I was playing around with my clay last night and remembered that there was something I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve seen beads on sites around the net that use a simple blend with inclusions. At first I thought that it was done by mixing the inclusions into each color of clay in the blend, but it occurred to me that there might be an easier way. I decided to take photos of each step so I could share the process with you. So here is my impromptu tutorial, with the occasional mistake!
Ingredients: 1 block of transclucent clay, and 2 opaque colors of your choice. I used Premo! Spanish Olive and Rhino Gray. You will only need small amounts of the 2 opaque colors.
Oh yeah! This is a blend with inclusions, so you will need the inclusions. I decided to use spices – black pepper, paprika, and oregano. Other inclusions you might try are different colors of embossing powders, mica powders, glitter, or even dried flowers like lavender or rose petals. You would probably want to grind those up fairly fine.
You will also need a blade, a pasta machine, and a work surface that’s okay to get messy. I often find a sheet of paper works for the messy phase.
Step One: Roll out your translucent clay on the thickest setting until it is well conditioned. Kick the level up two notches on the pasta machine (level 3 on an Atlas or most craft machines), and roll the clay into a nice sheet. Lay the sheet on your work surface – there is no need to square up the clay, since you are not done rolling it through the machine yet.
Step Two: Spread some of the inclusions in a thin smear onto the translucent clay sheet. Keep the inclusions towards the center of the clay sheet. Leave the edges plain.
Now fold the sheet over, making a sandwich with the inclusions inside:
I had just a little bit of spice on my finger, so I rubbed it on top. Probably not a good idea usually. Now run this sandwich thru the machine, just as you would if you were conditioning it. Once the spices appear fully included in the sheet, lay it out on your work surface and repeat the process. This will give you a nice ratio of inclusions to clay. If you are satisfied with doing it once, that’s fine, or you may want to repeat the process more than once. Roll the clay out to the 3rd level of thickness again.
Step Three: Condition small amounts of the other two colors of clay. Roll these out to one level thinner than that of the translucent sheet. Lay your translucent sheet out on your work surface, square it up with your blade, and then cut rectangles from your other two sheets that are half the depth of the translucent sheet. Lay them out on top of the translucent sheet like this:
Notice that I have a much larger section of the gray than I do of the green. I wanted my blend to look like it had a thin green middle, and I wanted the gray section to be smaller than the translucent. I have my own reasons for doing it this way, which I’ll show you in a different post. You only want the opaque sheets to be half the depth of the translucent because making the colors more translucent makes the inclusions more noticeable.
Step Four: Fold the sheet in half so that the green and gray sheets are on top. It should look like this:
Note that the fold in this photo is toward the bottom of the screen. The clay cracked at the fold and that is why it looks wonky. Put the folded edge down into your pasta machine, set at the thickest setting. Make sure the folded edge is at the bottom. This is similar to the process followed in a Skinner blend, but you are just doing a simple blend. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo at this point, but do a search for Skinner Blend if you have never done one before. It’s very important to get this right!
WHOOPS! This is where I made a mistake. I forgot that adding the opaque clays to the sheet would make that area thicker, affecting the blend. Here is how I fixed it, after having run it through the machine a couple of times:
Step Five: Fold and run the blend through the machine 6 or so times, with the stripes perpendicular to the rollers each time, until the inclusions are nicely mixed into all three colors of the clay, and there is a nice delineation of the colors but they are fuzzy at the edges. It should look like this:
Isn’t it nice how the spices got nicely mixed throughout all the colors? I’m pretty happy with it. I look forward to trying it with other colors and inclusions. Next time I’ll show you how I reduced it to a size that I could make beads with.