Outside of crafting I do a fair amount of technical work – computer stuff, coding, some car electronics, amateur radio – and the last bit I’ve gotten back into doing web development and some graphics work. That includes bringing myself into the modern day as far as videos go.
As a bit of an introductory, super basic project I popped up a super speed version of me reducing a butterfly cane up on my Instagram. And another of a basic Skinner blend – for the same butterfly cane – up on my YouTube. The blend video, apart from being sped up a bunch, has none of the fun video magic the better video tutorials have. It has fumbling with packaging, awkward cutting, lots of crooked edges, and my blend sides are a mess. It still made a really great butterfly cane.
I have a plain old tutorial, with words and graphics, of the same sort of process. Version 1 got popped up in 2006. I redid it in 2017.
If you make polymer clay canes and you’ve made rose canes and variants on the multi-petal canes like chrysanthemums or dahlias you’re familiar with the very cool effect that Skinner blend shading can give your canes. Those canes are made with two colours of clay, generally, and all detail is arrived at with careful placement of the shaded blocks, like you do with painting. It’s sort of an art form to make complex, effective designs with the simplest of combinations and materials.
Backing up in time a bit, I’ve made tulip canes a few times and they were clearly tulips. They weren’t great and they relied on “outline” or drawn elements to establish that yes, these were tulips. The shading was there but not used for definition.
I decided to tweak that a bit this week and, starting with the crocus, did a “drawn” or outlined flower to get the shape right. Then I, using roughly the same design, went with tulips using just the shaded blocks to get the definition and it worked! I got tulips out of it.
My mildly clay nerd week for you.
Like a lot of the processes in my studio, making the colour blends for the polymer clay beads and canes happens in batches. And not always in my studio. I have a studio but it’s often not clear enough to do big batches of work so I hog the kitchen, as in this case.
We start by unwrapping and conditioning everything. The assistant often takes this to mean she should make domino type effects with the clay packages.
I usually get everything flattened out and cut into the required basic triangles. While a lot of these blends will get work done to them before they end up as whatever, I find it helps to start with a basic blend so that I have it ready to go.
Some of the blends, before they become little plugs stored in my box for use.
And finally, most of the blends. A few went right into the production queue as they got finished but these will last me the next few weeks as I replace canes, make new beads and try out some fall designs I have in mind.
My helper for a lot of this, rocking the new hair cut!