Sanding Polymer Clay Beads – How to Make ’em Shine

Sanding Polymer Clay

Vid #038: Learn How To Sand Your Polymer Clay Properly If You Want Professional Looking Beads:

Sanding is probably THE most important step for getting your beads to look professional. My best advice here is to put as much time into getting a great finish on your polymer clay beads as you did making them in the first place.

Do this and the quality of your work will quickly surpass those of the lazy beaders… guaranteed!

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The full version of the “Basic Sanding Techniques” preview video shown above, is included in my Polymer Clay Bead Making Fundamentals Course [SEE Video #38 of 39]. As far as I’m concerned, sanding is one of the most important final steps to making your beads look elegant and classy. This video is the first part of a series where I demonstrate how to use all of the different kinds of wet-dry sandpapers and polishing grits on your polymer clay pendant and bead projects.

  1. Cindy Lietz, 20 March, 2008

    Fight the temptation to be lazy. Don’t skip over this crucial last step of sanding your work. I have seen incredibly intricate cane works of art spoiled by a few ugly fingerprints that did not get sanded out after the baking process.

    If you really hate to sand, then try very hard to avoid leaving fingerprints before you get to the baking stage.

    If you find that your baked beads have a very uneven surface and that starting with the 320 grit would take too long to get a smooth surface, start the sanding process with some drywall mesh: Sanding Polymer Clay with Drywall Sandpaper Means Less Gouging

  2. Tim, the Redneck Bar and Grill guy :), 21 March, 2008

    I just had to see what a polymer bead was…..

  3. Cindy Lietz, 21 March, 2008

    Well Tim, I hope it’s opened up a whole new world for ya!

  4. Sarah Gomez, 25 April, 2008

    I make polymer pendant jewelry and would love to purchase your videos, however my husband gets mad when I clog up the computer. Can you burn them to a DVD?

  5. Cindy Lietz, 25 April, 2008

    Hi Sarah – Thanks for your interest in my videos. They will be available very soon now in web video format. If there is enough demand for DVD’s, I guess I’ll have to look into that too.

    BTW, the web videos stream on your computer which means they won’t clog up your hard drive. The big advantage in using the web to deliver my polymer clay bead making videos is that I can upload new clips on regular basis.

    Once I get all the "i’s" dotted and "t’s" crossed with the web publishing platform I’m using, the plan is to provide you with weekly video updates. This would be tough to do as frequently on DVD.

    Now that this topic has been brought up, would anyone else like to share some thoughts about Web Video vs DVD preferences?

    Cindy’s last blog post..Polymer Clay Supplies From Unlikely Places

  6. Michelle, 08 September, 2008

    I personally like the idea of the web videos. I haven’t purchased them yet, but I’m ver interested. It’s just a matter of saving the money. With the videos I can quickly and easily find what it is I’m looking for, watch it and then get back to my work. With a DVD I have to take the time to put it in the player and fiddle with what I’m looking for.

    I think Web videos provide a little bit more ease and flexibility that the DVD doesn’t have. Also the fact that you add more videos quite often is a huge bonus and something that cannot be overlooked in my opinion.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 13 September, 2008

    Thank you for your valuable feedback Michelle. I really appreciate it!

  8. Mary Ellen, 12 November, 2008

    Hi Cindy, I forgot about the soap. How much and if you polish the beads that much will the clear finish stay on the bead?

  9. Cindy Lietz, 13 November, 2008

    Just a drop of soap will do it. You don’t want it to get too soapy. The soap is just there to cut the surface tension on the water and keep the sandpaper clean.

    As far as the clear finish, do you mean the buffed shine or an added finish like Future Floor Finish?

  10. Rebecca, 16 January, 2009

    Will the sanding of the bead make it shine, or do you still put some kind of varnish on the bead, if so, what? Thanks

  11. Cindy Lietz, 16 January, 2009

    If you do the sanding and buffing properly, you can get a beautiful shine without a finish. If you want an even glossier finish you can use Future Floor Finish or Varathane. Click the link by my name for more info.

  12. Ken H., 11 March, 2009

    Since I just joined last month, it is taking me some time to get “caught up” on my reading here. I was interested in the request for a cd or dvd of your video lessons. It is far easier to carry my portable dvd player than my laptop with wifi on it. I could then watch your tutorials during me commute on the train to and from work. Just as a suggestion you could offer a new collection once a year with that years videos and color formulas. I also could keep the portable dvd player on the workspace with me as I’m crafting (it’s a lot smaller than my laptop). Please, please consider offering DVD’s of your videos.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 11 March, 2009

    Ken – Thanks for chiming in on DVD topic. The Vol-012 (12 month) anniversary for the library is coming up fairly soon. As you suggested, that will be a good time to evaluate the level of interest.

    As a way to keep track of things, here is a list of links to comments at other articles here at the blog, where others have discussed the DVD option as well.

    Personalized Polymer Clay Tools
    Beading Classes
    Polymer Clay Survey
    Polymer Clay Color Recipes
    Clay Cane Leaf Beads
    Beads and Beading and Polymer Clay | Podcast Update
    More Polymer Clay Recipes
    Polymer Clay Pillow Beads Video Tutorial
    Polymer Clay Lessons

    Hopefully that’s all of the links. But if anyone else finds other references that I missed, please do let me know. It’s nice to have a central point like this to reference.

  14. Judy Finch, 17 January, 2010

    Where do you get your “wet and dry sandpaper”? I am from the Savannah Ga. area and can not find it in any of the stores here. I do see it on the internet. Judy Finch

  15. Linda K., 18 January, 2010

    @Judy Finch: I found a few of the grits of wet/dry sandpaper in the local auto supply store. I found a few more grits in the auto supply section of Wal-Mart. I live in a rural area, so shopping is very limited here. I’ll bet you can find all the grits you need at a large auto supply in or around Savannah.

  16. Cindy Lietz, 18 January, 2010

    @Judy: I buy my wet/dry sandpaper in the automotive department of Canadian Tire or Walmart. But I’m sure you can find it anywhere that sells auto body supplies. For more information on any topic, remember that you can type in your subject into the search box at the top of the page. There are almost 700 articles and over 10,000 comments with just about everything you need to know about polymer clay. Using the blog search function will usually provide you with quicker answers than I am able to provide, since the blog is now such a busy place.

    @Linda: Thank you for passing along your info to Judy! I am so grateful to you for helping others here at the blog! :-)

  17. Ken H, 13 May, 2010

    Well, it’s been a while since I inquired about the back videos being sold on DVD, while I now have a full set, I still would like them on dvd since a portable dvd player is much smaller than a laptop and can be kept on the workspace next to you, has there been any movement in favor or against the idea of selling dvd’s with the back Vids, and I also remember something being said about podcasting, has this been abandoned since you’re so very busy now? Just curious.

  18. Cindy Lietz, 17 May, 2010

    @Ken H: Sorry Ken to take so long to reply to you. Thanks for bringing some “new life” to this topic. Hopefully others will pick up on the suggestion and chime in with their thoughts too.

  19. Shantel Haynes, 03 May, 2011

    Hi Cindy,
    I love your website, it’s amazing to say the least. My question refers to which grit do you actually use when sanding Fimo Clay ? Also when sanding, do you need to where a face mask to prevent breathing in any particles?

  20. Cindy Lietz, 03 May, 2011

    @Shantel Haynes: Thank you for saying that Shantel! I am mostly working with a product called Micro-mesh which has a range of grades. I love it much better than sandpaper, since it gives a much smoother finish in far less time. The link by my name will take you to more info on that.

    But if you want to use a wet/dry sand paper, the best place to start is a 400 or 600 grit and then work your way up to 1200 to 2000grit. I don’t use a mask for dust, since the dust is trapped in the water during the sanding process, but if you are worried about that, you could always wear one.

    There are tons of articles on this blog about sanding and finishing your beads, as well as tutorial videos you can purchase. Just use the search box at the top of the page to learn more.

  21. Betty B, 19 October, 2012

    Hi, Cindy!

    My mind is spinning! I started making things with polymer clay about 15 or so years ago. I only used white clay and then painted it. The colored clay scared me because of the fingerprints as well as the streaks I would get from my pasta machine. I didn’t have any idea how to clean them off and eventually got away from doing anything with my clay! Your course has been great and I am no longer afraid of the colored clay!

    I’ve learned so many things from your course. I never sanded my pieces before and what I used for a finish worked okay, but wasn’t the best. I’ve remade one of my painted designs in colored clay and it has turned out great! I used multiple colors, including a simple bull’s eye cane for some polka dots that were painted onto the original design. After baking, I sanded and buffed it, then used the finish you recommended and it turned out so cute!

    I’m planning to do some more and want to get good at making canes, too. In fact, some friends who saw some of my original work wanted to know if I had an Etsy store! I had sold some of my painted pieces in the past, have a special order for one of my “redesigned” pieces, and have now opened an Etsy store! I’m exploring and playing right now and hope to soon be able to purchase several if not all of the back issues of the library videos. My biggest problem is that there are so many things to make, I have a hard time deciding what to do!

    Thanks for all you do for us! I’m excited to get my supply of clay and tools built up, so I can really dig in and do some awesome things!

    Betty Bolerjack

    P.S. You had asked for suggestions. I’m not sure you can improve the course itself, but is there any way you can make it and the member videos available for viewing on tablets? My computer is not currently near where I work, so I have to watch a segment, then go and attempt to do it. If I can’t remember something, I have to go back to my computer to watch again, then back to my work area. I’m going to have a dedicated room for a studio soon and will move my computer in there, but I’m sure I’m not the only one with this issue. I do have an iPad and it would be so nice to be able to watch it on that while I am working.

    P.P.S. I’d still like to figure out how to keep those Pasta Machine streaks off of my clay to begin with. They aren’t from clay residue. It’s almost like an oil or some kind of lubricant on the rollers and it just keeps showing up. :-(

    P.P.P.S. I used an eye-pin in the top of the earrings that I made for the special order and one of them has come loose. What would be best to use to fasten it back so that it stays secure? I haven’t sent it out yet as the lady is traveling and is not in a big hurry for it, but she is buying it as a gift and I sure don’t want it coming apart! I used TLS when I made it, but for some reason, that one didn’t stay secure. Should I use some more TLS and rebake it? Or should I get something like some E6000 or another adhesive? Thanks for your help!

  22. Cindy Lietz, 20 October, 2012

    Hi Betty,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post your thoughts about the Course. Sharing feedback like this really gives others great insight about what they can expect from the video tutorials. I truly appreciate your help and am so happy to hear you are enjoying the lessons.

    Your request for being able to view the videos on tablet devices is a good one. In fact, the newer library videos from Vol-035 to current are already “iPad” friendly… and we will be working backwards to the very beginning so that everything will be updated eventually. We started producing the videos before the “tablet revolution” began, which is why the older content is still only viewable on PC desktops/laptops.

    In regards to your pasta machine causing streaks on the clay… that link will take you to where this issue was discussed in another post. The topic has also been discussed in other conversation threads… you can use appropriate keywords in the blog search box at the top of the page to find several other references.

    And finally about the earwires, I would recommend using the E6000 or Weldbond… again, there is some good info at the blog, about using these adhesive products. Use keywords in the search box to find lots the references. Btw, TLS is really not a good option for securing jewelry findings. It is just not meant for that type of application.

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