Mokume Gane Letter Opener
- Polymer Clay – Contrasting Colors of Choice (3-4 Bars)
- Lisa Pavelka Polybonder™
- Lisa Pavelka Texture Stamp – Exotique or Flora
- Polymer Clay Blade
- Acrylic Rod
- Clay Dedicated Pasta Machine (Optional)
- Baby Wipes
Condition all clays by kneading for a minute or two, starting with the lightest colors first and working your way to the darkest. Be sure to clean hands well between colors using a baby wipe.
Step 2 Roll out a square of each color of clay on the fourth largest setting of the pasta machine (or 1/16" thick with an acrylic roller). Tip: When using the pasta machine to roll the clay out, always place the folded edge down against the rollers to avoid trapping air pockets in the clay. Tip: Pasta machine settings vary from brand to brand. Check to see if the smallest number is the largest setting between rollers or the thinnest. Adjust your settings down or up from the largest setting when following suggested thickness.
Step 3 Stack these squares from lightest to darkest. Roll the stack through the largest setting of the pasta machine (or 1/8”thick with the roller). Cut the stack into 3rds or 4ths and stack with the colors alternating. You will have a striped loaf. Press the loaf down firmly over the texture stamp. This will compress the layers and form the internal patterns.
Step 4 Carefully shave thin layers from the textured clay loaf using the clay blade.
Tip: Arching the clay blade may make this step easier to get the desired thin, feathery slices. At this point, detailed patterns won’t be revealed. Repeat this step one or two more times before you can expect to see patterned layering revealed.
Step 5 Continue repeating the instructions in Step 4 until you have many interesting slices. Examine the slices from both sides to determine which patterns are more appealing to you.
Step 6 Choose from one of your clay colors a different background color. Roll out a sheet of clay through the 4thlargest setting of the pasta machine (1/16” thick).
Step 7 Randomly place slices from your loaf onto the solid colored background clay until it is filled to your liking. Tip: Free feel to leave gaps of the back ground clay exposed allowing the background clay to highlight your Mokume’ Gane’ clay design.
Step 8 When the background clay is completely covered to your satisfaction, roll over the piece with your acrylic roller. Continue rolling with firm pressure until the slices blend into the background clay and appear seamless.
Step 9 At this point choose a coverable object or jewelry bezel to insert your design into. For this sample we used a metal letter opener. However you can use a bezel and cut the clay to fit the bezel opening or your coverable.
Step 10 Brush a very thin layer of Polybonder ™ adhesive into your bezel or over the coverable.Apply the Mokume’ Gane’ sheets to the glued surface. Gently smooth the clay down over your coverable or press lightly into your bezel. Make sure you do not trap air between your coverable or bezel and the clay. For coverable items, smoothing can be achieved with the acrylic roller. Tip: Remember that when using glue, less is more!
Step 11 If you are using a coverable make sure you trim off any excess clay before baking. Baking: Preheat the over to the recommended clay manufacturers recommended (calibrate your oven each time you bake clay using an oven thermometer).
Bake your project for approximately 20-30 minutes. If you are doing a two-sided item (like the letter opener) cover only one side at a time and bake, repeating the steps to cover and bake along the other side. If you would like to put a border around your project to cover where the clay pieces meet, roll out a thin layer of one of the clay colors used. Cut into a strip wide enough to cover where the clay pieces meet. Using Polybonder ™ apply a thin bead of glue over the area you are covering, an inch or so at a time (as the glue dries quickly). Continue gluing and adding clay until the border area is covered. Bake one last time for 30 minutes as directed above. Tip: Polybonder ™ adhesive lets you fuse uncured clay to baked clay securely and in seconds!