Step 4 - Reduce Load and Slice Into Pieces
The next step is to reduce your loaf to a length of about 13 inches (reduce so when you cut off the ends, you have 12 usable inches). When reducing, make sure to keep the corners crisp and squared up so that when you have the 12 inch length, it has 4 equal sides and the black and white sheets have not migrated up into the other two sides. For instruction on reducing a square cane, visit glassattic.com. Again, make sure that you work hard at keeping the edges crisp throughout the reduction process - it will not work to just square them up once reduced. Also, make sure that your 12 inch length is uniform in size throughout the full length of the cane.
Now cut the cane into 12 one inch sections. Take each of the sections and flatten it just a bit into a rectangle, making the sides with the black and white layer the wider sides of the rectangle (you may also do this flattening before cutting into 12 equal pieces, but doing it after it's in pieces gives you more control in keeping the black and white sides where they belong). Diagram 4 shows how the flattened piece will appear.
Step Five - Assembling and Reducing the Cane
To assemble the cane, take each of your pieces and place them in a weave pattern with 4 pieces on each row, alternating the direction that each piece faces as in Diagram 5 (Diagram 5 is shown as if you were looking at one end of the cane). You will notice that there are "air gaps" between all of the cane in the center - don't worry about these yet. Now, you will cut strips of black clay rolled on approximately a 3 setting on the pasta machine (a thick/medium setting). These pieces will be placed all around the edge of the cane along the length of each slice that is indented, as shown by the arrows in Diagram 5, to fill in the gaps.
After you have added the strips, your cane should appear as in Diagram 6. The reason that I've noted that the slices should be approximately rolled on number 3 is that you will need to determine how thick the slices should be to make the cane level on all four sides.
Now you are going to take care of those air gaps and at the same time give a more realistic "woven" look to your cane. Working on opposite sides of the cane at the same time, gently compress each of the black strip-lined pieces along the length of the cane. Turn the cane and do the other two sides simultaneously, alternating between the sides until it is completely compressed. Remember to squeeze gently, and not to completely compress one side at a time - go back and forth until the job is done. As you do this, you will notice the gaps filling in and each of the 12 pieces of weave melding together. Your cane will be a bit concave and misshaped on all four sides after you have compressed the black strips - this is OK as you will smooth it out and make each of the four sides flat again during the reduction process.
Once you have gently compressed the black strip-lined pieces, reduce your cane to the desired length, making sure to brayer and smooth out each of the four sides. Again, make sure that you keep crisp edges during the entire reduction process and that you don't let the sides migrate into one another, keeping your weave lined up.
Jana's Cane Examples
by Jana Roberts Benzon
©2005 Jana Roberts Benzon Art & Design
We want to thank Jana for sharing this excellent lesson with Polymer Clay Central. If you have a lesson or tutorial, or something you would like to share with PCC, please email Leigh or Stephen and we will help you prepare your project for the PCC Website!