Here's a terrific cane lesson from Jana Roberts Benzon that will add a new dimension to your canework!
Note: Choosing colors for Skinner BlendStep 1 - Condition and Roll Clay, Make Skinner Blend'
The amount of clay you use in your blend will determine the size of your cane, so it's up to you how much clay you use. Condition all colors of clay, then roll out and cut the black plus your skinner blend colors in the skinner blend pattern as shown in Diagram 1. The skinner blend should be layed out as follows: a small strip of black, then the darkest of your colors, the mid-range color and the lightest color on the end. Make your skinner blend (if you need instruction on how to make a skinner blend, check here)
Step 2 - Creating a Blended Loaf
Now that you have a blended sheet of clay, fold the sheet into thirds (like folding a letter), matching color to color (NOT the dark black end to the light end)... just as you would if making a Skinner Blend Log. After it's folded, run it through the pasta machine beginning with the thickest setting, then on successively thinner settings until you have a long, narrow sheet going from dark to light. Be careful as you pass the sheet through the pasta machine that it doesn't fold over on itself or it may stick together and ruin the sheet. You will now fold this sheet into a loaf using the "accordian fold" method. To do an accordian fold, begin at either end, the light or the dark, of your long narrow blend, and holding the length of the sheet in one hand, with the other, lay approximately 1 1/2 inches of the other end on your work surface. Now fold the sheet over the top of the 1 1/2 inch section, making sure that you smooth out any air bubbles. Continue taking the sheet back and forth (accordian style) until you've formed a loaf. Remember to smooth out air bubbles with each fold. After you have completed the loaf, square up the edges by slicing off the ragged edges on all four sides. You should now have a rectangular loaf shading from dark to light.
Step 3 - Dividing and Wrapping the Loaf
Lay the loaf on your work surface with the light color on the bottom, dark on top. Next, slice the loaf in half lengthwise, so that you now have two long, thin rectangles. Place these two pieces together, matching up the light sides. Diagram 2 is a view of how your loaf should look from the side with the two pieces you cut placed together. You now have a rectangular loaf that is dark on both long, narrow ends and light in the center.
Now you are going to put a layer of white clay, rolled to a number 4 (medium thickness), on each of the sides (these would be the two long sides showing the full dark-light-dark blend as shown in Diagram 2). Then you will put a layer of black clay rolled to a 4 (medium thickness) on top of the white. Your loaf should now appear as in Diagram 3, with a layer of white and a layer of black on each of the sides.