each grit paper and go all the way to 10,000. It depends on how the piece turned out to begin with. If the pendant comes out of the oven nice and smooth I will start out with the 800 grit, 1500, 4,000, 8000, and up to 10,000. If the piece comes out with some rough areas or with sharp edges, after using the dremel, I will start out with the 400 grit paper. If I’m not able to smooth out the polymer clay after using a cutter, the edge of the piece is most likely the main area I will need to sand.
Now that I have the piece sanded I will often use the polishing paper which I’ll explain now.
Polishing paper-To use or not to use
Sometimes I will also use this wet/dry polishing abrasive paper to sand my pendants.
The polishing paper I have goes from 400 to 8000. These are not “grit” but are made of micron graded Aluminum Oxide mineral abrasives with soft cloth-like non-woven backing. Unlike the sandpaper, this polishing paper is very flexible which makes it easier to get into crevices and corners on the piece. They are advertised as wet/dry but I don’t use these wet since they don’t really produce a lot of dust during the process.
There are several ways you could buff your piece. You could use some felt by just taking a small piece and rubbing the pendant very quickly and briskly back and forth. You could do the same with some fabric. You could use some flannel or jean fabric. Or, you could go back and use the Dremel to polish your pendant.
Polishing with the Dremel
At this point your pendant will have a matte finish. You may really like it as it is now. But if you are looking for a finish with more glare/shine you can continue with the Dremel.
I will apply the finishing touches with the dremel. This is when I’ll use the buffing wheels and polishing cloth attachments. Here is a picture of pendant where the right half has been buffed with the dremel and left half has not.
Safety reminder–(Yes I’m repeating myself)–when using the Dremel on your polymer clay pendant always wear safety glasses and tie back any long hair.
When polishing with the Dremel hold on tight to the piece and just lightly touch the buffing wheel or polishing cloth to the surface of the pendant. If you aren’t holding the piece tightly it may fly right out of your hand. Let the Dremel do the work but hold on tight to that pendant. The more you buff the shinier it’s going to be. Buff the whole piece. At this point, you have a nice shiny polymer clay pendant.
That is how you can sand and polish your polymer clay pendant.
It can take extra time for the sanding and polishing process but I hope you’ll agree it’s worth it.
At this point the clay is impermeable so you don’t need to add any varnish. To sand and buff your polymer clay pendant is a great way to get the shine you may want. Coming soon I will go over some of the different ways to varnish your polymer clay pendants to create and even shinier look.
I would love to know if you prefer the matte look on a pendant or if a shiny look is more appealing to you. Let me know down in the comment section below.