Polymer Clay Creations

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:

Sorry for the poor lighting! These are my three shades of purple (dark, medium, and light) with the Variegated Blue metallic leafing I will use in this 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:

I covered all the squares with Variegated Blue leafing. Notice that I didn’t do a perfect job. The great thing about this technique is that you don’t have to be as precise as with some other polymer clay tasks. Notice one square without leafing was set aside to be the cover of the stack.


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:

The stack is almost complete…I just have to place the undecorated top sheet.  Notice that the squares are not identical in size.  They don’t have to match up perfectly in order to produce an amazing result.


I placed the cover on top of the stack:

The stack with the cover sheet in place. Ready to continue! :)


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:

Here is the stack after cutting it in half and doubling it. You can really see the layers of the stack. Time to distress the layers!


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.”

Beginning to distress the layers by poking it with a 3.5mm knitting needle.


This is what it looked like when I was finished “poking” it:

The stack filled with deep holes…also showing the tool I used.


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:

Placed some slices in the stack with my ripple blade.


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:

Compressing the stack to fill in the holes and make it back into a nice rectangular shape.


When I was done, it looked like this:

Here is the stack after I’ve compressed it back into shape.


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:

Side view of the distressed stack. Now we’re ready to slice!


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:

First slice off the top of the stack. Some people will shave off an entire layer…I tend to remove pieces bit by bit (as shown). When I saw this first slice, I realized that this was going to be a STUNNING piece!


Continue making slices and applying them to your base sheet:

Applying slices to the base sheet of scrap clay. Notice the slices are different sizes and thicknesses. This will create an interesting result when you’re finished!


When finished, remove the sheet from your tile using your blade (be careful!):

Using my blade to remove the completed sheet from the tile. Sometimes they stick and it can get ugly! :)


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!!!

The completed sheet. I was absolutely stunned by how beautiful it turned out to be!


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:

The pen turned out great!

I also decided to make a couple of cabochons (one larger, one smaller).  They turned out to be equally gorgeous! :)

Lovely purple cabochons.

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).

Large oval with a layer of UV cured resin to create a glass-like finish.

Two smaller ovals with one coat with UV Resin to give a glass-like finish.


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!

Pendant and earrings in rectangular bezels with a layer of UV resin for a shiny finish.

I started making this Mokume Gane stack to make a gift for a friend, but this last pendant/earring set is for ME! :)

As I mentioned in my previous metallic mint green challenge, my son inspired my next color challenge by showing me a picture of his freshly made SodaStream Orange Soda.


Once again, here is the best that I could do to approximate his orange soda color.  I created it by using two parts of old formula Premo orange plus one part of flourescent pink.

As you saw in a previous post, I have recently been experimenting with an adaptation of Jenny Cox’s faux howlite tutorial.   I started there with this color project…mixing a pinch of the orange soda clay with old formula Premo bleached translucent.  It made a nice, light orange translucent blend.   I chilled & chopped the clay into tiny bits…and divided the chopped clay into two piles.  Into one pile, I mixed metallic pink Inkabilities ink…and into the other pile, I mixed a combination of blue & charcoal (trying for a nice dark contrast).   After letting the ink dry, I mushed the bits together (can take some effort) and squeezed them into an 18×25 cabochon mold (homemade years ago using Miracle Mold).   Here are the results:

Both of these cabochons are made using orange-tinted translucent clay. The cabochon on the left was mixed with pink metallic ink, the one on the right with a mixture of blue/charcoal metallic inks.

I really loved the way these turned out…I loved the depth of each piece.

After this, I was inspired to try a mokume gane (since my last color challenge resulted in five nice mokume gane stacks).   I mixed a pea sized ball of the orange soda color into an ounce of Premo bleached translucent.  I also had a little bit of the lighter cranberry/pearl mixture left over from the mint green color challenge.  I decided to stack the orange translucent with the cranberry/pearl in alternating layers.  I also used alternated using variegated red metallic leafing and a charcoal metallic ink on the layers as I built the stack.  It turned into a really interesting mokume gane!  I loved it.  I lay it on a base sheet of white and it turned out like this:

Orange translucent with pearl/cranberry and gold leafing/metallic inks…applied to a base layer of white clay and rolled thin on the pasta machine.

I enjoyed working with this and made several lovely items with it:


These turned out great…but I started to get a nagging suspicion that I really wasn’t following the spirit of this challenge.  After all — the challenge is to work with a color that is difficult for me.  Mixing the difficult color with translucent or putting it in a mokume gane stack didn’t leave that bright orange soda color as the “star.”  When you look at the above items, you certainly don’t see the bright orange shade.

Therefore, I decided to make some more adapted faux howlite cabochons…this time using the original color clay itself (one with silver metallic ink, and one with violet metallic ink).  They turned out amazing…and the orange is definitely the “star” of the pieces!

Both cabochons use the “orange soda” color shown above. The cabochon on the left was mixed with violet metallic ink, the one on the right with silver metallic ink.

After this, I mixed the original color half & half with old formula Premo pearl.  While the color was milder…I still felt true to the original orange color.   I took some bleached translucent clay and made four very small, very thin sheets:  1) mixed translucent with micro pearl pearl-ex, 2) fully integrated some gold leafing into the translucent (rolling it through the pasta machine several times till fully integrated), 3) covered one layer with teal metallic ink, and 4) covered one layer in irridescent glitter.  Then I rolled all four translucent sheets to the thinnest layer on my pasta machine (7 on my Atlas).   Then I cut out small shapes from each sheet and placed them on top of the orange pearl base layer.  Sometimes when using this technique, I really lay on the pieces (practically covering the base layer)…but this time I wanted to make sure the orange was the star…so I arranged them in a sparse design and this is the result:

Finally…I felt that I really needed to re-use my mokume gane stack so as to feature the bright orange color.  So instead of laying the mokume gane slices on a white base layer (as above)… this time I placed the slices on a layer of the original orange soda color.  The difference was striking and the orange was really featured!

The above mokume gane placed upon the orange soda base sheet. Striking!

This picture will really show the difference it makes in choosing the base color for a translucent mokume gane stack:

Both of these pieces use the same mokume gane stack described above. The piece on the left has the MG slices placed on an orange soda colored base layer, the one on the right has the slices placed upon a white base layer.

This challenge was a lot of fun!   I challenge you to get outside of YOUR comfort zone and work with a color/technique/style that you have never used before!    Then report the results!


Recently I was looking at the past monthly challenge contests on polymerclaycentral.com.   In June of 2005, I won second place in the “PCC Lessons” challenge.  I had used the basic techniques from Jenny Cox’s Faux Howlite tutorial, however..instead of using white clay and grey paint, I substituted purple clay and metallic gold acrylic paint.   It’s funny, because I really enjoyed experimenting with that technique, but I don’t think I ever made anything using that method again.  I’m too easily distracted!  :)

After bringing it to mind by viewing the PCC challenges, I realized that I should really explore that method a little more thoroughly.  I wondered if using translucent clay with metallic inks would work as well as my original experiment.  I hoped that it might add more subtlety and depth to the piece.

I started out by taking 1 ounce of Premo bleached translucent clay (note:  I am working from my huge supply of old formula Premo, so all my recipes use old formula clay).  I mixed it with a pinch of orange clay until I got a nice peachy color translucent.  I rolled it out into a sheet using the thickest layer of my pasta machine.  Then I placed the clay in my freezer to firm it up a bit.

In her original tutorial, Jenny uses a grater to shred the clay into small slivers.  Instead, I used my blade to chop it into tiny, irregularly-sized fragments.   I divided the chunks into two equal piles.  Into one batch of clay, I mixed Metallic Charcoal Posh Impressions Inkabilities ink.  Into the other, I mixed Red Metallic Ink.   After allowing the ink to dry (mostly…this technique does get quite sloppy), I mushed the pieces together (one color at a time, so as not to accidentally cross-contaminate the inks).   It can take a bit of work to get the pieces to stick together well.  Once they were sufficiently “mushed”…I stuck them in an 18×25 cabochon mold (homemade using the old Miracle Mold several years ago).   Then I cured them.   I always use an ice water bath immediately after curing any project using translucent clays…it just makes the translucent even MORE translucent!

When they come out of the oven, they will look really messy and unattractive (all that ink smeared everywhere!).  Don’t worry!  They will become very beautiful once you sand them…it helps to remove the sloppy looking layer of ink on the outside.

They turned out well, IMHO!

Both of these cabochons began with the same light peach translucent clay. The cabochon on the left was mixed with charcoal metallic ink, while the one on the right was mixed with red metallic ink.


I thought these turned out nicely.  I loved the striking contrast between the two pieces, despite using the same color of translucent clay for both.  It really shows how much impact the color of ink/paint can really make!

After this success, I decided to try again with a different color.   This time I made a light pink translucent clay.  I followed the procedures described above (chilling and dicing the clay, then separating into two piles).   This time I wanted to try lighter shades of ink…I was curious how subtle the effect would be.  So for one pile, I used White Pearl ink, and for the other I used Silver metallic ink.  They both turned out lovely…and yes…both have very subtle effects (with depth to both pieces):


Both of these pieces use light pink translucent clay. The cabochon on the left was mixed with White Pearl ink, the one on the right with Silver metallic ink.  I love the subtle nature of the design and the depth of both pieces.


Finally, I decided to try with a light sea green colored translucent clay.   This time I mixed the green translucent clay with Metallic blue ink.  I think this one is my favorite!

Light sea green translucent clay with Metallic Blue ink.  I did get some plaquing with the translucent clay, but it actually adds an interesting effect to the depth of the piece.

You will be seeing more of these modified Faux Howlite cabochons in my next post (the results of my orange soda color challenge!)…but it was certainly fun to experiment with a PCC tutorial in a different way.

PolyClay friends:   What is the favorite adaptation or experimentation that you’ve added to a familiar tutorial?

This spring, I began working with polymer clay again after a hiatus of 7-8 years.  I started out with simple projects…just trying to remember the basic techniques.  It was so rewarding and enjoyable!

After working for a few months, I decided that I really needed to get outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself.  Therefore, I decided to create a custom color blend that I hated…and to see if I could make anything beautiful come from it.   I decided that my least favorite color in the world was a pale metallic mint green.  Therefore, I mixed up a batch and got started.  I had victories and successes.  In fact…I had to mix up several new batches of the color so that I could keep exploring with it.

The blend was simple:  I took a quarter block (approximately 1 oz) of pearl Premo…and I added a pea sized (large pea, not that baby pea stuff) of flourescent green Premo.  (Note…I am working out of my old supply of pounds and pounds of old formula Premo…I haven’t really experimented with the new formula that came out a few years ago.  So all of my colors & blends come from the old formula.).

Here is the hideous color in question:

The original mint green blend…not sure if you can see its “metallic” nature.

I stared at the color for a long time and tried to consider what other colors would mix well with it.  I really hit a wall there.  I didn’t think that ANYTHING would go well with it.   Finally, I decided to embrace that roadblock and work only with this color for my first project.  I took a pea-sized ball of this clay and mixed it with an ounce of bleached translucent clay.   I rolled the blend out very thin (6 or 7 on my Atlas pasta machine) and cut it into squares.  Then I made a mokume gane stack utilizing only that color clay.  I covered half those squares with silver leafing, and the other half with various shades of Posh Impressions Inkabilities (Colors used:  Metallic Blue, Metallic Charcoal, Metallic Silver, and White Pearl).   I stacked the layers and distressed them using various tools.

The results were amazing (perhaps the best results I got with all of my experiments with this color).  Here are a few items that I made using this mokume gane blend (with a base layer of white):

First Mint Mokume Gane Creations

After this, I felt like it was possible to make something interesting with this color.  So I decided to go a bit crazy.  I mixed up another mokume gane using the mint clay with layers of a custom cranberry color and an almost coral pink.  (These two colors are also well outside of my comfort zone.   Sadly…I was experimenting as I mixed them and didn’t record the recipe as I made it — this often happens when I’m in a really creative zone.  :frowny face: ).  I also utilized the Inkabilities metallic ink as well as silver leafing.   I didn’t like the result as much, but I still consider them to be successes:

Second Mokume Gane Creations – super pink!

After this, I felt like it would be better without the lighter shade of pink.  So I did a mokume gane stack with just the cranberry color and the mint green.  I also utilized the Inkabilities metallic ink as well as silver leafing.  This caused a very dynamic contrast between the two colors.

An almost cranberry color mixed with the metallic mint green.

The next experiment came completely by accident.  I was creating a base sheet from scrap clay for another project.  I grabbed a handful of scrap and blended it into a sheet.  Quite by accident, the sheet turned into a pale shade of blue.  I looked at it and said “That would be PERFECT with the mint green).  Sadly, I could probably never create that color again if I tried to do it on purpose!   I decided to mix a nice dark shade of blue to go with it.  So I took my Premo Navy blue, and mixed it with a block from that pale blue (didn’t record the recipe since the light shade was an accident) and got a nice shade of dark blue (much lighter than the Premo navy, which is almost black).  I did a mokume gane with silver leafing and it turned out amazing:

Mint green with pale blue and a nice dark blue.

After laying all my creations side by side, I decided that the cranberry and mint mixture (#3 above) would have looked a lot better with a lighter shade of the cranberry.  So I took half the cranberry and mixed it equally with pearl.  Then I used the original shade of cranberry, the lighter shade, and the mint green in a mokume gane stack with silver leafing.  It turned out super!

So while I wasn’t thrilled with the pink & cranberry (#2 & #3 above), they were an important part of the process that led to these amazing pieces.

I can say that I have now dominated a color that I think is hideous…and it definitely helped my creativity to blossom.

Here’s a pic of all of the mokume gane stacks that I created as a part of this process:

Five Mokume Gane Stacks utilizing the hideous metallic mint green.


After completing this, I asked my son what should be the basis for my next challenge.  He was making himself a drink with our Sodastream (an awesome gadget!), so he walked in and showed me his orange soda.    He was joking, but I took it seriously.  That’s another color WAY outside of my comfort zone.

So I’ve mixed up a batch of it (two parts old formula Premo orange to one part flourescent pink)…and it awaits me.  I will let you see the successes and failures of this challenge as well!