EJR Beads

Author Topic: Help with canes  (Read 7048 times)

KMD

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 407
Help with canes
« on: April 07, 2011, 10:24:41 PM »
Hi all,

I mostly use lace canes but would really like to upgrade my beads, I have brought tutorials and I still cannot get the hang of making canes like flower canes,  I would love to know how to make  a cane and then layer it.

not sure if its because i dont actually get too long to play at mo, but my flower comes out unrecognisable.  How do people make such beautiful canes like butterflys ect.

Is there a certain logic to it, sorry for so many questions in one xx
Karen

Shirley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1396
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 10:31:02 PM »
I'd really welcome advice with this too - I have books with good pictures, but when I try, the shapes all squidge into each other when I'm reducing the canes, and when I cut them, its a complete mess!
Shirley

ejralph

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6030
  • They're not people, they're Hippies
    • EJR Beads
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2011, 11:13:00 PM »
I am sure between us, we can all share and pool some tips on these techniques.

But I think it will help to break the problem down and isolate as specifically as you can the problems you are having.

I have found generally - the better the problem is explained, even if it seems like too much detail, the easier it is to solve!

Both of you mention how your patterns are distorting. So that might be the first thing to talk about? And please forgive me if I state the bleeding obvious or tell you stuff you already know - just remember that I am starting at the very beginning in case anyone else stumbles upon the thread in the future and needs those basics covered.


Ok - in my experience of making canes, I don't particularly feel I need a "firm" clay. I have caned with pretty much equal results with both firm and soft clays. But it helps enormously not to mix clays of very different consistencies in the same cane. Because one colour will reduce quicker than another.

The second big tip is don't work too small. You have to commit to a cane. And a well built cane will last you yonks and provide loads of slices. SO plan it. Take time and don't scrimp on clay. You don't need to make dinner plate sized canes (although some folks do). But if you make a cane too small, it will be very hard to control it. For me, a cane would usually have at least 3-4 small blocks worth of clay in total. You can cane smaller than this, just I am saying it's a lot easier to work with a decent amount of clay.

Third tip - leave no space unpacked!

Any and every space between elements in your cane needs to be packed tightly with clay so the elements are kept in shape as the cane reduces.

So picture a simple six petaled flower. If those petals taper to a point, the only way to keep that point is to make sure the background clay is packed to support the shape. This is where extruders are handy as you can extrude all types of triangle and curve to pack background clay into tight nooks and crannies.

4th tip. Be patient. Take your time building a cane and then take your time reducing it. Try to reduce the cane by squeezing and throttling it with your fingers, evenly along the cane, from the middle outwards. Don't try to squeeze too hard. You don't really want a dog-bone shape, you want to just evenly make it smaller and longer. And rest the cane a lot. Squeeze it down a little, then pop it in the fridge for 10 mins. Give it another gently strangle, then rest it in the fridge for a bit again.

5th tip. This isn't a tip, just a point to remember. The outside layers of a cane will reduce more than the inside. This can be minimised by resting the cane and reducing slowly as mentioned above. But a degree of this is inevitable.

So bare this in mind when constructing your cane. Don't scrimp on background clay and make sure you encircle your focal element in the cane with plenty of clay.

A face cane will illustrate this phenomenon well. If you are not careful, you end up with a face that looks like you are seeing it through a fish-eye lens. All big nose and eyes disappearing into the distance.  But if you start out with the nose a little smaller proportionally to the rest of the features. And you really take your time reducing - well, then the face is far more likely to look normal when reduced.

So its normal to find that the outside of your cane "overtakes" the inside a little. This will mean that some of each end of the cane will be duff. But hopefully a good proportion of the middle will be just want you wanted.

I will try to find some photos of cane construction that might help. I know I have some someplace, just not sure where right now.

If you only try two things to improve your canes though - I would always plump for "more clay" and "less speed"

Emma

Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
www.ejrbeads.co.uk Projects, articles, bead galleries & more
www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop Art beads, clay & jewellery supplies

KMD

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 407
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 12:33:36 PM »
Thanks Emma, that was very informative, I dont use much clay, so the second also applies I am definately too quick, will give it another go.
KAren :)

Hazel

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 161
    • Continuum Designs
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 02:19:53 PM »
That post was like a brilliant starter course on canes :) I echo the need to 'commit' to canes - at times I've scrounged bits of clay and made do, and it just doesn't work as well (and if on the off chance it *does* turn out well, you won't have much cane to use anyway!)

In certain canes it can be useful to overpack the cane with the background/surrounding clay (Donna Kato's millefiori book explains this process but it's farily self-explanatory), and then use either a flexible blade or a tall cookie cutter to cut out a circle or square, and get rid of the excess, leaving a nice even cane.

Shirley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1396
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2011, 03:48:52 PM »
Thank you so much - I think I haven't been packing tight enough, and also a bit to eager on the reducing!! Briliiant tips, really helpful  :)
Shirley

polynana

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 865
  • Nan xxx
    • Polynana Beads
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 05:14:43 PM »
I agree with plenty of packing and rest, rest, rest. 10 minutes in the fridge does wonder in the middle of reducing.

ejralph

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6030
  • They're not people, they're Hippies
    • EJR Beads
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2011, 11:49:43 AM »
I thought of another caning tip last night.

This is only my opinion, but I don't think pearlised clay colours always work well in canes. When the cane is reduced down, the pearlyness can blur things up and interfere with the contrast.

If you have been struggling with canes and have been using a lot of metallic or pearlised clay colours in them, well - just try a cane with standard colours instead and see if you prefer the results.

Emma
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
www.ejrbeads.co.uk Projects, articles, bead galleries & more
www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop Art beads, clay & jewellery supplies

KMD

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 407
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2011, 09:42:53 PM »
Ive given it another go, got better results but the petals still lost shape but not as bad, will try and try again, I made some lovely beads out of the canes which went wrong, dont throw these away chop them up into little bits and munch them altogether then roll and slice, I will put a pic on here when Ive finsihed glazing them.

I need to add more clay as I know I still didnt use enough...

Thanks guys

Just one thing, when layering them ontop of each other do you have to use an extremely thin slice, as I have layered some beads and you see the translucent circle and it doesnt look good.

ejralph

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6030
  • They're not people, they're Hippies
    • EJR Beads
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2011, 09:59:39 PM »
If you are doing the types of canes with the translucent background, then yes. The slices needs to be ultra thin - almost a shaving more than a slice - if you want the transparent to disappear.

I tend to hold the cane upright in my left hand, hold the blade in the right and sort of twist the blade across the cut face of the cane. But this is probably quite dangerous ;-)

Emma
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
www.ejrbeads.co.uk Projects, articles, bead galleries & more
www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop Art beads, clay & jewellery supplies

Peter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1586
  • Because together we got power
    • Mango Fizz Creations
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2011, 07:31:21 AM »
Definitely agree with Emma about Pearlised clay....had a disaster over the weekend using this in a cane and had to turn the cane into "random" beads (pics to follow at some point!). Also have had the same problem with translucent clay.....need to shave the cane,not take great chunks which I am prone to do!

KMD

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 407
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2011, 08:03:41 AM »
Thanks Emma and Peter,
I do struggle with getting thin slices, still its all just practice.. everyones been so helpful I've got my positive head on to try things again I couldnt do, I now find myself watching the clock at work to get back into my craftroom !!
Karen

ejralph

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6030
  • They're not people, they're Hippies
    • EJR Beads
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2011, 08:35:27 AM »
Practise really does make perfect. All of these clay techniques that we see used so beautifully in books are just skills. And skills can be learned and perfected - but no-one, including the techniques originator - would have been making perfect versions from day one.

So if a clay project doesn't go to plan, don't lose heart - just analyse where it went wrong and try again. It's the best way of learning.

Emma
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
www.ejrbeads.co.uk Projects, articles, bead galleries & more
www.ejrbeads.co.uk/shop Art beads, clay & jewellery supplies

Hazel

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 161
    • Continuum Designs
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2011, 03:50:07 PM »
To illustrate Emma and Peter's point, here's one of the first butterfly canes I made - I stupidly used metallic silver Fimo, and this is the result:


006 by Continuum Designs, on Flickr

Reduced it gets even muddier :(



010 by Continuum Designs, on Flickr

KMD

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 407
Re: Help with canes
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2011, 05:18:49 PM »
 umm that was your first! mine look terrible :-[
Karen