Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tutorial: Shamrock Cane

I'm trying to stay ahead of the game for my seasonal stuff this year, having things out roughly a month before the day in question at the least. I wanted all my green and shamrocked things up by last Friday, but I hit a few snags. Finally, it's all made, I just need to finish and list it- but here's how to make a shamrock cane which can be used to make all sorts of things!

I started with some green that I'd mixed together using two greens (Fimo 50 and 53). The shamrock leaves are heart-shaped, start by making a simple heart cane.

Start by rolling a long tube and bending it in half (two equal sized tubes next to each other works too). Slowly work them together to a point on one side until you start to see a heart shape. Then, keep working and forming the cane until it seems right and slice off the messiest bits of the ends to check the shape.

I wrapped my cane in gold Fimo effects clay. I also had some gold and sunflower that I'd mixed together for another project which I marbled in by chopping them both up roughly, pushing the chunks gently into a ball, and then rolling out again. I don't think the marble came out in the cane that much, though.

When I started wrapping the cane, I didn't put the sheet of clay into the gap, but started just next to it. This was only slightly intentional but it worked well! For the gap, make a long thin sausage and then form it to a point, then gently ease it into the gap as much as you can. Patch up any open places with off-cuts of the big gold sheet, or re-roll some more- it doesn't have to look perfect, just smoothed together and fairly level! 

I decided to use translucent clay again for the background colour of my shamrock cane. To make it easier down the line, I would recommend filling the gap of the heart cane now, using the same method as before for the gold wrap. 

Cut the cane into three sections, and make a stem. I think the stem I made here could have been twice as long. To make the stem, simply roll out a long tube and form it into a long wedge shape, and wrap it in gold like before. After the stem is made and cut to length, lay the cane out to get an idea of how to fill the gaps!

Filling the gaps can be tricky. You don't want to leave too much wiggle room or your rounded shapes will become flat when you reduce the cane. I probably could have done with more building up around the tops of the shamrock leaves as they flattened a bit too much. Try to keep the cane trimmed as you go as it's easier to see your progress, but it doesn't need to be perfectly flat or anything.

Once you're satisfied with the look of your cane, wrap it to finish the background. Again- the ends of the cane aren't going to look perfect at this point and that's OK.

Now it's time to reduce the cane. Work slowly from the middle out, to push out air pockets. You can roll it, but try not to roll it too much, but work it gently in your hands. Different clays stretch at different rates so you'll see the ends of the cane go pretty weird, but that's OK. Keep the ends on until you are sure you don't want to reduce the cane any more, and then you can cut them off and use them to make marbled beads!

Cut the cane in half, and you should have something like the cane on the left! You can do lots of variations- the cane on the right was one I'd made the night before. Reduce your cane a lot for small beads and millefiori projects, or keep it bigger for pendants. Every time you cut your cane in half and then decide to reduce it more, you will end up with the puckered end waste, so try not to do it too much- if you want different sizes in one project, you can reduce the cane in a gradual almost conical shape too if you're careful.

But keep any off-cuts!  These can be used to make striking marbled-effect bead backgrounds that you can millefiori your cane onto. The marbled beads look especially pretty with the translucent clay running through them.

You can do lots with one cane- both of these cases of baked but unfinished beads and pendants used under half of the original canes that I made. If you have a bead roller, you can do even more with them.

If you have any questions please leave a comment! Jewelry made from these canes will be up at JustPlainAwesome in the next few days- I'll be sure to show some off here, as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment