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Butterfly Exploration

04/08/06: Butterfly Sample

I think the best way to start is to look at images of
butterfly wings...

Then to remember that a dot is a snake of clay, a line
is a sheet of clay and a gradation of color is a

For more on blends check this link.

You don't need a pasta machine to do a blend.

Remember that with a butterfly wing you only have to
make one side because the other side will be a mirror

Then pick a butterfly wing that you like. Print out
the picture from the web. Cut that picture in half so
you're looking at one side only.

Then cut the wing into the upper and lower portions.

Then you have the template for your two cane designs.

When you take a picture and put a sheet of plastic
wrap over it you can build your cane right over it.
It's like "Paint by number" or doing cross stitch. The
pattern is right there for you in the picture, just
scale it down before you print it out to the size of
the cane you're going to want to be wrestling with.

When building a cane over a picture remember to take
your time, mix the colors so they are what you see in
the picture, don't leave air gaps between the
sections, and make the towers of clay tall enough that
when the cane is constructed you can get your hand
around it without trouble.

Also remember that some parts of the cane can be
pre-reduced before assembling the various parts. This
will save you a lot of hassle.

Look at this picture of 1/4th of a butterfly cane.

See how the large color areas are blends? With the
lighter color in the center. That's made from a blend,
rolled out to a ribbon, the ribbon rolled to have the
lighter clay in the center.

Check that link for fish scale, it uses a blend that
gets reduced, surrounded with another color, reduced
again, sliced and then stacked.

Now check this one out. I made a cane with yellow and
orange, surrounded with black. I reduced the cane into
a CONE shape, so there's a large end and a narrow end.
When you cut a cone shaped cane into sections and
stack them you can get a feather effect.

This can be used to make butterfly wings as well,
since often the design has large sections and small

There's cane techniques used for flower petals that
can be utilized with butterfly wings.

Doing a fan fold of blended clay will give you a
gradation of color from one end of the clay plug to
another. This tutorial shows how to slice such a fan
folded blended plug and add stripes.

If you have a ribbon of blended colors and as you roll
it up you bury snakes of other color clay you can get
spots on a background of gradiated color.

Do check out the screen shots, it shows the process of
reducing the cane, e.g., The Fist Of Doom!

So no matter what design you want to recreate in a
cane just remember, a dot is a snake, a line is a
sheet, gradation of color is a blend, pictures scaled
down to cane size can be used as a template.

Start out with practicing blends. Make some bullseyes
and cut and reduce to make lace cane.

Lace cane mashed sideways gives a feather effect.

Print out some simple designs and put plastic wrap
over them and build a cane over the picture. Reduce it
and slice and see what you get.

Butterfly cane, depending on the butterfly you choose,
may use all the techniques we need to practice:
snakes, sheets, blends, burying snakes in blends,
inserted sheets, bullseyes, lace cane, and color

It's prudent to practice some of these things bit by
bit and ramp up to a butterfly cane.


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