Saturday, April 3, 2010

Exploring the McCaw Cane Technique--First Pass

Ever since I saw Sandra McCaw's work in various of my polymer clay technique books, I have just been in awe of her techniques and the finished products.  She does some of the most beautiful kaleidoscope caning that I have ever seen.  Be sure to visit her website and prepare to be amazed:  You can even buy a dvd to learn her caning technique.  My mom bought me the dvd for Christmas and I have been wanting to go through the tutorial and learn the techniques now for three months, but due to family complications and other issues, it is only now that I have been able to sit down to enjoy and learn from Sandra.

Sandra is very personable, even on dvd, and I found myself really liking her personality as I watched the dvd and took notes.  If you decide to buy her dvd, I highly recommend buying it direct from Sandra, as she will autograph the dvd and include a very nice surprise with your order. 

I have only gotten through the first part of the technique on the dvd and of course, I had to cut up my cane and make something right away, even though I got part of it wrong and I didn't get anywhere near the kind of precision with my cane cutting that Sandra demonstrates.  The beauty of her technique, though, is that even if you mess up, you will still end up with something pretty.  I wanted to do a patchwork effect on a snake bracelet, which I made some weeks ago from Sculpey Ultralight, and I wanted to do some earrings.  The bracelet was a three part process where I made the armature with extruded Sculpey Ultralight which was then wrapped snake fashion around a soda can and baked ; I applied the outer skin and baked it; and then I applied the inner lining and baked it again.  I used the smaller canes shown on the earrings at the bottom of the photo for the bracelet lining.  I have sanded this bracelet a lot and I love the colors and patterns but I would have liked a more uniform surface so next time I will join the cane slices into a smooth fabric and then apply them.  The earrings were made by embedding sterling silver chain into the raw clay, completely covering the first link.  Superglue was added to the earwires on the longer dangles for added stability.  The first photo shows the snake bracelet and earrings before sanding. 

I took part of the remaining cane (after reducing) and re-decorated a cuff that I started two weeks ago and had been trying to come up with an idea for the outer skin.  This time I did make a fabric out of the cane slices and then applied it to the cuff.  It looked pretty psychedelic with the distortion that I got on the cane slices from using my roller to join them together.  After applying the crazy quilt fabric to the bracelet I felt that it needed a little more punch, so I decided to try adding some smaller cane slices for an accent around the center of the cuff.  I rolled them into the skin of the cuff and let them distort on purpose for a very edgy, angular kind of effect.  After I was satisfied with the embellishment, I used baby powder to smooth the surface and remove any fingerprints. I made sure to feather the accent canes into the background canes with careful smoothing so that the combination would look more cohesive.  This may be my new favorite cuff!

This brings my first foray into the McCaw Cane dvd to a close and I will now enjoy my new bracelets and earrings and watch the dvd again to see what I missed the first time.  I may even go forward to the more complicated variations!  I highly recommend Sandra's tutorial.  It is fun to learn her technique and you can make pretty things along the way even before you know what you are doing!

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