Saturday, February 13, 2010

Harlequin Patterned Cane from Makins Clay Extruder

I had tried making a harlequin cane using diamonds that I cut from blocks of conditioned clay earlier this week and got very mixed results.  I wasn't really satisfied because of the deformation of the shapes and decided the only thing to do was to revisit making canes with extrusions.  I really love my Makins extruder because it doesn't hurt my hands and there really are a wide variety of dies so you can extrude a lot of different shaped pieces.  I went with the diamond shape, although I could have used two triangles placed base to base.  I may try that next!

After extruding the triangles in green, gold and purple, it was time to make the harlequin pattern.  That wasn't too hard as long as you are careful matching up the edges of the extruded pieces.  Next it was time to reduce the cane.  I am really grateful to Sarah Shriver and Jana Roberts Benzon for their tutorials demonstrating the best way to reduce a cane while avoiding distortion, because they have made my work so much easier and my reduced canes look so much more precise.

My first piece was the bangle  bracelet.  I am not totally satisfied with the way I matched up the edges of the cane slices and I believe the next time I will lay them out on a flat surface first and make a fabric of cane slices instead of applying the slices directly to the bracelet core, which is what I did here.  Still, I am happy with the harlequin pattern and will probably make this cane again and I do like the look of the bangle.

The next item made was the earrings.  They match the bangle bracelet and both pieces were finished off with spiralled extruded clay.  This extrusion was a triangle which was then twisted, rolled, and twisted some more until the scale was small enough to use for a jewelry trim.  I highlighted the spirals with Pearlex in Aztec Gold, just on the tips of the spirals. 

The final item was a layered chain necklace design.  I have been wanting to try this for awhile and had looked at some pieces in a local boutique last week.  I combined a harlequin cane slice, some spiraled extruded beads in matching colors of Premo, and a coiled bead using some of my recycled harlequin cane ends which were then marbled and rolled into small snakes that were wrapped around a bead core. 

It was fun experimenting with the extruded shapes to make a cane and the precision that can be achieved with this technique is very satisfying.

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