Repetition, repetition…

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.

kaleidoscope 1

Starting with canes left over from other projects, they are stacked together (top left). The black, white and green flap was then folded down and the entire stack was pushed into a triangular shape.

Slices from each of the 4 steps in the cane.

At top left is a slice taken from the original cane once it has been pushed into a triangle shape. The edges are straightened further, the cane is cut in half and doubled up to create another long triangle (top right). This is reduced and stretched further, cut into four and packed together again. Finally this last step is repeated.

Pendant made from the cane

Pendant made from the cane

Here is a good basic tutorial for this type of cane, just using plain colors.

For lovely work using kaleidoscope canes, see work by Carol Simmons and Sarah Shriver.

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Clock pin/pendant

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.

Big beads

big beads

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.

Signature cane

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.

What I learned from Lindly

Beads made from the color blends I brought home from Lindly’s class

I did two workshops at CFCF 2012 with Lindly Haunani.  As is often the case, the biggest lesson for me had nothing to do with the actual workshop projects.

I spend lots of time developing a color theme, and then producing most of my work using that theme.   I love “Color Inspirations” by Lindly and Maggie Maggio, and I used some of the steps in the book to create the color theme I usually use.   So, walking into Lindly’s classes and being presented with 5 blocks of (donated) Premo filled me with anxiety. Black, white and 3 stark prime colors – something like this and no time to mix better ones. There was only one thing to do – Continue reading

Cabin Fever Clay Festival

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Cabin Fever Clay Festival last month in Laurel, Maryland, as part of a holiday to the US.  After 20 years of teaching myself – initially from books, and later the web – it was very exciting to be in these workshops, to actually see the wonderful tutors in action – many of whom I have “known” for years through my collection of polymer clay books.

It was also great to be part of a wonderful, friendly group of people who were all excited about polymer clay!

The workshops have inspired me (at least for now!) to spend more time working with polymer clay – and to join the many people who share their polymer work, and start a blog.  I’m not sure how I will go with either.  I did consider calling my blog “polymer clay yearly” (in contrast to Cynthia Tinapple’s daily posts) but at this stage I’m a little more optimistic than that!