Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sandra McCaw's DVD is here!

I watched it last night and can hardly wait to try the techniques! The DVD is 85 minutes long and definitely requires more than one viewing. I think that experienced caners would pick up a few tips and I know that I had several "aha!" moments. I will have to watch it a couple of more times.

It's much more technical and precise than Judy Belcher's technique and I would think that making the cane would probably take a couple of hours the first time.

I doubt that I'll have time to try it this week but I do want to play with it and bring it into my project. I consider the video a good buy.

Here's another photo from her site which you can find here.

Next up, packing for Morrisburg - a three day clay weekend.



Sunday, April 13, 2008


Hi Everyone,

I confess, I'm stumped with what to do with this. It's supposed to be the bear cane that I'm working on. Made a few modifications. I've been trying for the last two hours to add a head and feet. Nothing looks right. The clay is a little lighter than that in the photo, but I wanted a dark brown for the bear since the bear paws are that way. I'm trying to tie my colours in so that each cane is related to another one.

My bear keeps looking like a buffalo when I've added the head and feet. I'd be OK with a buffalo, except that I want the claw cane in as the feet. Mostly because I've got very little brown left. Just enough to do the head.

This bit here is probably almost three inches wide and two inches tall. I've probably got about 3 hours in of just playing with the clay.

I'm tempted to leave it abstract and wrap it with something free form. I've been considering a variant of the brain cane for the wrapping.

Anyhow - here's the original refernce that I've been working from. I started off wrong by not making enough of the skinner blend stripes. But I'm generally happy with the central part.

Guess I'll just have to leave it and think on it for a bit.



My pasta machine has died...

It's an Atlas 180 with the aluminum rollers. I noticed a while back that I would get shards of metal out from the hole where the turning handle goes in so I noticed that I was stripping it a bit. But, a couple of weeks ago it finally stripped completely. When I turn the handle with the least bit of resistance it spins the handle only.

I took it apart to have a closer look at it and the roller and the inside of the roller are aluminum. The turning handle is steel. The aluminum is obviously not strong enough to handle the steel.

I am not gentle with pasta machines, but my friends who have watched me clay at my worst say that I'm not particularly hard on them either. My Michael's cheapy that I've had for years doesn't show anywhere near the same wear and I've abused that one even worse.

I've only had it a year and paid good money for it. I can send it back to where I bought it from, but that'll cost $20 in shipping. I don't know how much a replacement part is, but it's another $20 to get it back. So do I want to be $40+ in the hole for something that I view as a manufacturing defect that isn't likely going to be fixed due to the mismatch on the metals? Probably not.

But I miss the 180 width immensely. Going back down to a 150 is hard. Bev's stamps no longer fit through width wise.

So I'm in search of a 180 with steel rollers. I guess the other option is to buy a motor for the 180. But, I've torn the thing apart trying to figure out how to pull just the roller off and I'm not sure I can get it back together again so that it runs as smoothly as it did.

Anyhow, if anyone else has had challenges with the aluminum rollers, I'd be curious to hear about it.

And, if this is the only thing I've got to whine about today, then I'm doing OK.



Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cranes in support of Ponsawan and Ada

Hi Everyone,

Today's blog is full of links.

Tracy Holmes and Dan Cormier were kind enough to post information on Ada and Ponsawan and how Ponsawan is decorating Ada's room with cranes that are being sent to her.

Judy Dunn has provided a couple of videos showing how to make origami cranes out of clay. You can see the link to Judy's blog which links to the crane videos here. I didn't really know about Judy and definitely got sidetracked on her blog for a few minutes. I've put her blog in my links on the left side of the page.

Before you watch Judy's video, you should really print out instructions on how to make an origami crane so you can scribble notes in as Judy's going through the exercise. I like the one here since it prints so nicely on a page.

I couldn't wait to try them and I've made three in the space of about an hour. I started using scrap clay (just in case they didn't come out OK) and, of course, my favourite Daniel Smith metallic pigments which you can buy here by doing a search on metallic watercolours. It looks like they no longer have the 1 oz set. Unless you're sure of the colour, don't buy the 4 oz set. I've had the 1 oz for years and haven't come anywhere close to going through them. I also used Pearlex powders in the samples that I've made.

The only square that I had readily available as a template was a 5 inch mirror and I was too lazy to create something else. It turns out that this is a good beginner size and having the hard edges of the mirror made cutting super simple. These turn into cranes with a five inch wing span and about two inches high.

My first attempt was simply using scrap clay coated with the metallic powders. You don't need cornstarch if you're using Pearlex or other powders. Since I didn't have a muffin tin that I was willing to sacrifice, I improvised and used a cookie cutter as support. Lessons learned on this one:
- I could have gone thinner on the clay setting
- I should have cut my fingernails before doing it as there are all sorts of nicks and dents
- I should have flattned everything that needed flattening before baking.
- The wings sagged beyond the cookie cutter during baking. When I took it out of the oven I propped the wings up with small bottles on their side and let it cool that way. But, after it cooled there were cracks in the wings from doing that so I had to glue the cracks together.

While the first one was baking I tried another one using a thinner pasta setting. This one I stamped after I had rolled it out on the thickest setting. Applied Pearlex liberally into the stamp indentations and surroundings and on the inside side. Then added Daniel Smith on the relief to make a nice pattern. It was beautiful. But by the time I ran it through the pasta machine a few more times I lost the pattern and instead ended up with a washy type mixture of colours. The crane folding went much easier on the thinner setting. I also propped up the wings with the bottles as the crane was baking.

For the third one I didn't stamp until I was down to the second to thinnest setting that I used. Some of you may recognize Bev's stamp on the pattern. By this time I could fold the thing in about five minutes. The wonderful thing about the Daniel Smith powders is that they go right on top of the PearlEx. But, the only drawback is that they should be varnished if they're items that are going to be handled at all.

So here are the three that I made this morning, you can see how I propped the wings up with the bottles. I'm meeting with Janice and Karen tomorrow and we may play a bit more. And we've got Morrisburg (a clayers weekend with clayers from Ontario and Quebec) and we might make some more there, too.

I just have to figure out the best place to drill holes (and hope I don't break them while doing it) so that these can fly.

Of course, after having done all this, it never occurred to me to try to do them first in paper. Vio suggested that it might be better to start with that step first. Duh!



Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Woo Hoo, I ordered a new DVD!

Hi Everyone,

Tonight I spoke with Sandra Mccaw who was mentioned on Polymer Clay Daily here. Here's an image from Sandra's website.

She does such beatiful cane work and has a video that teaches the technique. So I've ordered it! It'll be in the mail tomorrow or day after so hopefully next week I'll have a new plaything.

I can hardly wait! I'm looking forward to using some of her techniques on my project.

Doing a little happy dance in my chair,


Bear Cane - my next project cane

Hi Everyone,

I'm still working on the design of my bear cane, but here's pretty much what he's going to look like, at least geometrically. I'm still trying to figure out the colours and I've decided that I'm going to put some of my small claw canes down at the feet of the bear. And I may change the patterns a bit.

This was inspired by a shirt that I have from Dagoli Designs. You can see a photo here.

I doubt that I'll add such detail to the background though I'll likely add something there.

I've made up some brown clay for the bear but not sure whether I've got enough so I'm going to sit and think about it a bit more.

The design was created using Microsoft Powerpoint.

Of course, I'll post more as I go.



Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring has Sprung!

Hi Everyone,

Just a short posting - we finally have flowers in our front yard! Crocuses in the garden.

We have more planted in the lawn but snow is still covering them. Our pile is still over a foot deep in the centre of the lawn but we've started to shovel that out to the driveway to help things along.

Robins are back, cardinals are singing, and flowers are blooming. We've got all the windows in the house open even though it's only 9C (48F) outside. It's a beautiful day!



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

More Ponsawan Bottles of Hope

Hi Everyone,

Just a short post from me today. I did a few more Ponsawan Bottles of Hope on the weekend. Here's a photo. I don't think I'll stop with these, I'll do anything not to have to make lids for Bottles of Hope and these don't require lids.

Ponsawan's daughter is still in the hospital. You can read about her progress and friends here and you can see Ponsawan's artwork here/ though she's obviously focused on getting her daughter better.

I'm getting ready to continue work on my mystic bear cane. I've got the pattern figured out for the most part, now I just have to figure out the colours.