Project: Mokume Gane Effect

Combine silver with unique patterns and colours. By Emma Gordon

Article

Emma loves working with Silver Clay and loves the versatility of the medium. She has been working professionally with silver clay since 2007 and holds full PMC certification, Level 1 Art Clay Certification and is a proud graduate of the MCSJ Silver Clay Diploma. Polymer clay is an ideal partner for silver clay and with some very simple techniques you can achieve unique patterns and colour combinations to enhance your silver creations. This project uses polymer clay to make the beautiful pattern you see. It’s based on the ancient Japanese technique of Mokume Gane, which introduces a distinctive metal layer veneer. Using different colours of polymer clay gives a very interesting finish.

MATERIALS

  • 6g of PMC3
  • Workmat
  • Roller
  • Playing cards or slats
  • Badger balm or olive oil
  • Deep texture sheet
  • Cookie cutters or stencils and needle tool
  • Rubber block
  • Sanding paper/cocktail sticks
  • Agate burnisher or tumbler
  • 3 blocks of polymer clay in contrasting colours
  • Ceramic tile
  • Roller
  • Pasta machine
  • Deep texture sheet
  • Tissue blade
  • Layout paper
  • Beadsmith EZ piercing and riveting tool
  • Rivets
  • Earring findings

DESIGNER TIPS

  • If you envelope the polymer clay between two sheets of the layout paper it stops the polymer sticking to your surface and the pressure of rubbing will even out the edges and dips in your trimmed clay. 
  • Set your riveting and piercing tool in a vice if you have one. It makes it much more secure and much easier to use it. Vices don’t have to be expensive and they have a great many other uses for making jewellery.

step1

STEP 1

Roll and texture your silver clay to three cards thick, cut out disc shapes with a round cutter and leave to dry. Once dried, sand and finish them. Fire the pieces with a torch or a kiln and polish. You can add patina at this stage too. You need to make sure your silver pieces are completely finished at this stage.


step2

STEP 2

The Mokume Gane technique works well with three colours, ideally of three different brightnesses, as you want a contrast for good effect. Condition your three colours of clay. It doesn’t make much difference how you layer your pieces of polymer together, but different organisation of the colours can alter the look of the veneer quite substantially.


step3

STEP 3

After you stack the sheets of polymer clay, trim round the edges to make them the same size. Pass them through the pasta machine at the thickest setting. Cut the clay in half and stack one on top of the other, ensuring that the colours run in the same pattern – so for example mine were silver, turquoise and purple. I cut them in half and layered them in the same order. Repeat another time.


step4

STEP 4

Pass the polymer clay through the pasta machine at the thickest setting one more time. Fold a piece of layout paper in half and lay the polymer clay in between the two halves. Apply a texture sheet to your polymer clay. You need to make sure you get as much pressure behind this as possible, so try doing this standing up and use your fingers to press each bit of the texture sheet firmly. It’s important you get a deep impression.


step5

STEP 5

Once you have a lovely deep impression, take
a tissue blade and start gently skimming the blade across the top of your textured polymer. Do this little by little, taking care not to cut too deep through the polymer clay itself. You are looking to trim the top layers off to see the mixed colours below. Trim until you are happy with the finished effect.


step6

STEP 6

When you have finished the trimming, pull down the other piece of layout paper and using a piece of plastic (like a used credit card) or a roller, rub the polymer clay firmly through the paper, in a circular motion. Again, this is a task you’re probably best doing standing up so you can get your weight behind it! Once finished, use a needle tool and stencil and cut out the shapes of your earrings.


step7

STEP 7

Bake the polymer clay. Once cooled, tidy them up if required. You can use ordinary sandpaper to neaten up the edges. You could use a varnish on the polymer clay to give it a more finished look. Apply to your earrings and leave aside to dry as directed on the instructions. Drill a hole using a small drill bit (mine was 1.6mm); this will be for the earring finding.


step8

STEP 8

Decide on where you’d like to rivet the piece of fired silver clay and your polymer clay. To make sure that both earrings are equal you can measure and mark the back of both the silver and the polymer clay items with a marker pen. Riveting using a tool is straightforward and easy. Make a hole in both your polymer clay disk and your silver disk.


step9

STEP 9

Once you’ve made the hole, put the pieces together and thread a rivet through the hole. The rivet should be long enough to come out the back of both pieces together. Transfer to the other side of the riveting tool and rest the rivet head in the indentation. Screw down and the tool will flare out of the edge of the rivet. Add earring findings ready to wear.


EXTRA PROJECTS

Make and pendant and brooch


pendant

PENDANT

If you don’t have a riveting tool, you can drill a hole in your silver and your polymer clay pieces and thread a jumpring through. That way you’ll have the look of a layered piece. This pendant has a polymer disc inside the silver clay edge.


brooch

BROOCH

Make a brooch by cutting a larger shape and gluing a brooch fitting on the back. You could also glue on a piece of silver for an extra accent.


RESOURCES

PMC3: www.bluebelldesignstudio.co.uk

Polymer clay and accessories: www.clayaround.co.uk

Beadsmith riveting and piercing tool: www.cooksongold.com


CONTACT

www.silverclayschool.co.uk

info@silverclayschool.co.uk

07782 324258


PHOTOGRAPHY

Laurel Guilfoyle, Emma Gordon

Article Details

  • Date 13th March 2017
  • Tags Project
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