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An ode to extrusions

Posted By Lisa On December 8, 2012 @ 10:15 am In polymer clay | 10 Comments

I love it when a customer gives me creative license. As in, “I’d like a set of six crochet hooks, but you can choose the handle patterns, heavy on the Retro look.” It’s fun for me to paw through my several hundred raw millefiori canes and dig out the ones that with coordinate nicely with the metal hooks I have.

Six hooks, six Retro handles. A “Retro” cane, for those not in the know, is created by extruding a stacked multi-color log of clay through a small opening in a clay gun. While you can make a Retro cane with pretty much any random stack of colors, I have a very specific methodology I follow for these, ensuring plenty of contrast and vibrancy.

This one particular Retro cane on this hook breaks a few of my rules, but I love the effect. It’s got depth and sparkle, both of which work best in small doses, in my not-so-humble opinion. (If you would like more of my not-so-humble opinions on Retro canes, I’m working on it. There will be a magazine article on this topic in the not so distant future.)

This recent experience of digging through my boxes of canes has highlighted one fact for me: I am running dangerously low on nearly all of my favorite patterns. Uh oh!

There are two modes I inhabit when I am in my polymer world:¬†Cane-making and cane-using. The last few years of hook production has had me firmly in cane-using mode, leaving my millefiori supply fairly decimated. Oh, I still have plenty of the less-appealing (to me) designs. But the ones I really truly love? They’re reduced to 1/8th-inch slivers, and are barely-usable¬†shadows of their former selves.

I think I’m going to spend this year’s Clayathon madly cane-making. It’ll be nice to replace some oldies-but-goodies, and maybe I can work on a new color scheme or two. That would be nice!

P.S. Over the years, I’ve encountered more than one person who is under the impression that most of my millefiori designs are extruded. Not true! This Retro cane is the only one I use a clay gun to make. All of the others are built the “old-fashioned” way: with logs and slabs and Skinner Blends (oh, my!). Perhaps it’s time to do a few more cane-making tutorials around here? I’ll see what I can muster in 2013!

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