What Is Mica Shift?

Some examples of Mica Shift. Believe it or not, the surfaces are very smooth 🙂

This first is a faux wood technique using the mica shift effect

These 2 show the mica shift ghost imaging effect


This egg is covered with pinches of mica clay squished over the surface.

An explanation of the mica polymer clay may help you to understand. The metallic polymer clays are jam packed with teeny tiny particles of mica. When you condition the clay (using a pasta machine is the easiest way) and roll it out as a sheet it forces all the mica particles to lay down in the same direction. The sheet of clay will have a consistent color across the surface. When you disturb the surface of the sheet of clay by stamping, carving, combing, etc. the mica particles become misaligned (pointing in many directions). This misalignment of the mica is what we use to create the Mica Shift (some people call it ghost imaging).

I get the best mica shift when I use a stamp or texture with a deep etched design. I then use a sharp clay blade to shave off the raised areas of the clay. It takes a little practice to shave the clay evenly, but don’t fret. You are using one color of clay, so if you don’t like how it turned out just roll the clay into a sheet once more and try again. 🙂 Lastly, after shaving the sheet, run it through the pasta machine on a setting thinner than the sheet to smooth the surface out.

I have a mica shift tutorial online that is beginner level and no stamps are required. http://www.tonjastreasures.com/tutorials/basketweave.html

Great videos to buy or borrow:
1) Mike Buesseler – All-Polymer Metallic Clays (try your local clay guild for a copy, it’s out of print, but very worth the watch)
2) Grant Diffendaffer – ArtWay Studio: Marvelous Mica and Ghost Imaging

And a list of other online tutorials.
http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/ms_texture.html
http://www.everclay.dk/1_Tutlinks/Techniques/micashift_US.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm5V3kglUw0
http://paroledepate.canalblog.com/archives/2007/01/22/index.html
http://www.claylessons.com/tutorial/stamped-mica-shift
http://www.sculpey.com/how-tos/techniques/mica-shift-metallic-and-pearl-clays
http://www.sculpey.com/projects/mica-shift-trinket-box

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