Polka Dot Cottage: What do I mean by Millefiori Canes?

What do I mean by Millefiori Canes?

Posted January 22nd, 2013 by

20/365: Jan 20 - The first batch of Clayathon hooks 20 clayathon 01 20 clayathon 02

I know that many of you are here because of your interest in the yarny or fabricky things I do, and that sometimes when I talk about my work in polymer, you might not really get what I’m saying. It’s ok. Every craft has its lingo, and sometimes you just need somebody to clarify a few things.

Allow me to be your guide today :-)

The vast majority of my polymer work involves caning, also called millefiori. I like to describe a millefiori cane like a tube of slice-and-bake cookie dough, where the image goes all the way through the length of the tube. No matter how many slices (cookies) you cut from that tube, they will all have the same image on them.

(Sadly, Pillsbury has gone and screwed up my analogy by no longer selling those cookies in tubes. They’re all pre-sliced now. What a bummer. Yet stubbornly I persist, and hope that you are all old enough to remember said cookies.)

Anyway, I build these millefiori canes, and I use very thin slices from them as veneers to cover things like pens and crochet hooks.

Kasey and I chatted about this in the comments recently, and we came up with the analogy that my millefiori cane collection is like my yarn stash or my fabric stash. They are the raw materials I use to make my finished objects.

However, it would be even more accurate to compare the millefiori canes to handspun yarns or handwoven fabrics, because I didn’t buy them. I made them myself.

I played around with a lot of new cane designs at the Clayathon this weekend, and for one of them I actually had the presence of mind to photograph the steps.

I’ve put together this short video for you. It’s not meant to be a tutorial, but rather just a visual example of my process. It’s a little over a minute long, but it should be enough to give you the gist:

I don’t make every cane exactly this way, by the way. The initial building of the design varies from cane to cane. But once I have that initial pattern (in this case let’s call it a 9-patch quilt block) just about every cane follows the same process: stretching (aka reducing) the cane to miniaturize the design, cutting, recombining the pieces, and reducing again. And sometimes yet again. My simple 9 patches became 144 with this process!

I hope that gives you a bit more background. I realize I didn’t explain every step, but I do have some free tutorials around here somewhere that do that, if you want to know more.

Also, if there is interest in a Beginner Caning Class similar to what I did with the Beginner Button Class, I’m all for it. I’d be happy to oblige.

Some administrivia

I’ve decided that Mondays will be hexagon blanket days, so if you are crocheting along with us on the Lakeside Forest Blanket, look for new information every Monday. Of course, there will come a time where there is no new information and we are all just plugging away on the crocheting of it all, but I’ll still post and show you my progress (and give you a chance to show me yours), if nothing else!

If I were to put a dozen of my eBook tutorials together into a print book, to be sold in the $20 range, would that be something you’d be inclined to buy? I’ve been mulling it over for some time, but stopping short of committing. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on what you’d like to see in a Polka Dot Cottage publication!

Speaking of eBooks, cabled headband tutorial coming soon!

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