Mokume gane is an ancient Japanese metalsmithing technique developed around the 17th century by Denbei Shoami, a master metalsmith. While searching for a way to strengthen samurai swords, he found that by laminating different metals, he not only increased the strength of the sword, but he also created an interesting layered pattern when the metal was forged and filed.
There are many different techniques in polymer clay that are called ''Mokume gane'' because they all involve thin layers of clay which are manipulated to reveal beautiful patterns. One interesting technique uses a rubber stamp.
In my quest to find ways to attach polymer clay to findings, something that usually requires adhesives--which don't last, I experimented with a Hill Tribes silver beading disc. The disc has loops in the center of it, which are intended to be used for attaching beaded fringe. The loops give the polymer something to ''latch'' onto, offering a permanent attachment--making these discs a wonderful way to display polymer clay.
Condition all clay well by kneading by hand or by running thin sheets of clay through a pasta machine until soft and pliable.
Roll out each color of clay on the #6 (relatively thin) setting of the pasta machine. The sheets should be the approximate size of the texture sheet or stamp you are using.
Layer the turquoise, white, and violet sheets. Run this new layered sheet through the pasta machine on the #4 setting, #5, and then #6.
Cut the sheet in half and stack one on top of the other. Roll these sheets again through the #6 setting of the pasta machine.
Cut the sheet into thirds. Stack the sheets, one on top of the other with a layer of silver leaf between each sheet. The stack should be: clay, silver leaf, clay, silver leaf, clay.
Lay the clay on a glass or ceramic surface; you want the clay to stick to the surface. Stabilize the surface so it doesn't move around on your tabletop.
Spray the texture sheet with a fine mist of water. Lay the texture sheet down against the clay.
Using an acrylic rod, firmly roll across the texture sheet impressing the texture deep into the clay. Only roll across the surface one time, as the image may blur with multiple rolling.
Using a very sharp blade, carefully shave off just the raised areas of the clay. Work in small areas of the sheet and try not to cut too deeply, as some of each of the colors of clay and silver leaf must remain to form the pattern.
Beginning with the thickest setting, roll the finished sheet through the pasta machine. Reduce the setting on the machine and continue rolling the sheet through, progressing until the sheet is smooth.
Roll out a sheet of violet clay on the #1 (thickest) setting of the pasta machine.
Place the patterned sheet of clay onto the violet clay. Using the acrylic rod, carefully roll across the surface, working out any air that might get trapped between the layers.
Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of the clay sheet; stretch so there are no wrinkles present.
Choose a section of the sheet that appeals to you and press the circle cookie cutter straight down over the clay. Remove the plastic wrap--notice the nicely beveled edges of the piece.
Roll out three tiny snakes of clay from the clay that is left over. Place the snakes of clay through the beading loops of the Hill Tribes silver disc. Press the finished piece from Step 14, down onto the loops and firmly onto the clay snakes. Turn the disc over, then press the clay firmly on a clean sheet of typing paper resting on the tabletop; this will smooth the surface of the pendant.
Bake for 30 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pendant from the oven and allow to cool.
To keep the silver leaf from tarnishing, place a few drops of the Kato Clear Liquid Medium onto the clay pendant and spread in a circular motion with your finger. Bake again for 10 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pendant from the oven and allow to cool. Buff with a piece of denim (or on your jeans!).
The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We
encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.