My eyeball bead is the only item I’ve made that I didn’t have to do anything to after it dried (other than fire, oxidize, and polish it). Usually after the metal clay dries, you need to smooth out the surface to remove small ridges and file the edges so that they don’t become sharp after firing. For smaller pieces that are harder to form, you might also need to shape the piece after it dries to get it the way that you really want it.
While I haven’t found the perfect tool to get the surface of the dried clay completely smooth, a cheap emery board does wonders to get the edges smooth and to shape pieces the way that I want! Two outta three ain’t bad, right?
When I started, I tried using sandpaper, but even the finest sandpaper left lines in the clay. Since the sandpaper itself is flexible, it was also a bit harder to control the pressure and often I ended up sanding off too much in one area and not enough in another. Then, I found these emery boards. They’re more rigid than sandpaper, so I can apply an even amount of pressure across the piece. I can even cut them into smaller strips for smaller areas and they still retain enough rigidity to be useful. And, they’re finer than sandpaper, so they don’t leave noticeable scratches in the edges of clay. They’re so fine that they’re actually pretty useless for filing your nails!
Sadly, they are also so fine that I go through them more quickly and I’ve used up most of my original set. This is the last one. I recently bought a different set of emery boards to replace them, but they are too rough and I’m back to having lines in my pieces. I really need to get back to the store where I bought the original ones so that I can replace them properly!
Now, if I could only find something to smooth out the surface of my piece. Recently I’ve been thinking that since I’ve had so much luck with filing boards meant for fingernails, perhaps I need to try a buffing board meant for fingernails too?
Have you found a good tool or other favourite item, only to find that you couldn’t get a replacement when you ran out? What did you do?