The baking form that I created is made from a quilter’s T-pin and some scrap clay. Roll the scrap clay into 2 equal olive-size balls. Pierce each clay ball directly through the center with a pin and bury the T end in the clay with the point protruding out the other side. Flatten the bottom T end of the clay and shape the tops of each ball of clay until they are symmetrically arched domes. Bake these forms according to the manufacturer’s instructions for 30 minutes.
For the bull’s-eye petal cane you will need 3 blends in contrasting colors rolled into basic canes. Instead of creating Skinner blends, I wrap 4 or 5 individual layers of increasingly lighter or darker clay. This more time-consuming method yields a very large gradated cane that I can use for many projects. You may choose to use my preferred method or create your canes using Skinner blends.
Using my knitting needle technique, you can quickly turn basic graduated canes into many cane combinations as shown in the photo. Use a knitting needle (or a pencil) to pierce a hole all the way through the center of one of your basic graduated blend canes. Roll the cane on its side as if it were a wheel on an axle. Roll it until the hole in the center enlarges to about half the diameter of the cane.
Reduce one of the remaining basic canes until it’s slightly smaller than the hole you’ve opened up in the first cane. Dust the smaller cane with cornstarch or talcum. Wiggle the smaller cane into the hole in the center of the first cane. Squeeze the 2 canes together by pressing gently, starting at the center of the log and moving toward the ends to avoid trapping air.
To make a triple bull’s-eye cane, simply repeat the knitting needle technique with a third gradated blend cane. You’ll need to reduce the double bull’s-eye cane in diameter in order to fit it into the third cane. You will have leftover double bull’s-eye cane to use for a different cane. You can see how your options for combinations are expanding.
To add a subtle touch of bling to the petals, you may wrap the outside of a finished cane in a layer of clay that has had Jones Tones metallic Mylar film applied to it. Roll out a thin sheet of clay large enough to wrap around your cane. Lay the sheet flat on deli wrap or waxed paper and burnish the Jones Tones onto the surface thoroughly with a bone folder, the back of a spoon, or other burnishing tool. Rip the backing off to leave the metallic finish on the clay. You can burnish Jones Tones onto any missed spots again. Wrap this sheet around your cane with the metallic surface on the outside of the cane. Check for bubbles, slicing through the clay to release any trapped air. The added bonus of Jones Tones is that raw canes finished this way will not stick together when you store them.
Reduce your triple bull’s-eye cane to about 3⁄4 inch (2cm) in diameter. With a brayer or rod, roll and flatten the cane into a long, thin oval. When the pattern is twice as wide as it is tall, slice the cane in half lengthwise. Shape these two halves into petals by pinching the cut edges together and trimming off the excess ragged clay. You can perfect the shape and size of the petals by stroking and pulling on the cane until the petals are about the size of a small fingernail. Let the cane rest before you slice it. I firm up my canes by laying them on paper to leach out some plasticizer (see page 15). A firmer cane is easier to slice and shape. Sometimes I even put a soft cane in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up before slicing.
Cut 4 slices of these petal canes about the thickness of a dime or 1⁄16 inch (1.4mm). After each slice, flip the cane onto a different side so you don’t keep distorting the cane in the same direction. Arrange these 4 slices on your work surface in a cross configuration. In the center of the cross put a small ball of scrap clay that overlaps the petals slightly. This assures that all the petals are attached to each other when you transfer them to the baking form. Press all parts of the flower against your work surface with your fingertip.
Slide your tissue blade under the petal group to remove the flower from your work surface. Pierce the center of the flower with the T-pin baking form and let the petals drape over the form very gently without distorting the shape. Smooth the flower very lightly, but don’t burnish it onto the form or it will be difficult to remove it after baking! Make another 4-petal flower to layer over the first flower, alternating the position of the petals. Smooth the top layer of petals very gently over the bottom layer. You can use the same cane for the second layer of petals, but it is more interesting to use a different cane that has contrasting colors and patterns. Bake the flowers on their forms for 30–40 minutes.
Remove the flowers from the forms while they are still hot. They tend to stick if they cool. I like to remove the hot flowers from the forms under running water so that after they come off, they immediately firm up and set their shape in the cold water. Alternatively, before you start assembling you can coat the baking forms with Repel Gel to keep the baked petals from sticking.
For an earring, you may dangle small beads from the center of the flower on a wire. Form the top of the wire into a loop and attach it to an earring finding. You may prefer to gather a few flowers into a brooch bouquet or string them together as beads.
This tutorial is excerpted with permission from <a href=” http://amzn.to/1v5WMYv”>”Polymer Clay Global Perspectives: Emerging Ideas and Techniques from 125 International Artists ”</a> by Cynthia Tinapple and published by Potter Craft.