Week 11 Stage 2

As I suspected, I was able to fully return to my studio table last week, with exciting results.  While not perfect due to my impatient excitement, I created a moderately decent kaleidoscope cane from my palette.  I now have a selection of several simple and two complex canes from which to create some as yet undetermined project next week, my last in Stage 2.

It has been wonderfully simple to do cane work this week, as the weather has been unseasonably chilly.  My house is unheated, so the clay is very forgiving at the moment.  Next week when the temperature warms for spring, my clay will become far more malleable and will show every error quickly.  But, my fingers and hands won’t hurt so from clay conditioning, so there is definitely good and bad on both sides of the temperature divide.

One thing that I did do this week, that tends to be rare for me, is that I played with the clay, both color and pattern play, just to see where the play would lead.  As always, much was learned.  I developed a better feel for cane reduction by learning to listen to what the clay is telling me as far as texture, pockets, lumps, elasticity, etc.  Proportion is important, both in sizes and in color ratios.  Colors react differently when used in differing proportions.  I found this easy to see when playing with the design and construction of my kaleidoscope cane.  Scrap can become anything.  It’s never trash.

There were some other pieces ( my crosses, some pendants) that I continued to work with while my canes rested.  My work continued to focus on the relationships in color, as you will see in some of the pictures below.

Next week’s goal is to create a piece or two using my canes. That should be simple, but I’ll be focusing on trying to determine how color affects eye pleasing cane patterning. Oh fun!  Not.

Peace to you until next time.


Week 10 Stage 2

Another slow week at the clay table.  My child has been living on my couch since New Years Day, but is clearing out on St Patrick’s Day.  After that, I will have my space and time to freely work again.  I love my baby, but I can not wait to have my studio and studio time returned!

I did succeed in kicking out a few simple canes.  I did twin daisy canes and one spiral cane.  I’m finding it easier to work with the brighter colors and more challenging to work in the darker colors of brown and green.  This week, I’ll use brown and green to create a gunned border cane.  My goal is to create a kaleidoscope cane out of the current yellow palette.

It should be noted that upon reduction on one of the daisy canes, I think I ran into a trapped air bubble.  The cane was stretching fine it seemed, until all of a sudden the cane developed a width wise crack that nearly severed the cane in half.  Instead of simply allowing it too break, I worked carefully to repair the crack.  I have not yet cut the cane to the center, but I am very curious to see how the clay reacted.

I have also started three crosses, one pendant and two earrings.  I already regret not marbling the brown some to deepen the wood’s appearance.  I also did not texture the brown before jumping in with the floral detail clay.  I might try to go in and add some texture after the fact, but I know that it will look nowhere as nice as it could have.  I was able to use leftover cane scrap from my sunflower cane to create ‘lily’ like flowers.   This weeks challenge on the crosses is going to be following their lead on additional detail.  I was originally going to embroider clay the details, but having used the cane petals to create a focal flower, now I need to find a slightly different path on these pieces.

So, this week, more canes, more cross work, same yellow palette.

Peace to all of you and a safe St. Patrick’s celebration.  My entire town closes for the celebration day.  Hope your’s does as well.


Week 9 Stage 2

Last week was another slow week for clay as life was a bit more busy.  I was able to finish my sunflower cane.  The details held beautifully through reduction.  I’m so pleased.  The only thing that I am disappointed in is that I chose to use a small highlight color in my flower as also a background color.  I should have stuck with a white or translucent background sadly, because the mint green background will likely match with few other canes, and even looks slightly off against the sunflower in this cane, even though it is a small element color within the sunflower.  Lesson, sometimes lack of color is the right answer.  Still, this cane is technically, by far, my best to date.  I think I finally have the right rhythm for wait times in cane making, which seems to be half the battle.

My daughter made a last minute request for a Miyazaki knockoff set of earrings, so I threw together a surprisingly easy set of Nono wire earrings that were a big hit at the event she attended.  (Many Mom points earned that day, lol).  I also finished my gnome/leprechaun earrings that I am really pleased with.  I’m enjoying creating little old men with lots of character, as inspired by Katie Oskins, of KatersAcres, Schrume figures.  Just plain fun stuff.

This week I’m hoping to have enough clay left from last week’s mix to create one or two more canes.  Also wanting to make some Easter crosses.

See you back here soon.


Week 8 Stage 2

I’m so excited!  It’s been a great week in my studio.  First, my shipment of wool felt came in, so I finally got several of my boxes fully finished, and I’m thrilled at how they’ve matured from their humble tin and clay beginnings.  Second, I only started one complex cane this week, but it is by far my best to date.  I still need to add the background border, but I can’t do that until the cane has had today to rest.  As you can see, I’m falling slightly behind on my posting weeks, but my work has been somewhat consistent in that I’m making time regularly to work at my studio desk.  And the results are beginning to shine in finished projects and techniques explored.

This week I did mix my colors in the Stage 2 yellow palette. This color spread seems to be far more relaxing to me than the forced feeling I experienced working in the orange palette.  I even made a pair of earrings for the upcoming St Patrick’s celebration in my city.  The earrings are fully from this week’s color mix.  They’ll go well with my long hair.

Anyway, pics are below, as usual.  The goal for this coming week is another cane, perhaps a landscape,  and I want to step back from the clay for a minute, long enough to prep for two upcoming projects, a Christian cross and a mural.  An eventual goal of mine is to create a mural of St. Peter’s Basilica in Moscow, but I need to start much smaller in order to learn the many techniques involved in mural work.  So, maybe some geometric patterns done using my yellow spread on another tin?  Or maybe I’ll visit with a glass vessel.  We’ll just have to see together where the mood carries me.



Week 7 Stage 2

Last week felt like I was treading water, but important discoveries were made, mainly, I need to be more exacting in my clay measurements.

First, I tried testing a faux ceramic finish on some clay pendants.  Not so successful.  I’ll be looking more at other people’s tutorials and work, playing at letting the technique work for me.

I also revisited the triangle cane work that I did in orange, brown and sand.  This time, I worked in varying shades of purple pastels.  The circular cane that I reattempted certainly came out better this go round, but it still is no work of art.  I very purposefully waited 24 hours in between every step of cane creation, allowing the clay to fully rest and strengthen so that I would get the crisp lines that I desired.  I did not, however, exactingly measure the clay to be used in each color, nor did I measure the exact dimensions of each and every triangle cane created.  This oversight caused uneven sizes of colored triangles that were off in alignment, which negatively affected the pattern being created.  Still, this attempt was markedly better than my first try.  I will be doing this exercise again with my next scrap color trio.

Finally, I created two gnome ornaments.  I again made a mistake in clay measurement with these guys.  I was trying to shrink my normally 4″ gnome down to 3″, by eyeballing needed quantities of clay.  My large hands make working in smaller scale difficult at best.  To correct errors, I started reshaping already formed clay, leaving fingerprints and ripples in the character.  The problems overall are minor and the ornaments will be used, but still something I need to be cognizant of as I attempt varying scale sizes.

In all, not much accomplished, but much learned again.  This will be a short week, as I have three appointments, but I plan to get a palette mixed and ready, make a template to finish the interiors on many of my tins, and hopefully make some small flower canes.


Week 6 Stage 1

So, it has been quite the unplanned but moderately fruitful week here.  Remember the pretty box from last week?  Alas, no more.  First, as you can see, I continued to work when I should have left good and well alone.  My internal editor and I are still getting to know each other.  Then sadly (fortunately according to said editor), I burned the piece, being stupid and in a hurry.  I simply stuck it in the oven without wrap or the tile that I normally use to moderate heat.  Next, I decided to see if I could reclaim the tin, and if I could was it worth the time.  The answer to both questions being yes in my mind.

After the tin was cleaned, I was moved to clean my work area to prep for new projects. Some of that cleaning included finishing pieces that were baked, but still needed glazing, findings, embellishments, wrapping, etc.  You will see in the picture that my assistant chose to be beak on in her work one afternoon as sometimes happens.  She got hold of several earrings and nipped pieces off before I was able to redirect her efforts.  Still, I eeked out one pair of post and one pair of wire sweethearts earrings for my daughter and I to wear, so be it.  The good news is the bird, Dinosaur, nipped off the edging to one box that I felt needed a little something.  Come to find, it needed to lose the edging!  The box was much improved without the border.  I have to learn better design/editing.  Another aspect of study in this year long quest, I see.

The plan this week is for some ornament characters and a cane or two.  Let’s see how it happens.  Peace to all.

Week 5 Stage 1

Uncle.  I give in.  The color palette’s that I borrowed are feeling like walls to creativity instead of steps.  My uncle is a vegetarian.  One day we were out on a family explore and my uncle bought himself a hot dog from a cart vendor and proceeded to down that dog.  My mother called out, “Leo, what are you doing?”.  My uncle proceeded to explain that he made his dietary rules, so he can break his dietary rules.  I concur.  To make this a successful 52 week quest, I am going to use palettes that speak to me in the moment.  This week my gut rebelled into pastels, and I’m loving it.

So far, an ornament, some earrings and a box have been started.  I hope to start another ornament tomorrow.  I need to spend some time doing some finish work as well.  Till next week, peace.