Polymer Clay Tutorial | Sanding with Micromesh Abrasives [Video]

Micromesh Cushioned Abrasives for Sanding Polymer ClayVid #165:
“Those micro
mesh sanding pads look
very nice and easy to hold.”
~Jocelyn-C

Nothing is more beautiful or professional looking than perfectly sanded and buffed polymer clay beads. Now you can get that silky smooth, glassy finish on your beads, with a lot less effort… using Micro-Mesh Cushioned Abrasives.

Founded in 1966 (a particularly good year, since I was born in ’66 LOL) Micro-Surface Finishing Products originally developed their finishing products for the art restoration industry. Based in Wilton, Iowa, USA, they have expanded over the years into commercial and industrial products for finishing, repairing and polishing many materials such as acrylic windows in airplanes, specialty metal engine parts, stone countertops, ceramics, wood products and even fingernails.

They have also created kits for Polymer Clay Artists… Yay!

Because Micro-Mesh is designed differently than regular wet/dry sandpaper, it is more efficient, more even and does a better job, faster. Which is something we all need when it comes to the dreaded job of sanding our polymer clay beads. Am I right?

So on Friday, July 23rd at the Polymer Clay Library (Vol-026-4), the member video tutorial will teach you how to use the Micro-Mesh Abrasives for sanding your Polymer Clay Beads. Some of you noticed that I already showed an example of this unique sanding product last week in the Faux Dichroic Glass video tutorial…

Cindy, where did you get the micro mesh discs you used in this Volume 026-3 Dichroic Glass video? They look as though they would be so much simpler to use. ~Jayne-S

Loved the “sanding” part… that will help me with some things I have already tried where the mica powder sort of “took over” the clay! Thanks for the tips Cindy! ~Lorrie-A

I am most interested in the MicroMesh sanding pads. Where can I obtain these other than the website offered? Also, have you considered becoming a distributer for some of the more obscure tools/specialty items that you demonstrate in your fantastic how-to videos? Oh – and did I mention how much I look forward to Fridays ~Beadbroad

Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-026-4 Micro-Mesh Abrasives:

  • Baked polymer clay bead, pendant, sculpture or whatever clay item you want to sand and polish.
  • Micro-Mesh Regular Soft Touch Pad Variety Pack
    (2″ x 2″ at $10.17 USD) or (3″ x 4″ at $20.34 USD). The kit comes with pads in grades 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000 – 9 pads total, 1 per grade. Primary Use:  Softer wood, plastics, paint.
  • Container of cold water with a drop or two of dish soap.
  • Piece of felt or denim for polishing, or a Dremel fitted with felt wheel for power buffing.

The full version of the Vid-026-4 Micro-Mesh Abrasives video will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday July 23rd, 2010. But if you would like to see a sneak peek intro clip right now, scroll down the page a bit to the video player below.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor





Click Video Play Button

Here’s That “Link Below” Referred To at End of the Video
>> Polymer Clay Tutorials <<

The full version of the “Micromesh” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-026 Back Issue Package.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

As a fairly new person to polymer clay, I have found the Polymer Clay Tutor to be an invaluable resource. I do subscribe to the member site and am glad to do so. Others with more experience may be better able to navigate all the information “out there”, but I too found it all to be overwhelming. Cindy’s courses and videos are well done, start with the basics, and then build as your skills increase. And, as another person said, it’s all there in one spot. If you have specific questions, Cindy is very prompt to answer questions on the blog or in separate emails. For me, the cost of membership is well worth what I am getting!
~Marsha-N

Well hellooo Cindy! So nice to meet you face to face as it were. What a nice video of you! You should make this video available for everyone who is considering a membership to your library. I know once they see the quality of the video and the very nice person who will be teaching them, they can’t help but sign on. Come on people! Sign up! You wont regret it! P.S. I agree with you on the make up part too LOL. Need it, wear it, dont like it! Although you look quite lovely in your video. But no make up can come close to showing what a sweet generous person you are, like a single smile can. XOXO ~Jamie-H

I have been subscribing to Cindy Lietz Tutor since about October ’08. Her daily blogs are free to all and I find them very informative. Cindy does not try to cram in too much information and is excellent in presenting in a concise, organized and informative way. Her video tutorials are very well done; picture quality and content are excellent. Cindy and husband Doug do photo editing before posting a tutorial and do a lot of close up shots in a variety of angles of a bead or project; I am sure a lot of footage “ends up on the cutting room floor.” As in her daily blogs, she does not repeat what others have already covered but does does research and tries techniques before posting a video showing what she has found to be most successful. As a paid subscriber, I love the color pallet recipes and don’t know where else to get anything like them. I am confident she has tried out recipes before posting them on her site. The $9.95 for three months is excellent value because of the above stated reasons. I have been following this site on a daily basis long enough to know the blogs, recipes and videos have saved me a lot of frustration, discouragement and money through techniques that save time and materials. ~Anna-S

The following topics are included in this week’s Miromesh Abrasives video tutorial:

  • See examples of beautifully sanded and buffed polymer clay beads that would make you swoon if you could just hold them in your hands.
  • Discussion of how the Micromesh abrasives work and how to use them.
  • Learn tricks and tips for getting a perfect glossy shine on your beads with a lot less effort than regular sanding.
  • Finally, reasons why the material works so well and how its design may keep your hands from cramping up and hurting, as often happens when you using regular wet/dry sandpaper.

The full version of the “Micromesh” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-026 Back Issue Package.


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Comments

  1. These micro mesh pads start with the grit that I finish with. I’m sure the video will tell us if we need to start with the regular grits of wet/dry sandpaper.

    • @Freda K: I saw that too, Freda, and wondered the same thing. I checked the list of retailers and they’re not carried by Lowes or Home Depot so I don’t think we’ll have them by Friday if we order on-line. The kit is $10.17 on-line for the 2×2 pads, $20.34 for the 3×4, minimum shipping is $12.50 and they ship within 48 hours via USPS.

      @Elizabeth S.: Mine too Elizabeth. Although I gotta admit, the results are worth it! Still playing around with different sanding methods to try to find the easiest one for me. Although I finally figured out yesterday, after sanding & buffing & buffing & buffing that I used Sculpey III and nothing is gonna get that beautiful shine on this stuff (I have a lot of it. Bought it BC- before Cindy. Ugg!). Still love the satin smooth feeling and I figure I’ll just use a coating to fudge it. :) I did wind up converting my electric tooth brush BEFORE figuring out why nothing was working! Gotta bake something with the Premo and start experimenting all over again.

      • @Tanya L: You know what? PCers are some of the most innovative people! Converting your tooth brush? That’s too funny. I’d like to be there when you explain to your dentist why you need a new one. Hilarious! Yes, my dear, you need to change clays before every expensive item in your house has been adapted for trying to get sculpy shiny. Sadly, we all have that BC stuff we bought before she bestowed her wisdom on us. I have a big ole chunk of green Sculpy III that’s been around forever. I keep encouraging my grandchildren to use it up when they create but they always seem to drift to my beautiful Premo mixes. Oh well, chalk it up to experience, I guess. Right?

      • @Tanya L: Tanya, you mentioned you have a ton of the soft clay. Rather than trying to buff it to a shine, why don’t you use this material to practice textures and surfacing techniques? The softer clays take texture well, and you might be thrilled with some of the results you get.

      • @Tanya L: Sculpey III is great for making tiles to cover boxes etc. with a mosaic look. Wall plaques or any object thay will not get a lot of tough wear. You see, it doesn;t matter how strong it is when used in these applications. It’s just not the best for beads. I make a cute tiled house-shaped box with my left over Sculpey III clay. Also, I let my granddaughter play with it!

    • @Freda K: The micro mesh is different so the starting pad is approximately like 400 grit sand paper. I’ve been using this stuff for over a year and it’s fabulous!!!! LOVE IT! I have the same pads I started with and they are still VERY usable but I do want a new set because the lower grades are starting to crackle around the edges and shedding little bits of sanding material. However, those pads had lasted a long time and went through a lot of work!

      • @Melinda Herron:Thanks for sharing that, Melinda as I had a question about how often they need to be replaced. They are a bit expensive (especially with shipping) at first look, but if they work as well as you describe and last that long they are a good investment.

  2. This is gonna be great. sanding is my least favorite part of the pc process, but still the most necessary to achieve a beautiful finish. Can’t wait to see how this stuff works.

  3. I have a micro mesh kit. I really like using them better than sanding paper. I got mine at a wordworking store (Rockler here in Orange County), since they are also used for wood finishing.

    • Hi guys, thanks for the comments. I think you are going to love the gorgeous finish you can get with this product compared to the old way of sanding polymer clay beads!

      @Freda K: I just thought I would quickly pop in here and mention that Micro-Mesh is graded differently than sandpaper is. The 1500 grade that the Micro-mesh starts with is comparable to a 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. So in most cases you won’t need to start with the other papers first unless you have a lot of material to remove. The video will help explain how it all works.

      @Laura: If the micro-mesh pads that you got were gray (Micro-mesh AO), they are the ones designs for wood. The ones we are using (Micro-mesh Regular) are especially designed for plastics. Although the wood ones will work, the ones for plastics are more ideal.

  4. Sure wish I knew about these before I invested in all those grits of wet/dry sandpaper … going to hardware, paint and automotive stores on my last motorhome trip. Well, it is kind of like the BC clay … it will sit there for a long time and maybe someday someone will find a use for it all.

    I must say from looking at the preview … these little squares sure take up a lot less room that all the various sandpapers and sanding pads that I use currently. Guess I better order some before my next trip! Space saving is a must!

  5. Just an FYI, polymerclayexpress.com/finish.html also has the Micro-Mesh Regular sanding pads. I got mine a few weeks ago, and they really have made sanding so much easier. They have the set for $15, but their minimum shipping cost is less.

    • that is great news, I just can see paying $12.50 for shipping for something under 3 lbs. I rather buy more clay!!!!

  6. I’ve been (newly) sanding during the last couple of months…boy do I have a lot of respect for anyone who thoroughly polishes their work!! It’s definitely a labour of love, especially those of you who have patience sanding round beads. With my first attempts I ended up with flat spots, and uneven shine. Sanded a little too much and removed a nice layer of color on a favorite jupiter bead…oops :( It’s nice to hear these sanding pads last a while. Once my sandpaper runs out, I think I’ll be ordering these next.

  7. @Elizabeth S.: ROFL! Elizabeth S., you’re right, now that I figured out the problem I can stop messing around, just do the sanding and buffing, and then COAT the darn stuff that I already have made. And I have my 6 yr old grandson til next Wed. so maybe I can get him interested in making something out of the Sculpey III for his momma’s birthday next month. No one expects that to be perfect, right? But knowing him HE’LL want to play with the power tools! :)

    @Jocelyn: Brilliant idea Jocelyn! (WHACK! As she smacks herself on the head.. Kind of like a V-8 moment!) I’m just trying to make all the stuff I had made already as useable as possible before starting something new. Some of it got amazingly pretty, considering I didn’t know what I was doing, and a few friends have picked things out that they want. I made the butterfly cane out of the Sculpey since I didn’t have premo. They got good considering it was my first cane attempt. I’m anxious to get them finished and take pics for you all to see so you can critique. Ok, I know the first suggestion. Use Premo! LOL!

    @Nicole R: Nicole R, Thank you for letting us know about polymerclayexpress.com. That price is better!

    @carolyn: Carolyn, I thought about donating all my left over sandpaper to my son. He’s doing body work on his truck (he gave me some of his stash to start) but I think I’ll hang on to it. Everyone loves the twisted spirals I make and sandpaper blocks won’t get in those tight places. Of course, now I know to use cornstarch so maybe I won’t need it. Thank God for Cindy, LOL!

    @DJ: DJ, I just watched one of Cindy’s videos yesterday that addressed buffing a round bead. Wonder if sanding would work doing it this way?

    • @Tanya L: Thanks for the tip Tanya, I’ll have to try that next time. I found I don’t like sanding so much, but look forward to buffing…go figure!

  8. Thank you for this video! Everybody HATES sanding – right? This will surely make finishing (beautifully), a lot more enjoyable.

  9. I cant wait til tumorrouw. I have exactly the same Micro Mesh Pads. But I’m not sure yet how I can use it well. :)

  10. I found myself a supplier in Australia and they are on their way.. anything that can make sanding quicker and less painful I have to try out.
    Thanks for the great videos Cindy

    • @Haffina:
      Hi Haffina,
      I am in Oz too ( Mackay QLD ) so would like to know the supplier of these sanding blocks.Did you get them here in Oz.
      I got some English ones from Over the rainbow site this week from Melbourne, so will use those til I can get the right ones.
      I also bought Lisa Pavelkas Magic Gloss, there, and am going to do my Faux dichroic tomorrow.
      Thanks in advance.
      E. XXX

  11. @christine le grice: I have found the pads, plus some small files (different to the ones that Cindy shows) and the liquid on sale in a kit at this UK modeling site:
    themodelcatalogue.com/shopexd.asp?id=750

    They are called “Soft touch pads” but the image looks exactly like the pads that you see in the tutorial. I really need to find them somewhere in Italy but I think there is little hope of that! I don’t enjoy sanding but do love making my beads silky smooth so I am definitely buying some of these soon.

  12. Cindy, these new sandpapers and sticks are just the bomb! I hate sanding so I find I have to create an environment of maximum enjoyment to stick with it, LOL.

    How? Mostly in bed with my feet up, pillows galore behind me, and adorned with heating pads. Treat myself to a low dose pain killer ahead of time, and put some of my favorite music on to sand to the rhythm. If you are a “smell” person, burning your favorite incense helps too. Total zen.

    Find that a really wet facecloth on a dish provides enough moisture so I am not playing with a pan of water and heating pads, a problem due to the number of trips I must take to the ladies.

    Have my Dremel rigged with the flexshaft near the bead for final buffing, but, based on the results of this micromesh products ease of use and advanced finishing capabilities, it might not be needed so much.

    Best, is that from the reading I’ve done since Cindy posted this product, is that it seems to last forever, unlike the auto paper. This is excellent value for your money, a cost saver, and a product that automatically improves the quality of your work. How great is that?

    Some of you are early birds, LOL, I’m here at 8 am. Thanks to all of you for the links to sources for this product.

  13. Just waiting til the SS check comes in LOL. Then I can order theses babies! Such a much better way to finish. No more crampy hands ! Thanks Cindy and Doug. You did it again……….Hugs

  14. Glad you guys are liking today’s video. In my opinion, proper and adequate sanding is one of the main ingredients for being able to create high quality professional looking smooth beads. That being said, there are some types of polymer clay beads that don’t require meticulous sanding… but that’s another story for another day… :-)

    In regards to finding the micro-mesh abrasive products for sale in your part of the world, here are a couple of tips.

    1) Type “micro-mesh +YourCountry” into Google. The company that makes this sanding product has been around for quite a while, and likely has many International distributors. Polymer clayers are just now discovering the micro-mesh brand, but it’s been used by woodworkers and model-making hobbyists for years. @christine le grice: here is another UK source I found via Google: sylmasta.com/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Micro_Mesh_Abrasives_1.html

    2) Send an email to the Micromesh customer service folks in Iowa (the link to their web site is in my article above). They will be able to reference some names of distributors in your area that sell their products (at least I hope they will be able to provide you with that type of info :-). Oh and be sure to tell them where you found out about this fabulous product. It would be great for them to hear from as many enthusiastic polymer clayers as possible. Who knows, if we make enough noise, the micromesh pads may end up on the shelves at Michael’s and JoAnne’s… wouldn’t that be GREAT!

    By the way, as you find various suppliers around the world that sell and distribute the micromesh products, be sure to report back here with your findings. Having that sort of resource info here will be very helpful for the many clayers that follow this blog.

    @Katie & Tanya L: Thanks for letting me know about your interest in having a Bangle Tute.

  15. Hi Cindy:

    I was wondering if you are ever planning on doing some intermediate level work. I enjoy your tutorials so much that it would be good to see some higher level work.

  16. Hi alexa. It’s great to see you getting more active in community here. Glad to hear you like today’s Micromesh tutorial.

    I’d like to pose the same sort of question to you, that I asked of Carol. When you say you want difficult lessons, what types of projects / techniques / topics are you thinking of? Feedback from you guys really helps to guide which direction I go with the tutorials.

    But one thing to always keep in mind and remember, is that “easy” does not necessarily mean “beginner” level. As many of you know by now, I absolutely LOVE using simplicity as much as possible in what I teach. You may not have thought about it this way, but one of the biggest challenges from a teacher’s perspective is being able to present lessons in a way where the student ends up by saying… “Well now, that was easy!” And that’s easier said than done :-)

    It’s kind of like the story of the dental patient who was in and out of the chair in record time with absolutely no pain or discomfort whatsoever. But when the bill came, she complained about how expensive it was for such a short procedure. The dentist just smiled and said, “Well next time if you like, I could make make it last much longer.” From that point forward, the patient was perfectly happy to pay whatever her talented dentist decided to charge. How’s that for a fun Friday anecdote? Have a great weekend everyone!

  17. @ Cindy – Thanks for making all the videos ‘easy’ . The micromesh is going to be good for my hands. They cramp up and hurt so bad after sanding I keep having to take little breaks in between.

  18. They’ve been added to my shopping list (which grows longer and longer every week lol). Lately I’ve been working on my Etsy shop and website but I made the butterfly cane yesterday. So pretty!

  19. Cindy, I so enjoy your videos and look forward to every Friday to see what new thing is happening. I’m impressed with how you take complicated ideas and present them in ways that are easy to understand therefore making them easy for me to attempt to duplicate. I am a teacher also and I know what it takes to pull a lesson together…alot goes into each lesson just to get it to a proper presentation. Now if you were to decide to do more complicated techniques I would be willing to pay more as it would only be fair. Just my thoughts !!!!!!!!

  20. Cindy re more complex tutorials, just stay as you are.
    Things may look simple but they all take some work to get them how you do. Your tutorials always lead me down my own creative path, and Im sure you dont need to do just what other polyclayers do.
    Your lessons are perfect, so please stay as you are.

    XXX

    • @Elizabeth kerr: Oh, Elizabeth, I so agree. What’s that saying? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For me, that applies here. If you visit the sites and blogs of many here, there is exquisite very technically complicated artistry, but often based on a Cindy tut. What these people have done is taken a Cindy tut and run with it down their own creative path, which is exactly what Cindy wants us to do. I, personally, would be very sad to change directions, but of course, this is just one opinion.

      • @Elizabeth S.:
        Thanks for agreeing with me.That is so right.
        Learn the technique and go with it into your own creativity.
        Cindy doesnt have to change anything and I hope she doesn’t.
        I have just found where to order those Sanding pads here in Aus,am really pleased about it, as sometiems the things mentioned in the Tut are not available here or just too excy, even these pads will cost me $21 with postage, $15 for the pads. and am getting some this week,can’t wait. So there you are, Cindy showed us something and we are all the better clayers for it.
        Jackie how lovely for you, Congratulations, to sell all your things, makes you want to keep going, love the sound of the earings. I did make a pair, so may be I’ll get to make more if they can be so popular.
        My blog is down at the moment, and I dont know why. It has been deleted or moved so it says.
        If I cant get it back I will have to start a new one. Bye for now
        love
        E XXX

    • I tend to feel the same way about our lessons that Elizabeth-K and Elizabeth-S have shared. The videos are structured enough that we have concise direction, but also give enough freedom to allow our own ideas to take shape. This is a really important balance, having practical information to explore through without losing the basics that make a technique work. I really love that wandering is encouraged both by Cindy and the supportive blog community too! More ideas, generate more ideas. The roughly 10 minute time frame works as well, we can all allow time in our day for that. Any longer and I could easily see myself putting off tutorials until I could fit them in. Interesting points to think about though…

  21. Cindy,
    I have been using micromesh for about a year, and have yet needed to replace the pads. I absloutely love this product! I was lucky that a hardware store near me actually carries it, I bought it on a whim to see how it would do, and was suprised at how well it worked.

  22. Finally remembered what I meant to post on Friday night. Yes on a bangle tutorial; actually, yes on any tutorial but that seems to be the one that came (and went). Sometimes the more “advanced” ones really aren’t, they just are learning to do something a different way. And that’s my philosophical thought of the day! (Unless I can remember what else I forgot…)

  23. Well Its Sunday. I have just gotten to watch Fridays Video. It was absolutely wonderful as usual. Anything to make the sanding process easier is greatly appreciated. I wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who sent me kind words of encouragement to keep going with my jewelry.. I am glad my Vance saw something in me that I did not. I did the sale this weekend..It was a total success. Not only did I sell lots of jewelry and get lots of positive feedback, but I also had a fellow vendor place an order for me to make children’s earrings for him. From the Butterfly tutorial I made tiny little butterfly earrings. I had around 20 pairs and they all sold. Thanks Cindy for that wonderful tutorial. Everything I took to the sell was something I did from learning from Cindys tutorials. She has got to be the best teacher out there that I have seen. I have a question. I read in an email that I got from Polymer clay daily that you can take the clay softner and brush it on your beads before baking to remove fingerprints. I tried it this morning and it did work. I was wanting to know if anyone knows if there will be any long term harm done to the beads from doing this. Thanks again everyone

  24. Gosh these pads are great. Got mine yesterday and wow is it easier on the hands. It’s like when I discovered the rotary cutter for quilting……yipppeee!!!
    Andrea

  25. I’m following the blog here and I think that Cindy just has a way of making things seem simpler. Some of the techniques she has taught us have their own challenges and could be more than just a beginner technique but she shows us how to tackle that and if we follow her steps as we have seen in the photos everyone has sent it, we have succeded in getting some pretty good stuff done. I’m a teacher too and I try and make even rules for music as simple as possible for the students and then they follow the steps and ‘it’s so easy’!! I agree some canes may be more complex than others e.g the leopard or butterly cane compared to a jelly roll one but Cindy tells us exactly what to do and what to avoid doing. So , yes we could have requests for maybe more complex canes but Cindy, we love your teaching.

  26. Just a tecnique note on using the micro-mesh. Since the particles are aligned on the paper and not random, like reg wet dry paper the manufacturer recommends you sand in a back and forth motion, NOT circular. You can also start with 320 or 400 wet-dry paper to get any bumps and imperfections off, then move through ALL of the grits of micro-mesh. This helps save the pads for finish work. Take off any jewelry and clip those long nail if you are still seeing scratches in your work. After buffing your pieces will reflect light like glass if done properly. Much better than any sandpaper I’ve used. You can also purchase these kits on ebay. I use the micro-mesh cloth backed paper and a wrap around a sanding sponge.

    • I can’t chat long guys, but thought I would pop in here to congratulate Jackie on the sales!

      @Jackie: I am so proud of you Jackie! I know Vance would have been too. It is good for us to all step out of our comfort zone sometimes. When we do and succeed, we become that much stronger. I have heard of using diluent for smoothing beads but have not seen any of that product around anywhere. Have you? Would like to try the technique first before recommending it.

      @jessica miller: Interesting. Will have to test that to see if there is a difference. Thanks!

      • @Cindy Lietz from Mixed Media Earrings: Thank you Cindy. I really believe my beads are so much better because of your wonderful tutorials. You make them so easy to follow and to actually accomplish. I purchased the clay softener at Micheal’s.It is made by Sculpey. I just brushed it over the beads with a paint brush and it did remove the fingerprints. I had to rinse the beads a little bit longer to get the softer off but it did cut down on the sanding time. Thanks again Cindy.

        • @jackie: Cool tip, Jackie. I’ve used the Sculpey Dilentent for my old, hard clay before, but didn’t know about this little trick. Can’t wait to try. I also wanted to congratulate you on your sales! What a nice confidence boost that must be, right? I’m so very happy for you! ~Kat

          • @Phaedrakat: Thank You Kat. I took a batch of beads out of the tumbler this morning after using the softener on them. I have to admit I am really pleased with the outcome. There is not one fingerprint on them. This is really a big deal for me..not having to even do any touch up sanding. I do not think I have mentioned this before. I suffer from arthritis in my hands, so anytime I don’t have to sand, is a good day..lol I believe the working with Polymer clay is the only reason I can still use my hands. Well I guess I will play the waiting game now and see if there will be any consequences to using the softener on the beads. Everyone have a great day..

  27. @ Jackie – congratulations! Your work is so beautiful I did not have any doubts about your success. Vance must be so proud of you. Did you do the blue morpho butterfly cane or the other butterfly cindy taught us or the little butterflys with the stamped ink design?

  28. In Canada you can get the Micro Mesh pads at Lee Valley Tools: leevalley.com/

    I got mine at their retail store in Calgary.

    • @Patti:
      Thanks for putting me on to Lee Valley for the Micro Mesh Pads. I just ordered some – and from now til 3 January, they’re offering free delivery, so I threw in one of their lifetime hoses as well…hehe. The pads are $11.50. Can’t wait to try them.

  29. Thank you Cheryl. I can’t get over all the kind things you guys have said. It has went a long way to help with my confidence. I did the Blue Morpho Butterflies. I made then about the size of my thumbnail in all different colors. I glued a little black wire in the head for the antennae. Attached a head pin in the wing and then did the different ear wires.

  30. Ooops, that was supposed to be Sculpey Diluent! I think I’ve spelled this wrong in the past, too (always thought there was another “T” in it.) Anyway, thanks to Jackie I can put this clay softener to use for smoothing clay, too!

  31. @Cindy, this is an amazing tutorial, can’t wait to try this micromesh and the little sticks!

    I’m happy with the tutorials as they are now, although a more advanced one would be cool, too. I’d also like to see a bangle tute, as well as tricker canes or a rose cane, surface techniques using paint, or any oil paint technique, writing on clay, drilling or carving clay, backfill techniques, etc. Thanks so much for all you do! You are AMAZING!

    • @Phaedrakat: Well, Kat, you’ve given Cindy enough ideas to carry her through for a looooooong time. I think what you really are saying is that there is still a wealth of topics for Cindy to choose from. There is so much that she knows, sometimes without even realizing that we don’t all know it too.

  32. I wear disposable latex gloves for hole piercing and a final light shaping – they leave a very good fingerprint-free finish to my beads and I can often buff to a high gloss with no sanding.
    I saw the clay softener idea on PCD also – it sounds like a good tip to try soon!
    @Jackie – I don’t follow your comment about rinsing the softener off the beads?

  33. Cindy and Doug, I truly believe that before new stuff gets added, and more stuff changed, you two should take a look at the cost structure, and increase your pricing here to be more competitive with the current market.

    Been taking a few Google trips to lots of other sites and pdf’s, and been looking through my books. What is offered here in terms of

    1. knowledge (encyclopedic search facility)

    2. skill development (see lentils, lol)

    3. demonstrations of new products and new tecniques

    4. weekly blog full of commentary and help from friendly people

    5. almost instant daily advice and pictures from experts dedicated to our enjoyment and mastery of the product

    Comparatively, there is simply nothing that comes close. As any artist or enterprise grows, and excels, it is anticipated and expected that prices are raised to reflect that fact.

  34. Hi all, I now have my micro Mesh pads and really love them. Thanks Cindy for this tutorial.
    Sanding will now be much easier.
    I have tried the toothbrush sanding as I once thought this up and tried it, so don’t feel so wierd about it when I see other have had the same idea.
    I am perfecting my Faux Dichoric beads and have set up a small curing bowl out in the sun, after looking at prices and how to get a UV lamp.
    It is working so well I am quite tickled with my efforts. I am using Lisa Pavelka magic gloss ad find this is ok for me.
    love the face Book page.
    E.
    XXX

  35. OMG! I kind of gave up on beading for a while because I couldn’t manage to finish my beads properly. Like so many other people, I have joint issues and all that sanding was torture. As a last resort I tried the micro mesh pads. These pads are MIRACULOUS! I can’t believe that by going though all 9 pads, for about 15 seconds on each pad, I can get professional looking finishes. (The beads themselves still need work, but now I’m motivated to keep practicing the techniques.) As soon as I find my camera. I will take pictures and upload so I can join the Facebook fun. Thank you Cindy!

    • @Jill V.: Congrat’s Jill! I’m so happy that you’ve found a way to create beautifully finished beads. I can’t wait to see how they come out, once you get the photography & Facebook part figured out. Best of luck!

      I had to wait until my next payday, but I’m more than ready to order that MicroMesh! Can’t wait to have an easier time of sanding. This product really is amazing. I love the fact that it’s easier on people’s hands and joints. Art shouldn’t hurt so much! ~Kat

  36. Hey guys I’m baaack – just returned from being a camp nurse for 3 weeks and missed all of you and my clay, of course. I am so excited about these pads. But the thing that is really appealing are the swabs. I am so glad to know there is something that works on the tiny corners. I tried the electric toothbrush method but wasn’t happy with the whole process of sticking tiny pieces of sandpaper on the brush pads.It was a mess. Thanks yet again Cindy!

    • @Loretta Carstensen: Hi Loretta — Yep, really popular! I’m still looking for some of these “miracle sanders.” Did you find yours here in S. Calif, or did you order them? ~Kat   Riverside, CA

  37. I just saw where Fire Mountain Gems (firemountaingems.com) has the Micro-Mesh Pads. They have “all-assortable pricing”, so the price depends on how much you buy. Prices are – $11.79, $11.51, 11.24, $10.50. Shipping is $5 for Fed-Ex Ground, no matter what the weight is. This isn’t the cheapest price if you’re only ordering the pads. But if you need other items it may be the way to go. Oh, but they don’t have the swabs..

  38. Hey, Guys – and gals – if you ever find rocks that you’d like to polish and don’t have a tumbler … these pads work great! My arm is killing me but I have some great stones polished and ready for wire wrapping. Found the stones on the beach yesterday. They were already nicely shaped and just needed polishing.

  39. I ordered these and they came in. They are the BEST thing since sliced bread. I have never had such a smooth finish from regular wet/dry sandpaper. I’m a believer. Thanks Cindy for showing them to us.

  40. The RV park here in Fort Bragg wants some of the beach wraps (stones found on the beach, hand polished and wire wrapped) as well as some of my clay and also other wire art for their gift shop. I’ll be here all week and we’ll be working out what they want and I’ll be making as much beach wrap as possible. I’m pretty sure they are going to take some of my lentil beads and some of the faux dichroic. I’m really stoked!!!! Unfortunately, it will most likely all be on consignment … wish it were out-right sales. At least this will give me a business reason to come to Fort Bragg at least yearly. I really do love it here and Don and I were here many times. In fact our last get away together was to Fort Bragg.

    • @carolyn: Carolyn, what a great idea. Now I’m looking at the pads, and wondering if I can glue them to a toothbrush to make the back and forth motion better, lol. I am better circularly.

      Glad Fort Bragg is being good to you!

      • @Jocelyn: See above where I contacted Micro-Surface … back and forth is not necessary with these products … you can do circular just as well. It may be harder to make sure you’ve sanded everything, but that’s the only draw-back to circular sanding.

    • @carolyn: Sounds like you’ll be busy and have a great time! It’s great to know this is something you can count on yearly. Good luck – hope they take lots of lentils and your faux dichroic.. Wouldn’t it be great if they cleaned you out?? :)

  41. @Tanya L: It would indeed be great if they cleaned me out, but trust me, that won’t happen. I have lots of stock with me … more than one shop could handle. I’m just delighted that the Lord led me to this RV park. It wasn’t even here when I was in Fort Bragg with Don a few years ago. Being new, I’m getting in on their ground floor. I don’t expect a lot of action until they build their clientele. It is a good thing that I have patience.

  42. Woohoo! Just ordered my micro-mesh pads and sticks from polymerclayexpress.com. Pads + Sticks + Shipping = $36 and some change. I’m happy with that… I can hardly wait to get them!!

    ~Lisa :)

  43. I received my pads a couple of days ago and have had a hard time putting them down — they are FABULOUS and make me feel like I should resand all my bead stock again! They are much nicer to use than ordinary sand paper and the end result is stunning — even better than using Klear! Thank you for finding, researching and sharing this product with us Cindy.

  44. Hi Cindy,

    I just purchased some micro mesh pads and agree, they are much easier on my hands. I numbered each one with a permanent marker, 1-9 to graduate to the finest pad. This way, I don’t have to refer back to the chart {although I still have it}. I have used them on a few pendants and it is a lot easier than using the scraps of wet/dry sandpaper. Thanks for all your tips!

  45. Wow” I just went to purchase a set of micro mesh pad and the shipping was 12.50 USD That is insane. I think I will sand My way. I barely leave finger pints anyhow.

  46. Holy Hannah, that’s robbery!

    Checked at Firemountaingem.com and found three Micro Mesh products in their art clay section, the pads # H20-3395TL, the thin swabs# H20-3394TL, and some neat thicker swabs# H20-3393TL.

    Provided you pick the cheapest postage option and are willing to wait up to 8 days, the shipping is $5.00 with a minimal (under $3) handling fee.

  47. I would love to know which website you purchased your “micro-mesh on. I would like very much to use this technique and would appreciate it very much…PLEASE!

  48. Cindy names them above: Micro-Surface Finishing Products. In the video she explains which ones we need and how to use them for the best results. The one drawback about this company is that shipping & handling is $12.50 …

  49. Attention all Micro-Mesh Fans:
    My friend Terry Morris of EpoxyJewelry.com and Ultradome (The UV Resin Guy) is now carrying Micro-Mesh Pads at his site. So next time you order some resin, pick some of the pads up there. Also, check out his new bezels and other findings. He’s starting to carry some pretty great stuff including some awesome silicone molding putty that I’ll be showing you soon, as well as, some 2 part epoxy resin. You may want to go check that out!

  50. Hi Cindy
    I’ve just been reading this thread cos I’ve had some ‘issues’ with sanding. I’ll ask my sanding questions later if I haven’t figured out the answers myself, but here’s the embarrassing question. I can’t figure out how to get back to my original beginners course tutorials to read the basics on finishing! I looked at the dashboard and see a list of all the lessons I’ve purchased, but the beginner’s tutorial isn’t there. How do I find it?
    Isabel
    p.s. I LOVE your videos. Yesterday I went out for a Christmas lunch with a couple of friends and gave them each a bracelet I’d made and they went wild! Also, I was wearing a necklace I’d made and the waitresses all wanted to know where I got it! Do I feel ‘artistic’ or what??

  51. Hi Isabel,

    In the new year, I’ll be moving the beginners course into the members library, but for now you can access it from the link here at the blog at the top of the left navigation bar >> Topic Categories >> 01: Courses >> Protected: Course #1: Polymer Clay Bead Making for Beginners.

    PS: Love your Christmas Lunch story. Thank you for sharing it… and congratulations! Getting feedback like that, from your friends and even from people you don’t know, is so rewarding.

  52. Received my package from Lee Valley yesterday and I LOVE the micromesh sanders! My beads feel so smooth I can’t stop handling them….
    Raining here in Ottawa….what happened to winter? HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE HERE…I’m looking forward to 2011′s lessons. Thanks Cindy.

  53. anyone have a huge price jump when you see the shipping and handling? the price of them is 8.00. to ship to calif had a $12.00 shipping and handling fee. Anyone know how long they will last before wearing down?

      • @Michelle C: Carolyn’s right, Terry’s shipping is cheaper for the Micro-Mesh pads than the actual company is. Plus he carries lots of other cool supplies that you may want to get at the same time. Now in regards to your question about how long Micro-Mesh Pads last… in case you did not know, there is a search box at the top of the page that is really helpful in being able to find quick answers to many of your polymer clay questions. Most topics have been discussed multiple times amongst the community members here. Be sure to scan through the comments below each of the articles for tons of helpful advice. And when you come across a particularly long comment thread (like the one on this page), the “CTRL-F” feature in your web browser is very useful for easily jumping to specific keywords on the page. In fact, if you search through the comments above, you will find several comments about how long the micromesh product can last.

        @carolyn: HELLO Carolyn! How did I miss your comment?! We sure have missed you around here. Hope you are feeling much better. It really has been quite the year for you hasn’t it? Glad to see you up and around. Hope you are taking good care of yourself and are not over doing it. So happy to hear from you!! :-)

  54. I’m still trying to get this sanding down. I’m working on the Aurora technique and I started with the brown, I had to leave it to go to work, when I came home, it still had a white film over it. anyone explain what that is? how do I know when I have sanded enough?

    • @michelle: I think Jayne answered this quite well for you. The white powder is just dried sanding dust. If you start at the beginning grits and go all the way through to the end, you should have a well sanded bead. Buffing after sanding also helps remove any powders left, should there be any. Other than that, it would help to see what you are doing and how the beads look after sanding to be able to help you any further than that.

  55. I love the micromesh pads! I follow the guide by starting with the most coarse pad which is the rust colored one and wet sand each bead or piece down through the levels of pads. Then I buff each piece with the softest material I can find (baby burping pad)until I get a nice shine. Then I decided to try rubbing oil on a bead and buffing it again and it looked and felt great…

  56. I got the gray ones! Shoot. I did buy the video lesson and learned something else….. I need to stop being so impulsive and running to buy before I have all the information. So I’ll order the right stuff this week. Sigh.

  57. Hi Cindy
    I just received Micro Mesh Soft Touch Pad set. I ordered it from Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop . The cost was $10.95 and shipping $7.99. I ordered with other things that my hubby needed for his woodworking so the shipping was not bad. They are exactly like yours I bought the 2X2 size. The only problem is that they do not carry the other two products that you talk about in the video..Oh what size on the swap micro mesh do you recommend if and when I decide to get them(which I probably will).The phone number for Klingsor’s Woodworking is 800- 228-0000. People can call them to varify that the Micro Mesh Soft Touch Pads ( MI30000) is the color coded ones you show…mine were but you never know when the change things in a catalogue.

  58. Hi, Cindy:

    I’d just like to clarify: you recommend that kit that comes in grades “1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000.” I always start at 400 and am frustrated with that (it takes so much work to remove a fingerprint!), and if I’m motivated, I’ll move up to 1000. But you’re suggesting *starting* with 1500? Seriously? I’m looking at the company’s other kits, and notice they offer a Mircromesh AO (aluminum oxide, maybe?) in grades “300Ao, 600Ao, 800AO, 1500AO, 2400AO, 4000AO, 12000AO.” That sounds waaay more my speed. I’d use up to 1500 and then stop. Everything I’ve read says going as high as 1200 is sufficient, with the odd mention of ~ 2000 now and then. Is there a reason you don’t recommend that one? I can’t even see how I’d get a small divot or bump off a piece of clay with 1500-grade sandpaper; I’d wear the joint of my thumb off before I’d grind down the bump! I’d rather start with a coarser grain and work my way up. Help me understand the reasoning for not going with the coarser grain? Thanks!

    And at last, the secret of those sanding pads we’ve seen Donna Kato so easily using on HGTV is revealed! Yay!

    Binky

    • Great question Binky that is a common confusion for everyone! You see Micro-Mesh Pads’ grit number isn’t from the same numbering system as the Wet/Dry Sandpaper is. It is actually an abrasive product that uses kind of a crystal type material that ‘planes’ the surface rather than a sand particle of different grain sizes that actually scratches or gouges the surface. It is this crystalline structure that makes the Micro-Mesh product so quick and easy… you really don’t need to spend as much time on each grit, removing the scratches from the previous grit like you do with the sandpaper.

      Like I mentioned, Micro-Mesh – (Regular) Pads (such as these are) are numbered differently. I believe it is a micron thing rather than a grain size thing… any way, the closest comparison to the two is:

      Micro-mesh (Regular) 1500 = 400 grit Wet/Dry Automotive Sandpaper.

      So to clarify… in the Faux Jasper Tutorial where I started with the 320 grit wet/dry then went to the 1500 Micro-Mesh would make perfect sense. It would be much like going from 320 grit to 400grit only with a much better performance. If I had a Micro-mesh pad that went coarser I would have started there instead.

      Does that help to clear things up a bit?

      • A different numbering system?! (face palm) Oh, for crying out loud! A different standard! I *hate* that! But I understand now. You suddenly don’t seem like a crazy lady. :-) (But I guess *I* do!) Well, poo. I’ll pipe down now and go get some foam pads. I’m not much for sanding, but it looks as if I’ll be a sander *now*! Thanks for helping me out, Cindy!

  59. About sanding your beads -
    I did a class with Melanie Muir and she gave us a good sanding shortcut.

    She uses 400 W&D sandpaper in a circular motion on the top of her mokume gane pieces (the back is textured and does not need sanding) and gently on the sides so as not to make a sharp edge. Then she moves on to the micromesh but she only uses the 1500 and 3600 nothing else.

    then she buffs the pieces and they look lovely and shiny with no varnish or wax needed.

    so there is no need to go through all the grades of sandpaper or micromesh.

    Hope this helps

    • Hi Sharon, the thing everyone needs to understand about how sandpaper works is that it is removing the material from the piece you are sanding, through a series of scratches. The heavy grits are deep scratches and remove the most material. The finer you go in grits the finer the scratches get. So basically what you are doing is removing the deeper scratches and replacing them with finer and finer scratches until they are no longer visible to the human eye or to the touch.

      The smoother the surface and the fewer and finer the scratches become, the more shiny the piece appears, because the light bounces more freely off the surface, rather than being trapped in the scratches.

      So… skipping steps in sand paper will work, because you are removing the deeper scratches and replacing them with finer ones. But it can actually be more work in the end, because the finer grit has to work so much harder to remove the deep scratches. Plus it wears out that finer paper much faster.

      To make a looong story short, sometimes it is faster to just run through all the grits (if you have them), than to take the extra time it takes for a finer grit to remove the coarser grits scratches.

      If the piece is very smooth,even and flawless to start with, you can start at a higher grit in the first place to same some time and effort though. That way you won’t need to be replacing such deep scratches, if you don’t have to.

      But like you experienced, you can get good results by skipping steps in sandpaper. It just might not be saving you as much time as you think.

  60. Hi Cindy,

    I was watching the back issue that I purchased 026-4, Micro mesh abrasives, you showed little sticks. They look great, and I can’t find them anywhere that I searched. Can you tell me where I can order them from. Every where that I searched including Amazon offers sticks that look like nail files :)

    Thank you,
    Ginny

      • HI Cindy – Have you used these swabs? I tried them and was very disappointed – they seemed very flimsy to me and I couldn’t exert any pressure on them while trying to sand …

        • Maria, I have had good luck making my own sanding pads and tubes for tight spots using the fine grade wet sandpapers and Dr. Scholls extra thick moleskin from the drug store. Just cut the sandpaper to fit the moleskin, and when needed, insert a bamboo skewer, toothpick, or knitting needle between the moleskin and the sandpaper.

          The glue on the back of the moleskin is strong, and the moleskin will do sandpaper grit removal and some buffing, while the dampened sandpaper side can get into the knooks and crannies well when supported by a wooden or metal stick.

          You can roll tubes, keeping the sandpaper on the exterior, or you can make mini paddles, like those used in boating. Dual layers of moleskin gives you more padding, if you need it.

          Have also rolled tools or made sandpaper shapes using double sided carpet tape, just enclosing a round cosmetic cotton wipe for cushioning and/or shaping.

          Another option is to purchase some needle diamond rasps or metal files. If you do, you will also need to purchase a brass brush to clean the poly clay out of the grooves.

          In some instances, I used a finger cot, wrapped it with double stick carpet tape while on my finger, then adhered a wet grit sandpaper. They might not last long, but, they can sure do the trick to remove those fingerprints from concave or convex surfaces.

          Hope this helps and all best…

          • Jocelyn – what a thorough answer! Thank you so much. I love this blog – everyone is so nice and helpful here!

          • Jocelyn- you are a wonderful inventive sharing trove of treasures:) Thank you

            this is going to be copy/pasted on my word pad, where I keep cool stuff like Dixie Ann’s neat scrap cane:)

  61. Love that some of the crazy stuff I end up trying helps others, lol! Will also note that you need a permanent marker to note the grit level of the paper so if you can use it again, you know what you are using.

    Also, you can try the chain/string sanding approach used for wood turnings.

    You can use double stick carpet tape or moleskin cut in a thin strip, Place a firm small diameter chain or string (vary the diameter of the chain/string to the openings/areas you need to tackle). Then put an equal strip of wet sanding paper over it. You can slide this through openings or gently around edges. The chain/string gives you “leverage” like you get with dental floss when you do your teeth. Dental floss would make a good base string, as it is strong.

    I affix the string, sandpaper and moleskin, then use scissors to cut a thin enough strip. You can run your protected thumb or a burnisher over the seams pulling to bring the edges together.

    When I use this, the object is usually in a vise so I can focus on the pressure on the sanding “string,” and I use the thinner version of moleskin to hold it in the vise so it doesn’t scratch the surface. The thinner version is also great used on the surface tips of pliers so that you do not scratch anything, or to adhere in small pieces around the bottoms of glass so they are easy to pick up and non marring. Only use moleskin around baked clay, as it sheds fibers.

    • All I can say is “Wow, thank you!” I have copied and pasted all this information into Evernote (it keeps me organized, I love it …)

  62. How great would it be if all these “DYI ” ideas were compiled into one place.
    Cindy would it be possible to open a page for paid members to access where we can put our ideas and read others, arranged in categories. Like you and Doug need more to do. It’s early and I have had some coffee so I’m just full of…….ideas lol

    • DYI = Do Yourself In

      (I’ve got a HUGE pile of IKEA requires-two-people full height wardrobery to assemble by myself on Saturday, so I’m definitely going to have a DYI weekend! :D)

      But that is a great suggestion, Cheryl! ;)

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