Over the past several months, I have felt the pull to explore surface techniques using metal leaf foils, fabric foils, alcohol inks and translucent clay. Three of the results appear above. The first foray with autumn leaves entailed application of silver leaf metal foil to translucent clay and then application of yellow, butterscotch, and orange shades of alcohol inks and blending them until the surface resembled the color of autumn leaves. The clay was left undisturbed overnight so that the ink could dry and then leaves were molded using brass leaf charms top and bottom so that the resultant "leaves" would have texture on both sides. The leaf edges were torn instead of cutting them for a more natural look. Then the earrings and the focal bib/pendant were assembled, using a thin layer of liquid Sculpey to adhere the pieces and as a surface protectant to keep the ink and metal leaf intact for wearing. Silver plated grommets were added to reinforce the holes needed to mount the assemblies for earrings and necklace and then the pieces were baked at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. The pieces were then plunged into ice water to increase the translucency/transparency. Matching beads were made by applying the treated clay to pre-baked Sculpey Ultralight beads and more liquid polymer was added to these to protect the surface and then they were also baked and plunged into freezing water. The finished pieces were carefully buffed using a battery operated pedicure buffer brush for added shine.
The holly set was an inspiration that hit in late November. I cut a small sprig of holly from a tiny bush in my yard and used all three of the leaves on that sprig to model outlines and veins for the leaves in that ensemble. The surface technique was very similar. I started with translucent clay covered in silver leaf and then added two different shades of green alcohol ink and left it to dry overnight. Using the real holly leaves, the veins were traced through the leaves using a wooden stylus. The outlines of the leaves were cut, placing the real leaves on the clay and covering them with a piece of plastic wrap in order to bevel the edges. The resulting leaves were then bent into interesting shapes for realism and finger coated with liquid polymer to protect the surface front and back. The pieces were then baked and then a second layer of liquid polymer was applied in order to increase the surface protection and leave a glass like finish and then baked again. The holly stems were made from some of the clay scraps which were marbleized and then rolled into a sheet and then rolled around 18 gauge sterling plated square wire, leaves added and then baked. At first, the holly berries were to be polymer with foil and ink, but after trying them out, I decided that the coral beads were prettier and gave the piece some added glamour that worked well with the metallic components.
The third jewelry ensemble was constructed with layers of translucent Premo covered with green variegated gold leaf foil, layered with very thin sheets of blue and green scrap clay from previous forays with foil and alcohol inks. These scraps were rolled together into very thin sheets and then stacked with the translucent leafed clay. The stack was then punctured, pushed pulled, cut with a ripple blade, and sliced and the slices were pushed into metal jewelry component molds and then blended together to make bigger shapes until I was satisfied with the design. The entire assembly was then placed over another layer of the same clay and carefully cut and joined using liquid polymer and sculpting tools for structural stability. For the earrings, I decided to use molded mirror image pieces joined together so that no matter which way the earring turned, there wasn't a "wrong side". Even with this double thickness, you can see the metal leaf flaming through the translucent clay. This final creation really reminded me of fire and ice with the blues and greens and the gold leaf.
These forays are a beginning. After the last jewelry ensemble was complete, I experimented some more with layering this mix with more thin layers of blue and green clay treated with alcohol ink and foil and then marbleized (scraps) and came up with the striped mokume gane clay surface that is shown on the bracelet below. After the piece was baked and plunged into ice water, there were areas where the layers of clay and foil were thin enough that the brass surface showed through. I then decided to carve the finished bracelet using a ripple blade to achieve more surface areas where the brass could shine through the clay. I was so happy with this result, that my next goal is to use a solid layer of brass or metal leaf that looks similar to a solid metal surface and then layer that with the other mokume gane and see just how much gleam and transparency can be achieved!