Over the last 12 months of developing & creating my new textured Sterling Silver Collections I’ve hand sawn, bent, forged, textured, soldered & polished more than a few kilos of Argentium Sterling Silver!
As a jewellery Artist & Metalsmith it’s been wonderful & very fulfilling to see these new Silver designs evolving & taking on a life of their own.
In my jewellery range, one of the most time consuming & important stages is polishing.
While many may think of polishing as the last stage in making a piece, when it comes to applying textures or patterns to Sterling Silver sheet to ensure your design is crisp & clear, the metal surface must be even, clean, blemish free & relatively scratch free before any texturing work takes place.
If it isn’t, many of the imperfections will show through the patterned surface.
To clean, sand & polish the Silver I use a combination of electric hand held polishing tools & a lot of good old elbow grease.
One of my favourite tools for polishing Silver is a hand Dremel with flexshaft accessory.
The Dremel in these photos is my husbands’ which I borrowed many years ago & admittedly never returned!
I figured he didn’t mind too much because he even added an old sewing machine foot controlled pedal so I could control the speed of the Dremel without having to move my hand from the piece I was working on.
This old Dremel has been an absolute work horse in my studio for the last 10 years.
Apart from polishing I also use it for edging, drilling & deburring Silver.
During the process of making my pieces, no matter how much I try & angle my trusty Dremel flex shaft, there are times when I have to swap over to a manual & more labour intensive method of polishing – hand polishing.
When it comes to hand polishing, in my experience Polishing Papers are the best option because they can be very easily folded, puckered & rolled up to get to those really hard to reach areas.
Unlike traditional sand papers, they also go up to extremely fine Grits, which means if you are prepared to put in the time & effort working your way through the various grits, you can achieve a very smooth & even surface finish.
Once the piece has been textured it is placed in a Liver of Sulphur bath to turn it completely black.
The piece is then hand polished with fine grit polish pads & various Silicone polishing wheels to remove most of the Liver of Sulphur & highlight the pattern.
After more cleaning, the piece undergoes a final polish & buff.
Despite my initial resistance, I’ve come to love the polishing process because the time & effort you put into this important stage will ultimately determine the quality of your finished piece.