Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Polymer Clay Tutorial: Jellyroll Heart Cane

This pretty cane tutorial is just in time for Valentine's Day!  
red clay (for the heart)
black clay (for the background)

pasta machine or acrylic roller
tissue blade
cutters in various sizes (optional)


Condition your clay and roll both colors out in long strips with the red being about twice as thick as the black.

I rolled the red out on a #0 setting on my Atlas and the black was at #3 or #4.

Lay it on the work surface with the black on top and press your blade into the end of the clay at an angle.  (This step is optional - it just makes it easier to get the jellyroll started.)

Carefully roll the clay up into a jellyroll, pressing firmly to keep any excess air out.  Roll up about 3/4 of the strip.

Now flip it over so the red is on the top.

Make your indentation with the blade again if desired and roll up that end just one revolution or so.

Now make a long, narrow wedge of black to start filling in the inside of the heart.  I missed a photo here but I just took a block of conditioned clay and trimmed it to the shape with my tissue blade.

Make another block of clay from the black about the same width as the length of the cane.

Find yourself a cutter with a round part about the same size as the larger part of the jellyroll.  I'm using a gingerbread man head.  It doesn't need to be a full circle.

Stand your block of black on end and use the cutter to cut out a round part lining up with one corner of the block as seen here:

See?  It fits!  Now for the larger curve.

Find another cutter that will fit the curve of the black part you've already put in there and cut away at your block again.

Stick the block in there and press it in firmly.  Now, if you are at all familiar with my methods, you know I like to overpack and cut away the excess.  That's what I did here.  Line up your blade with the two jellyrolls as shown and cut away the excess black.  You should have a flat surface there with no gaps.  If the second block of black wasn't big enough, you may have a gap.  You'll need to fill that in before continuing.

Make sure you trim away some of the black on the smaller jellyroll and expose the red underneath.  If you don't, the bottom of the heart will have a gap.

Now fill in the back of the heart with black the same way.

Roll out some thick sheets of black and wrap them around 3/4 of the cane.  You don't need to do any on the inside of the heart.

Trim the inside of the heart flat again and then cut away the excess on the ends to make a rectangular cane.  I laid a second blade across the cane to make sure the two long ends were parallel.

Now you have a rectangular half-heart cane.

Cut it in half.

Put the two halves together to form a heart.

I wanted my cane to be square so I added a sheet of black to each side of the cane.  Your's may or may not need this step.

Let it rest for a while and then reduce.  Now go find something to cover with it!

I covered (yet another) pen.  I think I'll make some filigree hearts out of the red to make charms for the pen.

Hope you like it!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Finds on Artfire: Snowflakes

We've sure had a lot of the white stuff around here lately.  There's a huge maple tree in our front yard that collects the fluffy, wet kind of snow on its branches and then when the temperatures rise above freezing, the tree rains on the yard.  The kids think it's quite fun.  Me - not so much - especially when I have to go under the tree to get to my car.

But it sure does make for some gorgeous landscapes and, up close, it makes for some lovely artistic inspiration.  So enjoy these snowflakes from Artfire sellers:

You can also enjoy these photos of my own work inspired by snowflakes:
Currently only available by special order.  Contact me for more information.

Available in my Artfire shop.

This one sold a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polymer Clay Tutorial: Argyle Cane

New year, new state/city/house, fresh start on my business, my blog and my homeschool.  (Not necessarily in that order.)

It’s been nearly a year since my last tutorial here so I figured I’d better make this one awesome.  I don’t know whether this cane fits the bill or not, but I had a lot of fun designing it.  I’m using the website Days of the Year to help me find themes for my blog posts and for this week my inspiration was “Argyle Day” on January 8th. I love geometric shapes and patterns and this one looked like a simple but fun challenge to start the year off with.  Hopefully you can find something fun to do with this cane.

This tutorial assumes you know the basics of polymer clay caning – conditioning, shaping, cane reduction, etc.

Tools Needed:
Flexible Tissue Blade
Pasta Machine
Acrylic Roller

Supplies Needed:
1 oz each of four colors polymer clay
½ oz of a fifth color for the flower centers
½ oz black or white clay for the stitches
(amounts are approximate)

Condition all of your colors of clay.  I am using purple, yellow, teal, orange, pink and black for the stitches.

Roll the fifth color of clay (the ½-oz one) into log for the center of your flowers.

Roll your petal color into a long snake and cut into 8 equal pieces.  Adjust the thickness of them to fit around the center log.

Pack the areas between the petals with wedges of the color you will be using for the flower backgrounds.  I always overpack and trim the excess.

Trim the excess to get something as round as possible to minimize distortion of the flower.

This looks pretty good.

Wrap the cane in a couple of sheets of thick clay.

Mark a square with your blade on one end of the cane.  Make the marks line up with the petals as shown.  You will want to leave a little of the background clay around the petals closest to the edges, but not too much. 

If you are lacking a little (or a lot of) clay at the corners, add some pieces.

Trim the cane into a square.

Reduce the cane to ½ its original width (twice the length)...

...trim the ends and cut it in half.

With your remaining two colors (not including the black or white), make square logs the same size and shape as your flower canes.

Arrange your four logs as shown, with the two flower canes touching at the inside corners.  Compress well and reduce slightly.

Cut the cane into three pieces as shown, getting as close to the middle of each section as possible.

Roll out a sheet of black or white clay as thin as you can.  (I used setting 7 on my Atlas.) 

Cut a strip as wide as the length of your cane.  Cut the end even.  Cut a narrow strip of clay from the end...

...and while lifting the blade just barely off the work surface, pull it toward you so the tiny strip of clay stays attached to the blade.  (You can use your fingers but leaving it on the blade will make the next step easier.)

Lay the strip close to the edge of one of the smaller chunks of clay you cut off the cane earlier. 

Repeat until you have covered the entire cut side in strips of black or white clay stripes.  (Make sure your stripes are going the length of the cane, not the width – they will lay the same direction as the stripes that resulted from cutting the flower in half.) 

Lightly roll over the stripes with your acrylic roller to compress them into the base a little.

Stick the piece back to your cane with the stripes inside.

Repeat the above steps on the other cut part of the cane so you have to rows of “stitching” in your cane.  Compress it well.  Now rotate the cane 45 degrees and make two cuts perpendicular to the first two. 

Add the stripes as before.  Reassemble your cane and reduce it a little.

You can reshape the square into a diamond now and then reduce the diamond-shaped cane, or you can reduce it square and then reshape.  Either way, both reduce and reshape.

And there you have a really fun cane that would be great for covering eggs or Christmas ornaments or whatever strikes your fancy.

I covered a pen with it.

You can also make argyle without the flowers and with fewer colors.  Here I used two colors – plum and a pale sage green.  Make two blocks of each and press them into a four-square checkerboard pattern...

...make the cuts...

...add the stripes, turn, repeat...

...reduce and reshape.  Use it to make something creative.  (I haven’t used this one yet.)

I would love to see what you come up with!