Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
This is a simple standard, everyone should have at LEAST one flower cane in their toolbox kinda cane!
Great for filling in spots, adding some stark contrast and in general giving your beads a bit of depth.
These two kaleidoscope canes were a simple use of some extra clay that I had laying around. My purple has gotten hard - well it came to me hard when I had it shipped and I haven't had the heart to toss it out. I think it got hot in shipping and it is a bit baked here and there. But I did find some softer spots in it (it is a pound block - I am hesitant to toss it out) so I did some custom mixing with white and then some blue to get some useable clay. The right hand side cane consists of tiny stripes of white and lavendar clay that was the result of trying to get my mix right. It doesnt show in this photo but it will bring a nice texture to a finished bead. I think I might keep this for myself.
The other cane was a combination of left over pieces from the first one and a couple odd ball blends that I tossed in for good measure. These are one of those this is all there is sets and I am planning on using the left hand side cane for a set of beads that I am creating to donate to a raffle for our local women's shelter. I decided to create a couple sets of beads and make some jewelry for the raffle.
These are my latest and I have a lot more clay spread out on my workbench to play with :)
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I have been busy working on creating new canes and beads and in my downtime, one of my favourite pastimes is to surf the web looking for beads, canes and other things that spark inspiration and make me go "ooooo" "ahhhhh".
I recently got with the program and joined Facebook. Before you laugh, I must admit that I had no idea what it was all about but knew that it was somehow something that would be beneficial to the furthering of my business life.
What I did discover was, who cares?? I found some old friends on there and was joyfully reunited with them, I discovered my old high school classmates on there and a whole ton of folks from my hometown that I remembered from back then. I got to look at old photos from where I grew up and to see some of the more recent changes and I got to wander into a great polymer clay cane group.
Here is the link to those great folks who have tirelessly put creative energy into creating some wonderful canes. You might recognize a few of the names - if you are a steady reader of the Polymer Cafe magazine (a subscriber since the beginning) you will recognize canes and beads and other goodies.
From this link, be prepared to be catapulted into flicker galleries and you tube demonstrations and to be amazed, delighted and stuffed full of eye candy!!
entertain your eyes and create some new canes.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Welcome to the intriguing world of polymer clay.
There are a few things that you need to know to get the most out of your raw clay canes from Blue Morning Expressions.
Canes are fragile, keep them wrapped with clean deli wrap or saran wrap and stored in a dry cool place. I tend to keep mine in the crisper drawer of the fridge in a covered plastic container. Do not store them without the protective wrap, the plastic of a container will interact with the cane and there is the potential for destruction of the cane.
Canes are created from individual colors of polymer clay, both premixed colours and custom colours and then shaped and blended to create each of the details that you see in the overall cane. The whole cane can be the size of a dinner plate before reducing down to the small cane you hold in your hand.
Canes can be used to decorate beads, can be sliced as beads, can be used to cover glass and plastic or anything else you can think of. A newly discovered use for canes is to slice them and place them on the fingernails and cover them with a clear polish.
The trick to using canes is to slice them tissue thin with a tissue blade or a blade dedicated to cane slicing. Sculpy and Kato make some nice blades as well as AMACO. Keep your blade straight up and down on your cane and watch your fingers. From experience this little sharp blade will separate you from a nice swatch of skin before you know it and you won’t feel a thing at the time. It isn’t called a tissue blade for nothing.
Clean your blade with rubbing alcohol should it start to drag on your clay when you cut. If the blade drags, it will actually drag your design down the face of what was going to be a bead. Work slowly and steadily and you will do just fine.
Never, ever, ever use a tool for clay and then turn around and use it to consume food from or use with a pet. Even though clay is considered non-toxic, it is standard procedure in the industry to always sacrifice a tool to the clay and retire it from human food use. Just to be on the safe side.
Periodic baking in the family oven will do no harm but if you are going to become clay crazy, then it is considered a good move to get a dedicated oven for your clay habit. I am quite happy with my little toaster oven that resides in my garage and have been happily production baking for over 3 years in it almost daily without any problems at all. I do have a nice little oven thermometer in it and am know my ovens peaks and spikes from continual use. I do believe in baking lower temperature and baking longer for a more controlled baking.
1-Start by preheating your oven to 265 degrees.
2-Chill your canes in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
3- Set up a work station that has a firm flat surface that can withstand a blade on it. (glass from picture frames or ceramic tiles work great because you can cut your cane and bake it flat on the same surface)
4-If you are not using a piece of glass or tile for your baking, you will need to decide which of your baking utensils you want to permanently dedicate to clay baking.
5-After all is ready to go, begin by taking your clay cane and setting it on its side on your cutting surface. Decide how thick/thin you want to slice your beads and make some preliminary measurements. I tend to lay a ruler next to the clay and make my marks lightly with my blade in the top of the cane. Once you are satisfied with the thickness, take your blade and hold it on each end and slice down. It helps to be taller than the cane and look directly down at it so you get a nice even slice. No need to slice quickly, the blade is sharp, take your time and slice gently. This is why I chill my canes first, they slice more evenly and smoothly and it is easier to control.
6- Leave yourself room for error. If you need 10 beads, then measure out 13-15 so that you have wiggle room. Canes can never be exactly reproduced so it is imperative that you allow yourself room. We can recreate canes with the same colours but the end product is never the same.
7-Once you have all your beads sliced and assuming you are using a tile or glass to bake on, lay them flat and using a knitting needle or bamboo skewer center pierce them for charm beads or use a bead needle for a through and through pierce. If you are not using a glass or tile to bake on, use a small metal pan like a cake pan and line the center of it with parchment paper if you choose. Otherwise use the bottom of the pan. Do not use foil, your bead will be shiny on one side if you do.
8- For a small thin bead, bake them at 265 for about 15-20 minutes. Anything less than this and the bead may not cure in the center and anything much more than this you run the risk of burning it. Take a look at it after 15 minutes and make sure that it is not burning. The rule of thumb is 15 minutes for ¼ inch.
9-Remove from the oven and let them cool down. If you are using translucent cane slices, dropping them directly into ice water will help to enhance the translucence and create a clear clay. Otherwise, a simple cool down is sufficient.
10-Beads can be left unfinished with varnishes or they can be given a shiny glaze, it is up to you. I like to give mine a thin coat of Minwax polyurethane waterbased varnish in the wood stain section of the hardware store. It holds up and gives it a nice protective coating and a pleasant shine. I also will do 3 or 4 grit wet sand on my beads and a buff before I do my varnish.
11- String or wire wrap as you would any other bead/gem/stone and enjoy the one of a kind creation that you have just made.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Only 4 of these canes. One is on etsy and 3 are on www.bluemorningexpressions.com
I will not be repeating this particular pattern and currently ALL my raw canes are on sale on BME. They are 40% off.
My latest thimble and cuff bracelet projects which include my original polymer clay canes.
The bracelet is from my mokume gane cane which for some reason has fascinated me with it's muted shades and the more neutral tones that are scattered in it. This bracelet is my own personal one - the bracelet is part of a set of beads that include my DIY pierced earrings and my pillow beads for necklaces. I did manage to get an extremely smooth and soft finish to this - I just over stuffed the bracelet due to the nature of the cane. I wanted a lot of depth to it and in order to achieve that, I needed to over layer the cane slices.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
A lot of times I just tell you about the canes that I have created but never tell you about the end product. Here are some loose beads that have been created using some of my more recent canes. I also did 4 thimbles and a cuff bracelet but all of those things are busy being cured and sealed. I will post them when I get them done :)