I have been making this cane and derivations of it for about three or four years. It is really rather simple as I don't profess to be big on making canes, mostly because I think I am too impatient to make a really huge one. I am one of those unfortunate people who want it NOW! I have sat through days of instruction to make one huge cane and that was an excellent experience. However, in my line of polymer clay, I don't have need for five feet of the same design, and three days of workshop caning usually yields such a result. I love the idea of learning the techniques though, so that is why I do occasionally sign up for workshops of this nature.
This little cane (and I will show more of its relatives in further posts) was what I came up with at "My Quick and Dirty Cane School" in an effort to create something that I could use, that was sort of a 'signature' if you will, and that could be made in under an hour. Usually I use only one half of it, the part with the three (sometimes five) petal shaped thingies with the little swirl at the end. Quite often, it becomes the headdress for my little face buttons or dolls. Normally I reduce this cane to about one-half inch sizes which becomes a good little component that can be made into a formation. I have used it in light switch covers, button encapsulators, fish scales and in head dresses.
As far as the swap is concerned, I will be participating in it today at our guild's monthly meeting. I had all my canes finished earlier this week, except for one which I hastily completed at 9 pm last night. Who says you can't work well under pressure!!!
Participating in a swap is a wonderful learning experience for so many reasons. First of all, it involves planning what you are going to make, keeping in mind that you need to make several (in our case twelve) similar or related objects. It helps to streamline your efficiency, and you quickly catch on to the fact that if you condition all your white clay (for example) in one sitting, that you will have enough for the entire batch. You also learn how to save time in other ways, by figuring out how much of each component you need to make so that the eventual item will come out in the desired size, so a ruler is critical. Our canes were to be three inches in length and approximately the size of a quarter coin or about one inch across. I have to admit that mine are slightly less, but I hope the participants will forgive me, as the individual components don't look that good if they are any larger. I found out in making the cane that it worked best if my initial components were three to four inches long and about an inch tall. That way they could be divided up and filled and the end result, after a bit of reducing, was three inches, with minimal waste. Fortunately, the end waste of most of my canes was incorporated into the surrounding packing. I found a way to utilize most of the left overs in a Klimt-type cane which I used as the packing, something I also have trouble with in making focal canes. It never fails that I run out of the packing color, or it's too soft, or some other misery that only polymer clayers can identify with. I saved most of my scraps for future projects and have already used some of it in buttons that are already in the hands of my friend quilters. It is difficult to discern the actual cane in those buttons, but I have others on the table that illustrate it more clearly.
Other considerations to keep in mind of course is your supply of colors...if you are going to make the entire batch the same, you need to have a load of your major colors...thankfully there have been a few sales at Hobby Lobby and Michaels so that buying lots of one color was affordable. You need to figure out how you are going to package and wrap your cane so that it doesn't get dirty. Originally I thought of making a Christmas-type Cracker, but in the end, wrapped each portion in waxed paper and surrounded it with my label paper which included my name, particulars, and date of the swap. I found a bit of ribbon that held it all together, so there's a neat little package for each person. Of course, if you are going to be mailing the swap canes to someone, you need to pack them in something like a pill bottle so that it doesn't get squished in handling.
I have participated in at least twenty swaps over my polymer history, probably more, but who's counting. The best is yet to come...it is the joy and sheer delight of receiving a bit of everyone else's dedication and artistry in this passion which is polymer clay.