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I am active on a polymer clay forum and have started a challenge.  Each month or so we will be trying a different technique, color combination or what ever to help us develop new skills.  The challenges are set at the first of the month and by the end of the month, we just have to post pictures of what we have done.

Since I came up with the idea, I get to “pick” the first challenge.  Oh, what to do!  I know that many people have not tried mokume gane but I really enjoy doing that technique and currently have two different blocks of it on my work table with the pains to make at least one more.  (I have a one in purples and one in blues and silver and am planing on doing on in pinks, red, whites and gold.)  I could also choose doing something with alcohol inks but I am not sure how many people have them or want to buy them.  (Alcohol inks are expensive but you use very little of them to get the effect that you want so they last for ever, it seems.)  I am not into color combinations right now, I tend to stick to the tried and true ones.  I also use the color wheel and figure out how to make the colors work together.

I am thinking that I might do a texture challenge.  I don’t do a lot with texture but I have seen some wonderful pieces done with just texture.  I am think that that might be a good challenge.  To create a piece that is accented with textures only, no different colors or hues, just texture.

These are two of the barrettes that I have made using the technique that I described in the previous post.  This technique is credited to Lindly Haunani, who is one of the originators for using it with polymer clay.

Both barrettes are made from the same block of mokume gane.  I use translucent clay with gold leafing.  The slices where placed on different colored backgrounds.  Instead of sanding and buffing, I used a glossy sealer to protect the leaf from discoloring.

mg-300.jpg  This barrette is backed with yellow clay.

mg-302.jpg This one has a dark green backing.

I get asked what is Mokume Gane a lot.  Mokume Gane (pronounced moKumay GAmay) is a Japanese metalsmithing technique.  It is translated as “wood eye metal” and was developed during the 17th century by Denbei Shoami.  It is easy to mimic the technique with polymer clay.

There are many ways to do Mokume Gane in polymer clay.  They all involve using thin layers of clay and usually some metal leafing. 

One of the easiest techniques is to condition translucent polymer clay.  Once it is conditioned add a small amount of colored clay to tint it.  (You want to colors to go with each other like turquoise, violet and magenta.)  Make four to five different sheets of the tinted translucent clay.  Add a sheet of silver metal leafing to the top of each sheet.  You will need to make sure not to trap air between the leaf and the clay.  Then layer the sheets of clay and leaf.  Again you want to gentle roll each layer to make sure there is no air trapped between. 

You should have some left over tinted translucent clay.  Make small balls of each of the different colors.  You will use the balls to fill cavities that you make in the stack of layered clay.  To make the cavities, simply poke the stack with the blunt end of a paintbrush or pen.  Let the stack rest.  Turn the stack over so that the balls are on the bottom and slice the stack thinly in random places.  Each slice will reveal a different look.  Arrange the slices on a background sheet of clay untill you like how it looks.  Use the sheets to make what ever project you want.  You can cover a glass vase, make hair barrettes, pendents, lental beads and almost anything else.  Bake the clay according to directions.

The final step is to sand and buff to an high sheen.

Last month I mailed two sets of beads overseas as part of an international bead swap that was done by memmers of The European Guild of Polymer Clay People.  It is a forum that I am active in.

These are the two sets that I mailed.

beadswap1.jpg These purple ones went to Isreal.

beadswap2.jpgThese went to the Nertherlands.




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