Sunday, June 14, 2015

Recent Mokume Gane Stack

Mokume Gane Technique Adapted for Polymer Clay

Large size Disk Beads

Love the transparency achieved in these disks!
** hand model is Jon Williams :-)                                

The results of my recent experiments with alcohol inks and translucent polymer clay are coming in slowly as I am creating disk beads from the created stack and obtaining sheets using the Mokume Gane technique, adapted for Polymer Clay.
How this experiment came about was, I was cleaning my workstation when I came upon a sheet of translucent already inked and silver leaf added to it!!!! Egads, you know that feeling when you find something you had completely forgot you had created, that initial sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach! I quickly grabbed it up and upon examining it, discovered some of the ink had bled through the trans.  So, I quickly created a sheet of B/W both on a thick setting then reduced that on the thickest setting and laid it upon the translucent clay that I found already prepared. Then using my acrylic roller, reduced the stack to not quite half its original thickness. I got thinking how much I would really like to have more silver and blue come through so I placed another sheet I created under the original sheet I found of the inked up translucent polymer clay, and then cut the stack in half! Stack it again with the black on top.  I used the blunt end of my strictly for polymer clay use only cookie cutter shapes, and plunged them the clay itself.  Satisfied with the design, I slightly rolled over it,  lightly to compress the layers, and pushed the sides in slightly to create a more pleasing rectangular shape for slicing full sheets.  Below are the slices I rendered from the stack . . . .
some nice full sheet slices!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Note Of Thanks!

I want to say, "Thank You" to EVERYONE from around the globe who came to this blog to view, study and hopefully begin working with the tutorial I blogged freely to ALL. 

Please do not hesitate to ask me questions if there is anything you do not understand or can't seem to grasp the information I have presented in the tutorial.  There are a number of ways to bring your inquiry to my attention; you may post directly within the blog site itself, email me on google+ or catch up with me over on Facebook.

I have recently created a closed Facebook group for those wanting to learn more about this technique and/or share your works created after working through the tutorial and want to talk with other like-minded artists, feel free to come join us!  The group is Mokume Gane - Advanced Techniques and is subject to administrative approval upon your request.

Again, Thank you,


* I will continue to strive; to push my mind, and imagination as I hope it sparks your creativity and artistic voice!

A tile I made from the tutorials stack

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Tutorial - Part 3 Mokume Gane, Alcohol Inks and Translucent Polymer Clay

Thanks for sticking with me into this home stretch!

12.  What you want to do with your slices you have taken off your stack is figure out what background color you want to come through when the translucent clay is baked.   First thing I do is roll out, like in this case, a sheet of white polymer clay on a medium setting (6) on my pasta machine. Then, I arrange my slices on to that sheet, cover it as much as I can with all my slices.  Trim off the excess.  I then take me acrylic roller and lightly go over the sheet because I do not want a lot of distortion with added pressure. I just want to even out the slices in order to cut my pendants and earrings from it.

I am very curious to see just how this section will turned out once I have a piece baked!?

this section of my sheet equally intrigues me . . . will be interesting!

13.  As you can see from the images taken above here, I have some very interesting areas I want to capture a few pendants and earrings from.  Soooooo . . . let's do it!

14.  These are the shapes I am currently working with from templates I created myself and used my "mud" as the medium.  Now, you go, do, and be free to create yours!!!!  Meet ya' back!

Here are mine, from the above sections I was very interested in

 15. Don't forget to sign your pieces!

The Artist Formerly Known As, Marilyn

 16.  Ready to Bake.  Follow manufacturers directions for temperature and time.  Here is my setup and it has worked excellent from the prior pieces that have been shown here and other network websites.   First, I have a temp gauge for interior of oven, second I have foil on the baking rack itself third, 4x4 ceramic tile with parchment paper.  I place my pieces on that and then "tent" my pieces, just to add protection to the translucent as it bakes at higher temperatures. Try not to let your pieces over bake as soon as mine are ready, I pull them . . .

my setup for smaller pieces

 17.  Remove from the oven safely and have a bowl or pot of cold water with ice cubes ready to plunge your pieces into the icy water, and stop the process thus, the pieces discontinue to bake.

simple saucepan with ice water - you can see already how transparent the polymer clay baked

18.  Here are my finished pieces.  I have recently went down to a 300 grit wet/dry sandpaper to lightly sand the tops, then graduate to the finer grits - 1200 usually.  I buff these on my buffing wheel and apply lastly, a coat of triple thick glaze.  Done!

Thank you! And I hope you enjoyed working along side of me as we created some beautiful pieces with Polymer Clay, Translucent polymer clay, And Alcohol Inks using the Mokume Gane technique adapted for polymer clay. 

The Tutorial - Part 2 Mokume Gane, Alcohols Inks and Translucent Polymer Clay

I hope you enjoyed the Intermission!  Okay, we are actually reaching the home stretch, if you have stayed with me thus far . . . thank you! Now, onto Part 2.

6.  Remember the B/W sheets we put together and set aside? Now we are going to work that sheet we created.  Put it through the pasta machine on the thickest setting which should reduced it to a thickness of 1/8 inch (manually it should end up approximately that thickness). It will almost be doubled in length.

7.  Place that sheet we just created, lay on top of your dried alcohol inked transparent sheet of polymer clay. Then, put that through the pasta machine on the thickest setting whereas, this is  the "compression" in metalsmith terminology of what we are actually doing to the polymer clay.

8.  Once again, your sheet will almost double in size.  After which, you can trim the sheet up, cut in half and stack it, making sure your black is always on top. *see image 9.

9.  This is where you can get out all your cutters, old credit cards, needle nose pliers and create your unique stamp on your polymer clay stack. *use the blunt side of cutters to better drag the colors throughout the stack, same for anything you are going to be using for design purposes.

10.  You can, before you begin slicing, lightly use your acrylic roller (any) to compress the stack a bit and that in turn helps hold it to the table.  You can also elevate your stack by placing it on scrappy clay as to not dug quite so deep unevenly through the stack . . .there is a video showing exactly how to do this, I'll have find it.  Using a sharp tissue blade taking the thinnest slices possible underneath the top sheet, begin slicing through your stack as I have pictured below. Turn your cut slices over to reveal the patterns and colors.

11.  Here are my slices from my stack, yours may be very different from mine and that's a good thing.  But, the fun isn't over quite yet.  We now have to use these slices in creating a piece, the magic begins in the baking of the translucent polymer clay with the alcohol inks and don't forget our leafing sheet!

** to be continued in The Tutorial - Part 3 Mokume Gane, Alcohol Inks and Translucent Polymer Clay  . . . Thanks!

The Tutorial - Part 1 Mokume Gane, Alcohol Inks and Translucent Polymer Clay

1.  Condition a sheet of Black on the thickest setting if, you are using a pasta machine and a sheet of White Polymer clay again, thickest setting. *if using a roller - approx. 1/8 inch.

2.  Create a stack with the Black on top of the White, set aside.

3.  Now, condition a sheet of Translucent polymer clay on the thickest setting or roll again, to 1/8 inch.  (I personally, condition my translucent 20+ times until I can smell the plasticizers releasing from within the clay itself then, I know the chemicals in the clay are properly mixed).

4.   Okay, now carefully, because you know how these leafing sheets can get away from you! And, lay a sheet (gold or silver) I am using silver here.  gain carefully lay it on top of the translucent sheet of polymer clay.  Here I have just used my acrylic roller to "crackle" the sheet.

Now grab your alcohol inks!  These are a few of Tim Holtz's - Adirondack Ink (don't forget to use your craft store coupons!!!).

5.  This is where your creative imagination comes in!  Randomly or not, your choice apply drops of ink (I didn't have to squeeze the bottle to obtain a drop on my sheet) you can use as many or as little color as you want.  Here I have used Blue, Poppyfield and Teraa Cotta in a random pattern.  When you like the colored pattern you have . . . STOP!  Now, you must let these inks dry that usually takes an hour or more.  I don't use my heat gun to speed up this process because it degrades the intensity of the inks I have found in other projects with the use of alcohol inks.


The Tutorial - Introduction: Material's List Mokume Gane, Alcohol Inks and translucent Polymer Clay Technique

My Bracelet created from the Mokume Gane slices from this tutorial

Why am I doing this!?  Because there are a few people, and you know who you are that want to know how I am achieving these latest created pieces using translucent polymer clay and alcohol inks so, I am sharing my knowledge gained laboring diligently in my crafty LA-BOR-A-TORY! Just for fun, say that like Dr. Frankenstein after watching his monster high above the castle being electromagnetically shocked and then coming back down, down into the lab and twitching . . . and the doctor saying that famous line, It's Alive!!!!!

Okay, on with the tutorial!
** just a side note - if you have any questions and/or something you aren't understanding, do not hesitate to leave me a comment at the bottom *remember there are no stupid questions as there may be others sitting there at any point in time wondering the same thing but, afraid to ask!

In this tutorial I am assuming, you all have a basic knowledge and understanding of skills in beginning polymer clay.  With that said, Let's Begin!

What you will need:
Polymer clay:  I have used 3/4 of a 2oz bar of each
** this can be your choice depending on how much you want to create to be used for your future projects: necklaces, earrings, pendants, also used as an overlay on objects.  Also, use the clay you feel you get the best results from,  I use Sculpey Translucent.  I have used other brands; Kato, Fimo and Premo and I went back to Sculpey because I achieved the best transparency with it but, you use what you feel most comfortable.

Additional Materials and Tools used:
                           Pasta Machine (not a necessity)
                           Acrylic Roller ( or whatever you use for rolling)
                            Sharp Blade and/or Flexible Blade
                            Gold or Silver Leaf Sheets (1 sheet needed)
                            Cookie Cutters and/or objects to create a design
or effect in the clay (specifically for polymer clay)
                            Acohol Inks (any colors - Tim Holtz, Ranger, etc.)
** if you use regular cookie cutters or any objects to create your patterns in the clay DO NOT USE them  again for servicing or eating off of, in association with food or food preparation there afterwards.  They will remain dedicated polymer clay tools for use only!!!

                                               On to Part 1 of The Tutorial

Polymer Clay - Mokume Gane

Here are some of my created pendant sets using, what I would call traditional Mokume Gane meaning, the stack and compression of the polymer clay itself by use of manipulating the stack with objects that would create patterns, designs and/or textures to the clay. Then, slicing across the sheet to reveal one's creation! But, what is this all leading up to!? My Tutorial . . . I'm working on it as we speak!

Sooooooo . . . stayed tuned!

Polymer Clay - Mokume Gane with Translucent Clay and Alcohol Inks

I have been experimenting specifically in the adapted technique called,  Mokume Gane. With this technique, the experiment has been in incorporating the use of translucent polymer clay, gold and silver leafing sheets, and alcohol inks. Below are some examples of my created pieces from these experiments.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mokume Gane, The History

Hello! glad you could join as we explore Mokume Gane as it pertains to Polymer Clay techniques.  But, let's go back to how and where it originated.

First made in 17th-century Japan, mokume-gane was used only for swords. As the traditional samurai sword stopped serving as a weapon and became largely a status symbol, a demand arose for elaborate decorative handles and sheaths.[3]
To meet this demand, Denbei Shoami (1651–1728), a master metalworker from Akita prefecture, first came up with the process for creating mokume-gane. He initially called his productguri bori for its simplest form's resemblance to guri, a type of carved lacquerwork with alternating layers of red and black. Other historical names for it were kasumi-uchi (cloud metal), itame-gane (wood-grain metal), and yosefuki.[4]
The traditional components were relatively soft metallic elements and alloys (gold, copper, silver, shakudō, shibuichi, and kuromido) which would form liquid phase diffusion bonds with one another without completely melting. This was useful in the traditional techniques of fusing and soldering the layers together.[3]
Over time, the practice of making mokume-gane faded. The katana industry dried up in the late 1800s when the traditional caste system dissolved and people were no longer able to carry their swords in public. The few metalsmiths who practiced in mokume transferred their skills to create other objects.[2]
By the twentieth century, mokume-gane was almost entirely unknown. Japan’s movement away from traditional craftwork, paired with the great difficulty of mastering the mokume-gane art had brought mokume artisans to the brink of extinction. It reached a point where only scholars and collectors of metalwork were aware of the technique.[3] It was not until the 1970s, when Eugene Michael Pijanowski and Hiroko Sato Pijanowski brought mokume works to the United States, that the artform re-emerged in the public eye. Today, jewelry, flatware, hollowware, and other artistic objects are made using this technique.[2]
Modern processes are highly controlled and include a compressive force on the billet. This has allowed the technique to include many nontraditional components such as titanium,platinum, iron, bronze, brass, nickel silver, and various colors of karat gold including yellow, white, sage, and rose hues as well as sterling silver.[3]
Mokume-gane. (2015, March 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:36, June 5, 2015, from
To learn more about Mokume Gane please visit:
the work of Royston Upson