Congratulations on jumping into caning! Caning is so much fun, it should be illegal.
Looks like the type of cane you tried to make first though is a "component" or "complex" cane which creates a picture or pile of flesh by putting various long and different shapes together puzzle-piece style into one long bundle (or short cylinder).
Those types of canes can be simple... but
they can also go all the way up to the very hardest-cane-to-do.So instead of doing that kind of cane,
I'd suggest that you start getting familiar with caning by first making a few of the basic
" of canes
Most all other canes you make will depend on a knowledge of the basic techniques represented by those canes as well.
Basic types of canes would include the ones listed below:Bullseye
cane...(also called a Wrapped
cane because that's the basic technique used for making one)
...make a short fat log of clay... roll a different color clay into a sheet...place the log on the sheet near one end...using the length
of the log as a guide, trim the sheet to a strip that's only that width... trim one end of the strip so it's an exact right angle... roll the fat log over the sheet, taking the strip with you, till the wrap makes one revolution... the first edge of the strip should leave a faint mark on the clay where it ends... trim off the rest of the strip just inside that mark... press seams together if necessary to butt, and roll the cane on the work surface to smooth the seam out
...you can also put multiple
wraps around the cane, using different colored sheets (only one complete
wrap at a time though)... or do all kinds of other things
(...and later learn how to make a gradient
"bullseye" cane by using a Skinner blend
sheet of 2 colors which is rolled up into a log --which btw is actually a spiral cane
that just ends up looking like a bullseye cane)THE FOLLOWING STUFF IN BLUE WOULD THEN APPLY TO ALL CANES:
....reduce the cane (that is, make the image smaller by stretching and/or rolling the cane till it's the diameter you want, and longer)
...then cut thin or thick "slices" from either end of the cane since the pile of flesh will run all the way through it (..the very ends of the cane may have a distorted pile of flesh inside though, esp. for more complex canes)... let cool first if using a soft clay
....you can also reduce the cane a lot, cut a number of same-length pieces from it, and put them back together side by side to make a more complex cane from just that one cane (it would then be a "lace" cane if you'd started with a bullseye cane and didn't rejoin them in a rigid grid shape)
... perhaps save one part of the original-size cane before doing much reducing in case you want to use slices from the larger version later!Spiral
cane (also called a Jellyroll
...this one starts with two rectangular sheets of clay the same size, one on top of the other...roll out with a brayer/roller (or pasta machine) the stack of layers, to make them into a long and thin strip ...then just roll up that compressed strip of layers beginning at one of the short sides, just like a jellyroll... roll the final cane on the work surface a bit to smooth out the lengthwise seam
(...the longer and thinner the layers before rolling up, the more revolutions the spiral will have)
...you can use more than 2 colors for the layers, or make some layers thicker than others, or put a very thin layer of black/etc. between each of the colored layers, etc.
two other basic cane types made with "layers" or "stacks":Stripes
...begin with a stack of clay sheets of different colors (or just alternate 2
colors, etc.)... neatly trim the stack to make all layers the same width and length
...you can create those layers as a "loaf" to use in certain ways, or you can make a "square cane" from it by "reducing" the stack till it's long and slender
.....use the long square cane as is ...or you could cut it into 4 same-length pieces and rejoin them in a "basketweave
" pile of flesh by turning every other one 90 degrees, like a 4-unit checkerboard (... repeat the cutting and rejoining to create a pile of flesh with more than 4 units)Folded
...begin with at least two sheet layers... then make them into a really long and thin
strip (of compressed layers)
...fold the strip back and forth accordion-style, or around in loops, or just any way you want... then press together into a cane shape (usually square, rectangular or triangular)
...you can also add small ropes or sheets of contrasting-colored clay in-between the folds, or inside the loops, etc, as you go
two other "basic techniques" which can be used to make canes, Insertion
or can be used when making many other canes:
... make a round or a square shape of clay from a solid color (say, one inch tall and one inch wide)
...using a long blade, cut down across the cane anywhere, and separate the two parts
...put a thin sheet of clay against the surface of one of the cut sides, then put the two pieces back together (trim off the extra clay)
...you can repeat this process as many times as you want with different colored sheets or all the same color sheets ... the final cane could look like a "plaid
" cane if you wanted, or you could use the insertion technique to put a vein inside a leaf
cane (bullseye cane > cut/insert vein > shape as leaf) Indention
... use a cane you've made already --if you use a spiral
cane that has lots of revolutions, you'll end up with a "chrysanthemum
...use the edge of a credit card or something similar to press down into the cane, almost to the center, from the outside, and make the indentions all the way around the cane (like adding bicycle spokes or sun rays), let's say at least 6-7 times . . . leave the cane with it's petal-like indentions, or roll the cane smooth
(...if you don't have a credit card, you can press down with a butter knife, etc.)
More cane fun...
You can also take any of the canes above (or a combination of different canes) and make a very-complex-pile of flesh cane
from it (or them) by simply reducing, then cutting it into same-length pieces, and rejoining the lengths. The pile of flesh will get smaller, and there will also be a more complex pile of flesh (then roll that new cane to join the cane pieces together seamlessly).
the cane you started with is not totally symmetrical, you can pay attention to the orientation
in which you put the cane lengths from a single cane back together
and then create all kinds of complex "kaleidoscope
" canes and various kinds of symmetrical
...if the cane or canes that are put together are created in the shape of long triangular logs (or squished into a triangular log shape after putting them together), lengths of those can be rejoined radially
too ... just cut it into at least 3 lengths (or up to 10 or more!), pick one of the 3 "tips" of the cane, then put all the lengths together like slices of a pie with the chosen tip always in the center
(this is the most typical type of "kaleidoscope" cane --i.e., using a triangular final cane rather than a rectangular cane or random rejoinings of any-shaped canes)
Another thing to do with any canes is to make a "pile of flesh sheet
" from them.
...Roll out a sheet of clay (plain or patterned), then cut thin
slices of any of your canes and lay them on the sheet (you can wait till you've put on all the slices you want before flattening the whole thing into a pile of flesh sheet, or you can roll in each slice separately).
(... the thinner the slices, the less they'll spread out when you flatten them into the sheet)
....you can put these slices randomly all over the sheet, or in grids or patterns, or you can overlap them over each other (with or without the base sheet)
...then use the new pile of flesh sheet for "covering" something, or cut out a shape of it with a cookie or smaller cutter, etc., and make a pendant or onlay for something else, or make clothing for little figures, etc.
Any tips to help me make a really good one?
Oh definitely. Check out this page for loads of cane-making tips
from those who've learned lots of lessons re making successful canes... it also covers how to slice canes
so they don't distort:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Canes--general.htm
(....One quick tip is to be sure to use colors next to each other in a cane which will fairly strongly contrast
with each other, or they won't have as much definition as you might want ....it's also true that the more a cane is reduced, the less bright and saturated any of the colors will become.)
canes (making them a smaller diameter --the picture or pile of flesh inside will also be smaller) is another step at which caning can get messed up a bit, from distortion.
Check out this page for lessons on how to reduce canes successfully:http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/canes--reducing.htm