Sunday, May 1, 2011

Don't Worry. We'll Fix It In Post.

As I told you in my last post I was going to work on a Pop art face cane. After I drew the sketch the look on her face made me think she had a sad look. This got me to thinking about a swap that I had signed up for. I had thought about molding an Egyptian pharaoh type face that I would put canes on, Then I thought about the 20 masks that I had to make and I decided I would make this cane. (after all I'm Julie Eakes face caner!) I decided I would call it "Mask in the City".

Well the idea was that this was going to be easier. Laugh laugh! Now I've written about the new mush that they call Kato clay. I know my students have had problems with it and I have problems with it. The white I was using was very soft. I tried leeching it but you know that doesn't do it right either. I plowed on and made the cane. You can see a picture of the cane prior to being reduced. I thought it looked OK. Alright I know what you are thinking. "what were you thinking with those color choices for the curtains"? I'll admit I was using up some clay that I had leftover and I wasn't really happy with it. It had taken me days to build it and I just wanted it finished.

The next morning I reduced the cane. Now this was a rather tall and slender cane so expected it might be a little difficult to reduce. It seemed like it was going fine. I was beating my clay on the bathroom floor. All seemed to be coming along fine.

Then I cut it open to take a look. You can see the results in the second picture. The corner had disappeared, she had a big eye and I don't know what was up with the cityscape behind her. It looked like a nuclear plant behind her. Well that would explain the mutant big eye! There is no explanation for my color choices. Before I reduce my large canes I put scrap clay on the ends. The idea is that the scrap clay would end up being the distorted part and there would be more of the "good" cane. I decided to slice into the scrap clay. You can see in the picture that the softer (mostly white clay) side of the face bulged out faster into the scrap clay. This is why she looks like a big eyed mutant monster.

So much for easy slices for my mask swap. But fear not friends there is help for this cane. Fortunately it is a stylized version of a face. (although for some reason I kept thinking of Celine Dion when I was building it. Sorry Celine!) After reduction I had about 12 - 14 inches of cane. Didn't end up with anything close to that in usable cane. I cut off about a two inch segment and pushed in the smaller eye side. This made this side bigger. You can see in the picture how I did this. I then evened up the ends. It isn't perfect solution but by doing this I removed some of the excess clay in the darker half (the side with less white and therefore stiffer clay). Now I knew that there would be more tweaking necessary of each slice. So long easy swap idea. Fortunately with my handy dandy slicer I was able to make thins slices. For each of these I put onto a backing of black clay. I could then "tweak" the cane some more. Mostly around the eyes. Once I got her looking fairly normal I baked her face down. I knew that there would be an uneven back and I wanted the face part to be as flat as possible. Again I knew that now I would have to sand each piece. UGH! (**&%#$ Kato clay)

I finally got twenty slices looking "OK" so I can continue with my swap. Since I ended up chopping off most of the cityscape I have renamed her "mask of a lonely woman". I hope my swappees are alright with it. Still have some sanding to do. UGH! (#$%^& Kato!) I just wanted to share my frustrations and my attempts at corrections with you.

Take care.


  1. She turned out beautifully even though she has changed from the original plan and you had to be so frustrated. I love her face and her flower! I haven't clayed much recently and was totally unaware that the new Kato is so soft.

    I'm a big fan of your work and love when I see a new post.

  2. deborah HutchisonMay 5, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    I've had trouble using old and new Kato too. Guess we'll have to buy our Kato 2-3years in advance and let it age like wine. Will you be joining us at Carnival in Nov.? Sure hope so. Love reading your blog.

  3. Really nice, and thanks for sharing your frustrations as well as your successes. It's a lesson driven home but despite the knowledge it could still happen again. I agree (*^#$@ the reformulation of Kato. Of course I hated conditioning the old stuff but now it's no better for caning than Premo. It works but it's not the best. I love your ability to create in different styles! I love everything I've seen that you've done but your mosaic was truly amazing to me. I couldn't think my way through that to successfully come up with anything near the quality that you have. You are gifted:) Keep creating!

  4. I have kato , ive opened kato, i v'e rewrapped kato it's seems so hard Im afraid I'll break another pasta maching- someone needs to come up with a viscosity test to make sure all your colors for your canes are the same- whatever the brand - they test glass used for fusing for viscosity, if the glass doesn't match the will pop apart or crack when fusing.I'm not sure how it would work, mabey a stretch test or a weight test to see how much the same weight squishes the clay the same or deeper than others ???????
    just wondering.- I also want to try and get a cane to the perfect size i need it to be then bake the whole cane and then slice it while its hot into slices to use for my projects.

  5. She is a beauty. It was love at first site!

  6. Absolutely fantastic and I like your idea of using scrap clay on the ends. I will need to try that in the future. I am new to polymer clay so I have lots to learn. I am adding your blog to my reader. Can't wait to be inspired!

  7. Hi Julie- I love the cane and the tricks you performed to make her pretty. Amazing. I hate the new kato also. Tony Aquino, the technical guy from Kato Clay wrote something about being able to "leach" the new kato in a food processor because of its unique "sheering" properties or some such technical jargon. I have not tried this. I usually slice off thin slices and wrap it between 2 slices of copy paper and sit on them for about 20 min.
    If I can locate the blurb that Tony Aquino wrote about the food processor leaching method, I'll pass it on.

    Laura Lang

  8. Your ladies are very elegant and stylish. Beautiful work.