Playing Around

In my last post I talked about the value of working with intention. The only intention I didn’t address was

  • Do something else with the cane in addition to making kaleidoscopes

To do that I had to give myself permission to play. When I make my kaleidoscopes there is freedom to make each one different, but at the same time there are rules I must follow if I want to obtain the precision I desire. My intention is to make them as flawless as possible. I have to remind myself to pay attention, to not get so caught up in the beauty of the design that I forget to line up the edges properly.

3 tropical jungle pendants

For me, coming up with something new requires the absence of pressure to perform. It is not the time to be making judgements; it is time to explore the “what if’s?” Working with the scraps from kaleidoscopes and the few pieces of cane that were left, I tried a lot of different things. I collaged pieces to make freeform designs like those I made in my Impressionist’s Garden post, I worked with individual components to make asymmetrical but more planned designs, and I used a single component over and over to create visual texture as I did with my river rock beads. The thing that captured my interest the longest (until my cane ran out) was bilateral (mirror) symmetry. To be able to play, however I had to let go of the idea of lining up the elements on the two sides of the “mirror” perfectly and look at the bigger picture. These are some of the first beads I did.

3 beads

The bead on the left was somewhat planned but aesymmetrical while the other two exhibit (relaxed) bilateral symmetry.  Dropping the requirement for the elements to line up perfectly was very freeing. It allowed me to focus on other aspects of the design and the forms of the beads. When all the cane and scraps were gone this is what I had:

Carol Simmons rainforest necklace

I actually believe the lack of perfection adds a primitive charm to the necklace. To me it looks tribal. It works because the halves are so mismatched it is clear that they were not intended to line up perfectly. If they were just slightly mismatched it would seem to be just carelessness. What do you think?


This entry was posted in Caning, Color, Kaleidoscopes, Premo Clay, Technique. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Playing Around

  1. Mary Etta McGraw says:

    Carol – I think they are stunning. Tribal, primitive, primal, whatever classification – they are gorgeous. Inspirational, striking, elegant.

  2. Jan Montarsi says:

    Beautiful Carol!!!!

    I love “Mismatch

  3. Diane Ringel says:

    I think they are lovely and prefer the organic look!

  4. Jenny Marsden says:

    Carol, the beads are beautiful. I have to admit to you that the only difficulty I had doing the kaleidoscope pendants with you was the shape and the structure of the beads. Your new freer approach is something that I am personally more comfortable with. On saying that what I learnt from you last year in Racine has been invaluable to me.

    • Carol Simmons says:

      It is good to hear from you Jenny. The kaleidoscopes take a lot of practice; this doesn’t. Will you send me pictures if you try it?

      • Jenny Marsden says:

        Certainly. I’m having a couple of months to play and explore. As you know, those master canes take some planning. I’ve been thinking about small bowls too. Will let you know when I do something interesting.
        Sometimes, Carol we have to give ourselves the opportunity to play otherwise it is really hard to move forward. Your new whimsical approach I am sure will result in something fabulous. It already has.

        • Carol Simmons says:

          I am now making my canes quite a bit smaller with fewer elements. The one I showed in my previous post is about as small as I go. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

  5. Your cane work is amazing! Your kaleidoscopes are so perfect. I had to really compare both to see what you were talking about as far as the sides matching. The beads are beautiful and still look like a mirror image to those of us who are not trained to see the perfect. I love your work! Congrats on being on PCD!

  6. Carol,
    These are stunning. What a great idea for those kalaidoscope canes!!! I belong to a group called Art Tellers and one thing we have come to agree on is to give ourselves permission to play. When we play with our medium, sometimes we come up with some pretty terrific things. I think you have done just that!!!

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Thank you Ellie. I’ve been so focused on teaching I haven’t taken the time to play for a long time.

  7. Carol Davis says:

    Love, love, love your colors! So inspiring.

  8. Barb Lessen says:

    Absolutely Beautiful!!!!

  9. Eve Blewett says:

    Hi Carol I am a first time polymer clay player. I live in
    Australia and have been dreaming about polymer clay. I have watched dozens of tutorials while waiting for my clay to arrive from the US. The cost of clay here is double that of the US including the shipping. Now at last I can play I just love your work looks so beautiful. Thank you , I look forward to seeing more. Eve

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Thank you Eve. Have you connected with any other polymer clayers in Australia? You have a wonderful journey ahead of you (which could lead to an addiction).

  10. Debra Gibson says:

    Miss Carol your work is stunning! The colors are brilliant! I love the new concept you have come across and know you will do great things that’s why I follow your posts !! Do you have DVD’s on learning your canework because I have never done one and would love to learn how!

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Hello Debra, Thank you for commenting. I haven’t made any DVDs but Sarah Shriver and Jana Benson have made excellent (intermediate-level) DVDs about their kaleidoscope techniques which are somewhat similar to mine. Also there are now sites like have a wide variety of learning videos by many well known instructors. If you go to and type in the search term “polymer clay video” you will get links to dozens of short, home made video tutorials on all sorts of techniques. Many are free.

  11. Rita Micallef says:

    Loved your work, the colours, the design. Your work shows me how much I still need to learn!

  12. Hi Carol, these beads are stunning, I love these colours! you know I’m a great fan of your kaleidoscope technique and enjoyed your workshop in La Crau very much, I have published some pictures of our work on my blog. I’ll keep following you, hugs, luciana

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Hello Luciana. It is so nice to hear from you. Beautiful work on your blog. May I put the large picture with all the different pieces you made on my Facebook page? I will be coming to France to teach again in spring 2014. Maybe I will see you. Hugs to you too.

  13. Carolyn Allen says:


    Your beads are inspiring. When will you be opening registration for your master bead class in Racine in 2014? I’m dying to play!


    • Carol Simmons says:

      Thank you Carolyn, I will be opening registration for the Racine workshop this September.

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