With a husband studying gemology and a long-standing interest in gems and jewelry myself, it is not surprising that I eventually found myself being fascinated with the lovely material known as Ammolite. Ammolite is fossilized remains of ammonite shells which have become opalized and which have a rainbow-hued appearance. Ammonites are the fossilized, hard shells of extinct mollusks. Their closest relative is the chambered Nautilus from the Pacific and Indian oceans.
The rainbow-hued appeal of Ammolite is only offset in desirability by its expense, so when a fortuitous accident happened in my studio, I was delighted to see some possiblity for developing a faux ammolite recipe using polymer clay, inks and embossing powder.
For purposes of this article I am using the faux Ammolite in a bezel, but it can be used in tins or pretty much anywhere.
Click Pictures for a Larger View
Materials and Tools:
- Black Premo Clay
- Daler-Rowney Pearlescent Inks
- Blade - Kraft knife or scalpel
- Clear Embossing Powder – large grain style, such as UTEE
- Bezel Setting - I'm using a ClayBezeltm from Puffinalia, but you could make one from polymer clay
- Pasta Machine
- Dental tool or other tamping tool
- Paintbrush or cotton swabs
- Small measuring spoon
- Index card
- Waxed paper
- OPTIONAL - Heat embossing gun, Jones Tones Foils, Embossing pen or pad
Making the Sheet
Step 1: Condition and roll a sheet of black clay on the thickest setting of your pasta machine. Place it on a piece of waxed paper. Shake and open your bottles of ink. I used Genesis Green, Macaw Green, Hotmama Red and Birdwing Copper. Take a brush or cotton swab and blob inks on the clay sheet. Make your color areas irregular in size and some of them can be thin... and some can be in puddles. This will result in a much more natural looking crackle effect and produce a more organic looking faux ammolite.
Step 2: Once you have all your color down on the clay sheet, carefully lift the clay sheet and tilt and turn it so that some of the color merges and pools together. Once you are pleased with the results, put the sheet down on the waxed paper again. You could add more color highlights at this point and also can feather the colors with a toothpick if you wish.
Step 3: Let it all dry completely. Be very sure it is bone dry before the next stage because otherwise you will have an inky mess in your pasta machine. You can hasten the drying by placing the sheet in front of a fan. Do not try to rush the drying with a hairdryer, oven or heatgun, because you risk partially curing your clay.
Rolling and Crackling:
Here’s where the magic starts happening!
Set your pasta machine to the next setting down from the one where you rolled your original clay sheet and run the inked sheet through. See all the cool crazing and crackles? Reduce the setting by one and run the sheet through at another angle. Repeat changing the angles and reducing the settings until you have a sheet that is crackled to your liking. The puddled areas and thin areas of ink make the crackling come out in different sizes. This is what you want. I usually bring my clay sheet down to a 4 or a 5 setting on my Atlas 9 gear machine.