In getting ready for the Cow Art and More booth at the National Holstein Convention this June, I decided a jewelry inventory was in order. In doing so, I had some dairy cow jewelry pieces that needed polishing.
Metal doesn't want to be shiny. If silver had its choice, it will be a dull flat gray color. We jewelry folks give that bright shine that is so appealing. This is a group of cows that have been polished (foreground) and another group that need polishing (small pile to the upper left of the picture). Before polishing, I coat all of the pieces with a black patina (stain). This will buff off easily, except in the cracks and crevices. This is actually what I want, since that dark patina will highlight some of the subtle details of the cow charm.
The cow to the far left has the black patina, but has not been polished. The one on the right of the picture has been polished.
There's a couple different ways of doing this, but this time, I'm using a flex shaft tool with a buff and red rouge polishing compound. While spinning the buff, I dip it into the red rouge (the mostly hard brick in the right part of the picture), then press the buff onto different areas of the cow charm.
In case you're thinking this looks like your dentist's office, you're pretty much right. Just imagine the higienist polishing your teeth with that minty toothpaste, except I'm using polishing compound on metal.
It leaves a dark red residue on my hands and fingers, which mostly comes off with soap and water. It does get into the cracks of your hands and fingernails though, so people will wonder if you have some strange incurable fungus or something similar.
When I'm done polishing, I use Dawn dish soap to get the greasy compound off. I dry them thoroughly, then they're ready to go!