Marbled Clay Tiles
This week, I did a lot of work on the shrine I’m doing for the folks at Amaco. I showed you the metal work last week—well, once I finished making the metal happen, I felt as though the exterior of the shrine needed some color. I took the leap, and broke open the polymer clay they sent me.
I haven’t worked with clay in about five years. I did a fair amount of miniature work with it when I was writing for About, but as a paper artist, I don’t tend to think of clay when I’m developing a project. I decided to start with something relatively simple: marbled tiles, to do borders in three places around the edges of the shrine.
To make the marbled tile shown, I used three colors of clay: bright yellow, lime green, and black. I started by conditioning the clays, getting them good and soft by kneading them in my hands.
I rolled out the yellow clay with a pasta machine (which is dedicated to clay work, and has never made an actual batch of pasta). I placed the flat piece on a glossy ceramic tile, which makes a great work surface, since the clay won’t stick to it. I poured a bit of gold glitter over the surface of the clay.
To work the glitter into the clay, I first folded the two ends inward, then pressed down. This is to encourage the glitter to stick to the clay, rather than rattle around dry, and end up all over the floor when I try to knead it. After a few folds and presses, I could knead the clay normally, with very little glitter escaping. If some fell out of the clay onto the tile, I just wiped it up with the clay and kept on kneading.
To get the marbled effect going, I broke off small pieces of conditioned clay, and stacked them one on top of the other, alternating colors.
Doesn’t this look like a lovely marbled tile in the making? This blob contains random pieces of glittered yellow, lime and black clay.
Next, I rolled the clay out into a long rope. You can see the stripes of different colors forming. These need to be less stripey, and more rippled.
Here’s how I acheived the ripples: I doubled the clay back on itself, then twisted it.
I rolled the clay out again, then flattened it with my hand, preparing it to go through the pasta machine.
The pasta machine presses the clay, makes it a uniform height, and flattens out all the ripples I created through twisting. It’s always a treat to see the clay come out the other end looking so lovely. Quite a change from that big blob a few steps back!
The clay goes back on the tile, where I measured it out and cut it using a clear quilting ruler and a craft blade.
This piece was cut into tiles of several different sizes, to match the three borders I wanted to create. I cut so there was a tiny bit of waste between tiles, which I removed with the tip of the craft blade. This way, I could square up the edges with the blade.
Finished tiles, sealed with a coat of Diamond Glaze and glued to the shrine: