No-Waste Cane Reduction


Reducing Your Cane

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leigh Ross and Squiggy for inspiring me to develop this technique for reducing canes and getting a minimum amount of "waste" clay. I learned how to place something on the ends from Squiggy while Leigh taught me how to pinch down the ends.

In this demonstration I have used mirrors because that's all I had available at the time that was small enough! You can use anything as long as it's a hard rigid material. Glass or Plexiglas is lovely because you can watch what's going on, but metal works just fine! Wood is not recommended because the clay will not develop a "suction" to the material.

jelly020a.jpg (5485 bytes)1) Make sure the ends of your cane are perfecly flat. You can do this by pressing it down on your work surface or trimming it with a blade.

Now place one end onto a mirror (or whatever you're using) and reduce the end down to the size you want your cane to be when you are finished. Be sure to tuck the edge with your fingertip, too, by placing your fingernail next to the glass - you don't want to get a flare next to the mirror. This process will suction the mirror onto the end of the cane and prevent the clay in the roll from oozing out at the ends.

Flip the cane over and repeat with the other end.

jelly021a.jpg (4263 bytes)2) Beginning in the middle, reduce your cane by pinching and squeezing. Be patient and do this firmly and gently. Don't bully it or squeeze too hard at a time. Squeezing hard to hurry the process will give you distortion. Work your way up from the middle out to one end, flip it over and work to the other end. Keep repeating this until the cane is the same size as the ends. The cane will flop over (as it is beginning to in the picture above) and that's okay. Just hang it in front of you and work the upper half. Once I get it long enough to fit my hand between the mirrors, I hang it from one hand and choke it gently but firmly with the whole fist of my other hand.

jelly022a.jpg (5553 bytes)3) This is the first cut from a Jellyroll Cane. Notice it is only 1/4" away from the end and how the design begins right away! With this method I did not wait to let my clay "rest" and achieve consistency in firmness between the clays before reducing. However, experiment with waiting or not, as you will get varying results depending on the cane, brand of clay and the cane's complexity.


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Copyright 2004-2013 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: February 20 2013