Having spent quite a lot of time over the weekend working on commissions, and having been inspired by Blissknits' request for a Small Bobble Hat Millefiori Cat, on Sunday I decided to try out some new millefiori techniques.
I love the effect achieved the Skinner blend method, where two or more colours are blended together by repeated rolling through a pasta machine in one direction, creating an airbrushed blend of the colours. I wanted to incorporate this into a flower cane, and for the purple cats on the right, I started by making the petals from a Skinner cane made from white and fuschia clay. I made a 'plug' by rolling out the Skinner blend sheet into a very long, thin sheet, and then folding that using a concertina-type movement, ie folding the long sheet back on itself every 3cm or so. This created a stack of clay shading from white to fuschia. I formed this into petal shapes, with the white parts closest to the centre of the flower. A clay log core, along with deep purple segments between the petals, completed the cane.
This cane worked well with large flowers, but the detail was lost when I reduced the cane down to create the cat on the right. I didn't use a thin sheet of white clay to define each petal, and that's something I intend to experiment with soon.
Having tried a flower cane with a Skinner plug, I wanted to try more geometric shapes. For this pink cat, I made another Skinner plug using the concertina method, but instead of shaping the stack ito a petal, I cut it in half lengthwise, and placed the two halves together, white section to white section. I then cut this into four pieces, and placed them together into a parquet effect. I applied thin slices of this square cane to a core of scray clay, and then blended them on in the usual way. I love the three dimensional ribbon effect achieved by the gradated colours.
I tried this technique out with blue, and created a couple of different effects. The colours in the cane I used for the middle cat, for example, were not as well-defined as in the cat on the right, but it still works as a concept, just in a slightly different way.
For the blue cat on the left hand side, I created him by using the scrap clay from Skinner blocks, I mashed it about a bit, rolled it out into a large large, and then cut that log into four segments lengthwise. I reversed each segment and reassembled the log, which created a really abstract pattern, not at all like the ones created by twisting and rolling colours together. I think the three cats look rather fine together.
I went back to making a flower cane after this, with the aim of making up Blissknits' cat. I deliberately chose a very simple flower shape, and retained the petal definition with a thin sheet of white clay wrapped around each petal. Using a slice of a large cane, as in the left hand picture, is quite tricky when trying to make sure all the flowers are intact, and for this kitten (who is the big brother of Blissknits' Small Bobble Hat Scarf), I used slices from a smaller cane to 'fill in the blanks'.
Those sharp-sighted amongst you will notice that this cane is exactly the same as the same as the one used for Blissknits' commision. For this tall cat, I used a large cane, and for the small cat to the right, I applied random slices from a small cane.