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Monday, February 20, 2012

Polymer Clay Mokume Gane Tutorial

I first tried Mokume Gane a few years ago, but with a very different technique to that I'm going to show you here. It didn't turn out all that well, which is why I've only just had another go!

As usual, I research lots of techniques and then combine them to what works best for me.

Transparent polymer clay
Pasta machine
Tissue blade
Variety of objects like a ripple blade, cocktail stick, texture sheets, tools... Anything really!
Various ways to colour like mica powder, metal leaf, metallic polymer clay, alcohol inks, coloured polymer clay, acrylic paint


Step 1
Roll out 4 sheets of transparent polymer clay using the setting 1 on your pasta machine. A pasta machine isn't essential, but helps keep your clay all the same thickness. It doesn't have to be too neat.

Step 2
Take 3 of the sheets and apply different, contrasting colours to them. Here, from left to right, is purple alcohol ink, yellow-green mica powder and copper metal leaf with orange alcohol ink stamped on top.

You can just use different colour clay without the transparent sheets if you don't have anything else to hand.

Step 3
Place the sheets on top of each other and the fourth transparent sheet on top of that. Roll these through the pasta machine, again on a thin setting.

Step 4
Cut in half with a tissue blade. Place one half on top of the other.

Step 5
Roll through the pasta machine again and cut in half as before, placing one half on top of the other. Make sure you keep everything the same way round.

I did this about 5 times. It really doesn't matter how many times though. One thing to bear in mind, is that the thinner your sheets, the more intricate the pattern.

Step 6
Once you feel you've got enough layers, push the sheets into a squarish shape. Don't worry about it all getting pushed and pulled, that's the whole idea. You can't really go wrong with this technique and the more you manipulate it, the more interesting your patterns will be.

Step 7
Now comes the fun bit! Take all your tools and press them into the clay. Use your fingers too.You can use a ripple blade as well. Be careful not to go all the way through though.

Then turn the clay over and do more on the other side. You can use a texture sheet, or a stamp too. Here's a stamp I made...

Step 8
If you want to, you can push little bits of clay into the holes. I've used metallic red to fill some of the holes:

Step 9
You may need to put the clay in the fridge for half an hour before slicing. Then very carefully, slice a thin piece off the top, making sure you slice the same way as the layers:

When slicing, I press the clay onto the work surface and pull the blade towards me. It takes a little practise to get it right, but be careful!

I used slices to make this leaf:

The colours changed once baked, due to the alcohol inks. This is the final piece, for sale in my Etsy shop:

And here is another bag charm, in my Folksy shop (matching earrings available!):

It's quite addictive! Have fun:)

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