This post is intended to help people who would like to take my intermediate caning workshops but are unsure whether they have the necessary background.
The caning workshops I offer are described as appropriate for intermediate-to-advanced level caners. Many of you have asked me how you can decide whether you have reached that level. First of all, you should have already made a number of canes so that you understand the concept and have some experience manipulating clay into canes. It doesn’t matter how long you have been caning; if you can do everything on this page, you have the skills needed for my workshops. (Other teachers may have different expectations). If you aren’t already at this level, you can use the videos to help you develop the necessary skills. Once you are able to follow each tutorial with confidence, you are ready!
To begin with, you should be able to roll out a large sheets of clay the full width of your pasta machine, with fairly even edges. In my workshops you will be creating complex canes; that is, canes comprised of smaller component canes. All but two of the above canes, as well as my kaleidoscope canes, are complex canes. The first 4 videos show how to make simple component canes. You should learn these techniques first. The last video shows how to turn two simple canes into a complex flower cane.
Click on the picture to follow the link to the related You-Tube video. I did not create the videos, rather, I am grateful to Yonat Descalu and Vale Sakura for their excellent work.
Nearly all of my canes begin with blended sheets of clay. These blends are often referred to as Skinner Blends because Judith Skinner developed the basic technique. Other artists have modified the technique to produce a wide range of results. These are some of my basic blends.
The video titled Polymer Clay Tutorial – How to Make a Blended Sheet – Lesson #1 by Yonat Descalu introduces the classical Skinner Blend. Notice that Yonat blocks off part of the opening of the pasta machine with a block of clay to make a narrow blend.
Most of the time I use the entire width of the pasta machine for my blends. I also use quite a bit of clay. Try making a blended sheet the full width of your pasta machine and about 5 inches (12.7 cm) long at a medium setting of your pasta machine. Keep the sides of the sheet as even as possible. If you have a Dream Machine, make your blend 7 inches wide by 5 inches long.
This video, Polymer Clay Tutorial – How to Make a Blended Log – Lesson #2 by Yonat Descalu, shows how to fold, narrow and elongate the sheet and then roll it into a shaded log that is lighter towards the center. Many of my canes start with a log like this.
This next video, Polymer Clay Tutorial – How to Make a Blended Block – Lesson #3, by Yonat Descalu, shows how to make a blended block, or stack. The technique begins the same way as the blended roll, by narrowing and elongating the blended sheet, but in the next step it is accordian-pleated to make a block instead of a roll. I probably use this technique more often than any other.
This cane, shown in the video, Polymer Clay Tutorial – How to Make a Leaf Cane – Lesson #13, by Yonat Descalu begins with a shaded log. She cuts into the log to insert thin sheets of black clay for veins and wraps the cane with another thin sheet to create a narrow outline. I often insert clay into my canes or wrap them to create outlines. When you cut into the clay for veins, cut straight down perpendicular to the table rather than at a slant.
This final video, Polymer Clay Lilac Flower, by Vale Sakura shows how to construct a complex cane from two simple canes (petal and center). Note how the outlines help set off the petals from the background. Then notice how she fills the gaps between the petals so the flower will retain its shape when the cane is reduced.