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Are they flowers? Or are they something you might see under a microscope? Nobody knows!

It’s been a while since I tried my hand at making a new cane design. I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to millefiori, because I have these rules, and they go something like this:

    • Everything should be done in “color schemes”
    • Every color scheme should consist of 3 main colors, enhanced with bits of white and black
    • A new cane design should be easily repeatable and work in multiple color schemes

I can’t just sit down and throw a few striped slabs and bullseye canes together with whatever is in my scrap box. No, that would be too easy. There is structure! And it must be adhered to! 😜 This means that maybe I don’t sit down and spontaneously create things as often as I probably should. But it also means, that when I am inspired by something that can adhere to my rules, I am usually pretty quick to drop everything and give it a try.

So, this past weekend, I was flipping through the latest issue of Uppercase, and the theme of the issue is “whimsy.” I came across a painting  by Vanessa Black with a bunch of flowers in it, and I thought, “those flowers would look nice in clay.” And the more I thought about it, the more I could see a polymer version of those flowers in one of my favorite color schemes (Seaside, which involves a combination of turquoise, fuchsia, and wasabi, plus bits of white and black).

So, I refilled my coffee cup, sat down at my clay desk, and cranked out the center of a flower. It was a bullseye cane consisting of black in the center, wrapped in a thin layer of white and a thicker layer of wasabi, which I reduced and recombined into a bundle of multiple bullseyes. I liked it.

Next came the petals, which were essentially rectangles made up of fuchsia and white stripes. I put eleven of them around the flower center, and I liked that, too.

For the background, I wanted something semi-solid, like Donna Kato’s Starry Night Cane. So I chopped up some turquoise, wasabi, white, and black, and made some Starry Night pieces to pack in between the petals, and to put on the outside to make the circular flower square. This I was not so pleased with. As I often do, I worked too quickly and didn’t think at all about the best way to get that square shape. What I ended up with was wonkier than I intended.

And yet I still went ahead with reducing the cane.

Reducing it resulted in so much waste. The wasabi clay was not as soft as the rest, so it didn’t move well.

And the finished cane? It just didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm. It was lopsided, which was not a surprise given the way I packed it. Plus, I thought there was not enough contrast between the petals and the background, and it just didn’t pop as much as I would have liked.

I posted images of the cane on Instagram and Mastodon, and then left it on my desk to rest while I thought about its future.

After a delicious lunch, I knew I wanted to try again. This time I:

  • kept the center exactly the same but added a thin layer of white around the outside
  • made 12 petals instead of 11 (not on purpose, it’s just what fit around this time)
  • packed the petals with white instead of the Starry Night background
  • added a thin layer of white around the whole thing
  • squared the cane up with well-placed Starry Night triangles
  • dealt with any wonkiness in the shape by slicing off anything that wasn’t squared

What I ended up with was something that appealed to me much more. It’s further from the flower inspiration than the original was, mainly due to the white background. But that background and outline really brightens the design up, and I think it needed it. And as you might expect, I’m happier with the shape of this design because it wasn’t just slapped together in a hurry. I actually took the time to square the edges before reducing and recombining.

I call it the Whimsy Cane. And this particular version, because of the colors I used, is the “Seaside Whimsy” design.

Will I repeat this in other color schemes? Maybe. I would like to see it in a few finished pieces first. I haven’t decided if the flowers are going to stay this size or be reduced into a smaller scale. Smaller scale works better for the finished pieces I make, but I don’t want to lose too much detail, either. So I need to think about it.

After I’ve made some seam rippers, crochet hooks, earrings, bracelets, and the like, I will know if I want more of this design.

What do you think? Do you like it? Are there other colors you would like to see it in? I think it would be quite nice in Olive, or maybe Lush 🤩

Update, September 2

It took a few months, but I finally got around to reducing the cane further, and making a few things with it. Here’s  a random selection:

To see everything that is in stock in this pattern, click here.


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