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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cane beads

Though I have worked very little with polymer clay in the past I have found it to be very useful when working with metal clays. I have used it to make originals, molds, and texture plates. I have also begun to use some polymer clay techniques. The one I have enjoyed and hope to make more of in the next few weeks before my Christmas shows is the cane work technique. With this technique you build a log or "cane" with bronze and copper clays or even silver and cork clay (which burns out in the kiln). Once you have a cane built you can roll it out to shrink your original design. I've made a cane of copper and bronze that was meant to look like tree rings. I also made one that had three swirls inside. Once the cane is made I slice it up into round beads. The first set I put holes in the middle with cork clay which burnt out in the kiln. The second set I drilled holes on the sides (2 holes per bead)-I connected the finished beads with sterling silver rivets using my torch. The biggest challenge I've found is cutting the cane without smearing and squishing. I'm still looking for the perfect cutting device. It does help to place the cane in the refrigerator or even freezer (briefly) to harden the clay a bit before attempting to cut. Squishing the cut beads with my finger also helped fix the shape and bring out the design-it also left interesting finger prints on the beads.

Next I hope to make  a few copper and bronze canes that are square or rectangular instead of round. I also want to try the silver and cork clay technique. I'll take photos as I work and post those with my next post.