The Value of Intention

I know I said I would be moving away from making kaleidoscopes. However, at that time it hadn’t occurred to me that I still had kaleidoscope workshops to teach, two of them 6 days long. The second 6-day workshop was a reunion workshop for people who had already taken the first one so I had quite a bit of planning to do. As part of the planning process I identified my intentions for the construction of the master cane. They were of two types. The first had to do with illustrating/demonstrating the concepts and techniques I would be teaching in the workshop. The second set were intended to keep me from simply doing “the same old thing” and to stretch myself artistically. They were to:

  • Use a colorway I hadn’t used before
  • Create a palette of deep, rich colors, darker than my usual palettes
  • Create stronger value gradients in my blends
  • Create strong, bold graphics
  • Include design elements such as dots or lines in most of the component canes
  • Build a smaller master cane (with fewer components)
  • Avoid using blue-violet (my favorite color)
  • Do something else with the cane in addition to making kaleidoscopes

My choice of a color way was influenced by two student palettes from a previous workshop. I liked the depth and richness of Donna Harryman’s palette (left) and the tropical feeling of Priscilla Lane’s palette (right).

priscillas cane  meddonna 4in






My palette was somewhat in between the two. For my color inspiration I brought the picture  shown in the image below (a fiber art piece  by Betty Busby). (I modified it slightly by making it a bit darker and less saturated in Photoshop.) I always name my palettes. I call this one tropical autumn.

 blend and inspirationThe Premo primaries I used were cadmium yellow, pomegranate, and ultramarine. I also used a bit of fuchsia to brighten the pomegranate in some areas. I made the blends for my cane during demonstrations of how to modify Skinner blends and mute colors by adding their complements. Unfortunately, the picture above is the only picture I have of my blends. layout start 4 inHowever; the image on the right will give you a pretty good idea of what the blends looked like. (I didn’t use all of the canes in the final master cane.)

I followed my inspiration picture quite closely when mixing my color blends. The only intentional deviation was adding a brighter yellow (the flower) to increase the range of values in the final cane. Looking over the components, I decided the row of large yellow dots against the dark blue background would be too bold compared to the other canes so I took it out, modified it, and used it a different way. I flattened and reduced it then inserted it into another finished component that originally didn’t have as much value contrast as I wanted. Can you pick out the component?

dbl slice 8 inOn the left is the final cane design (reduced and mirrored). It has far fewer components than the master cane I was describing in previous posts. Nevertheless I got more than 40 different kaleidoscope designs from it as well as some other designs you’ll see in a future post. I ran out of clay before I ran out of kaleidoscope possibilities.

As for my intentions, I was quite pleased with most of the results. I felt I had had the least success in my efforts to create strong value contrasts in my component canes. Overall however, I achieved the results I wanted.

A number of the speakers at the Synergy 3 conference talked about the importance of identifying one’s intentions at the beginning of a project. I found it extremely valuable in this case. It helped me stay focused and become involved in the process in a deeper way. It also increased my feeling of satisfaction with the results. I felt like shouting “Yes, I did what I intended.”

pendants 3 by 3  9in

This entry was posted in Caning, Classes/Workshops, Color, color mixing, Kaleidoscopes, Premo Clay, Sources of Inspiration, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Value of Intention

  1. Hi Carol, Fantastic color combinations….Do you ever come to San Francisco for your workshops ? The other thing I wanted to ask do you ever sell your kaleidoscope beauties to artist for jewelry?…but I must say I appreciate your emails…they are so informative and the really help inspire my artistry as a polymer artist… thank you so much for sharing your intentions and illustrating/demonstrating the concepts and techniques threw your journey of crafting a master cane … I am so glad I signed up for your emails…


    Daniel L Carniglia

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Thank you Daniel. It is so satisfying to hear that! I would love to do a workshop in the Bay Area but the opportunity hasn’t arisen. I mostly sell my work at my classes and workshops as well as at conferences such as Synergy 3.

  2. Carrie says:

    I find it incredibly hard to identify the different components of the master cane in the final (glorious) kaleidoscope designs. Is it because, for me at least, the master cane doesn’t “work” in its own right? I don’t know! Fabulous.

  3. Diane Bruce says:

    I can’t see where you added that little bit of yellow dots with the dark blue background to the final cane. I love the colour iof this cane and how you integrated more graphic elements into the master cane! It’s beautiful!

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Thank you Diane. That dotted cane was modified and used for the dashed lines in the triangular blue/green “flower.”

      • Diane Bruce says:

        Thank you for telling me. Damn it Carol, now I want to make a new cane in these colours! I found a great idea for leaching clay. I got a newsprint roll end and cut it up to use it for leaching the clay. It was $6.00 and I got a lot of paper from it. And the newsprint soaks up the plasticizers very well!

        • Carol Simmons says:

          I’ve looked for newsprint at a reasonable price but I haven’t found it. Where did you get yours? I figured it would work well because it is cheap to make. I figure the cheaper the paper the more porous it is.

        • Diane Bruce says:

          I got the roll of newsprint from the office of the daily newspaper here in Victoria. They have an ad in the classifieds when they have some for sale. The newsprint is very porous so the clay does not need to leach as long as it does with copy paper.

  4. Ed says:

    Your intentions brought beautiful results! It sounds as if you were truly in the moment.

  5. Donna Harryman says:

    I really love the kaleidoscopes from this cane. I really want to do another cane and use less elements but with more detail in each element. It makes for much more variation in the finished kaleidoscopes.

    • Carol Simmons says:

      That was one of the objectives for the students in this workshop: Take what they learned in the first workshop and make a much smaller but more thought out cane.

  6. Priscilla says:

    I am flattered that you used my cane as one of your color inspirations! As you know, my palette was also darker than usual for me.

    I did see the flattened dotted cane in the blue flowers. I’m not the least bit surprised that you ran out of clay before you ran out of possible kaleidoscopes.

    One way I reduce some of the “surprise” when making my kaleidoscopes is by using two little mirrors held at the correct angle for the number of pieces I plan to cut. It helps me get the final design I like. And with the myriad possibilities, there are still plenty more options to play with later.

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