Sanding and Buffing Your Polymer Clay Is Worth It

Sanding vs Not Sanding Polymer ClayVideo #337: It feels so silky… almost like running your fingers across a piece of the finest satin that money can buy.

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Samples of Sanded and Unsanded Faux Labradorite Polymer Clay Pieces.
  • Amazing glassy surface without the use of glazes, finishes or waxes.
  • Differences between Unsanded vs. Sanded Polymer Clay in:
    – Look
    – Clarity
    – Touch
    – Finish
    – Quality
    – Value
  • Why you may want to avoid smooth polymer clay techniques, especially Faux Stone effects, if you are not going to bother sanding and buffing your polymer clay pieces.


By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

Oh and don’t forget to give these videos a Thumbs Up click at YouTube if you are enjoying them. The more Likes a video gets, the higher it rises in the searches. And that means even more people will be able to join in on this polymer clay journey of a lifetime.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
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Comments

  1. Love what you guys are doing with all of the psa vids over at YouTube

    After watching your video (and doing the thumbs up button) :D
    they (YouTube) put up ‘related’ videos……..omw what a mess !!
    One little girl dry sanding with a nail file and an exacto blade
    Another lady who almost got it But she was using different brands of w/d sandpaper…..arggggg

    wow I guess I’m still sick w/ this stupid cold cuz I’m really grumpy

    So Cindy will we be learning this beautiful faux next month? I really hope so:)

    take care and stay well – back to sanding my little apples from your pear video

  2. Thanks Cindy, another great tip. It’s really hard to believe people wouldn’t want to spend extra time sanding and polishing, when it’s clear how much better it looks.

  3. Cindy you are amazing. I have been following you for a few months now, and am in awe at how versatile and knowledgeable you are. You seem to know something about everything. Your videos are so? clear and concise and share great tips. Thank you, Melodie

  4. Hi Cindy:
    Can we learn this Faux Labradorite method in the near future? It happens to be one of my favorite stones. Just seeing it in your video and the sanded/buffed version whetted my appetite to create it in polymer clay. Keep up the video tips, love the ideas!
    Pauline Duke

  5. Ditto on the Labradorite method. Love it when we get to learn how to do Faux stones. I wasn’t much on sanding until I joined Cindys video’s and found out how much it made the quality of my work so much better. I’m getting another year with the Art Museum for my jewelry! Hurray!

    • Dixie that is amazing! I am so impressed. That is excellent news to hear when so many are talking doom and gloom these days!

      I am curious… What is your most popular type/style of jewelry that you sell or the gallery sells? Is it pendants, bracelets, earrings, etc and are they more feminine in style like flowers and filigree, or are they more rustic and clunky?

      Just trying to get a feel for the direction to take some of my tutorials based on what is happening out there. I love so many different styles that I am happy going any direction, but just wondering what you and your customers think.

      @Everyone: What direction/focus would YOU like to see my tutorials go?

      • Hi Cindy, in reply to your question about the jewelry for the art museum that was a tough call because I didn’t know what would sell. I took a variety of pieces and every 3 pc. matching set sold both flowery, chunky and mokume gane beads were very popular. People here like matching sets but I also sold some mixed media pieces like domino pendants, the brass bullet bracelet and wire and clay combo’s. but much fewer of those individual pieces. What they like here in the Midwest isn’t necessarily what they like back East or on the West Coast. What they do want and expect is Quality.
        I have noticed also that season changes make a difference. In warmer weather most choices are lighter cooler colors and in colder weather they go more for the chunky warmer colors. Multiple colors seem to be more popular than one single color and browns don’t seem to sell at all. I think you have done an excellent job of planning your tutorials and the color choices you chose for them have worked extremely well. I have become very astute of jewelry pieces wherever I go, what I watch on TV, magazines I read, following blogs that relate to fashion and jewelry. The very first piece that the Art Museum sold was to a local news anchor and it was a graduated round bead necklace in a mokume gane called “Chaos” with matching earrings. I always name my pieces because it seems to bond with the prospective buyer and they “just have to have it”. I don’t however think we should forget about the men. I would like to see some fashionable pieces just for them. I plan on taking all of my orphan beads and making earrings, bracelets, pins, or bookmarks with them and have a home sale once a year in the fall after the kids are in school. Never underestimate selling Christmas jewelry in July. I sold all of mine during the month of July! Hope this all helps. Am so looking forward to that Labrodite tute. I would love to see you make more faux gemstones like that. Yours is so like the real thing I was amazed. :=)

    • Congrats Dixie, that is wondeful news on your jewelry and Art Museum.

      I am with you when it came to sanding just did everything I could to avoid it
      until I joined Cindy’s tutes. Not my favorite task but the results speak for their self.

      Thank you Cindy for showing us the correct way to do another technique.

  6. I must be a bit odd, because I actually enjoy hand-sanding. I always put on a movie, and I find it quite painless. I LOVE the feel of well-sanded beads, and I’m always fingering my necklaces …. just love that silky-smooth feeling, and people who wear my jewellery have said the same! However I’ve never got round to machine buffing, and this is something I want to get to grips with this year. I find that hand-buffing with Renaissance wax gives a lovely satin finish, but that amazing glassy finish obviously needs something more!

    And I have to agree … a faux Labradorite tute would be great!! Blessings to all! xx

  7. I love your videos Cindy. I’m just a beginner but have already learned so much from you. You always? have such beautiful professional looking shapes to your pieces.

  8. In the past I’ve never been a fan of sanding and would rather take a beating than sand LOL .
    Cindy did the tute showing the AWESOME sanding square pad thingies ( can’t remember what they are called), and sanding has been so much easier. They are easy on the hands, color coded for each grit and over all just make sanding something that I don’t mind at all anymore. Thanks Cindy for finding these great sanding pads and making the life of sanding so much easier :)

    • They are called Micro-Mesh Pads Susan. Doug put a link to them, inside your comment, so that others will know what you’re talking about. I am glad you are now ‘tolerating’ :) the sanding process because of the micromesh pads!

      I have a new power tool that I am going to show everyone that makes it even easier! It is on the pricey side but for me it is so awesome that that doesn’t count! Just waiting for some accessories, so will do a video as soon as I can.

      Thank you for your comment!

      • Thanks Cindy and Doug for putting a name to the Micro-Mesh Pads, I knew they had a fancier name than “sanding square pad thingies” my brain just couldn’t get into gear and think of the right name for them LOL.
        Cant wait to see the new power tool you are going to show us! I think I might know now what I want to ask my husband now for Valentines Day. I am such a romantic girl aren’t I ? No diamonds for me. Just power tools to make sanding easier :)
        Thanks for always coming up with such neat products and tools to make clay life so much easier. Makes it a lot more fun :)
        Susan R.

      • Hmm, there is a power tool that I have been considering, at first for other jewelry-making tasks, but then I wondered if it would be good for sanding polymer clay also. I wonder if it is the same one you are playing with now? I won’t say because I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I’m dying to know because I’d get it in a snap! ;-)

  9. Sanding and buffing were two of many things I have learned, Cindy! My work went from very amateur to lovely because of you.

  10. Great video Cindy! And Doug! You’re gonna make me like sanding yet. Finally got some of the micromesh pads because of your recommendation. They’re great!

    So now, when I don’t feel like creating something from scratch… I sit down and sand. ;) Its still creative, right? LOL!

    Can’t wait for the labrodorite!

  11. Cindy the comparison of those two pieces sure shows the benefit of sanding and buffing well. It is hard to believe they both came out of the oven looking the same way. The transformation is almost magical.

    Love the faux labrodorite and cannot wait for the tute.

    Dixie, congratulations on the renewal of the Art Museum contract! I am so happy for you!

    Kathy mentioned the wonderful shapes you use when making flat pendants. I would love to see a tute on how these are done. Do you cut them out using a scalpel blade and templates, or do you design your own “cookie” cutters? Or do you use a die cutting machine?

    • Hi Doll, that was nice of Kathy to mention that. I use several methods, one is where I cover the clay with saran wrap before cutting. I love the way it curves the edges of the piece. Sometimes I print and use my embroidery patterns by laying it on the clay and then using a blade knife painstakingly cut around the design. I also have triangles, ovals, squares, rounds and various other cutters. With a variety of cutters I can use parts of one cutter on a flat piece or mix them up. I also use a long quilting pin to mark around some pieces. I lay my pattern on the clay and poke holes through the paper and the clay. When I remove the paper, the pattern is transferred and ready to cut out with a blade knife. I have also used the Sizzix machine and made cut outs from chipboard and transferred them to clay. Where there’s a will, there’s a way Jocelyn, it’s just fun trying it out. Go have some fun sweetie!

      • Dixie, thanks for all the great suggestions. Never thought of using a paper or cardboard pattern to trace around, or the technique of using pin marking around a design. I have used the plastic wrap technique successfully, but that only works if you have a shape cutter to apply uniform pressure.

        Also have never considered using a variety of shape cutters in one design, and that sure gives me some ideas.

        Have heard of others using a piece of acrylic to apply rounding to the edges of a free form design, and would sure like to see Cindy do a tute on this technique.

        Anything that helps giving a professional rounded edge is appreciated, I am sick of sanding the sharp edges trying to get a uniform look, LOL!

        I have been having lots of fun playing with the faux rust tutorial. Paprika is everywhere. Who knew you could have so much fun with a spice.

  12. Thank you everyone for your comments! I am pleased to see that many of you have seen an improvement to the quality of your pieces, by putting more effort into your finishing.

    Just like a fine craftsman who makes gorgeous high end cabinetry, always spends a large chunk of his production time doing the finishing work, so should a polymer clay bead maker. Sometimes this involves sanding and polishing, and sometimes it does not, depending on the technique used in the project.

    But in all cases, attention to detail is important. Your pieces should always be built to the best of your ability, cured to maximum strength, look and feel nicely finished and look as good on the back/inside as it does on the front/outside.

    Your pieces will only be as good as your current skills and that is totally fine. You can’t start at the top. But you will feel more satisfied and pleased with your work, if you put into it the best you got.

    I personally have seen a big improvement in my work as my skills have developed over the years. Are they museum level? Probably not. But when I hold my latest bead or piece of jewelry in my hands, I know I put the best I had into it. Sure, later down the road I will probably look at it and see where I could improve on it, just like I do when I look at any of my older pieces. But for now I am happy where I’m at. Proud of how I’ve grown. And excited about where I might go.

    I hope for each of you that you can feel the same way. We are all at different stages in our lives and on our artistic journeys. We all have different skills, needs and desires we want to get from the experience. We all have improved as we’ve learned, while still having room to grow even further.

    I guess I am feeling a little sentimental about this business today and all of you amazing people who have joined me in this polymer clay journey. Forgive me if I let my ‘sucky’ side show. It just means a lot to me. So thank you!

    —————

    Oh and Yes… You will all get to learn how to make a Faux Labradorite Pendant which includes cutting them into lovely shapes (with a blade Jocelyn) in the February tutorial. Enjoy!

    • YAY !!!
      and I have to say that although I have always sanded my pieces, I didn’t buff them as well and so used glaze. Lately, I really enjoy just having sanded and buffed pieces that I can “reshine” on my sweater or other soft material I am wearing.

  13. That was really well said Cindy. I often feel like I’m chasing after a rainbow when I’m working on stuff because I want it to look more fabulous than the one before it. I need to learn to be patient and celebrate the steps I have learned recently (like sanding and buffing) and know that I will grow in leaps and bounds – just not immediately. I think I’m going to print out what you wrote and hang it where I do my crafting.

  14. Nice Lab look….. I would have liked to have seen the reverse on that sanded piece to see the difference. If you can incorporate that into any up coming vid, I would like to see it. :D

    Congrats to Dixie Ann!

  15. I don’t completely hate sanding, but I get tired standing at the sink for so long. I’m going to start taking a bowl of soapy water to my table so that I can sit while I’m sanding. One day I want to invest in the micro-mesh pads as well. As far as buffing goes, I have a hand held power drill (like a dremel), but I need to get a vise to hold it – it spins so fast it bothers my hands. I also need to learn how to make the buffer pads for it. I really want to start buffing my beads. I usually use future, and they look nice, but I think the buffer would be faster, less messy, and more professional looking.

  16. I would have liked to see the not sanded and sanded without the buffing. The buffing makes all the difference. I can never get that glassy shine even though I sand through 5 grits and have a buffing wheel.
    I always look forward to Fridays and bring my breakfast to the computer to watch your video.

  17. Sing this to the well known tune to make you smile.

    Whistle while you work
    You know you mustn’t shirk
    Go through the grits
    Zap yukky bits
    just whistle while you work

    So do what CINDY says
    Although i might t take days
    You’ll be so glad
    Might make you mad
    But whistle while you work.

    So sing this silly rhyme
    A little at a time
    Rub rub rub then rest
    This bead will be my best

    Sand sand sand then stop
    To make the finish pop
    Silky smooth and clean
    Love that silky sheen

    So do what CINDY says
    And follow in her ways!

    You will not be able to get that tune out of your head, I’ve been humming it for a few days. hee hee!
    Just to say a BIG thank you to everyone who is thinking of me. You will never know what it means to read such kind words of support, it touched my heart. Gotta go before I get too slushy……cheers xx……..

  18. Hi Cindy
    I loved this tuttorial, I have one question, if you rememeber I live in México, I have being having some trouble to get the Minwax finishing paste, and I was planning a friend to bring it to me, but now I saw the RENASSANCE MICRO CRYSTALL WAX POLISH, as I saw you recommend this better. Where can she get it? is it safe to bring it by airplane? do you see any flamable ingredients in the label?, thank you!!!!

    • Hi Marcela, I bought my Renaissance Wax from Otto Frei in the USA. But there are lots of places you can buy it, including Amazon. Have your friend do a Google search for the best location to buy it for where she lives. As far as shipping restrictions go, she will have to check that as well. I had mine shipped from the US to a US postal box and drove it across the border, so there were no restrictions for me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any though. I just don’t know what they are. The label doesn’t show any flammable warnings. But I would check with the company to be sure first. Sorry my answer isn’t clearer. If you do find out more, come back and let us know. It would be helpful for others. Good luck!

  19. Hi everyone, I want to report my impressions of the ProtectaClear Coating for use on jewelry. I ordered it from Everybrite, Inc. for $23.30 which included shipping. The customer support was wonderful and so helpful with any questions that I had both before and after ordering the product.

    That being said; I would not recommend it for use on jewelry. It is very hard to apply it without having drips that are hard to control (I dipped mine). It did not dry as fast as they said that it would, and the copper, silver plate, and sterling silver items that I treated seemed to re-tarnish very quickly. The product seems to put a light, clear, plastic-like coating on the article. I went through the coating procedure as recommended, i.e. clean with a tarnish remover, neutralize the remover with a solution of baking soda, and then wipe again with denatured alcohol. This was done prior to coating the article with the ProtectaClear.

    I find it easier just to dip the article in jewelry tarnish remover, rinse it off, and dry it prior to wearing it. Of course, this does not solve the problem of bulk pieces of jewelry that have tarnished, but need to be cleaned before displaying at a craft showing. That is the main reason why I am trying to find a way to prevent tarnish from occurring.

    I hope I did not discourage you from trying it out yourselves; please do so because I may not have used the product correctly and would love to see it work for us.

    One more thing. It did seem to put a nice clear, shiny coating on the polymer clay pieces. That could be a potential use for the product. I have not allowed enough time to go by, however, to see it will affect the polymer clay adversely.

    Thanks for letting me review this product.

    Cris

  20. I have a question regarding finishing, SORT of: can you recure or rebake your beads AFTER they’ve already been lacquered? I feel that my earliest beads were not baked hard enough, and would like to make them stronger. Yes? or No? Thanks so much for your help and generosity; your videos and tips make you a polymer clay heroine to me.

    • Great question Lee! the answer would be Yes in most cases. I would test a piece first though, to be sure that your particular finish can handle being placed in the oven again. But most of them respond quite nicely to being cured in the oven. If your tests prove to be unsuccessful, try removing the finish with rubbing alcohol and see if that works. DO come back and let us know how your testing turns out. Good luck!

      • I’m happy to report that the re-baking/curing was a success. There were no apparent problems from the beads having been lacquered, and they’re now much stronger. Whew.
        Can’t wait to go to the USA in March and pick up my bench grinder to bring back to Germany. Mostly I’m visiting my daughter and grandkids, but the side benefit is picking up tools and supplies. Now I’m off to read your “Spring” post.
        .

        • That is awesome news Lee! (Great name btw, Lee is my middle name.) :)

          Thanks for coming back to tell us your results. By sharing your testing with us, it helps to make this a great resource for other clayers.

          Essentially making PcT the worlds largest Polymer Clay Test Lab! … on to World Domination Mwaa Haa Haa… Well not exactly, but it helps! :)

          • hahahahaha — great sense of humor! And Lee is actually my middle name, too. I’ve always been Karen Lee Price, but my husband is Karlheinz Luda (he’s a German) so I decided to have an “artist” name that was not my usual name, to help me keep my accounts unconfused, so: Lee Luda.

            I have you linked on my website, so if there’s any problem with that, please let me know. I don’t know what the etiquette is for that sort of thing.

          • Linking to our site is wonderful etiquette Karen aka Lee. Thank you for that!

            That’s a cute story about your name. I was born Cindy Lee Ross which sounded just fine. But when I married Doug and it became Cindy Lee Lietz, which sounds like I’m stuttering if I say my full name! lol

  21. Thanks so much for your quick response! I will try this tomorrow (probably) and share the results. But after seeing your video, I won’t be using lacquer again except to seal in microbeads and pastels, etc.

  22. You are sooo right the thought and work that goes into creating a faux anything deserves a great finish that is why I would love to see a tutorial on how to make the perfect bezel especially ones that can be embellished with wire or glass or even more polymer beads as a surround for beautiful pieces. I would love to bake the embellishments into the bezels but worry that a piece of wire or glass would impact the baking by getting too hot where it is embedded in the clay, my thinking being that these embellishments would then be more secure as opposed to gluing them on later. I also don’t know if a piece can be baked in the bezel or used to press into the clay then cut the outer frame of the bezel around the piece to make a mold to later use glue to secure your stone or beads inside the bezel.

    • I’ll add your request to the list Cheryl. In the mean time, go ahead and bake some glass bead and wire embedded pieces. It won’t cause you any ‘hot spot’ issues. You’re right about embedded pieces being more secure than glued in pieces. So why don’t you try and come up with some of your own ideas? Sounds like you already have something in your head as far as design goes. It never hurts do play a little. You may just come up with your own perfect solution to the problem.

  23. I have a problem with the Alcohol inks not drying. My last piece i used the hair dryer but it cooked the clay a bit, so obviously i used it for too long, but in saying that it took that length of time to dry the ink. So, what could i have done better? could i have used too much ink? Otherwise everything else went fine. I have a couple to pics to upload but our internet is sooo sloooooow at the moment, used up all our broadband data and are on dial up at the moment.
    Thanks in advance
    Sandra

    • It is possible Sandra that you used too much ink for it to dry quickly enough. Try using the cool setting on your blow dryer instead and you shouldn’t have any problems cooking your clay. Also, when it dries it will still be tacky when it is used on raw polymer clay. It doesn’t have to be bone dry… you just don’t want it wet enough to evaporate when baking and cause air pockets between your layers. Just keep trying the technique. You’ll find it works beautifully. You just may need a little practice to make it perfect.

      • Hey thanks for that Cindy. I thought it had to be bone dry. I tried it a second time and got tired of waiting for it to be dry so finished it while it was tacky. The second time worked out great. will post pics soon,.

  24. Hi everybody, I just purchased some Porter Cable cleaning and polishing compounds from Lowe’s that are used to clean and polish metals. It comes in 5 grits. The salesman and I tried to figure out the corresponding sanding grit; we think that the #5 corresponds to 1000 grit, the #4 is 800, and the #3 is 600. #2 and #1 are for rougher cleaning so I did not buy those. #3 is to clean soft metals, #4 is for light polishing on all metals, and #5 is for a high gloss polishing on all metals. # 3 was also recommended for polishing hard plastics. That being said, you are supposed to “charge” the little buffing wheel on the Dremel with the compound to clean or polish. I am looking forward to trying this method of polishing my polymer pieces. You are supposed to use one buffing wheel per compound. I am going to finish with my cleaning compound that I use on my stained glass pieces. I’ll report back and let ya’ll know how it works. Cris

  25. Hi Cindy, I’ve been a huge fan of yours within last few weeks as your style on YouTube is not to teach different designs and patterns but to point out what makes us little guys look better. Your tutorials are completely adding value to my finished art work. Please keep up the tempo like this and we all will be ending up experts soon :-)

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