After you oxidize, you have to polish, polish, polish. And then polish some more. This is where you really notice that not all polishing cloths are made equal!
To be fair, I do put the polishing cloths through their paces when removing the extra oxidization. They are designed to keep already polished beads looking their best, not to take black beads and make them shine.
You can buy polishing cloths from the same sites that sell metal clay supplies, but so far I’ve been using the cloths that come with brand-name beads that I buy. The best polishing cloths that I’ve found so far are Ohm’s. I’ve also tried Trollbeads and Pandora polishing cloths and a no-name polishing cloth that I received with a different jewellery purchase. All work, but require more manual effort than Ohm’s to remove the extra oxidization.
Because I was going through so many polishing cloths, I’ve tried washing them when they get really dirty (otherwise, you’re really just moving the blackness from one side to the other). It works to a certain degree, but then they really become second (or third) pass polishing tools rather than working to get the initial oxidization off. I also need to wash my hands quite a bit as I polish since the oxidization comes off on my hands and then end up as black as the cloths. More than once I’ve had one side nicely polished, turned the bead to do another part, and discovered that my blackened fingers messed up my beautifully polished side!
An interesting tool that I’ve found is some anti-tarnish material works beautifully as a first-pass polishing cloth. It won’t make a bead shine, but it will take off the darker oxidization so that I’m not wasting as many polishing cloths. Unfortunately, I can’t remember anymore where I got these little anti-tarnish squares!
That supply is running low, though, so soon I will have to break down and buy my own polishing cloths. Which is fine; soon I need some more metal clay :)
Do you mind putting in a little extra elbow grease sometimes to get things the way that you want it? Or would you pay more for something that required less effort?