Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mokume Gane

I just finished my babysitting gig and I must admit - 3 young boys (my grandsons) wear you out!!! I had 2 girls and they were emotionally draining, but boys - let's just say I need about a week's bedrest!

My last post detailed the cane I made from the scrap left over from my first attempts at mokume gane, 18 years ago. The slices from the mokume gane stack that I demoed turned out so well I made some beads from them. As you can see, even this primitive form of mokume gane yields some nice results.

The key with mokume gane is CONTRAST. That's a very important design principle. To me it's one of the most important. If I show you a sheet of white paper what would you see? Probably not much. However, if I put two black dots and a larger black triangle between and below them, you could see that it obviously is a picture of a polar bear in a snowstorm :-)

The point is that the white defines the black and the black defines (or "informs" as some purists put it) the white. There are many design elements that can be manipulated to provide contrast: shape (organic vs geometric), line (thick vs thin), texture (smooth vs rough), colour (hue, saturation (pure vs dull), temperature (warm vs cool), value (light vs dark), just to mention a few.

Over the next few weeks I'll be discussing my experimentation with mokume gane and give a few tips on my way of doing this amazing technique.


  1. Just keeps getting better. These are very primitive or maybe even tribal looking. Maybe both.
    Can't wait to see what you do with them.

  2. Hi Vickie,
    Forgot to thank you for the design principle lesson. Good points to keep in mind to make interesting instead of boring.

    1. Thank you, Jay. As usual, your comments help me keep focussed on my goals for this blog. And you have a very discerning eye! Yes, I have something in mind for these beads - will post pictures soon. Hope you find it evocative. Vickie

  3. I love these even more than the super-colorful, complicated mokume gane. I think sometimes one can get caught up in the fun of making something complex and forget how much beauty there is in simplicity. These rock!

    1. Thank you, Zendegy, I really appreciate your comments. I agree with you - the KISS principle is often the best. I'm toying with writing a post entitled "Just Because You Can, Does it Mean You Should?" talking about just that. I wonder how many artists I will royally tick off?