I was teaching a new student, who has several years of experience working with metal clay, and was shocked to hear her tell me that she was taught she should never use polishing compounds and a buffing wheel on fired metal clay.
Well, that's news to me! I've been doing it for years and it works fine. I can't think of a single reason someone would teach this.
Once metal clay is sintered and is now metal, it's fine to polish it like any non-ferrous metal. I like to sand the metal with 400 and then 600 grit wet/dry sand paper and then start polishing with bobbing compound on a stiff wheel. Bobbing is a courser grit compound and removes sandpaper lines. I then wash the piece with Awesome Orange, found at Dollar Tree, removing any compound left on the metal. Next, dry completely and then polish with a rouge, a fine grit polishing compound. I've found that Awesome Orange easily cleans the compound off the metal.
Any rouges work nicely on silver. Keep one buffing wheel for each type of polish, never contaminate the wheels with the other polish. Always dry the metal before polishing or you may end up with clumped polish on the buff.
I write the name of the polish on the side of the wheel and store each one in a separate plastic bag.
If I have stones in the piece I use Zam. It doesn't embed into soft stones like turquoise. Fabulustre gives a very nice shine in fine and sterling silver metals. Black rouge gives the metal a deeper lustre. Red rouge, creates a lighter lustre.
Here is a PMC3 ring I enameled and then polished with Fabulustre.
Until next time, have fun claying around!
by Janet Alexander