Adaptive Thinking: Weaving

Adaptive Thinking: Weaving
City Zen Cane, (aka Ford/Forlano) Two Tube Cane Vessels, circa 1991

At first glance one might think the inspiration for imagery on these vases came from an encounter with the plumber rather than from Mexican blankets.


In fact the team of City Zen Cane, Steven Ford and David Forlano observed a similar 3 dimensional effect in some Indian weaving designs.  They recognized the shading was not the result of color mixture.   Rather the illusion of depth and shading was achieved through the careful arrangement of individual threads place strategically and in proper proportion.

City Zen Cane
From that experience, David developed what he calls a step blend cane.  Unlike other shaded canes that proceeded it, this step blend technique used only 2 separate and distinct colors  As David explained it to me:

“We came up with an idea of a way to blend of color from light to dark and or from one color to another.  This is different from mixing colors in a standard blend technique where you keep the pasta setting on ONE setting and each layer has a little more light or dark in it.   THE STEP concept is one where NO MIXING of color happens.  A light color and a dark color are chosen.  A sheet of color is made for each thickness setting of the pasta machine.  So you have 7 layers (“stepping” up or down in thickness) of only 2 colors. The blend all happens in the optical trick where proportions of color migrate over altering layers such as:  1-7-2-6-3-5-4-4-5-3-6-2-7-1(numbers represent thickness settings) This technique tends to create a more graphically clear blend from light to dark.  It is somewhat foolproof. All of the more traditional blend concepts where color is actually blended together tend to create more of a sense of “light” in color.  Our reason to use this step blend was to create variety in the way color,light,and texture are handled in a design.”

Like the Pointillists, City Zen Cane (aka Ford/Forlano) strove for a more vibrant effect through optical color mixture

City Zen Cane mid 90s Tube Cane Brooch

City Zen Cane mid 90s Tube Cane Brooch

Here one sees how City Zen Cane (aka Ford/Forlano) developed more complex renditions of their tube cane along side some early Ikat canes. Surprisingly, their Ikat and Shibori canes did not evolve from a fiber inspiration.  Stay tuned for that story…

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.