When I build a master cane I begin by making a number of individual canes that will become primary components of the master cane. I don’t plan the master cane design ahead of time; rather I make a bunch of individual canes in the color palette I have chosen. I make whatever designs come to mind as I am working. I am trained as a botanist so often the components are plant elements. I rarely make an entire flower or plant; usually the canes are individual petals, small groups of 2-3 petals, or leaves. Whole flowers will appear when sections of the cane are kaleidoscoped.
I try to make canes that vary in shape, color, intricacy of design and value (lightness/darkness). When I have what feels like a good number and variety of canes, I take thin slices off of them and start exploring composition by moving the slices around on a tile. These are the canes I made for the master cane I will start designing in my next post. Some of them are left from my first effort (shown in previous posts), others are new. A few are modified versions of the canes you saw in the previous post.
My component canes tend to be quite small in cross-section. I am simply unable to visualize their overall arrangement if they become much larger. (I’ve noticed in my workshops that people vary considerably with respect to the sizes of canes they are comfortable making.) The slices you see above are displayed on a 6 inch square tile, so you can imagine how small they are. In order to have enough master cane to make plenty of unique kaleidoscope designs when I’m done, I make the component canes about 3 inches tall/long.
I also pre-construct a series of what I call “linear elements” that can be used create rhythm in the design and to separate neighboring canes that are too similar in color or value. Finally, I make a shaded bullseye or two and some shaded blocks that I can cut up to create filler for small gaps in the design. I think of these canes as “support elements” in the overall design. They greatly expand the flexibility I have when positioning the primary component canes. Here are some of the support elements for the master cane I will begin designing in the next post.