Sanding

Sanding Sponge


Sanding is a critical and often overlooked step toward finishing your PMC creation. How finished (or not) your piece looks in the end has to do with the integrity — quality and duration -- in the sanding step.

Sanding refers to fine finishing the piece in the dry-clay PMC.

Folks working with PMC for the first few times do not realize how important sanding is. When I see a piece I truly admire, I am most perplexed at how they sanded it to achieve their incredibly smooth satin or shiny finish.

Baby Wipes? Yup. Just so you know, sanding is not for everyone. There are a few PMC artists who hardly sand at all. Instead, they wipe the surface in question repeatedly with a baby wipe. You can imagine this makes a thin paste and erases all cracks and leaves a smooth surface.

What to do with your filings and scraps? See Scraps and Filings Into Clay.


Here is what I know about sanding.

Below are a Bear and Raven pendants in the dry clay stage. As you can see I have layered two pieces of clay. Now I need to sand the edges to my liking, which is so it looks like one piece. That is, no seam.


When I have something this coarse, I begin with emergy boards, the big fat ones or the narrow tan ones.


I use 3M Sanding Sponges a lot. 

PMC Connection sells a set called 5-Piece Sponge Sander Set that contains the following grits. 

Medium 120 
Fine 320
Super Fine 500
Ultra Fine 800
Micro Fine 1200

RioGrande sells the same as 3M Sponge Sanding Pads, Set of 5. RioGrande sells the pads separately, too. 

80-grit
150-grit
320-grit
600-grit
1,000-grit

You can see in the photos below their name is on the back, but I can’t ever remember the sequence. Thus, I use a Sharpie and write a sequence number on the back, so I know what order in which to use them. I seldom use #1, sometimes use #2, and often use #3, 4, and 5. 

I sand the sides of my piece. I sand the beveled edge of my piece, which I will explain below. I sand certain surfaces, such as smooth flat ones or those with recessed textures. 

If you have sanded well and still have an obvious seam that you don’t want, it’s time to get out the syringe and fill it. Then wet your finger and smooth the clay over the seam. Allow to dry and sand again.

Pieces and components that are tiny, I do not sand with emery boards or sanding paper. I use a tool called Supernail. See even further below.


This Bear has a flat surface whose texture is recessed, so I sanded the top with #4 and #5.


One of the cool things about the sponges is that you can bend them to get inside hard-to-reach areas in your piece.


Here I am putting a nice sanded finish on the beveled edge of Bear.


Tiny Components

Here is Raven’s eye. There is no way I can sand this using emery board or sanding sponge without breaking it. You maybe could, but I can't. I use here a tool called Supernail Deluxe Manicure Machine. I can sand and put hardly any pressure at all on my piece. The hard part is being able to hold such a tiny piece. Below are a just-made eye, a being-sanded eye, and a finished eye.

(I think I got the nick in my thumb nail from a flexible shaft tool, not the Supernail.)



Here is Raven’s beak, just finished and dried. Below that is the same edge sanded with the Supernail “machine.” You can see by the silver color that the sander is pretty fine in grit.


Beveled Edges

Lastly, beveling edges. I suggest this to new PMCers and they look at me like I’m crazy. Then they put such a tiny bevel on the edge it is hardly worth doing. I did the same. Now I bevel the heck out of my Bear and Ravens.

First photo is of Bear with the edge sanded flat with Supernail. Then I show how I bevel the edge with the Supernail. The next two photos are of Bear without the edge beveled and then with the beveled edge.

The final photo is of Bear so you can notice how the beveled edge looks finished.




Happy sanding.

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2017