SFGW Cleaning

This page has a discussion on it from our Egroup so it runs like a conversation

I spend hours cleaning, I mean hours. I even bought all the stuff for TIB method and still can't get away from sfgw cleaning!! When I clean sfgw, it takes longer but I can get out and change things a lot better than with that TIB method. And I think it has a lot to do with what your cleaning when you use that method, because it did not work for me. Sometimes I clean my sfgw 3 times before the final dry sanding. I am picky about my cleaning and the TIB method left a lot of junk on my greenware, marks and pieces of greenware all over what I'm working on and its very hard to clean it all off. With sfgw you can soak and rinse and what have you!! Maybe It's something I need to learn how to do???? Rita

Hi Rita -this is Emily- what do you mean when you say you clean 3 times before the Final dry sanding??
Why would you "dry sand"? You must never touch the dry soft-fired ware! The reason for this is because the ware is made up of varying softness of material and when you dry sand you only take away the softest parts, and you end up with a less smooth finish. The final polish I do after all the cleaning is done --AND VERY IMPORTANT, WHILE THE PIECE IS STILL WET, is to use a cotton flannelette cloth, and put this over your finger so that there is no wrinkle in the cloth, and use the one index finger to polish in a circular motion all over the piece. What happens is that the cloth picks up "paste" from all over the piece and deposits that paste into any tiny crevices or pinholes in the ware, and you get the smoothest greenware you have ever seen! The very last thing, after that is to polish with your bare hands, flat across the cheeks, and other smooth areas. Never wet the piece again. Susan Seitinger taught me this method and I have found nothing to beat it. Susan writes the column "Ask Susan" in several doll magazines. She is my dear friend and teacher. One of the sweetest and most knowledgeable people I have ever met. Emily

Maybe you misunderstood me, I was talking about sfgw not just plain greenware. Would that make a difference in your way of cleaning?? Thatís the first time I've heard of how to clean sfgw!! Thatís how we were taught to clean SFGW, first you take of the seams, then you take your pink scrubber and go around the piece (except facial part) and make sure you rub out all you can and create a paste and rub that all over with your hand until the paste gets dry. Then I rinse the piece off using a hake brush and let it sit and dry out for couple of days. Then I check it out for imperfections again, which will really show up when the piece dries. Then If I see pinholes etc. I will clean again and follow the same process. Some pieces need it more than others it depends on how it was poured and with what. A lot of this sfgw I purchased. So thatís the story and please tell me (anyone) if I'm doing it wrong. And, oh yes, when the piece dries thoroughly, you take a used sponge sander (not new) and go over the piece and give it a once over, then hake again, it let dry and then fire. Rita

I'm trying to sort through Emily and Rita's comments about cleaning SFGW.

I also tried the TIB method and there is NO WAY I could get a
piece ready for porcelain fire directly by using the brushes. I did
like deepening the grooves with the wire tool, and I liked working in the leather hard stage for the finger and toe area. The leather hard was also good to smooth out the arm and leg holes, but I preferred using the cone-shaped wedge thing rather than the brushes. I haven't made my decision yet about the eye cutting, as it wasn't that easy for me. I think it could work with some practice, but I felt insecure about the eye sizing part.

Here's what I do.

Place the piece of SFGW totally covered by water to soak.

Soak 5-10 minutes at the least, longer if you want too.

If the piece has opened out eyes, I do them first. (No point in cleaning it all and then breaking the piece doing the eyes.)

My scrubber is gray but the pink one works good too, I use it to remove the seams etc unless they are really heavy.

If the seams are heavy , I use the scalpel on them first.

Then I go over the seams and anywhere else there is roughness or marks with a finer scrubby (finer than the pink one.)

Then I go over the whole surface with my fingers in small circular motions. It makes a bit of paste, which fills and smoothes the surface.

I find the you can often loose detail if you use the scrubby all over the face, fingers or toes. I use a cleaning brush (this a alot firmer than what the TIB brushes would be) for between fingers, around toes , ears etc. (Scrubby folded also works here.)

I use a piece of wool tied in a circle so it fits over my hand, to deepen the stringing grooves.

Then I rinse the piece under running water and check it. (I often use a magnifying light for this and if I see anything, I soak and clean a bit more.) Rinse again.

Once the piece is drier so the surface is not shiny but the piece is still very damp, I go over the surface with the cotton flannel (or a piece of soft t-shirt material.)(Actually, ladies cotton tricot panties material works the very best.)

Now I use the magnifying glass, especially if an over all wash is to go on this piece. And smooth off any marks (I find my nails and rings are the worse culprits) and make sure it is perfect.

After it is dry and just before I put it into fire, I check it again. If I find anything wrong, the procedure starts over. (If it is one little mark, I may just use a brush to sand it off, however, this does make dust. Usually the piece is just fine.

don't know what a hake brush is, don't use any brush when I rinse.


Sandy, that is my method, but sometimes I really get bad sfgw. Sometimes I notice a few tiny dark spots and if I work on them a little find out its a hole. I often find that a wooden skewer, like a big toothpick, helps a lot with cleaning those king of areas. I even use it in the grooves. Also use brushes a lot, and I cut my nails down to nothing, and I never wear my rings ( the porcelain can damage them so don't like to wear them) after all this precaution I still have gouges, marks, lines, etc. I just got my Ginger mold today, and was putting it away with the rest of the molds and was looking at the pieces I had been cleaning. They were dry, I look through a magnifying glass all the time while I work, but you'll be surprised at the flaws you will see everytime you think there are none!! So I just go back over them again, rinse and hake them and let sit and check later and if more flaws, I clean again!! Brushes will leave marks also and can't see them until the sfgw has dried. Rita

Rita, I started using APT 11 porcelain enhancer, check to be sure you do not have another Apt11 as it is made for other porcelain. when cleaning softfired, I save my scrapings on side of plastic tub. If I have an air bubble or if I need to reattach a finger, hard to do, I take the scrapings and on a glass that is made to grind on, not an ordinary glass, I use my pallet knife and mash the scrapings from doll as fine as I can, then I add a little APT11 porcelain enhancer, and mix with it, and you keep on mixing until you have no grain at all, I take the DCS tool and pick up a portion of this mixture and put it in the bubble hole. but stop a minute, before you can fill the bubble hole, you have to break the bubble, so go into the hole with the DCS tool carefully and the bubble will break and you can add the mixture and fill it too full and let it set, then dry sand, no indication of any air bubble, also the same for fingers, etc, harder to do, but I put Apt11 on each part of the pieces I am adhering, and then the mixture and let dry and dry sand, sometimes does not work if the finger is curved a bit. but worth the try to save a hand. If using on dry porcelain,. let me know. dollightfully, Twila

The only thing that I differ in this cleaning process is the use of
tight-fitting surgical gloves. After I have used the pink pad to remove seams, some finer work with the white smooth side, I then use the 'paste' buildup to scrub those little dollies with my gloves on. The gloves are the equivalent to the white side of the cleaning pads but much easier to use.
The bare hands are rough in comparison to these gloves.


Taking proper care to clean your SFGW provides you with a smooth bisque
piece which aids in the washes and china painting process.
A well cleaned piece of SFGW is one which is free of little pin holes,
nicks, seams and scratches. These are the steps which I take in
cleaning my greenware.

I let my SFGW piece soak in very warm water for at least 10 mins.
Wearing surgical gloves throughout the whole process eliminates a lot of
scratches and helps your fingernails also.

Sand all seams with the rough side of a scrubber pad. Using a ball and
stylus or Gentle Touch Bevelers*, add detail and depth in areas such as
in the nostrils, mouth creases, ears, tear ducts, and top of the eyelids.
With a soft bristle brush, I blend and smooth these areas .

Working up a "lather" with the smooth side of scrubber pad, go all over
the piece in a round motion and with the contour of the body piece.

Using a soft facial sponge, wash the piece thoroughly and let it dry on a
piece of paper towel and covered with another piece of paper. This seems
to allow it to dry slower.

When dry, take the piece outside or a place of good lighting. You may
want to use a Magnifying glass for this procedure. Circle each area
where you see any scratches or abrasions with a Red Pencil.

After examining and circling the flaws, return the piece to warm water
and carefully smooth out these marked areas either with piece of nylon
stocking, your surgical gloves, a soft bristle brush or the smooth side
of your scrubber pad.

Wash again very well using a soft sponge and a soft brush for the
creases. It is very important to get all the residue off. Dry again in
the same method of laying on a soft paper towel and lightly covering with
another piece.

Go outside or in a very good light and examine for pin holes. Again,
circle the holes with the red pencil. (Note) Do not bear down hard with
this pencil.....Do it lightly. Fill in your pin holes with scraped
greenware and when dry, lightly smooth with your glove.

Note: Your surgical gloves can be one of your best tools in cleaning.

Fire your piece on Cone 6 or 7. Leaving the lid propped a little open and
the vent open, I let my kiln fire on low for 1 hour, then, on medium
for 1 hour and high until it turns off.
Taken from "Making Dolls In A Shoebox.and,..... On a Shoestring"
by Little Reb copyright 1999.

*Gentle Touch Bevelers can be purchased at Truebite Inc.
(800) 676-8907

Girls, thought I'd share EXCERPTS from some of the pages in my book with
you as I already have it copyrighted.......just not refined and ready for
Maybe you can give me some tips to add or take away from this chapter.

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