Posted by: doras_explorations | July 5, 2009

Cane for the Week of 7/5/09:”Behold!!”

        In my last post, I revealed the color palette I would be using in my next “Cane of the Week” feature.  The palette was chosen by my readers in response to a poll.  The clay was conditioned, and the colors were mixed.  The next step was for me to decide on a pattern.  I looked through “1000 Patterns”, a wonderful book by Drusilla Cole that I often browse through when I am searching for cane design ideas.   Many of the patterns do not easily lend themselves to cane designs, but it is nonetheless a great source of inspiration.  However, after thumbing through the book several times, I didn’t find anything  that really excited me, at least not enough to ‘translate’ into polymer clay.  So I went on-line to view images using search terms such as ‘patterns’ ‘geometric designs’ ‘repeating designs’…………..Of course, there were many thousands.  After a couple of hours of searching, I came across a pattern that looked intriguing.  It was on a page featuring ‘mathematical quilt patterns’ created by two quiltmakers who design quilts based on mathematical concepts.  Really fascinating stuff.  Anyway, about halfway down the page was a pattern called “Bhaskara’s Behold!’  Of course, I had never heard of Bhaskara,   who was a famous 12th century Indian mathematician.  One of his most famous achievements was a pictorial proof of the Pyhthagoean Theorem.  When he discovered this proof, he was said to have exclaimed “Behold!”  

      Anyway, I am not going to go into any further mathematical details because math has never been my strong suit, and the only time in my life that I ever studied geometry was in the Dark Ages when I was in 10th grade !  So, without further ado, here is Bhaskara’s Behold! :


      Looks fairly simple and straightforward, right?  WRONG !  I spent the better part of one day trying to sketch the pattern on graph paper-very difficult to do, as I later read!-and once I did that, I had decided that I would make a ‘shaded version’ of the design with Skinner blends, which looks like this when the base cane design is made into a 16-square patch:  


      The next challenge was to make the Skinner blend go in the right direction.  The normal Skinner blend block or ‘plug’ is vertical and shades from left to right.  But this would not work for this cane, I discovered.  I had to make a Skinner block that would shade diagonally from corner.  Another 2 or 3 frustrating hours were spent in trying to figure out how to do this.   If I had better mathematical or mechanical skills, I would have been able to mentally ‘track back’ from the finished shaded triangles to the initial Skinner blend.  But instead I had to cut out little shaded paper triangles and attempt to recreate the steps.  Anyway, I did finally come up with a solution (and a headache!), although I am sure there is a better, easier way to do it.  No doubt there are many people out there who could figure out in a few minutes what took me several hours. 

      I spent most of yesterday (the 4th of July) making my Behold! cane, and took photos of the steps.  However, I have yet to edit and upload the 20 photos and write the captions.   So I’m afraid I will have to keep everyone in suspense a little longer !!  Check back in a day or 2 !


  1. Don’t feel bad about the time you spent on this–your brain was working overtime making new connections. You probably gave yourself another 6 months of quality cognitive life.

    Looking forward to seeing how you do this one. I like the feeling of motion in it.

    • You’re right, Kathleen ! A good friend of mine always says that the best way to keep one’s mind sharp as one ages is to learn something new, preferably something challenging and out of one’s ‘comfort zone’. Today I edited the photos and wrote the captions, now all I have to do is upload them to the blog, hopefully tomorrow !

  2. I can’t wait to see this cane, it will be worth the wait. I’ll bet it is smashing.

  3. I love what Kathleen said about making new connections in your brain and gaining 6 months cognitive life! I hope that is true, should live to a thousand then with all the time I spend trying to figure things out! hahaha

    The cane sketch looks very intriguing and exciting! Can’t wait to see it in living color!

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