One of my favorite things to do with clay is to make gifts for people. I recently contacted a former employer and friend to ask him if I could make something to send him. I wanted to say thanks for all the wonderful support and encouragement he offered me during the years I worked with him. Normally, I would ask the recipient to tell me some of his/her favorite color combinations…however, in this case, my friend and I are on the same page…we both love PURPLE. This gave me free reign to explore my purple passion to its fullest!
One of the reasons I love making gifts for friends is because it forces me to try to think about the person and the type of things they might like. It gets me outside of my normal routine…and I can’t tell you how many times I have explored a new technique or discovered something really amazing while making gifts for others.
I decided I would make a mokume gane stack with three shades of purple and a ton of metallic leafing…I thought that my friend would really enjoy the design. One of the readers of this blog requested that I do a tutorial on how to create a mokume gane stack. I decided this project would be a good opportunity to do that.
I started by blending a custom shade of purple. I had read somewhere on PolymerClayCentral that if you mix old formula Premo blue pearl with Premo copper, you get a lovely, deep shade of purple. I thought this would be a “manly” shade of purple and would be perfect for this project. I ended up mixing the colors with a ratio of 1.5 blue pearl to 1 copper. The result was a deeply intense shade. It was gorgeous!
Then I divided that color in half. I set one half aside (it will be the main color in the stack). Then I took the other half and divided it into two equal portions (each one approximately one quarter of the original amount). I mixed one portion equally with pearl to get a nice medium shade. I took the other portion and mixed it with about 3 parts pearl to one part deep purple. It became the light shade in the stack.
I rolled these three colors out on the second thinnest setting on my pasta machine (a 6 on my Atlas). I cut these into roughly equivalent squares (although they don’t have to match up perfectly in size..this technique is very forgiving).
Here are the three sheets as I’m preparing to make my mokume gane stack:
I decided I wanted the dark shade to be the predominant color in the stack, so I used about twice as much of it (as you can see). I removed one square of the dark purple to be the top of the stack, and applied the gold leafing in a sloppy way to all the other squares. The picture came out a bit blurry and dark, but you can see the leafing on each piece:
Then I started stacking the squares with alternating colors (dark, then medium, then light), with a couple of extra layers of dark stuck in at random as I built the stack (so the dark color would be the predominant shade).
Here I am about to place the cover on the completed stack:
I placed the cover on top of the stack:
I then cut the stack into two equal portions and placed one half on top of the other. I aligned the cut edges so that you can best see the layers of the stack:
Now is the fun part. You want to distress the layers so that they combine and blend together. You can use any number of tools to do this (including the handle of your pasta machine, a credit card, a blade, a pen cap….just use your imagination!). In my case, I decided to start by poking holes with a 3.5mm knitting needle tool. Here I am placing the first “poke.”
This is what it looked like when I was finished “poking” it:
At this point, I decided i wanted to distress it some more by slicing it. I decided to get crazy and use my ripple blade. Here is what it looked like when it was complete:
At this point, the stack will look ruined. It’s time to fix it! I squish and smoosh the stack until all the holes are filled. Some people like to insert scraps of clay into the holes before doing this…but I typically don’t. Here I am smooshing the stack back into a rectangular shape:
When I was done, it looked like this:
At this point, you can stop if you like. But I normally flip the stack over and distress it again from the bottom. If you choose to do that, just follow the steps above until you get it back into shape. I won’t bother to show you the pictures of this process, since it’s the same as above.
Here’s a view of the stack from the side so you can see how you have caused the layers to shift and combine:
Now you can start taking slices off the top of your stack. I sliced off layers of differing sizes and thicknesses and applied them to a base sheet of scrap clay (since this MG stack doesn’t contain any translucent clay – if your stack is made with translucent, then pick a base shade that will complement your MG).
Here I am taking the first slice off the top of the stack:
Continue making slices and applying them to your base sheet:
When finished, remove the sheet from your tile using your blade (be careful!):
Then I ran the sheet through my pasta machine on successive settings until I get a thin layer (#5 on my Atlas). Here is the completed sheet! Gorgeous!!!
Once I completed the sheet, I began to create items with it. I started with the gift for my friend. I decided to make a nice gold pen for him. He’s a classy guy and needs a classy gift! Here is the completed pen:
I also decided to make a couple of cabochons (one larger, one smaller). They turned out to be equally gorgeous!
I also did a large oval and two smaller ovals. I am considering making them into a pendant and earrings. I covered them with a layer of UV cured resin (I use Ultradome, but you can also use Lisa Pavelka magic glos).
This inspired me to create another pendant and earrings using beveled settings. After curing the pieces in the bezels, I covered them with UV resin to give it a great shine!
I started making this Mokume Gane stack to make a gift for a friend, but this last pendant/earring set is for ME!