|Amusingly, when I Googled 'unpolished|
metal clay' this photo appeared in the first 5 images.
Those are my fingers! Forgive the dirty nail.
To clarify this phenomenon with metal clay, think of the fired surface as a jagged mountain range. When light strikes the uneven surface it scatters and only reflects the white part of the light spectrum. In order for metal clay to develop the silver color we've grown to love, we need to flatten those microscopic peaks and cliffs. A wire brush will transform a Himalaya-like surface into gently rolling hills, providing a soft 'brushed' silver gleam. When the wire brush is inserted into a motor tool (Foredom or Dremmel), more force is being applied than when using a hand tool, and the surface is flattened even more, making the brushed finish slightly brighter.
To achieve a brilliant silver shine, more polishing is required (tumbling or burnishing) to compress the silvery rolling hills down to a neatly clipped golf tee. Get it? Giant Himalayas to Julie Andrew's musical rolling hills, to a flat, smooth golf tee. Okay. Enough with the geographical references. But you understand my point now, right? We could also think of it as Bart Simpson's spikey hair as opposed to Shaquille O'Neal's bald pate.
|Wire Brushed vs. Highly Polished|
|Wire brushed texture, no patina.|
Hard to see the texture isn't it?
So now that you know more about it, let's stop thinking about the white surface of unfired silver metal clay as something to be 'gotten rid of' and start thinking of it as part of the process.