Faux Abalone

Materials:
Brayer
Pasta machine
Black clay
Translucent clay
Pearlex powders
-Duo Red-Blue
-Interference Green
-Interference Violet
Work Tile
Slicing blade
Paint brush handle

Before you start, condition the clay - Roll 3 balls of Translucent Clay and one ball of Black clay )I used 1/4 of a bar of clay for each ball).

Step 1: Add one color of Pearlex powder to each ball. There is really NO specific amount of powder - I just used enough to color the clay! The interference colors will be a little tricky to see, but just use your own judgement!
You will have a ball of:
Duo Red-Blue
A ball of Interference Green
A ball of Interference Violet
And, of course, you will still have your ball of black clay.
Step 2: Run each ball of the translucent/powder clay through your pasta machine on the #3 setting. Run the black ball of clay through on the thinnest setting.
Step 3: Cut a slice of the black clay with your cutting blade and lay it on your work tile. Then stack two of the color slices, then a black slice. Keep doing this until you run out of clay. I wanted to get different results so I went black, red-blue, interference green, black, interference violet, red-blue, black. Then I just took some little pieces of the clay and stacked them on the top. This arrangement gives it a nice variety of colors.
Step 4: Once you have all the colors in a stack, take your brayer or roller and go over it to make sure that all the air bubbles are out.
Step 5: Use your cutting blade to slice the stack in half. Take the two halves and stack them one on top of the other. You may want to roll them slightly with your brayer to make sure that no air bubbles trapped.
Step 6: Now that you have a nice little stack of clay take your paint brush handle and poke holes in it!
Step 7: If you want, you can fill in some of the holes with extra clay you may have left over. You don't really have to do this, but it is up to you!
Step 8: Squeeze your clay back into a block. Make sure it is all compact!
Step 9: Slice the clay off the block in paper thin slices. It should look something like the picture at the right. The trick to the abalone look is to lay the slices over base shapes of black or white clay. When using black clay, the interference colors will show through, and using white clay will give a different color look. Try it yourself - make 2 little balls of black and white clay and put the slices on them. You can overlap the pieces if you like, but you don't really have to. See the difference in the look!
Step 10: Here are some examples. After baking I put the pieces in an ice water bath, sanded them, and coated them with about three coats of Future floor polish. Have fun and let me know what you think of the Lesson!

Jenny Cox
2003 Text and Pictures