Daily Wire Tip Feb. 19: Shining Home Made Cabochons

By on February 19, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
February 19, 2010


If I make my own cabochons out of clay, how do I get them shiny?


Are you working in polymer, art clay, PMC or something else? Although I do not work in any of these media, I did some research and found the following links that may give you the help you need. For Art Clay https://www.artclayworld.com/tips_and_techniques.php For Polymer Clay, https://www.polymerclayweb.com/default.asp
and for PMC, https://www.pmcconnection.com/hints.html

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

Have a question? Submit your question here


  1. avatar

    Mechelle J. Fox

    February 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I only have vague theoretical knowledge of PMC or Art Clay so I won’t make any suggestions concerning those, but as a polymer clay artist, I would like to add my two cents here.

    As for polymer clay, the site that Dale suggested is only one of many out there.

    Sanding a buffing is the best way to get a shine on many polymer clay cabs, but sometimes you run into a road block. I use this technique on cabs that have either a very thin veneer of patterned clay, or that have a coating of mica powder. Sanding and buffing in either of these cases is just not an option.
    You will need Kato clear medium and a crafter’s heat gun (usually used to melt embossing powders). None of the other liquid translucent clays will work, only Kato.

    Once you are satisfied with the smoothness and shaping of your baked cab, you can apply a thin covering of Kato clear liquid clay. Bake it until you can no longer see any milkiness (or if thin enough not to see that then watch to see when it turns from wet shiny to matte). Take your cab from the oven and while it is still hot, begin to apply more heat to the surface with an embossing heat gun. Keep the gun moving so you don’t burn the clay. After a little bit, you will see the surface go from matte and a little murky or cloudy to glassy and clear.

    This will work best with Kato as your base clay, but you can carefully use it with Premo and Sculpey III. It will not work with the current formulation of Fimo as the chance of scorching is just too great since the temperatures needed from the heat gun are so much higher than the baking temp for Fimo.

    The other thing that can trip you up using this method is if you have any air pockets in your clay, even tiny ones if they are near the surface. The heat gun will soften the clay just enough that the expanding air will make bumps on the surface. If you already have a textured surface, this will minimize the noticeability of these bumps.

    Hope this helps,
    Mechelle J. Fox

    • avatar


      February 20, 2010 at 10:39 am

      Thanks so much for your input Mechelle. I do appreciate when experts in other fields jump in to help me with mediums I am not familiar with.

  2. avatar

    Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor

    February 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    If it is polymer clay you are working with, than the best (and most professional way) to get a shiny finish on your cabochons is to sand and buff them. This is done using water and wet/dry sandpaper starting at 320grit and then moving on to 400grit, 600grit, 800grit, 1000grit and 1200grit or higher. After a proper sanding you can then buff your piece with denim, felt or muslin by hand or with a Dremel. Polymer clay is the perfect accompaniment to wire working because you can create unlimited sizes, styles and faux materials to create one of a kind art jewelry. Have fun with it!

    • avatar


      February 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

      Thanks Cindy! I knew I could count on my ‘clay friends’ to help me with this one.

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