I wrote about the impact of repetition, even using a very basic design here.
I took very simple canes – bulls-eyes, stripes, squares and a basic leaf, and packed these together to form a triangular cane (below left). This was reduced and cut 8 times to form the kaleidoscope cane (in the middle of picture below right). Thin slices are then used to cover a blank purse mirror – after first covering the metal with PVA glue (which is allowed to dry) I use liquid polymer clay for a strong bond.
My daughter has some favorite green shoes, which she wants to wear with greys and neutrals – she clearly needed a necklace to tie in the shoes.
I added some ground cumin and coarsely ground black pepper to the white polymer clay, to add a bit of interest. I mixed a color to match the shoes (kato clay: 2 yellow, 1 turquoise and a pinch of red). I created a skinner blend then made beads from different parts of the blend. For the shape, I rolled lentil beads, and once I had the lentil shape, simply squashed them with the top plate.
This ‘retro’ cane is popular – it looks great and it’s not as difficult as it looks, but you do need an extruder. The key to the look is the shape of the die you use in your extruder and your color scheme. As long as you stack a range of colors into the extruder, the design just happens. I extruded through a square – but I would imagine it would work well with other shapes such as triangle and hexagon. See Bettina Welker’s lovely cane made with the small circle shape.
I made this nude cane about 14 years ago, and I still use it occasionally in my work. These pictures show the end cut from the original cane before it was reduced, and different sizes once the cane was reduced – her body shape tends to change a little with every reduction! See the original drawing below. Sometimes, as on this pin, I used a slice of the nude cane then added slices of face and hair canes separately. I also made a cane which included all these elements. There were very few tutorials on the web at the time, and no youtube, so I worked out how to make this by trial and error. However, Cynthia Tinapple’s video of making a face cane is similar to the technique I used, although I shaped each piece separately then packed it together. You can see the shapes of some of the components in the big slice beside the drawing, as well as two of the pieces that went into it.
Canes can last for some time as long as they are not exposed to heat, but you need to be patient to make them usable without cracking. I put pressure around the sides of the cane with my hands, and very gradually try to reduce it – this can take some time with an old cane. Alternatively, if the cane is at the size I need, once it’s a little warmed up in my hands, I carefully cut a thin slice, place it between two pieces of baking paper and gently rub with my finger. The warmth and friction make it pliable enough to add to a bead – like this one below.
I’m always amazed by the intricate patterns that emerge from repeating a random design, which initially doesn’t look that interesting. These are called ‘kaleidoscope canes’ for obvious reasons.
The original group of canes is pushed together, and shaped into a long triangle, cut in half and packed together, worked until it is longer then cut in half again and so on. In this case I had a bluey-green cane with some interest (left over from a Sarah Shriver workshop) but I’ve had lovely results with just plain colors.
Here is a good basic tutorial for this type of cane, just using plain colors.
Having made a number of polymer clay clocks, I was keen to see if I could make one small and light enough to wear as a pin or pendant. I made the basic shape from Sculpey Light and cut out the centre to hold the watch, then applied black Kato, and some Fimo Classic canes. (I changed from Fimo to Sculpey when my supplier stopped stocking Fimo Classic after the change in formula, but I have a few canes left which are still usable once I work them a bit.)
I drilled a hole and threaded a head pin through the side of the piece, then through the small hole in the lug, holding the watch but allowing it to hinge out. Two pin backs attach to clothing or to the jump rings beside the necklace clasp.
I initially embedded the pin backs in so far they were too short, and I had to take them out and redo them. However, next time I would do them a little shorter.
Summer holidays gave me a chance to get out the polymer clay, and try to recall some of the techniques I learned at CFCF early last year. I used Sarah Shriver’s reverse inlay technique for the white spotted bead, Lindly’s sandpaper texture for the round beads (not enough color to incorporate Lindly’s other techniques!) and some of Jeffrey Lloyd Dever’s techniques to make the beads (if you’ve done Jeffrey’s class you’ll know there’s a lot of spit involved!) I actually used Sculpey ultra-light as the core – so they’re not too heavy – but had a few challenges along the way. The grey to white bead with the white marks on it only got the marks when the bead cracked in a few places when it was baked! I added a few more cracks and filled them with white. These are my favorite colors, and I love wearing it.
It’s been some time since I’ve made canes – over the last few years I’ve continued to use canes I made 3 or 4 years ago, but these are now running out and I need to build up a supply of different canes. So to start with a signature cane, so I can ‘sign’ my work.
Some letters will be more difficult than others, but my “cb” cane gives a general idea of how it’s done. The pictures show a roll of white wrapped with a thin sheet of black then packed with more thick sheets and pieces of white (1). The extra white is cut off, as is a small part of the black circle, to leave a white square with a black “c” (2). This is cut in half (crossways) – to give two identical halves – one half for the “c” and the other half for the “b”. A thick piece of white is added to the “c” half for the gap between the letters, then a thin sheet of black to make the “b” half (3). This is then put together (4) and reduced, so I have slices of different sizes to add to beads or to other work (5). A bit more patience before reducing the cane would have reduced the slight distortion in the final result.