Basic Polishing Tools
There are a lot of different ways to finish your work. The degree of polishing depends on the taste and the desire of the artist.
Once your silver clay piece has been fired, you will notice that the surface has a mat white color. This happens because the silver molecules are not yet in place, therefore, the surface is like hills and valleys ( if you see it under a microscope), absorbing the light instead of reflecting it. Using a soft brass brush, start brushing your piece to bring out its shine; this works perfectly with textured pieces.
The next step is the sanding of your piece. Start with a sanding paper 180 grit and progressively go to 220 grit and then 280 grit. Try to sand always at one direction (not back and forth) to avoid making any scratches on your piece. When you change to the next sanding paper grit, change the sanding direction as well (if you go from east to west with the one, the second one should be applied from north to south). Do the last sanding in circular motions.When you finish with the 280 grit sanding paper, your piece will most probably be ready. At this stage, you can add some metal polish on your piece and polish it with a special polishing cloth. Always wash and dry your piece in between different stages.
When you're happy with the polishing of your piece use a burnisher ( I prefer the agate burnishers than others) and burnish the high spots of your textures as well as the edges, to hihglight them. Burnishing also makes the surface of your piece harder.
Mirror finish :
Mirror finish is a professional finish and it takes much more effort than other types of finishing. To achieve mirror finish, you need to continue the sanding process (after the basic sanding I have described above) with at least seven more grades of sanding papers (grit grades become finer as their number becomes larger reaching upto 6000 or 8000). You need to gradually move to the finer grades as using a superfine grade from the beginning will simply be a waste of time.
Tumbler finish :
Another easy way to finish your work it to use a tumbler. With this method, all the high spots are highly polished. Also, tumbling makes the metal clay pieces harder. Different types of tumblers are available in the market.
A combination of a variety of methods as I have descibed previously will give you a great bright shining result!!!!
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