Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Can't I Polish Fired Metal Clay with Rouge?

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 
Technical Adviser


Roxanne Coffelt said...

When I saw the title of your blog, I had to click on it, because I was thinking "why can't you?"

Sounds like I will have to check out Zam, Fabulustre and black rouge as well.

Trish Jeffers-Zeh said...

You ROCK! Trish in OH

Kris Kramer Designs said...

Janet, do any of the polishing compounds you mentioned prevent or retard tarnishing the piece? Thanks, Kris

Lora Hart said...

I was also taught not to use rouge with metal clay because the compound could work it's way into the microscopic pores of the material (still there even after firing), and one would have to boil the piece to dissolve the hidden compound. Really good to know that might not be true!

Janet Alexander said...

Sorry, I've been out of town and off line.

Lora, yeah the polish may be in the pores of the metal. So would PermaLac, Renaissance wax, Liver of Sulfur and any other product that is applied to the surface. How would Rouge or any of the so mentioned products harm the metal? The hidden compound is wax/polish.

Janet Alexander said...

If you are having problems with tarnishing and you have applied Liver of Sulfur, it is in the pours and can cause the silver to tarnish more than fired metal clay without Liver of Sulfur. Try placing it in Baking Soda mixed in hot water to neutralize the Liver of Sulfur. Apply some Renaissance wax to the metal's surface.

Additionally, I have found storing any silver jewelry in a wooden cabinet, like some jewelry boxes, can cause the jewelry to turn black. I think its the finish on the wood fuming the metal.