This is my favorite polymer clay technique. Mokume gane is a Japanese mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns. Translating as “wood-grain metal,” the name was borrowed from one type of pattern created in the forging of swords and other edged weapons.
When using this technique with polymer clay, I lay sheets of different colors of clay atop one another and then use diverse implements to force the layers down through each other in specific spots (in other words, I poke holes in the piled sheets of clay).
If you slice down through the layers, it’s like looking at the sheared off face of a cliff with its many layers of silt deposits; it’s not just a straight line. There are peaks and valleys, some sudden and deep, some sudden and steep. Now, imagine slicing through that cliff horizontally instead of vertically. Where the cliff drops off the mountain would be nothing, but before that point you would see layers and layers of topography where the earth heaved up and crumbled under, silted up and washed away.
When I use my tissue blade, I slide along the length of the sheets, not across them, and because I have deformed the sheets by poking anything I can think of into them, the layers on the top have been stretched all the way to the bottom layer. It may look like I’m slicing through a layer of green, but when the slice falls away from the block, all the layers are represented in varying amounts and shapes—it’s always a surprise and the front of the slice will be completely different from the front.
I created the following beads today for Nik’s faerie tarot bag. The heart, puffed coin, and two boxes were created from scrap clay and then covered in sheets of mokume gane made from two shades of green, purple, white and silver. I used the scraps from tidying up the uneven edges of the mokume gane itself to make the other beads. I think I’m now ready to start threading the bling!