Saturday, January 31, 2009

An Easy Versatile Cane - Even if you think you can't cane

The 2009 guild schedule got off to a stellar start with a workshop from Cathy M on the wonderful, organic Brain Cane on January 28. This cane is so easy that one guild member said it should be called the "No-Brain Cane." And it yields wonderful results. Here is a sample of the cane by Barbara B covering bottles of hope.

Barbara also did an amazing job on the lids, so check later for an up-coming post on lids.
Step 1: Start with a Skinner blend. There are lots of wonderful internet postings on how to do this blend, so instead of telling you here, we'll inspire you with samples of some of the blends made by guild members.

You can see that the color palettes vary but they all yield great results. Cathy recommends using metallic or pearl colors for best results when using cane slices.

Here's a tip from Barbara C: make your Skinner blend in your favorite colors and when you're done, add a layer of white pearl on top and blend. Your colors will be a little lighter and all pearl.
Now run your Skinner blend through the pasta machine feeding one solid color in first on the thickest setting. Do this twice more on thinner settings until you have your blend on the third thickest setting. Set aside.
Make a sandwich of conditioned clay using : black, white and black again. Run through the pasta machine on the thickest setting and repeat twice more until it is at your third thickest setting.
Now join the elongated Skinner blend and the black/white/black sheet. Run though the pasta machine at the thickest setting and once more to reduce to your second thickest.
You may need a friend for this part: Hold your hand under the bottom mouth of the pasta machine. Run the resulting sheet through your third thickest setting while moving your hand under the machines backwards and forwards "crumpling" the clay rather than letting a smooth sheet come out. Leave a "tail" of about 3 inches and run through the machine without crumpling.
Roll the crumpled clay into a log and wrap the tail with the black edge on the outside of the cane. Squeeze the middle and roll to reduce and remove air pockets.
Your cane is ready to use.
Cathy recommends laying slices on a matching, complimentrary or contrasting color and reduce a couple of times through the pasta machine to let the metallic/glitter shine.

Here are some finished cane samples as well as a covered Bottle of Hope.

Variations on a Theme
Cathy loves to try a new twist on a polymer basic and the Brain Cane was no exception. On this cane she inserts a white and black bullseye cane and the result is reminiscent of a monarch butterfly's wing.
There are also lots of variations possible by changing the Skinner blends - monochromatic, analogous, complimentary color schemes for example. One member changed the black and white sandwich to gold/green/gold with great results. Why not give the Brain Cane a try in your favorite color scheme?

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Year Resolution - A Bottle of Hope a Day

At our end-of-the-year pot luck meeting, Guild members challenged themselves to produce a Bottle of Hope each day of the year. By the end of 2009, the Guild plans to collectively produce at least 365 Bottles of Hope for distribution to cancer patients in Toronto. We hope to post photos as we go.

The bottles are a great way to use small pieces of canes or scrap clay or to try a new technique. In the bottles below, Sandy added glitter to the surface of the raw clay. During baking, some of the glitter expanded giving the bottle a unique "prickly" texture.

Janice V loves to experiment with new techniques. Guild members can usually identify an item made by Janice V due to the craftsmanship or her use of pastel pinks and blues. The bottles below are "typical" of Janice V's work.

At the February 2009 meeting Janice will demonstrate a technique called mokume gane. This easy technique produces a unique sheet of clay which can be used to cover beads, tins, books - even bottles of hope! The two green bottles below are covered with the the same piece of Janice's mokume gane. Why do they look so different? You'll find out at the February meeting.

Remember, our January meeting is coming up on the 26th. Cathy M will be teaching us variations of the brain cane and we'll generate more bottles then.

New members always welcome.