Saturday, November 27, 2010

Poinsettia Cane Part 2 - packing

Hi Everyone,

Here is Part 2 of the Poinsettia cane. I thought I'd take some time to write about how I like to pack canes. I like to start with a solid background and then cut out the pieces that I don't need. I don't know whether it's easier or whether it saves time, but I find the look cleaner than using plugs, triangles, and rectangles. It also allows you to do nice backgrounds such as with skinner blends.

First I conditioned A LOT of white clay - almost 3/4 of a large block. I'm not worried about this because I can use the clay in other things. However, if you're going to use this approach with a custom colour, make sure that you have enough. I generally condition enough that the background block is the size of the unreduced cane before I start cutting out the pattern.

You need enough clay to have the background extend at least 1/4 inch from the edge of the pattern cane (in this case the poinsettia). The reason for this is that as you're cutting you don't want to distort the background too much - when you get too close to the border the background tends to start flopping over on itself.

Place your pattern cane on top of your background plug and trace around the pattern cane on the plug with a stylus or needle tool. You can see that I've dabbed some gold powder on the petals of the poinsettia cane - this was because in my first attempt I put the poinsettia cane down and then after having cut out the pattern I couldn't remember which petals went where. Once I dabbed the powder on it was a lot easier to figure out.

The next step is to start cutting away the inside of the background. This is where the pattern cane will go. Don't try to do the cut in one shot. Work in sections and approach the edge gradually. I have a selection of cookie cutters that I use for doing this. I bought a big box of Christmas cookie cutters a few years ago after Christmas for only a few dollars. They've got a lot of different shapes that you can use to cut, including gentle arcs, sharp and dull triangles, rounded edges. The trick is to look at the cutters and see which shape fits the section that you're trying to cut out. In this case the tip of the Christmas tree worked well for the petals and for the first cutting out of the inside.

You can see in the fourth image how I've cut away from the background and have the general shape of the pattern cane. From here you can start to put the two together. You may want to cut the background shape into two or three smaller pieces if you need to and that's what I did (you can see the line in the next picture).

I'll take my time here in putting the cane together. In some cases I may have cut too much and will need to add a bit more back in. In other cases I may simply need to reshape either the pattern cane or the back cane.

This next picture shows how I finish packing the cane and shows how I divided the background into a couple of smaller pieces to make it easier to work. I had a couple of spots between the right and left halves of the background that I had to fill in. These I did with some plugs. I also had a spot where I had cut too far into the background and I filled that with a plug as well.

The finished un-reduced cane is the top photo. You can see how nice the background looks.

In terms of shape of the background - I decided with this one to make it a square because I plan on reducing this to a pretty small size, maybe 1/4 - 1/2 inch and it'll be a nice border on maybe an elf or angel. The square allows me a bit more flexibility than the circles.

I've got to be disciplined enough to let it set for at least a few hours. The poinsettia portion has been sitting for 2 days and I want to give the white clay a chance to set to the same consistency - otherwise the white will move and the poinsettia won't.

I might also just stick it outside for a bit so it can cool down.

Hope this helps describe how I pack canes. I'm looking forward to the reduction and seeing what it looks like.




Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Very nice tutorial Sandy. I like the way you used the tree cutter for removing the clay. That's a great idea!

ERIN said...

Hello! This is beautiful. I am new to polymer clay, and I was wondering what the finished product would be like. Also, do you take the white clay off after you reduce, or do you end up with squares to cut? I want to do this, but I'm not sure what I would be doing with it. Thanks so much for posting!