Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mokume Gane Tutorial

For the last 2 years or so I have been having a love affair with Polymer Clay.  I ADORE this stuff! It's so versatile and does so many amazing things. 

One of the many techniques I've learned is "Mokume Gane". Mokume-gane (木目金) is a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns. Translating as BURL metal, the name was borrowed from one type of pattern created in the forging of swords and other edged weapons. 
This Japanese art  form has been translated into clay and it works beautifully. I have to say that this is my favorite  technique because you never really know exactly how it will turn out. 
I love the surprise and the "one of a kind-ness"  of it all.
I am going to share this, my first ever tutorial so that others may find some enjoyment from their creativity. Good Luck!
Premo Clay makes great Mokume Gane  Choose at least 3 colors for the best effects.
For this project I used 1/2 block silver
1/2 block cobalt, 1/3 block Navy, 1/3 block pearl and 1/4 block denim

Porcelain figurines make a great base platform for polymer clay

 Condition the clay completely till it is pliable and soft. Run sheets through the pasta machine on the  thickest setting and cut sheets into fairly uniform 2 in x 2in squares.
See the pasta machine at right

Begin stacking the clay in layers, I choose one corner to align all the squares ( see left side)  Gently press out any air bubbles between layers ( some are visible on the top & need to be removed)

When finished stacking, trim off ragged edges with a tissue blade or polymer knife ( save the scraps)

Choose a variety of tools for different effects,  for example, nails, wine bottle cork, bone folder,   fondue fork, wavy clay blade, pottery tool~ really anything!

Let's poke some holes!

Silver side

Flip it over and poke some on the bottom too

Begin to reform the block by firmly pressing on all sides of the cube  until it becomes a compact cube

This time use the bone folder to add deep gouges to the cube

Gouge in both directions

Flip it over and gouge the bottom too

Form it back into a cube, then use the fondue fork to pierce both sides, reform into a cube

Use the pottery tool to cut down into the clay, on both sides and always reform it back into a cube after you are done

Poke a generous amount of holes on both top and bottom using a needle tool

Reform one last time into a nice compact cube. This ended up being appx. 2 in x1.5in

Place your cube on a ceramic tile and freeze for about an hour

Once frozen use your blade to shave super thin layers from the top and bottom of the block. (this is actually the side just to show how thin to shave, you should  flip it on it's 'side' & shave from the '"top")
Lay the thin slivers and slices on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper

Once all the clay is sliced you can begin to carefully piece the surface together 

 Gently  but firmly press the slices together to cover the surface completely. Make sure to eliminate all air bubbles  I use a test tube as a tiny rolling pin to smooth as much as possible

cover all surfaces~ front, back & sides

completely covered, carefully smoothed and ready to bake

Bake at 275 for 15-30 minutes ( or the time & temp recommended for your brand of clay)

Once cool, sand your pieces using fine grit sand paper. Wipe with damp cloth to remove dust.
Apply a thin coat of Future Floor Polish. Do not allow bubbles in the surface of the polish, allow to dry completely.
A second coat may be applied as needed.


This color series is called "Santa Maria"

Thank you

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