Focused on Mokume Gane

Mokume gane is one of the most popular technique in the polymer clay world with many variations and looks. Both beginners and advanced clayers are able to explore this technique in the smallest detail and look for hidden magic that lays in the mokume gane. Let’s now uncover this magic together with the history of technique that has been transferred to the polymer clay from a fine jewellery craft - goldsmith.

The name mokume gane originates from Japanese. In fact, it means “metal with a pattern of wood”, which this technique really reminds of. The real mokume gane is made by the layering of various non-ferrous metals, which are then pressed together. The resulting block of materials is then pulled, twisted and textured and ultimately resulting in a beautiful motif, in which individual contours of the metal are revealed. It is never possible to produce exactly the same pattern so each piece is unique. Mokume has been used in Japan since 17th century for a variety of purposes. For making jewellery, precious packaging, sabers, swords and knives. It was only in the 1970s when this technique arrived to the West. And then into the polymer world as well.

Threaded rod, needle, cutter, texture, or ripple blade. Basically, everything you find in your studio can be used to create a mokume gane pattern. The principle is the same as in goldsmiths, but there are much more possibilities. This is perhaps the reason why this technique has become so popular in the polymer community. Several artists have brought it to the perfection. Everyone, of course, with a different approach and own innovations.

Scottish artist Melanie Muir uses for her mokume gane designs her own textures and templates. The individual layers are shaved from the striped cane, and the resulting patterned sheets are then used to make jewellery with a frame so typical for Melanie’s design. Someone might argue that her work is a bit stereotypical; however with every other piece she moves her version of mokume gane again a bit further.

A few thousand kilometres away on the American continent, the unique version of the mokume gane is also created by Julie Picarello, renowned for her jewellery with so beautiful palette of colours, complemented by metallic components. Unlike Melanie, she does not work with textures, but with different tools, with which she always creates a completely different composition of the resulting pattern. The simplicity of the whole technique convinces everyone have a try. Mix your own colours of clay, create a striped cane, take a sharp blade, textures, and let yourself be carried away by shaving the individual layers of the entire cane.

For those who are not sure about the cutting with a blade, it is possible to create a mokume gane pattern using a guillotine. LC Slicer along with Angle Base will help you to cut the entire layer of the sheet at once and you will achieve great designs without any effort. You can then focus on details of the whole pattern, mixing your own colours or making original textures.

1. Prepare a striped stack made of colourful sheets of clay. The individual sheets should be quite thin. Texture it and place it on the Angle Base, which simply snaps into LC Slicer.

2. Move the Angle Base to the blade and carefully start cutting the entire stack. Angle Base can be set at different angles and bevels.

3. Remove the cut sheets and continue cutting until the pattern disappears. Then use these beautiful sheets for your own creation.


The article was published in the Polymer Week magazine. Find out more about the magazine: CLICK HERE


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