Getting StartedDo not use unbaked clay on unprotected furniture or finished surfaces. Start with clean hands and work surface area. Good work surfaces include wax paper, metal baking sheet, or disposable foil. Knead clay until soft and smooth. For best results, clean your hands in between colors. Shape clay, pressing pieces together firmly. Bake on oven-proof glass or metal surface at 275°F (130°C) for 30 minutes per ¼" (6 mm) thickness. For best baking results, use an oven thermometer. DO NOT USE MICROWAVE OVEN. DO NOT EXCEED THE ABOVE TEMPERATURE OR RECOMMENDED BAKING TIME. Wash hands after use. Baking should be completed by an adult.Begin by preheating oven to 275°F (130 °C). Test temperature with oven thermometer for perfectly cured clay. For best results, condition all clay by running it through the clay dedicated pasta machine several passes on the widest setting. Fold the clay in half after each pass and insert the fold side into the rollers first.
Condition Orange, Fuchsia, Spanish Olive, and Black clays separately. To create a light pink, mix 3 parts White and 1 part Blush; blend thoroughly. You’ll use about 1 ounce of each color (including the light pink).
Roll Orange clay into a log 4 inches long and flatten to a thickness of about 3/8 inch. Repeat for Fuchsia, Spanish Olive, and light pink. Lay the flattened logs on their thin edges, and press the light pink together with Olive; press the Orange together with Fuchsia. You will now have 2 logs that are roughly 4 inches long and 3/4 inch square. Extrude or roll Black clay to form strings 1/16 - 1/8 inch thick.
Position a 2-color log with the colors side-by-side and insert the dinner fork straight down, about 1/4 inch from the end. If you’re right-handed, hold the fork in your left hand and the clay blade in your right hand, as if you were cutting into a steak. The blade should scrape the back of the fork tines so that you feel the metal on metal (see Figure 2). Cut 4 slices in this way from each of the 2-color logs.
With the fork marks facing up, you’ll see that the indentations made by the tines are narrower toward one edge. To create evenly shaped channels in each slice, place the fork into the channels in the opposite direction and press down. Repeat for all 8 slices. Lay a black string in each of the channels you have created.
Stack a series of 4 slices. Alternate colors and reverse the direction of slices to create a varied pattern of stripes and dots. Trim off all 4 edges of each stack. Reserve the scraps you cut off to use as filling for your End Cap Beads.
Place 2 stacks side-by-side. Reduce and flatten them. When the cane is at least 3 inches long, cut it in half, stack the two halves on top of each other, and continue reducing.
Combine more stacks to create a cane of the size you want. The cane pictured includes 4 of the original 4-slice stacks. This is the cane used to create the end cap tube beads explained in the second part of this project.
Tip for choosing your own colors: If you’d prefer to make the fork cane in your own color palette, be sure that the 5 colors in the cane represent a range of distinct values. That is, they must contrast with one another in lightness and darkness. To judge their value, place the clay colors side-by-side and squint your eyes until the colors almost appear black, white, and gray. If you can distinguish between the darkness and lightness of all 5 colors, you’ve made excellent choices! If 2 or more of them appear the same, you may want to tweak your palette a bit to retain the definition of the pattern in your finished cane.
End Cap Tube Beads
Choose 2 of the 5 colors in your fork cane for the end caps of the tube beads and roll each of them into a sheet with your Clay Conditioning Machine. (The thickness depends on how large you want the end caps to be.) Using small cutters or straws of the same diameter you want your beads to be, cut circles out of one color. Cut smaller circles of the second color with a smaller cutter or straw. You’ll need 2 circles of each color for each bead you plan to make. Center a small circle on top of a large one, and make a hole through the center of both with a needle tool or darning needle. Bake the end caps as directed above.
Using scrap clay, make snakes that are a little smaller around than your end caps. Cut slices from the fork cane that are uniform in thickness and long enough to wrap around the scrap clay snakes. If your cane isn’t tall enough for the diameter of the snake, you can piece together slices. The complicated and fairly random pattern of the fork cane provides excellent camouflage!
Wrap a cane slice around the snake, and butt the ends neatly. Cut the ends of the snake off even with the cane slice, to the length you want the central portion of your tube bead to be. Make a hole through the center of the tube bead.
Add a dot of Bake & Bond to each end of the uncured tube bead. String 1 cured end cap (small side first) onto the floral stem wire. Then string the uncured tube bead and the other end cap (large side first). Leave a small gap (about 1/16 inch) between the end caps and the tube bead.
Cover the bead with an acrylic rectangle and roll it gently back and forth against your work surface until the uncured bead is the same diameter as the cured end caps. If the tube bead is larger than the end caps, the gaps will close as you roll. If gaps remain, simply slide the end caps along the wire until they touch the bead. If clay from the cane slice comes up over the end caps, your gaps were not quite large enough. But don’t worry: you can gently scrape off the excess with a blade or craft knife before curing.
Bake the beads as directed above on the wire. Since the end caps are already cured, there’s no danger of the beads sticking together. Use the beads as they come from the oven or sand and buff them to a brilliant shine. The choice is yours!Design tip: Stringing one or more beads between your end cap tube beads will show off the two-part end caps to greatest advantage.