Last year I set out on a mission to create a Darth Vader cane. A clay cane is basically a long roll with a design in it that you can slice identical pieces from. Well not always identical, but a similar pattern. At least that's how I describe it. The definition from the Sculpey website is:
cane \’kan\ n — a polymer clay rod of two or more colors; the colors inside the rod are constructed in such a way that when the rod is cross-sectioned at any point, a 2 dimensional pattern is revealed.
I've seen all kinds of canes and have made different types. This includes flowers, leaves, feathers, and some fun designs as well.
I have been wanting to do some nerdy stuff, and have successfully made a few things. But Darth Vader has become my greatest failure, but I'm not giving up. To date I have made 4 attempts, the latest being as recently as last week.
I made a 5th attempt and it didn't reduce as I was expecting, but it was more identifiable, so I made some rings and might make some more things out of them. But I'll still keep aiming towards a better Darth Vader.
Step 1: Attempt 1
This was the first attempt I made, and to be fair, I was still new at making canes. As you can see, I ended up with not so straight lines, likely due to my filling method and not smoothing out the lines. Even reduced, the lines kept, but I was not happy with it. Off to the scrap pile.
Step 2: Attempt 2
Using a different picture as reference, I tried again to make this cane. Even the larger version seemed off. But the lines were better. But reduced definitely looked very warped. This would simply not do. But I play with it into some other pretty canes. But definitely a complete fail.
Step 3: Attempt 3
So this attempt I spent quite a bit of time on, but didn't get many pictures of. I didn't even complete this one. It was turning out to be extremely large and I later noticed that there were differences in the clay. Read as Premo black does not equal Sculpey III black. There were swirls and such that would definitely show up later when it baked. I knew this would happen as a result of another cane I did of the Mario mystery box using what I thought were the same yellows and ended up not being the case, especially after baking. So I ended up scraping it, conserving as much as I could from large areas of white and black for later use. I really was hoping that this one would work. *Sigh*
Step 4: Attempt 4
You really would think that I would have given up by now. Nope. Now I'm determined to make a Darth Vader cane. Unfortunately I was getting low on black and white of the same type and color. So again with a different reference picture, I built it up, only an inch thick. Which I didn't think was that big of a deal because I've started canes at an inch before. Right after this attempt I made a pixelated Charmander that started 1 inch thick and came out fine on reduction.
The starting size was huge and I made sure smooth out the lines. And it looked great. I was really excited for this one. Knowing that the clay will still soft from the warmth of my hands, I let it sit for a couple of days. I probably should have let it sit longer. With a starting size of about 7 inches square, it was a bit floppy and had to be handled carefully in reduction. But my excitement of this turning out got the better of me and I put too much force in the squishing and rushed the reduction.
As I sliced, I hoped to find some better looking areas, but nope. He was completely warped throughout. Alas, another fail.
So what's next?
Step 5: Scrap Pile
So now I have this huge pile of black and white scrap. That's ok. It comes in handy quite often.
Will I attempt the Vader cane again? Absolutely! I'm just waiting for my new shipment of clay so I can try again.
What have I learned?
- Smooth out the edges of areas and get a clean line.
- For larger plaques, make it thicker.
- Let larger canes sit for several days before reducing
- DO NOT rush the reduction process. It may feel like it takes forever, but taking your time will result in a great cane.
Hopefully these failures help some of you, as I know they have helped me.
Step 6: UPDATE: Attempt #5
Last night I finished putting together a 5th attempt. It's a 5.75 inch square that I am now going to let rest for a few days before I start reducing. it stands up fine without any desire to flop over, so hopefully the reduction goes well. I will update after some reduction.
As I was reducing, it started squaring up. Since I could still make out a face, I decided to keep going with it. I got it down pretty tiny and made some rings (last two pictures). Next time I'll remember to do more contrast or thicker lines if I plan on going so small. You have to look real close to see the eye outlines. The result wasn't what I was looking for, but it still worked out somewhat. What do you guys think?
Second Prize in the
Spectacular Failures Contest