MIRROR CUT CANE PENDANT
BY PÖRRÖ

Forward:

When remembering back on my claying, I can honestly say a few things: the things I have made that have pleased me the most have all been based on leftover clay. When I have made a mistaken cane, have tons of distorted cane ends, or have really messed up the design I was trying to make, it is "free clay." I do not feel like it is wasting the clay if I play with it. It is already gone, so I as well may have fun with it. I do not wait to get results; I just let myself go wild with the clay. I think I sometimes am expecting too much from myself while claying, and that makes some of the magic vanish. But when playing with leftover clay, mud, marbled clay (I generally call the pile mess), I am allowing myself to do whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes that will lead to the gate to new designs and even some kinds of techniques.

The second note is when I first discovered the amazement of mirror images: every time one cuts a lump of clay, a mirror image as both sides are similar appears. Wowzie. I remember sitting at my table, not knowing any other clayers - or even that there were other clayers - gazing at the lump in my hands in total awe: there was a lion in the clay, having two eyes and lots of hair. I tried to save the image, tried to assemble the thing and bake it. Unfortunately I did not succeed there. But from that day I have been playing with mirrors from time to time, especially when I have leftover Skinner blends. They make the mirrors amazing.

And now to the part all have been waiting for:

Instructions:

You need:

  • Leftover clay: cane ends and messed things mainly in same colour family (blues, reds or yellows)
  • Sharp blade
  • Rolling pin
  • Oven to bake the clay

STEP ONE:

Take your lump of leftover clay and play with it to get it little warmer. Make a ball and make a square log out of it.

STEP TWO:

Take your blade and cut slices of the same thickness from your cane. Somewhere around 1- 2 mm (1/6th inch) is good.

STEP THREE:

You get mirror images with the surfaces where you have cut the slices apart. I am first taking pairs of slices out of this cane, turning first piece around, then taking the second piece and looking which side is the best mirror picture.

All four sides are mirrors with their pair. You don't necessarily need to use the bottom side to make the mirror image.

Then I am pairing the rest of the cane. I may have plenty of small mirror images on my table. Sometimes I use the pairs to cover a pen, but this time we are heading for a pendant. I choose two pairs that make some kind of goddess / sea figure. As you see, I did not have perfectly square slices. Let's not worry about it now: we will fix it later.

STEP FOUR:

I took some ugly slices and discarded ends from my so-called mirror cane and the ends of it and made a sheet from it on the thickest settings of my pasta machine. You don't necessarily need a pasta machine for this. Just roll about 1 mm (1/16th inch) thick sheet from leftover clay. I am putting my mirror image on top of that.

STEP FIVE:

After rolling over the piece to remove the seams, I trim the borders. I first made a square but it was dull, so I also cut the corners to have some extra energy to my piece.

Now the piece gets baked in the oven with the manufacturer's recommended temperature and time. I tend to cover pieces having white with an extra sheet of paper. My oven sometimes spikes, so I have noticed this prevents the yellowing of whites.

After baking, the piece is left to cool.


STEP SIX:

Now we are starting to make a pendant out of this unframed picture. First I decided the colour of the frame and backing. I used brown because I think it looks neat with blue. I rolled the brown on the #3 settings of my pasta machine. Again you don't need it, just roll a thin sheet with your roller. Put the pendant on top of the sheet without leaving air bubbles on the back.

STEP SEVEN:

Now roll a snake from brown clay and frame your picture. Put the seam at the top of the piece. It still does not look neat, but we will fix that, too.

STEP EIGHT:

Cut a straight line at the top of your pendant without cutting off any of the snake you have as a frame.

STEP NINE:

Make some kind of loop to cover the seam. I used a bigger ball flattened and then put another flattened ball on top of that.

STEP TEN:

Now we are trimming the piece: using your blade, cut through the frame and the backing to get neat borders to your piece. When ready, bake the piece.

STEP ELEVEN:

And there you have the baked piece. Now is the hardest part: trying to figure a really fancy and artsy name for your pendant. After all, this is ART!

This piece looks better without varnishes, and, as I am a lazy cat, I did not bother sanding and buffing it. But you may have another kind of piece that may need either or both. Now you just have to string it to make a necklace. I am using this kind of pendant with simple cord, but you may want to have a more fancy necklace. If so, make some beads both with the backing colour and the mess you made your mirror image with to help you have more freedom when designing the stringing of your necklace.

Here are few simple pendants made with this technique:

Ok, there is the basic idea. Now what else could be done?

Don't let your imagination die trying too hard to follow the instructions. Look at the piece you are doing: maybe it has something that seems to demand other kinds of decoration. You may use stamps to decorate the borders. Or use canes there. Or maybe the picture you have would look best if made into a pin…

If you are dissatisfied when you got the baked piece on your hand, think about paint: antique the piece by taking little bit of acrylic paint to a paper towel and wiping the surface with it. Remove most of the paint when it is still wet and leave to dry. Or if you are into sparkling powders, put them on your frame. If using powders, you need to varnish it to make the powders stay. Otherwise it is not necessary.

With this technique you also can make larger pictures. You can turn and assemble your slices into a larger sheet. If the borders of your mirror cane slices do not fit exactly, just use a sheet at the back as used here: when rolling over it you will lose the seams. You can also cut and trim them whenever feeling like it, even before pairing the mirror pieces. A good idea could also be making a box cover with several mirror images on it. Or the slices can be used on vase, pen, egg… Possibilities are endless.

I have a box half full of mirror squares that have about 1" to 3" long sides. I have baked the mirror images, but have not figured how to use them yet. Maybe someday I will make a huge wall piece mosaic having millions of mirrors. Or not. Time will tell.

Creatively yours,

PöRRö

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