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PMC and Steel

problem.  I haven't ever noticed instructions for PMC work saying
to use steel brushes.  Most say to use a brass brush. You can also
burnish with a burnisher, or tumble in stainless steel shot. 

Sorry I beg to differ here. For instance the book “The Art of Metal
Clay” by SHerri Haab specifically mentions using a steel brush, as
well as brass. A Google on the words “PMC steel brush” brings plenty
of references to finishing PMC with steel brushes. Now using a
(stainless) steel brush does work, but it seems to leave a
residue…and using a steel burnisher does too from my latest
experiment. Back to the agate one…

Andrew Jeavons
+1 513 871 8278

Any time you are using a steel or brass brush on another metal
surface you need to use a soapy water lubricant, and enough of it. I
usually rig up a drip onto a rotating brass brush, or if doing it by
hand will dip it. If you do not use a lubricant then metal can be
transferred from the brush to your surface. This can be done of
purpose, as when blacksmiths brass brush steel hot without a
lubricant, the brass transfers to the high spots on the steel with is
black and thus everything gets greater contrast and looks
interesting, the tops golden and the recesses black.


Charles Lewton-Brain/Brain Press
President, Canadian Crafts Federation
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada,
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053

Hmm I didn’t say it was wrong to use a steel brush, just that I
hadn’t heard of it.

I don’t have the Haab book yet.

Art Clay World sells stainless steel brushes I happened to try the
steel brushes last week, and found that they give a nice satin
finish, ever so slightly shinier than the brass brush.

The agate burnisher, though, I think, gives a nicer finish than both
of them. I recommend them to everyone who works with metal clay


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


If a hand-brushed finish is what is wanted, I recommend using
jeweler’s brass brushes, moistened with water and a drop of liquid
dishwashing detergent when brushing silver or gold (PMC or any other
form of precious metal).

Brass bristles are a bit softer than the bristles on a steel brush,
but generally produce a finish that I like. As brass-bristled
brushes are used, the bristles get work-hardened and become a
little stiffer. A collection of well-used brass brushes gives one a
’library’ of finish options. Steel-bristled brushes, though
immediately more aggressive, can also be used. I would suggest using
a bit more liquid dishwashing detergent on a steel brush.

The reason for the liquid dishwashing detergent: it lubricates the
brush bristles and prevents a transfer of colour from the bristles
to the precious metal. I use the least perfumed, mildest, least
polluting liquid dishwashing detergent I can find.

I would also suggest NOT using the steel or brass brushes found in
hardware stores. These brushes are extremely stiff and too
aggressive, in most instances, for use with precious metal.

Hope this helps,