Buffing with the Dremel – part 1
Having sanded and buffed a load of beads by hand last week I decided to try buffing with a dremel. I wanted to get a really shiny buffed finish and I had read that you could only achieve this with mechanical buffing. I only started sanding recently and have been buffing by hand on a tea towel . I have never used a dremel before, I am borrowing one from my parents.
I tried the dremel buffing wheel (sewn muslin one that comes with the Dremel) last week and managed to make some nasty grooves in my work. The surface was horribly dull and the grooves took a lot of sanding to remove. I then went and read up about buffing with a dremel. I found some good information at
http://desiredcreations.com/ and http://www.glassattic.com/. Seems that the stitching on the dremel buffing wheel makes it too harsh for polymer clay so something softer was required.
So today my Dad (it’s his turn to look after us this week, giving my mum a well earned rest) and I sat down to try out buffing with the dremel again. I made a new buffing wheel from some polyester fleece fabric I happened to have in my sewing box. I cut some circles, about 7 cm in diameter and fitted them to the mandrel that you screw the regular dremel buffing wheel onto. I used 5 layers of fleece cause I couldn’t screw the mandrel together with more and didn’t stitch them together at all.
Fleece circles being threaded onto the screw for the Dremel mandrel
I tried it on one of the sides of the large bead I ruined previously and eventually it came up pretty shiny. It took quite a long time and it still wasn’t as shiney as I hoped. It wasn’t the miracle I was after 😉 I think perhaps it would be easier if I had a stand for the Dremel as I am having to hold clay in one hand and Dremel in the other. I might have another go at making a buffing wheel stitching them together – look what this one looked like after just a little use.
I am currently sanding using 240, 400, 600 and 1000 grits (what I had available). I have just ordered a set of sandpaper with 10 different grits from 180 to 2500 grit! I don’t imagine I would ever have the patience to use them all, or that it would be necessary but I will experiment a bit to see if I can start of with a smoother finish to buff. I am also off to investigate the best place to buy a rock tumbler from for my round beads – they are so hard to sand by hand!
My dad was convinved that waxing was the answer to sheen and applied the last dregs of our furniture wax and then some natural (clear) shoe polish to some of my beads (which he kindly sanded first – taking the skin of one of his fingers- ouch!). He applied the wax and then buffed it on a piece of fleece stretched over some wood (held in place with some staples). Then he continued buffing on the otherside of the wood with some clean fleece, the other side was now waxy fleece. It did come up looking pretty good but it was quite hard to tell (in my opinion, dad could see one) the difference between the with or without wax beads buffed on fleece.
Previously I had found a linen tea towel the thing that got me the best shine when buffing (from the limited selection of things I tried). Today I tried a buffing on linen and buffing on fleece to compare and the bead buffed on fleece was definitely more shiney. I have now cut a piece of fleece for my clay box.
So more experimenting is needed. I need to perfect (well improve would be a start) sanding, find a better way to mechanically buff to a high shine and I want to try out some varnishes. I have only used the Fimo Gloss varnish on polymer clay and I am not that impressed with it. I would like to have a range of finishes at my disposal so I can choose how I want a piece to look.
If you have any advice on buffing/sanding/polishing then please let me know it might help this part of my journey go a little smoother.
Thank you for following me on this adventure with clay.