When refining a piece, the golden rule to follow is the 80-20: 80% of the work must be done at the green stage before firing and only 20% on the fired piece.
Metal clay does not melt or become smoother during firing unless you overheat it. Therefore, any dents, scratches, imperfections or whatever else you see on the unfired piece, it will also show later, after the firing. It is worth spending more time on this stage to make your piece look perfect rather than struggling later on the fired finished piece.
When your piece is completely dry, it is time to start refining it. At this stage, the clay is bone dry and it looks and feels more like hard plaster. It is very fragile and you must be very careful when you work with it. Use a rubber block to work on it, it's safer.
At this stage, you can use sanding papers. I use the 3M sanding pads, to shape and remove any scratches or imperfections from my work.
Files or emery boards are also useful tools for refining metal clay pieces, especially for refining the edges.
Sometimes, when you have deep scratches and imperfections, it is better to add thick clay to cover them rather than try to remove them with sanding. With a spatula or a clay shaper add clay where needed and gently push it until it becomes a solid part of your piece.
Another good tool I use very often is a wet tissue. At the last stage of the refining, gently wipe your piece with a wet tissue (baby wipes). The surface clay softens and easily moves to fill small scratches making the piece look perfect. Don't overdo it as there is a risk to over-wet the piece. Stop, dry your piece and continue until you have the desired result.
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