Tag Archives: mokume gane

Tutorial: Pearlescent Rainbow Blend

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The other day I was playing around with ideas for mokume gane, and I realized I hadn’t done a rainbow pearl blend in awhile. This is a useful way to make up a sheet of clay that can be used for several different techniques at a time, or just use it all at once for a technique that you really love. The advantage of using a blend in mokume gane is that, of course, you have that lovely shading. So here are the steps I followed in making my rainbow pearl blend.

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The set-up.

I started out with 5 colors of Premo! clay – gold, peacock pearl, green pearl, navy blue, and purple pearl. I needed to make my navy clay pearlescent, so I added silver pearl. I find the newer Premo! pearlescent colors need a bit more pearliness for this kind of technique, so I added plain pearl to the peacock, green and purple pearl. I ran each color combination through the pasta machine 50 bazillion times, until the colors were completely mixed.

Next, I took each sheet, laid it out on my work surface, and squared up the edges – I actually had rectangles, which worked fine for my needs. Now here’s a trick: I needed to make right triangles in order to make my blend, and I didn’t want to waste any of the clay I had just mixed. After all, the idea is to have a nice large sheet of clay that I can use for several techniques. What I did was cut each sheet of clay on an angle, from a top corner across to a bottom corner (left to right or right to left, your choice). Then I laid these 2 triangles on top of each other so that I had a double layer of clay. You’ll see what I mean in the next section.

I set up each doubled triangle color section like this:

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Feeling a bit out of balance.

If you look at the edges, you can see how I doubled the triangles of color. Now, I set up my triangles different from some other clayers. You have heard me say here before that I am not a stickler for accuracy. It is not my style to be perfect. I just like to get the job done. Other folks might have a diagram of how to cut and set out the clay in triangles that will give you a perfect blend. But doing it my way gave me a beautiful blend that I’m really happy with, as you can see with the first photo. At any rate, the photo above shows how I set up the triangles, but as you can see, there is something missing. I got everything set up and realized that I could probably use another color, plus it would balance out my sheet. So I mixed some alizaron crimson with some gold clay, followed the triangle making steps, and here’s my set-up:

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Now isn’t that pretty.

Don’t worry about those little dots of peacock that are on the gold, because they are going to get mixed into the blend anyway.

Next step: It is very important to run your sheet through the pasta machine thusly:

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Please ignore the junk in the background.

Think of your triangles as stripes, which is what they will become. You always want your stripes to run top to bottom, never side to side. It will really mess up your blend and make you cry if you do not heed this advice. Here’s the sheet after the first pass through the machine:

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That red clay really spreads out.

It’s a bit wopple-joggled (never heard that one before?), but I’ll just trim it up and all will be well. Now, fold this sheet in half across the triangles, so that the colors match up (stripes run top to bottom, remember?).

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Match colors to colors, please?

Here is the sheet folded:

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Scary to make that fold, isn’t it?

At this point it’s so hard to know if you’re folding the sheet correctly, but here’s another hint: you always want your fold to be across all of the colors. If the red had touched the blue in this picture, I would be doing it wrong.

Now run the blend through the pasta machine again, fold first. Remove it from your machine, fold as before, roll it through the machine. Repeat approximately 15 times.  Here is my blend after 6 runs through the machine:

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Getting there.

As you can see, the colors aren’t really mixed together yet, they’re just laying on top of each other. Here’s the sheet after 15 runs through the machine:

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All blended up!

And there you have it. This sheet is about 5.5 inches wide by 12 inches long. I’ll be able to cut it into at least 3 sections and experiment with techniques. I’ll be sure to share when I do!

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Experiment: Lumiere Paint and Polymer Clay

ImageI’ve been thinking about trying a mokume gane stack with Lumiere paint. Jacquard makes these thick, metallic, and highly opaque paints, and I am addicted to them. I’m pretty sure I have every color they make, and even 2 bottles of some colors. I have tried them before in mokume gane with limited success, because the paint never seemed to dry on the unbaked clay. But why should that stop me? I figured I might as well try it again. Here’s what I ended up with, so I’m not too discouraged:

Polished egg lumiere

I started with translucent clay rolled to a medium thickness on the pasta machine. I wish I had had some bleached/white/frost translucent (go here for Patti Stoll’s great comparison of the vast range of translucent clays), but all I had was regular old Premo translucent, so that’s what I used. I cut the rectangular sheet into three sections. The colors I chose to use were Metallic Russet, True Gold, and Halo Blue-Gold. In retrospect I didn’t make a good color choice. The Halo Blue-Gold reads like green, and the True Gold like yellow, so putting the three colors together gave me red + green + yellow = brown. It wasn’t totally terrible, just not what I was going for.

My next step was to apply the paint to the clay. I used a soft round brush and went for a thin coat:

ImageHere’s what the sheets looked like after being painted:

026I left them out to dry for a day, and to my surprise, they actually did dry to the touch in that period of time.

My next step involved adding metallic leaf to the clay. I used composition gold leaf:

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The process is as simple as laying the sheet on top of the painted side of the clay, and tearing the extra away:

037I covered each rectangle with the leaf, then stacked them and laid another rectangle of unpainted translucent clay on top of the uncovered sheet of leafing (on the bottom of the stack). I think that placing the leaf on the painted side of the clay was a mistake in hindsight. If I had placed it on the unpainted side, an extra sheet of translucent would have been unnecessary, increasing the visibility of both the paint and the leaf in the final mokume gane. Still, it worked out okay, just not as well as I had hoped. At any rate, here’s my completed stack, from the side:

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The next step was to manipulate my stack to make the hills and valleys that produce the mokume gane effect. I started this by using tools that Polyform produces and are great for this type of thing:

043Using the large round tool, I impressed the top of the stack over and over, placing my markings very close together. When doing this, you want to make a deep mark, but don’t go all the way through the clay (as I accidentally did here a few times).

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I then took the small tool, and made impressions between the big ones. After that, I trimmed my stack up a bit, then I turned it over and made some impressions on the back of the stack with the big tool. I filled those holes with bits of the leftovers from trimming the stack:

055As I alluded to earlier, obtaining the look of mokume gane requires adding hills and valleys to your stack. At this point, I have lots of valleys, but I don’t really have any hills. I’ll change that by manipulating the stack. I started by pushing in on all sides.

058I continued to do that, slowly, until my stack looked like this:

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This is my completed mokume gane loaf/stack/whatever name they’re calling it these days. I let it cool for a couple of hours, then I began slicing it across the top (not from the top of the stack to the bottom of the stack), and I laid the slices on a sheet of gold clay.

062And there you have it. I applied the clay to an egg, sanded and polished it. I like the final product enough to sell it, but there are some things I will definitely change the next time I try it, as I indicated above.

If anyone has ideas about how I could have done this better, or if you try it based on what is in this post, let me know in the comments. Thanks for looking!