How To Get Your Polymer Clay Beads To Sparkle Like Glass:
One of the wonderful qualities about polymer clay is that it can be polished to a very glassy finish… if you use the proper techniques. Below are 6 tips to help make your beads shine.
Included with each tip are valuable resource links that will provide you with more detailed info about each topic:
1) Choose the Right Clay:
No matter how much you sand and buff, certain types of polymer clay will never get a glassy finish. Read the following article to learn about some important characteristics about the various brands of clay, including which ones will give you the brightest and shiniest beads:
- Fimo Clay, Premo, Sculpey – Which is Best for Cane Making and Sculpting: With so many polyclay brands to choose from, how do you know which one is best.
2) Avoid Fingerprints:
Even when you choose the right clay, there will be no point in buffing your beads if they are covered in fingerprints. It is possible to sand away those nasty imprints, but a better approach is to avoid leaving them in the first place. Read this article to keep your fingers from leaving their mark:
- Seven Tips To Avoid Leaving Finger Prints on Polymer Clay Beads: The enemy of all polymer clay bead makers… the dreaded fingerprint.
3) Bake Beads Properly:
You can’t get a nice finish on your beads if they haven’t been baked hard enough. Most home ovens and toaster ovens generate inconsistent temperatures. This can make it difficult to determine the length of time to bake your clay. Read this article if you want to know who to get the best results every time:
- When Baking Beads, It’s OK to Sometimes Break the Rules: How Long Do You Bake Your Beads? How’s that Working For You?
4) Sand Your Beads:
The only way you can get a nice smooth, glassy and professional looking finish on your beads is to use a little elbow grease. Sanding your beads properly takes just a few simple supplies and a little know how. Read this article to find out exactly how to go about sanding your beads right:
- Sand Your Polymer Clay Beads – Or Else: Or Else… Your Beads Won’t Look Nearly As Brilliant and Stunning As They Should.
5) Buff with Power:
Since your hands can’t possibly move as fast as a power tool, they just won’t buff your beads as well as a rotary device like the Dremel which can spin as fast as 5000 rpm. Power buffing is one of the big reasons many polymer clay bead artists are able to get such a glassy shine on their beads. However, don’t try to save time by skipping the sanding steps. If your beads have flaws that were not previously sanded out, buffing will just magnify them and make your beads look worse.
Since using a Dremel is a big part of the buffing process, I have included several articles for you to read before proceeding to the sixth tip:
- The Polymer Clay Dremel Tool Makes Buffing Beads Fun: Ladies, there’s a reason whey guys love power tools.
- Buffing Polymer Clay Beads with a Dremel Multipro Rotary Tool: Are you still polishing polymer clay by hand? Kick it up a notch and learn how to use the Dremel power tool.
- Dremel Tool Safety Tips for Polishing Polymer Clay Beads and Jewelry: Learn How To Use a Rotary Tool Safely with these Eight Tips.
- Polymer Clay Tutorial | Sew Your Own Dremel Buffing Wheel and Save: Polishing Polymer Clay Beads With Homemade Sewn Fabric Wheels.
- Polymer Clay Tutorial | Make Felt Buffing Wheels for a Dremel Tool: But Beware… Not All Felts Are Suitable For Buffing Polymer Clay Beads.
6) Add Some Liquid Shine:
Only after you have properly sanded and buffed your beads, should you ever consider coating them with a glossy liquid finish. Nothing looks worse than a gloppy shiny coating on a poorly finished bead. In fact, if you really do an excellent job at the sanding and buffing, you may not need any additional coating at all. But when you do want to add a liquid finish, read this article BEFORE buying something from the local craft store:
- Polymer Clay Finishes – Which One Is Best? Choosing the Right Polymer Clay Finish for Your Beads Can Be Puzzling.
So, I hope that list of resource links helps you to achieve a perfect glass like shine on your polymer clay beads. By the way, if you learn better by watching videos, most everything above is covered in my 39 part Polymer Clay Bead Making for Beginners Course.