Posted on 10 Comments

An ode to extrusions

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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Posted on 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “An ode to extrusions

  1. Lisa, I hesitate to ask (because I need another craft/hobby like I need another grouchy hormone-ridden teenager!) But can you post a video of how you make your canes? I think your work is absolutely amazing and I wish I could see it go from simple to sensational. 😀

    1. The teenager comment made me laugh 🙂
      I actually made a video earlier this year of me making a kaleidoscope cane, but I never finished editing it. Maybe I ought to get on that…

  2. I think they are AWESOME!! I wish you could bake the Lion brand plastic hook as that is my favorite!!

    Just placed an order on Hobby Lobby and am going to try the lighted hook?? If I don’t crochet in my rocker and choose the couch the lighting is poor. I’ll give a review when I recieve it.

    Merry Christmas!!

    PS…I bet those hooks are going to be a Christmas present!! Wow… what a nice suprise for the reciptent!!

    1. Thanks for the complement! Some plastics, actually, do fine in the oven. If you were willing to sacrifice a hook for the sake of experimentation, you could stick one in the oven at 275 for an hour and let me know if it survives 🙂 If it does, then I could make you one!

  3. I’d love to see a cane making tutorial. I feel like so much of your posts on polymer clay are completely lost on me because I don’t know the basics and craft jargon. For example, what on earth is your millefiori supply? Is running out the same as running out of yarn for a knitter/crocheter?

    <<A bit lost.

    1. I see a series of Polymer Clay 101 posts in my future 🙂
      Millefiori canes are the patterned blocks of clay that I take slices from to decorate the hooks. I make all of my own canes, and I used to have a huge supply of them, but I’ve been slicing so many bits off of them for the hooks, that I’m running low and will have to make more.
      You could compare it to a yarn stash, but it would be more accurate if you thought of it as a stash of yarn you spun yourself. Hope that clears it up a little!

      1. Excellent explination. That clearns things up a lot.

        Also, props to you for not only makinging canes (spinning), but putting them to good use! You’re doubling up on handmade awesomeness.

  4. Love, love, love them!

  5. They arrived yesterday!! I love them. The finish is beautiful.

    1. So glad to hear that! That finish is thanks to my new buffer. I don’t know how I managed all of these years without it 🙂 Thanks for the order – enjoy them!

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