Way back in March 2010 I made a set of Paisley cake forks – it was the first time I had attempted such a big and complex cane. I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot and had a fair bit of the cane left over due to a miscalculation and lack of experience (blog post about making the cane here). Here’s the cane after reduction (blog post about that here)
And here’s a picture of the cake forks I made in 2010 (blog post about making the cake forks here)
Earlier this year I was commissioned to make a pair of similar cake forks. Now I’ve just told you I had some cane left over – great! It’s over 3 years old so I was a little concerned about it but it worked very well. You may be interested to know this was Kato polyclay.
The bits of cane I had left have been stored in a polypropylene storage box (blog post here on storing clay). I reduced bits of the cane to different sizes and used up most of the smaller bits for the cake forks. I mainly had bigger chunks of cane left which meant I had to reduce them to the smaller scale needed for the cake forks. To start with I tried to reduce it like I would a ‘fresh’ cane but the cane just cracked into 2 parts. So I slowed down.I held the cane in my hand for a while to warm the clay up and working it gently pinching it all round a little at a time I was able to reduce it without further problems.
I then started making a decorated sheet from the canes to wrap around the cake forks. Some bits of cane were the right size , didn’t need reducing, so I just sliced them – they sliced beautifully being rather firm after being sat for 3 years! I worked on a sheet of purple clay, covered it in cane slices and smoothed them in. Back in 2010 I had worked on small sections at a time and made a whole big sheet I cut parts from. Now I used scrap clay to work out what size I needed to cover the handle and just made a sheet that size. That way there was much less waste. I also just added all the cane slices at once as I know now they will all smooth in no problem. In 2010 I smoothed the slices by rolling them now I burnish them which causes much less distortion.
It all looked great until I tried to wrap it round the fork handle when massive cracks appeared. I realised they were in the unreduced canes and between the unreduced canes – they weren’t ‘sticky’ enough to fully join to the surrounding cane slices. The sheet was useless I had to make a whole new sheet but luckily I did have plenty of left overs and I had only made a small sheet so hadn’t wasted too much cane or time! I got round the cracking problem by holding the unreduced cane slices in my hand to warm them and then just manipulating them a bit so that although I didn’t really reduced them the clay softened.
So I made a beautiful sheet of purple paisley patterned polymer and used that to decorate the cake fork handle. I realised when I finished them just how much I have learnt in the past 3 years. The cane was exactly the same cane I had made but the end result was much nicer. I have a different method for wrapping the handle which means the join is not so obvious on the back – I didn’t take a photo of the back either time unfortunately but in 2010 there was an obvious seam up the back and in 2013 there isn’t. The quality of the finish was much better too, they were pretty nice in 2010 but these 2013 cake forks are perfectly smooth and have a beautiful shine to them.
Whilst my photo isn’t the most amazing photo I can see looking back at my old blog posts that my photos have come quite a long way since 2010! It is good to take stock and look at where you’ve come from. Go back and look at what you were doing 3, 5, 10 years ago! Look how much you have improved! Hard to see it when you work with the same materials day to day but easy to see when you jump back in time. I hope to enjoy looking back at this at some point in the future and seeing how much further I have progressed!