Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 things my first cane taught me

The initial part of my journey was a bit bumpy to say the least. After roaming all over the internet looking for a good starting point, what caught my attention? A simple sculpture project? A stamped project? No, of course not! What caught my attention immediately was canes!!! I wanted to make a cane… but not just any cane, it had to be a flower cane. And, of course, my collection of red, green and white was limiting, so off to Hobby Lobby I go.

Having never been to the store in search of polymer clay, it was a bit of an adventure. I bought my first book "Polymer Clay Extravaganza" by Lisa Pavelka and enough clay to do one of the projects in the book - a covered pen and pen holder. I would post a picture of it but I'm not sure where I buried it!!! I know it's in one of these drawers somewhere…..but to say that it was rough is an understatement!

What I did learn from that first attempt was the basics of building a cane. In the process of making that first cane,

(1) I learned how to condition my clay by running it though the pasta machine over and over again. Now I know that I need to condition until the clay will fold in half without splitting but back then I just winged it! I also know now that if the clay is relative soft, I can slice a 2 oz block in about three even pieces across and I don't have to condition by hand before I put it through the pasta machine's thickest setting.

(2) I learned that a long log of clay is called a "snake" and that if your snake isn't the same size all the way from one end to the other, you end up with some pretty "wonky" flower petals!

(3) I learned that it is much easier to make a BIG flower cane and reduce it, than to try making a smaller one. The moral to this story is don't reduce your petal snake too small before you stop to cut the individual petal pieces. I now know that I prefer my petal pieces to be at least one-half inch across.

(4) I learned that it is a lot easier to wrap one long snake of clay with another color than it is to wrap each petal piece separately.

(5) I learned that you need to think about your flower center BEFORE you make all of your petals.

(6) I learned that you need to take your time in lining up the petals around the flower center and that sometimes you have to make the center bigger or smaller to make it work. This caused me some major frustration while making my first cane because after I got फाइव petals all spaced around the center, I still had a lot of extra space! Took me a while to figure that one out!

(7) I learned that "packing" a cane is just as important as building one! It's not just filling in the open spaces…. it's filling in the open spaces in such a way that your flower won't distort when you reduce it and you don't leave air pockets to cause problems later. The packing on that first flower cane left a lot to be desired!

(8) I learned that patience is very important in cane building.

(9) I learned that a cane slices much nicer if you let it "rest" overnight… back to that patience thing!!!

(10) I learned that to be a really good caner, I needed some up close and personal lessons with somebody who really knows what they are doing.

So……… how did I get those up close and personal lessons? Check back….

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