Way back when I first looked at clay beads I love all the canes. People were just starting to use Skinner blends in things and the canes were becoming more realistic looking. I drooled and admired and did nothing for a few years. Then I got a copy of Sue Heaser’s book and made the face cane. The first one turned out well! I was stoked. Since then I’ve done about 30 of them along the same line and here’s the process for the latest one. This one is a little bigger than most of mine but since complex canes are a real time investment I figured I would make it as big as I can easily handle in one work day!
First step is to prep your colours. I wanted the cane to come in around a pound. I drew out my diagram and mixed clay. Having done this before I knew my proportions. I made the component canes first, once I had the colours mixed or the blends done.
This is all of the components done and then wrapped with flesh clay and laid out. It is a little larger than my diagram but not much. Usually I make the eyes MUCH too big and have to reduce them more than this. This time they were just a shade too big in relation to the cheek and nose and I left it alone instead of fussing with it.
The next step is to begin joining your parts. I start with between the eyes with a triangle / wedge shape. Then I jam the nose into it. Then I add triangles / wedges to the cheeks to join them to the nose and the eyes.
Here it is with a little of the scraps of making it. I did well this time – most of my “extra” is just too much highlight or shadow clay. No six inches of eyeballs.
The distorted ends of face canes are some of the best parts. I packed the cane enough and worked it quickly enough that it didn’t distort that much. Even the actual ends were recognizably still faces which may be a first for me. Very little waste here even at 1/2 the diameter (which is 1/4 of the over all area)
Once I got the cane to 1/4 of the initial diameter, about 1 1/4 inch tall and several feet long, I cut in half and put away half. The other part I continued to reduce until it’s 1/2″. At this size there is some distortion on the ends, enough that I cut an inch or two off each side. At the 1/2″ size, there is about 60″ worth of good cane.
This is my assistant. Since I started this early in the morning and my family was out camping this weekend, he was clingy and trying to get stepped on while I mixed colours. By the time I finished prepping though he was bored and sleeping.