Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lilian Nichols , Making a Kaleidescope Cane in Polymer Clay

Before we began our session, Lilian showed us some examples of what she has made with Kaleidoscope canes.

Below is the Kaleidoscope cane I made about  year ago.

I used some of it to cover a baby food jar.

This is the cane I made in our April class.  I haven't used it in a project yet.

Now that I have had time to think about this cane, I understand what Lilian was telling us.  I plan to make another Kaleidoscope cane before I forget what I have learned.

Number 1.  She always tells us to process our clay well before we begin making a project.  That means rolling it, warming it in our hands, putting it through the pasta maker, using the thickest setting, then progressively thinner settings.  All this manipulation activates the clay molecules so they will bond together well when the project is baked.  

Number 2.  For this project, she suggested using making bull's eye canes after creating a sheet of clay blending  from one color to another using the Skinner Blend technique.  The bull's eyes technique, (whether rolled so the light area is in the center or whether the brilliantly-colored area is in the center) makes the individual canes noticeable and helps to create the design.

Number 3.  She emphasized over and over the importance of using canes of varying thicknesses in the basic building shape, a three dimensional triangle.

Number 4.  Stretching the cane carefully is very important.  If not done correctly, the pattern will be distorted from one end to the other.  Stretching involves starting by squeezing gently in the middle of the cane, stretching from the center toward either end, then squeezing in the middle again and stretching each end again.  I hope you find someone who can demonstrate this or that you can find a Youtube video that shows the technique.

Here are some examples from other members of the class.  First, examples of assembled canes which will become the triangle building block...

                                          Megan's stack in progress

                                          Karen's stack in progress

Making the triangle....

                                           Sally's triangle

Stretching the triangle and forming the sharp corners...

                                          Sally stretching her triangle...

Here is Lilian's example of the sliced triangle and how to assemble it.  Assembling can be tricky.  It is very easy to turn one triangle differently from the others.  The narrow lines are because Lilian used a different basic technique for creating the cane from the one we were concentrating on.

Here is another of Lilian's samples.  In this one the assembly method of the triangles is easily visible.

We have two Karen's in the class.  This is one Karen's completed cane.

This is the other Karen's completed cane.  You can see the straight lines on the long cane which show that the cane has been stretched carefully without twisting the pattern.  You can also see the triangle that was the basic building block of the assembly.

Here is a close view of the completed cane.

Dave's completed cane...

Lynda's completed cane...

Megan's completed cane...


  1. Way cool! I loved the colors that you chose and your baby food jar is really cute! It looks like a fun class and it might even be relaxing:)