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Burgundy Flowers Tutorial

This tutorial is for people comfortable making skinner blends and skinner blend plugs. If you haven’t done either before, here’s some videos on making Skinner blends, and some on how to make a skinner blend plug.

It’s a simple tutorial, and I would encourage you to not try to make yours exactly the same as mine — if you want to make different cuts or colors or flip some pieces differently, you should. Learning how the choices you make affect your final cane is a key part of the process.

The Cane

Here’s how the final cane looks used on pens at different sizes and parts of the process.

Lessons Learned

I was fairly sloppy in this cane. As you can see in steps 1 & 2, the edges aren’t lined up and I didn’t take a lot of care forming the plugs. It works out okay because I never try to combine everything into one big hexagon and slice pieces from it, so I don’t have to worry about one end of the cane being different from the other, but it could cause an issue if that’s how you do your canes.

In retrospect, I ended up with too many large blocks of white (those two pure white corners) in the final design. If I were doing this again, I would either do more cuts to the original square or, more likely, simply change how I make my triangle from it. Specifically:

If I’d turned the the mixed-color sides (marked with red circles) into points instead, and turned those points (marked with blue circles) into sides, I think the final cane would look better.

Even at the end, I could have avoided my “big blocks of white” problem if I had chosen to flatten the whitest tip (the top of the triangles in step 9) instead of the darkest tip (the bottom of the triangles in step 9) like I did.


Step 1: Create two skinner blend plugs from Dark Mineral Grey and Pompeian Red or your choice of colors.

If you are trying to make a cane identical to mine, I made about 10g of the red, and about 7.5g of the grey, and the recipes are linked here.

I did a straight skinner blend with the same amount of white as each color, but offset on both sides so you have pure white on one end and pure color on the other.

Step 2: Put them together in a block, with the light next to their dark and vice versa.

Why? The point of all of these flips and slices is to mix up both color and tone (how dark or light the color is due to black or white being mixed in) to create contrast in the final cane. Without that contrast, the final cane will be muddy, particularly when reduced small enough to be used in a pen.

Step 3: Slice diagonally and flip one piece, bringing grey to red and vice versa.

Step 4: Repeat slicing across the other diagonal, and again flip one side before rejoining.

Step 5: Slice off all four corners

Step 6: Swap corners around. I moved every corner one step clockwise and flipped only one of them: the one that starts in the bottom left of Step 4 and is in the top left corner on step 5.

I flipped it to bring opposite colors together.

Step 7: Slice across asymmetrically and flip one piece before bringing them back together.

Step 8: Begin to turn it into a triangle.

I did this by gently squeezing the bottom left into a corner and flattening the top right.

Step 9: Reduce your cane to about two inches long, and then slice it down the middle.

Figure out how you want to combine it to make your final cane that you’ll re-shape into a triangle.

Step 10: Reshape your combined cane into an equilateral triangle and reduce as needed.

I’d like to extend thanks to both Meg Newberg (via her Cane Builder subscription) and Fiona Abel-Smith, who both have done canes in the below style and were the first introductions I had to this style of creating a kaleidoscope from a skinner blend plug.

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Simple Bowl Shape

I prefer making useful objects or artwork to jewelry, which means I make a lot of bowls and boxes. I found a way to make a very simple bowl shape that makes a flat square veneer look much more sophisticated than you would expect.

Lay out the cane tiles to make a square of whatever size you want, and fully flatten and burnish the veneer until you are satisfied.

Carefully drape it over a round form (e.g. a cake pan like these) and slowly smooth it down with your fingers, shaping the clay to the new shape.

I find that spraying some water on the bowl helps as you’re re-shaping the clay.

Bake as normal, and if you want a flat-ish bottom you can remove it from the form as soon as it’s done baking and set it upright on a table. It will flatten slightly on the bottom and make it less tippy when cooled.

Sand and finish as normal.