Pearlescent Inks Mokume Gane
by Mia Rox

August 2001

  • Premo Translucent with bleach
  • Red, green, and blue metallic Premo clays
  • Yellow Premo clay
  • Yellow Pearl Ex powder (optional)
  • Pearlescent inks: I used Sundown Magenta, Hot Cool Yellow, Macaw Green, and Galactic Blue
  • Paint brushes
  • Nublade Flex
  • Brayer
  • Little container for color mixing
  • Pasta machine
Mixing the clay
To make yellow, I mix a little yellow Pearl Ex into the yellow clay to create a mica effect. I make a bit extra to mix with metallic red to make orange.

To create the tinted translucent, add a very small piece of opaque color to a piece of translucent.

The clay should have both a translucent and opaque effect. If that doesn't sound vague I don't know what does, but you will know when you see the colors mix together. Just remember: start small. It is so much easier to add a pinch more of color than to add a lot more of translucent.

Step One
Once you have your colors mixed, roll the clay out on your pasta machine. Start at setting #1 (thickest setting), then roll out at #3, and finally at #5.

Cut each piece so they are the same size.

Step Two
Mix a little magenta and yellow together in a container to make orange ink. Start by adding just a little magenta to the yellow, since magenta is a more saturated color.

Paint the red-mixed clay magenta, the orange-mixed clay orange and so on. For the green, I like to mix a dab or two of blue. The Macaw green is very yellow-y. Adding a little blue (when the green has just been put on) will tone the yellow down some.

Let the inks dry. They will begin to crack. The thicker you apply the ink, the bigger the cracks; the thinner you apply the ink, the finer the cracks.

For this lesson, I suggest applying the inks thin, as this will also make slicing into the stack easier.

Step Three:
On a fairly thin setting (Atlas #5), run the painted clay through the pasta machine in one direction. Turn the clay 90 degrees and run it through again on the #6 setting. You can also then run it through a #7 setting (after turning it again 90 degrees) if you desire more crackle.

Step Four:
Stack your clay in the pattern of the rainbow colors -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Make sure all the crackle lines are running the same direction.

Use your brayer to get the sheets to stick together. If you place the clay slab ink side down on your work surface, it will slide around, but it seems to get the clay to thin out faster.

If you place the clay slab ink side up, the clay will stick to your work surface, giving you a bit more control over how thin you want to brayer your stack.

Be sure after every few passes of the brayer to lift the slab so it can spread out. Also be sure to run your brayer in all directions for an even crackle underneath all the layers.

Step Five:
Use your brayer to adhere your clay slab to your work surface (ink side up) so it is good and stuck and will not slip and move.

Curve your Nublade Flex slightly and make a sharp sideways cut into your slab. Make several of these cuts.

Cut these larger pieces (again make sure they are stuck to your work surface well to avoid slippage) into smaller pieces, using the same slightly curved and angled cutting technique.

Step Six:
Take some of the scraps from the sides of the slab and roll them up into balls. This will be your bead innards.

Take your small slices and apply them to the bead. Roll the bead in your hands until it is smooth.

I don't recommend sanding anything you make with this technique. The ink will come off the top color.

Close-up of the Pearlesent inks Mokume Gane technique.
This technique can be applied to several other things. I have made these beads and this barrette.

Pearlescent Ink Mokume Gane I would also like to thank Allison Ingram for her wonderful inspiration with these inks. I feel she is a true pioneer of this technique.


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