One week ago…

…it was all about the polymer clay. At Celie Fago’s mokume bracelet workshop in Vermont. I should have posted a lot sooner, but I feel like I am still catching up.

Making the billet for the mokume slices involved mixing a few different layers of translucent color.

The billets were made with several layers of translucent polymer, separated by sheets of metal leaf, ending with a layer of pearl white and then black. Then it was time to press tools into the clay, carrying the black from the top layer down through the translucent layers.

Next, the layer of black was removed, with a tissue blade, to expose the translucent mokume layers below. Holly’s colors above made me think of s’mores.

The colors and patterns show up as a surprise, as the thin layers are harvested from the billet with the sharpest of tissue blades. The slices are placed on a  layer of translucent clay, then  fitted to a bracelet core and pressed on carefully to be sure the long seam butts together.

My bracelet, straight out of the oven, will need some serious polishing with various grits of wet/dry sand paper. Then it will be polished with a muslin buff allowing the depth of layers to show through.

This photo does not really show the subtle change of color in the bracelet’s layers. This bracelet is quite a bit larger than something I would usually wear,  but I will definitely try the mokume technique again. It will probably show up on beads or on polymer inlays for other silver pieces, or who knows where?  On the next attempt I’ll use translucent colors that are not quite as closely related.

With any  new technique, I usually find the first piece to be one I would like to bury somewhere. Especially in the case of this piece since a large part of it was burned in the oven (unintentionally.)

This will hang around my studio for a while, as a reminder that I have a new technique to master. I won’t pick it up again until probably after Christmas, but the whole time it sits inactive on my bench, my brain will be taking in ideas to try when life slows down in January.

The class was comprised of 9 students. All but two of us had worked with metal clay before. All of us wanted to know more about polymer clay. We did most of our metal clay work before starting the polymer.Which meant that 7/9ths of the class was in their comfort zone, and were perfectly willing to share and teach what we knew about metal clay when our 2 friends got stuck. We knew that on the following day, with the polymer, we would be out of our comfort zones and need some polymer advice.

Here’s what happens when metal clay people get together for a polymer clay workshop. The metal clay portion of the class explodes with work because we are all so happy to know what we are doing! Previous classes have made many less PMC  pieces. Everyone was prolific in this class. Even the beginners who found their comfort zone pretty darn fast!


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7 responses to “One week ago…

  1. Barb! Looks like a great weekend! I just took my first polymer class two weekends ago at ArtBLISS – I loved it! I want to take metal clay too! How much fun!


    • Barb Fernald

      It was a great weekend, Susan. I worked with polymer clay quite a bit before PMC came on the market. Silver clay is still my favorite thing to work with, but with the price so much higher than it used to be, I’m looking at other materials to include. ArtBliss sounds like it was a blast! I would love to take more glass classes. Do you ever teach?


  2. LeAnn

    My first thought was how beautifully the polymer clay mokume would work set into PMC. It’ll be fun seeing where you go with this.


  3. I was just going to send you an e-mail and ask you how the class was! I am so glad you posted about it. I like the way the mokume looks this way with the translucent clay as opposed to being done in all solid color. Very interesting. I know what you mean about the first piece. I have a box full of first pieces from classes where I learned a new technique.


  4. Wow, the mingling of the colors is amazing. I can’t wait to see what else you create with the polymer clay.


  5. Jackie Haines

    Thanks for this post, Barb, it’s fascinating for someone who doesn’t know much about polymer (me). If your bracelet hadn’t burned, it would have been great! I can’t wait to see what you do with this in the future.


    • Barb Fernald

      Thanks Jackie. I would have followed through with the silver parts of the bracelet if it hadn’t burned. But with that honking big brown mark, I lost interest. Making the billets for the mokume was really fun. I definitely want to do that again. Winter will come soon enough!


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