Mokume-gane – Free Project for Beginners (“Twist and Slice”)

As noted in my blog posting about the New Mid-fire Clays, mokume-gane should always be fired at mid-fire schedule. The three clays which create the pattern of colors are Friendly Bronze, Friendly Copper, and Pearl Grey Steel XT. Friendly Bronze is the one responsible for the strength of the piece, since at the mid-fire range it is the only one that is fired to its highest potential. The other two are high-fire clays.

Mokume-gane seems intimidating at first, but after doing a project or two you may find it addictive. This technique involves manipulation of layered metals. It has been practiced as early as 300 BC in the Middle East, with high-carbon and low-carbon steels to make patterns of black and gray colors in sword making (Damascus Steel). It was practiced in glass in Persia between AD 1000 and 500. It was practiced in gold, silver, copper, Shakudo and Shibuichi in Japan in the 17 century (when the term “mokume-gane” was coined), in the late 20th century in polymer clay, and at the beginning of the 21th century in metal clay.

Most of the mokume-gane techniques in metal clay are done with an extruder. You can find many projects in my books Pattern of Color in Metal Clay and Metal Clay Practice. You can also take classes in your area from local Hadar’s Clay Accredited Teachers.

Here is a beginners’ project for mokume-gane which does not require an extruder. It is a downloadable PDF called “Twist and Slice.”


And here’s a song to help you with the twisting part:

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