Today, let's talk about ‘finishing’ your pieces. This is a hotly debated topic and there are so many options and personal preferences out there - it's a fun and important one when it comes to your creations.
What do we mean by ‘finishing’?
By this, we mean sanding, glazing, de-fingerprinting, cleaning, removing bubbles, etc. Whatever it takes to make your piece look and feel finished, in a professional way. This may mean no jagged edges, no fingerprints or lint in the clay, a high gloss shine, etc.
Why ‘finish’ a piece?
Finishing a piece will look different for every artist based on their final creation and its intended use or purpose and it depends on each artist's personal style. Some artists love to have some small fingerprint smudges in their piece because it gives them a handmade feel. Some want their piece to be so perfectly polished that you'd never know it was created by a hand but feels as it if was polished to perfection.
You also want to think about its final use, is it something, like a piece of jewelry, that will be handled and touched daily? Then you certainly don't want jagged edges scraping against your skin. Or a mug covered in clay decorative pieces, maybe you will add a gloss glaze to help protect the clay from everyday use and the touch of hands.
Then, you have to think about the final look of the piece. Maybe your sculpture shines even brighter with a layer of gloss glazed or perhaps that level of shine will reflect the light too much and detract from your piece - it's all up to you as the artist and the needs of your pieces!
If you do decide to finish your pieces, here are a few tips for getting started:
Sanding: If you choose to sand the edges, you can use sandpaper or a Dremel tool to buff the edges super smooth and clean. Just be sure to be gentle and not overdo it!
Cleaning: After the sanding process you will want to clean your clay by giving it a soapy bath. You can use dish soap and water in a bowl, drop your pieces in, and give them a gentle rub, then rinse clean and dry to remove any dust.
If you want to clean any fingerprints, smudges, bubbles, or lint from your clay once it's baked, you can use pure acetone on a Q-tip or cotton ball to gently wipe away anything you don't want on your clay. Just be very careful not to rub too hard and to constantly switch to a new, clean Q-tip after a few swipes and when changing colors or you will get a hazy look - which you can clean with a clean Q-tip and acetone with a simple quick swipe!
Glazing: If you are looking for that high shine and a small protective layer on your clay, paint a thin layer of Gloss Glaze over your finished piece and let it sit for 24 hours to dry.
So, how do you finish your pieces? What do you prefer and what methods work best for you and your art? Which would you like to learn more about?
Written by Lauren Hooper