Top Ten Products to Add to Mokume Gane (and Why):
No, seriously. You can get some gorgeous mokume gane effects with nothing but polymer clay. Try mg with your own special mixes of mica clay and translucent, clay, too. This style of mg looks best, imho, when patterned with deeply-etched stamps. Check out some of what Nan Roche has done with this technique, if you're seeking some mg inspiration.
If you're a sucker for that glitzy glittered look, why not sprinkle a little into your next batch of mg? There are a couple of ways you can apply it. Sprinkle it over a sheet of translucent clay, if you want just a little. (Putting too much will prevent the sheets of clay from adhering properly.) If you want more, use the glitter as an inclusion in some translucent clay, then roll that into a sheet for the mg block. Very fine glitter will work better than larger-scale glitter, and polyester or glass glitters perform best during the curing process. (Metal glitters can distort in the heat, with unattractive results.) You could also try a thin application of glitter paint on translucent clay.
8. Metallic Foil
Mylar-backed metallic foils (as opposed to real metal leaf) can be used with mokume gane. One example of this material is the line produced by Jones Tones. To use metallic foil in mg, just burnish it onto a sheet of translucent clay, pull off the clear backing, and use either as is or after crackling the foil by feeding the sheet through the pasta machine. Metallic foil comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and "effects" (such as oil slick, rainbow, etc.), so there are lots of possibilities with this product. (The downside is that some foils can be difficult to apply to clay.)
7. Lumiere Metallic Paints
Lumiere paints (from Jacquard) come in a gorgeous array of metallic colors that can be mixed to create still more colors. This paint tends to stretch with the clay-- not crackle. There are two ways to approach this property. First, you can embrace it and not worry about crackling. However, if you've got your heart set on crazing, you can dilute Lumiere paint with water-- up to a 1:1 ratio. The addition of the water improves the "cracklability" of the paint. Apply a thin coat of paint to a sheet of translucent clay. Once it's dried, feed this through the pasta machine or roll it with an acrylic rod to create crackle (or not, depending on the look you want).
6. Posh Metallic Inkabilities
Ranger's Posh Metallic Inkabilities come in two sets. Luminous Metallics (the one I own) contains a rainbow of six colorful metallic inks (blue, pink, teal, violet, green, and red), while the Precious Metals set comes with six "metal colors" (silver, copper, charcoal, rich gold, white pearl, and bronze). These inks come in .25 ounce needlepoint applicators and were originally designed for use with stamping, but they work great with polymer clay, too. Gorgeous metallic colors-- and they crackle, too. Just drop a tiny bit onto your sheet of translucent clay, spread it around with a brush, let it dry, and crackle away.
5. Mica Powders
Mica powders, such as Jacquard's Pearl-Ex line, are popular with polymer clay artists, because they have a number of applications. There are a couple of ways to apply them to mokume gane, as well. First, you can put little dabs of them here and there over a sheet of (painted or unpainted) polymer clay. (Be careful not to put too much, as this will prevent the sheets of clay from adhering to one another.) Another way to incorporate these sparkling colors into mokume gane is to mix them with an acrylic base of some sort. Future Floor Finish works well. Just mix a bit of powder into a few drops of Future until you get a nice paint-like consistency. Apply and crackle (or not, as you like).
4. Metallic Acrylic Paints
A number of brands of acrylic paint include metallic and iridescent colors in their lines. By all means, try what you already have, but if you're still building your stock of art supplies, be aware that you don't have to spend a great deal of money on metallic paints. Every brand behaves a bit differently-- and often there are variations within a brand, from color to color-- but often the cheaper "craft paints" work just as well, if not better than, the more expensive artist-grade paint, when it comes to crackling. My personal stock includes some FolkArt Metallics (from Plaid), some Dazzling Metallics (from DecoArt), and a couple of Anita's Metallics. All will work with polymer clay mokume gane. You'll have to experiment to see which crackle best to your liking, but even those that don't crackle as well can still be very pretty in mokume gane (as well as in other polymer clay applications, such as antiquing and dry-brushing).
3. Alcohol Inks
For a dash of transparent color, you needn't look further than alcohol inks. Alcohol inks have a number of uses with polymer clay, and at least a few of them apply to mokume gane. Jacquard's Pinata Colors come in 17 bold colors, while Ranger's Adirondack Alcohol Inks are available in 24 more subtle, earthy tones. Both lines are beautiful and can be used interchangeably. Here are just a few ways to use them with mg (and you can probably come up with more): First, drop a bit on a sheet of translucent clay and use a brush to cover the whole surface. (You can use straight ink for darker color or dilute it with alcohol or extender for a watercolor effect.) You'll be able to see through this layer of color, in the finished pieces. Second, drop the inks onto metal leaf in order to colorize it. Leave the drops as spatters of color or blend them over the whole surface. You'll be able to see through the color to the metallic sparkle of the leaf. Third, apply a drop or two to some polymer clay. When the ink is dry (after 15 - 30 minutes), condition the clay until the color is distributed through it (either evenly or in a marbled pattern, as you wish). Use this clay as a sheet in your mg stack. It will be colored, but still somewhat translucent.
2. Daler-Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Inks
Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Inks (from Daler-Rowney) are a favorite product of many people, including artist Allison Ingham, who uses them to achieve attractive crazing in her polymer clay work. They come in a range of lovely colors, go on smoothly, and crackle beautifully. I've read that the best way to apply them for optimum crackle is to not shake the bottle, but to drag up the thicker "dregs" from the bottom of the bottle and paint with those. Personally, I do shake the bottle and just dip from the top, and I've been happy with the results I've gotten. Try both methods and see which you prefer.
1. Metal Leaf
It's the classic mokume gane addition, and for a very good reason: combined with delicately tinted translucent clay, it creates an absolutely gorgeous effect. Metal leaf adheres easily to polymer clay and crackles easily. The gossamer shimmer of crackled sheets of real metal-- it's the ultimate draw for those of us with inner magpies. Lindley Haunani is credited with pioneering this style of mg. For a slightly different look, apply metal leaft to sheets of untinted translucent clay. Slices from the mg loaf can then be applied to base clay in any color(s) you want. In this ways, you can make mg beads, pens, etc. in a variety of colors, all from one batch.
The Final Word on MG-Related Products:
Whatever you put in your mokume gane, whether you like to "mix it up" and put a little bit of everything in there or your style is more restrained and classic, don't be afraid to try something new. There's no telling what we'll be adding to mokume gane five or ten years from now, and maybe you'll be the one who discovers the next great product!