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Tumble Polishing Metal Clay
by Mary Ellin D'Agostino
Place shot in tumbler barrel and barely cover with burnishing fluid. You can use either a commercial jeweler’s burnishing fluid or 1-2 drops of dish soap in water. Brush pieces with stainless steel brush and place in barrel with shot and fluid. Tumble pieces for 30-60 minutes, check, and tumble more if desired. Change burnishing fluid when dirty.
Pieces should be free of ash (if made with burnable core), and thoroughly rinsed (if antiqued) before tumbling. Contamination of burnishing solution will cause unsatisfactory results. Very dirty solution and shot can cause pieces to become dull and gray.
If work pieces containing gold are tumbled, be sure to rinse shot well before next use. Gold particles in the solution will plate onto silver.
Be sure to change the burnishing solution frequently. Dirty solution can cause pieces to become dull and gray.
Cleaning Barrel and Shot:
If stainless steel shot becomes dirty (your pieces just won’t shine up and actually get dirty during tumbling), you can clean it by using a Coke bath. Rinse shot in strainer and return to barrel. Barely cover shot with flat Coke (or other non-carbonated mild acidic solution). Tumble for 15-30 minutes. Rinse shot and barrel. Repeat if necessary. If jewelry is blackened, repeat coke bath one more time with the jewelry in the barrel.
Burnishing solution concentrate sold by jewelers is a specially formulated mildly acidic soap solution ideal for burnishing silver and gold. A drop of dish soap and water can be substituted.
Last updated on Thu, September 17, 2009 by Metal Clay Guru