Carol Simmons 6-Day Master Cane Workshop

I just returned from a truly wonderful workshop and I had so much fun that I want to share it with you. Carol Simmons is a talented polymer clay artist who gives workshops on a variety of subjects such as Hidden Jewels, Fantasy Flowers, and Kaleidoscope Veneers. But it’s her 6-Day Master Cane Class that is the “Holy Grail” of workshops. I’ve been hearing about this workshop for years, but it was never held anywhere close to me. Last fall Carol was looking for a location to hold the class and several midwestern clayers convinced her that Kansas City was a good choice. It was. The class sold out in less than 24 hours. I was lucky enough to reserve a spot. For once I was in the right place at the right time!

The class was held September 12-18 at Heartland Retreat Center in Parkville, Missouri, just north of Kansas City. We had excellent facilities that made for a wonderful stay. But enough about that…let’s get to the clay!

Master Cane Workshop

Carol’s Master Cane Workshop starts with an inspiration picture. Each of the 13 students chose an image that would serve as our color inspiration. We used it to mix all our colors and blends that we would then assemble into a master cane. This master cane is then used to create an endless variety of kaleidoscope patterns. I won’t reveal too much of Carol’s teachings, but let’s just say that it was a lot of work, and oh so much fun.

Using an inspiration, we created master canes to match in Carol Simmons' 6-day Master Cane Class.
Here’s my inspiration picture and my mockup cane (right) along with my finished master cane, just after I cut through it to see what was inside.
Here is the mockup of my master cane.
Here’s my mockup cane that I used to help decide how I wanted to arrange all the elements.
Ginger Davis Allman's Master Cane.
This is half of my finished master cane.
Slices from my master cane in Carol Simmons' class.
And now we start thinking about kaleidoscope designs!

Kaleidoscope Designs

The cool thing about Carol’s Master Cane Class is that you learn how to make infinite kaleidoscope designs from one master cane. This stage was my favorite part. Each of us had great fun arranging our canes to form new designs. Here are some designs that all came from my own master cane.

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Finished Pieces

This was an information-packed class and we really didn’t have time to create a lot of finished pieces. But I did make one gorgeous lentil bead pendant. I also made a pendant and earrings (yet to be assembled) from scraps.

Lentil Bead side ALentil Bead side Bpendant and earrings

Great People

The best part of getting together for claying retreats and workshops would seem to be the clay. But I think it’s the people. It’s good seeing old friends again and it’s wonderful meeting new people and getting to know friends that you already know online. My work table was right next to Krithika Parthan and had a wonderful week talking and joking like we’d known each other forever. She is hysterical!

Krithika Parthan and Ginger Davis Allman at Carol Simmons's 6-Day Master Cane Class.
Krithika Parthan and me

Clayers came from at least nine states to attend this workshop, so there were lots of stories to share, too. It always makes me so happy at claying events to realize that these strangers are now my new friends thanks to a shared love of polymer. Some of the nicest moments in the week were when we were all working on our projects, completely “in the zone”, the room filled with the comfortable silence of friends busy at work. It never lasted for long, though, because this group had a wicked sense of humor. We laughed a lot!

Here's the group that took Carols Simmons' 6-Day Master Cane Class, September 12-18, 2016, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Here’s the group that took Carols Simmons’ 6-Day Master Cane Class, September 12-18, 2016, in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Donovan.

Variety of Master Canes

Each person’s master cane was very different. Most of us used different inspiration pictures, but even the two that used the same one had very different outcomes. Each cane reflected the personality of the maker and the colors of the inspiration picture.

Photo of everyone's master can from Carol Simmons' 6-Day Master Cane Class in Kansas City, September 12-18, 2016.
Here is everyone’s master cane from the Kansas City workshop.

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Want to Take the Class?

This is definitely not a beginner level class. You need to have a fair bit of experience with polymer clay. Nothing is particularly difficult, but there isn’t time during the class for explaining the basics. And it’s a 6 night (7-day) class. We worked full days and into the night. It’s not one that you can attend for only part of it. But if you’re to a point in your art journey that you want to delve into a subject and really learn and understand it, and can dedicate the time and finances to it, I heartily recommend this class!

Carol is currently scouting for future workshop locations, so if your area has sufficient interest, let her know. Carol said that she will only offer this class for another couple of years, so don’t put if off if you get a chance to take this class!


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