Update (2020): You can see that I wrote this post quite some time ago. At that time, I was making master canes with a very large number of very detailed components. After teaching my master cane technique for several years, however, I found that smaller master canes (with fewer components) were generally more successful – for both students AND for myself. Here is why:
- When you make a cane with fewer components, you can focus on making each component the best you can. When there are lots and lots components, there is a tendency to get sloppy, especially with the final components.
- Lots of components lead to a very large cane. If the entire cane is in the same color scheme, I get tired of the cane before I use it up. I would rather start a new cane in a different color combination.
- You become tempted to reduce your components so that you can use them more than once. This can lead to kaleidoscopes that contain components that are too small for the viewer to appreciate the detail and for the kaleidoscope designs to make a strong visual impact.
- With a smaller cane, you spend less time getting to the point where you can enjoy the fun of making kaleidoscope designs.
I’m working on what will be my last kaleidoscope master cane for a while and I want to get it right. This one has been a real challenge for me because I want to keep the colors really strong, which means not adding as much white as usual. In recent years my kaleidoscope designs have had little or no background surrounding the individual design elements. Rather, the elements are pressed against one another, which means there has to be a strong value contrast from one to the next in order for them to be readable in the final design. I could outline them all in black but that would either produce a stained glass window effect (if the lines are thick) or tone down the colors in the reduced cane (if the lines are thin). I don’t want that to happen, so I have to maximize the value contrast between the edges of adjacent elements.
These are the components I’m working with at this point. Each component cane is 3 inches tall. I have sliced off the tops of the canes and arranged them on a tile in one possible design for the master cane. (The triangle is 5.5 inches from top to bottom.) I’m not happy with the results so I’m going to be moving some of the pieces around, taking some out, and making some new ones to fill in gaps as I work towards my final design. If I did this with the actual canes I would risk damaging them, so I will be using only slices. I decided to take you along with me as I work this through to give you a peek at my process. It is the same process students in my 6-Day Kaleidoscope Pendant Workshop use when they build their master canes.