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Chris’ Shiny Beads Process

After a few weeks of none regular blogging, I thought it was time to get back on track, so here we are.

As a result of posting my “White Gold” series and my Shiny Fruity Orange beads, I have had many comments on the high shine on my beads and have been asked how I get to that result. What varnish do I use, what grits of sandpaper, etc. So here is my personal sanding method which results in this high shine. There are so many variations possible but this is what I do and may not reflect what others like.

First thing to consider is the clay you are using. Some clays polish a lot faster to a high shine than others but may not be suitable for what you are trying to make. Kato polishes fast but I mostly work with Fimo. Also, translucent and metallic clays are easier to polish. Black is a pain in the neck regardless of the brand.

Usually, when I decide ahead of time what the final finish of my beads is going to be, I incorporate a tiny bit of translucent clay in the mixture. Well mixed, it helps to speed up the polishing process.

Chris’ Shiny Beads Process

1. When the beads are ready to be baked, I roll them one last time wearing surgical gloves, making sure that the smooth side of the gloves is on the outside (sometimes they have a less smooth side to prevent slipping).

2. I bake them either on beadpins or on fiber fill.

Bead ready to be baked.

Bead ready to be baked.

3. If I only need to sand off fingerprints or small impurities, I use 1000 wet/dry sandpaper – available at car body shop or online – This will take off the slight dust speckles, and gently smooth the rough edges without scratching the bead unnecessary.

First I sand with 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, GENTLY! You do not want to make scratches where there aren’t any to begin with.

4. Then it is on to the micromesh set. Grits: 1500 – 1800 – 2400 – 3200 – 3600 – 4000 – 6000 – 8000 – 12000 – After sanding with the 1000 wet/dry sandpaper, I usually go straight unto 2400 micromesh and up. I learned about Micromesh a few years ago when my friend Valerie came to visit and showed me how to use this. Thank you!!!!! It has made me a polishing addict.

Micromesh has a sand/polishing surface on a textile backing which makes it more pleasant to handle than paper. It can be cleaned in the washing machine and used for an eternity so it really is a wise investment. These are the grits I use.

5. I start by rubbing the bead onto the first wet micromesh grit in one direction until the whole bead is sanded. Here I am sanding in an up and down movement.

6. For the next grit I sand in the opposite direction, and continue to alternate direction with each grit. (you can obviously also rotate the bead, whichever is easier for you).

The next grid is sanded from left to right.

8. From 3200 you are actually no longer sanding but already polishing the bead.

The bead is starting to shine a bit.

9. By 12000 your bead will be polished to a high sheen

After “micromeshing” with 12000.

10. You can then lightly use a dremel to bring out the high shine.

After a few seconds with the dremel.

It may look like a tedious job to do but you do not need to polish very long and it is actually rather fun to do. (maybe that is just me!).

It is important to use the various grits. Jumping a few will not give you the same results.

Obviously, when using powders, inks, foils or any other surface decoration, you will need to use varnish or other sealant to protect your beads. The above is ONLY for beads of which the top layer is clay.

I hope this has been helpful

Till next time, Chris

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