A Little Bit of This - A Little Bit of That
By Jeannie Havel
working title for this column was "Clay Scraps" but I strongly believe
that no such thing exists. So, I went to my fabulous Editorial Advisory
Board and they came up with a variety of titles. We settled on "Clay
Crumbs." Crumbs are those little things that aren't quite big enough to
stand on their own, but represent a treat nonetheless. Here is a little
bit of this and a little bit of that -- I hope you have fun with these
|Pasta Machine Mokume Gane
A funny story with a happy ending.
of the best things come from "mistakes." And so it was when I
tried out my new pasta machine motor.
I fully intended to create traditional Mokume Gane by stacking layers
of clay, creating dents -- or valleys, as some people call them, and
then filling the little craters with balls of translucent clay. That's
what I intended. Here's what really happened. You might want to try
this and see what kind of results you get.
Roll out sheets of clay on the #1 setting (largest) of your pasta
machine. I used translucent, copper, gold, and black. I used Premo. I
got distracted by something and quickly shoved the sheets of clay in a
drawer at my work table. Later, I took the time to place the
translucent clay between two sheets of paper that were easiest to grab
-- regular printer paper. I just wanted to keep it clean. Guess what
happened? That's right, by the time I got back to this particular
Mokume Gane project, the translucent clay had leached significantly. It
looked like Provolone cheese. All the other clay looked OK to me, so I
decided to wing it and started stacking. Translucent, copper, gold,
copper, gold, black.
I cut the stack in half, stacked it, pressed it with my trusty hands,
remembered I had a lot of work to do, and decided I would just roll it
through the pasta machine and put it away until another time. (I do
this a lot).
So here is where the accident happened. Instead of rolling it through
with the handle on the pasta maker, I left the motor attached. We're
talking speed and heat here. Did you know copper clay is really,
really, really, really soft no matter how long it sits? Sheesh, as my
friend, Sam, would say.
That clay raced through those rollers and my entire polymer life
flashed before my eyes. "Oh no," I said out loud, (OK, I didn't say
'no' -- I said a bad word) as I watched in horror as the copper clay
slinked all down through the translucent Provolone. I wasn't even
thinking of the gold or black clay. All I saw was what I thought was
going to be a big mess.
Ha! When I finally got the nerve to pick up the stack of clay, I could
see from the side that the copper clay had sort of melted down around
the translucent and up toward the gold and black. Actually, from the
side, it looked like a honeycomb design. I cut it in half, stacked it,
and without letting it rest at all, began taking thin slices from the
And what did I get? A beautiful Mokume Gane pattern that I have now
used to cover just about everything I can get my hands on. But wouldn't
you know it, this is exactly the time my exorbitantly priced digital
camera decided to go on the fritz (is that how it's spelled?), so all I
have to show you is a fuzzy photo. But trust me, if anyone asks, you
can be sure I'll tell them, "I meant to do that!"