How to make faux snake skin or honey comb veneers


This is one of those happy accidents or daydreaming discoveries. You know, one of those "I wonder what would happen if I did this" things. A while ago I purchased a strange looking little drinking glass. The outside was a beaded surface. Thanks to Doreen, I found out this pattern is called "hobnail". I thought it could make an interesting texture on clay. Two or three years later, I figured out something to do with it! :D

When I showed the finished pattern to a few folks they said it reminded them of something like a snake or lizard skin - like this: snakeskin.jpg  Terry wins for seeing so many different patterns in the shortest period pf time; honeycomb, snake skin, leopard spots and mushrooms (morels). Some even mentioned being reminded of waffles and a fly's compound eye - like these: insect eye1fruit fly eye. But you gotta see what Susan found. A walkingstick egg case. Is that awesome or what?

Depending on the colors you use and the size of those little beads on the glass, the pattern potential seems endless.

If you have a little glass like this (below), you can get a pretty cool effect with it, whatever you decide to call it. And even if you don't have this specific glass, I bet you've got some other cool texturing item lying about your place, just waiting to be put to good use with your clay. And if it's round, like this glass, there's no limit to the length of the sheet you make.

Here's what I did...

  • polymer clay; colors
    • Premo gold
    • pearlescent red
    • pearlescent burgandy/bordeaux
    • very, very dark maroon
  • Atlas pasta machine
  • waxed paper
  • a nice sharp tissue blade
  • water atomizer
  • 'bubbles' glass (I'm not sure what they're called)


Use your pasta machine to make a 3 color Skinner blend sheet; gold - red pearl - burdandy/bordeaux.

Amounts? Well, if you insist. :)   Try 2 parts gold, 1 part red pearl, 1 part burgandy/bordeaux. So maybe:

  • 1/2 block of gold
  • 1/4 block pearl red
  • 1/4 block burgandy/bordeaux

But since it's such a pretty color gradient, you might want to double that.

  Cut the sheet in half, across the color gradient; then place one half on top of the other.

With your pasta machine set at the thickest setting (#1), feed in the double stack into your pasta machine, as shown.

Then, set your thickness setting one click narrower and feed your sheet in, again. Do this two more times.


A nice long sheet!


Build your color gradient sheet into a block.

You can do that by either accordian folding the long sheet or cutting your sheet into lots of same size strips and stacking them in order (or not! - that would be another interesting project).

Either way, may sure to not trap air, otherwise you'll have nasty little distorting air pockets.


Flatten the stack until it's the thickness of two #1 Atlas pasta machine thick sheets. Place the sheet on your worksurface so the gold side is on the top.


PM (pasta machine) roll a #7 thick clay sheet of the very dark maroon color, place on top of the stack (covering the gold); trim away the excess.


PM #4 roll the sheet. If the piece is too large to work with, cut it into whatever sizes suits you.

Now PM #4 roll flat a complimentary color of your choice, place on the bottom of the stack (covering the burgandy side); trim away the excess.


You should now have a clay stack that is twice the thickness of a #4 of your Atlas pasta machine, with your gradient sheet sandwiched between a very very thin and dark maroon sheet on top and a complimentary color sheet on the bottom.

Cut the finished clay stack so it is no wider than the bubble glass' height.


Tape a sheet of waxed paper to your work surface. Carefully set your clay sheet on the waxed paper. Don't worry about the clay sheet sticking to the waxed paper.

Spritz the entire outside of the beaded glass with water (to keep it from sticking to the clay).

Lay the glass on its side, press firmly while rolling the glass across the clay sheet. the pressure should cause the clay sheet to stretch out in front of the glass a little. Let it. Roll all the way to the end of the sheet.

Note: If you twist the glass slightly as you roll it, you will get minor distortions, which can help make the pattern look more like a snake skin.


Using your tissue blade, carefully shave the stack.



PM roll the shaved sheet to even things a bit, but be careful to not squash that mica shift effect too much. Apply the 'skin' to whatever you like! Well, don't try covering a real snake. :)

And don't toss those shavings. They make interesting patterns as well.

Some other variations

  • don't bother making a vertical color gradient sheet; use your Skinner blended sheet as is,
  • instead of a Skinner blended sheet, use some mixed color scraps of clay,
  • before shaving, place the dimpled sheet on a slightly uneven surface
  • I bet you can think of a few...


A peek at a large spread of pattern variations. It sort of looks like a snake explosion. eeeewwww

Have a great polymer clay time.. ;-)


Last update to this page: 19 Mar 05. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.