Same Canes, Different Backgrounds!
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
by Jenny Dowde

With a week to go before Christmas, I thought it would be nice to send my two elderly aunts a gift of a covered pen each. I got out all my translucent canes, made a couple more so I had plenty to choose from, and set to work.

The first pen was covered in no time at all, using a white clay base with silver leaf. It looked rather good, and I set it aside while I covered the second one.

As I began slicing the translucent canes it occurred to me that I really should make the second one a little different to the first one. With time at a premium ( I really needed to get these pens baked, sanded, buffed, wrapped and ready to post that day) and my base sheet of white clay and silver leaf all ready to receive the translucent slices, I didn’t really want to prepare a brand new base sheet.

Inspiration hit as I sat considering my options. I spotted a mini-grater sitting minding its own business. Not for long! I picked it up, grabbed a piece of unconditioned blue Modelene and grated some over the prepared sheet.

As luck would have it, I had several bits of primary coloured clay lying around my workspace, plus some green, so I grated some of each over the surface, then rolled the whole mess through the pasta machine.

Since this base sheet had already been rolled to crack the silver leaf surface, when I rolled it at #4 again, the original silver foil effect was lost. When the grated surface was rolled through the pasta machine it turned the ‘grated bits’ into streaks, some of which blended with whatever colour was near, and some of which stayed pure colour.

The next step was to layer the translucent canes, just as I had on the first pen. I rolled the sheet through the machine again at #4 lengthwise then turned it a quarter turn and put it through at #5 to get a nice thin sheet.

As you can see in the picture below, the difference was quite amazing, and each pen looks totally different, despite the fact the canes I used were the same for both. As an added bonus, this meant I was also able to send my not-so-flamboyant aunt the paler, less obvious pen, and my more colourful aunt, the pen that was more suited to her personality!

This “random streak” technique would of course work equally well with base sheets for beads, pendants etc. It's also a great way to turn that ugly sheet of “mud” clay into a beautiful background for your translucent canes, thereby saving you having to use “good” clay. I can feel some experiments coming on!

Oh, by the way, my aunts loved their pens!

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