Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

It’s been another couple of busy weeks in Ottawa and Oakville, but in between fighting with errant grapevines, trying to start to prep my garden for fall, long drives to southern Ontario and eldercare, I did get a bit of felting done.

While in Oakville I noticed that my Mother in law and I both have the same quad cane. (it’s a cool type of cane when you have any balance issues.) They are identical, except for the height they are set at. I need a way to make my cane more, well, mine.


1) Quad canes

If my mother-in-law does go to a seniors building she will also need something to distinguish hers from other similar canes. I could do this by adding a piece of tape with our names on our respective canes but that seems rather unimaginative!  I should do better. I think I should do a Morning glory for her and I will see if I can figure out how to have a dragon on mine. (Glenn says I need more Ice Flame wings like the last cute little dragon I did). This one will have to be much longer, or would that be taller? I didn’t bring down any appropriate flower colours so I think I better start with mine.

I had brought with me an IKEA bag of white core wool to card into usable fluffiness with one of my sets of hand carders. I had sampled the core wool with combs but found the carders gave greater loft as you would expect in a woollen (carder) vs worsted (combs) fibre preparation. I tried very hard not to leave little fluffs of wool all over the basement carpet or anywhere else in the house! That will give me fibre to try out my ideas.

I borrowed a pen and a piece of paper and started to work on a design. I looked at my cane and my super helpful walker.  Both are stylishly black, so they go with anything as a fashion accessory. Unfortunately, they are also identical with every other black quad cane and walker of the same make.  I looked at the curvature of the cane near the handle, then started sketching.

2) walker and helpful grippe-thing.

 3 )Sketch of ideas for cane identification dragon.

Ok, this looks interesting. I have core wool with me, why did I not pack wire? I have to go to Walmart to get a few things so let us see if I can find another package of floral wire (20 and 25 ga coated steel).  After a lot of looking, I had success! This 20ga wire comes in pieces 18 inches / 45.7 cm long.

I looked over my original designs now that I had the wire. I think the easiest way to get a dragon to stay on the cane would be to have the neck, body, tail, or appendages hold on to it. So, I should consider a longer neck and long tows would help too. How about adding a bifurcated tail that should be twice as grippe as a mere single tail!!

Like the sketching, I started to play with the wire I wanted to see if I could get the dragon a size I could wrap around or cling to the cane.

 4) Extending neck?

5) Adding body and back legs

 I folded the first piece for the upper skull, neck and forearms. I folded and used the second piece interlaced with the shoulders/upper arms to create the spine and back legs.

 6) Adding the tail

 I used a third piece folded and attached to the hips /back legs. This one I twisted about two-thirds of the length and left the rest to create the bifurcation.

7-8) Tail extensions and long tows

 I used the 25ga (the wire I have at home I am sure was 26ga) to create extra-long tows, lower jaw, and bifurcation extensions. This amused my mother-in-law who sat watching my twisting, flipping, bending and attaching bits of wire together.

9) Checking on the cane

10) last part to add

 I folded and used a final piece to create the leading edge of the wings. (4 pieces for the total dragon)

11)  I started to add the wool over the armature deciding to add stubby ears to his head before building up the upper and lower jaw.

At this point, I took a break and went for a walk around the block with the walker. It is good to get outside and take a break. It allows for an increase in circulation and time for inspiration to strike. I was hoping to find a horse Chestnut tree since the squirrel-planted ones in my pots had died and I would like to have one in my portable forest. (I have a bunch of trees I keep as pets in pots on my driveway…. It is not as strange as it sounds.)

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12-16) Views from Oakville

17) This is the leaf structure of my little tree that died. I would like to grow another.

18 ) is this a black walnut? It was dropping fruit and making a mess of the sidewalk!

Oakville is about 2 weeks different from us in weather since Ottawa is farther north. The trees in the south have just the hint of colour and the nut trees have not dumped their nuts yet. I did find 2 trees nearby but only one nut was on the ground. I will try to check next trip and hope for better pickings. I think I found black walnuts, which I will try to plant and see if I can expand my forest!

Upon my return, I continued to add wool to flesh out my dragon until it was ready to try on the cane for scale. AH Ha!! I think that works.  I need to add a bit more flesh to his bones and maybe a longer tail would help but the basic concept is a success.

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19-22) testing out the dragon on the cane

So, this is proof of concept, yes this will work. Analyzing the little guy suggests making the toes out of a stiffer gauge of wire than a 25/26ga steel. I will look through my sample appendages and see if I have something that would suit better. ( I do suggest making samples of the gauges you have access to, in single, double and if you don’t have too many options, then how the flexibility of one gauge is affected when wrapped in a different gauge. It’s a lot easier than discovering part way through a project “I wish those tows were stronger” and considering a tow-ectomy with the upgrade reattachment surgery to consider after the extraction. I will likely finish this little guy off and he may be a walker basket dragon if he’s not a cane dragon.

This morning I woke up early to drive back to Ottawa and miss as much of the Toronto area traffic as I could. (The alarm went off a bit earlier than I had anticipated and I started in full darkness but it was quiet.) While still on my in-law’s street I spotted 2 of the infamous Ninja-stealth skunks of Oakville! They do not have a white stripe down their back or sides. One had a white puff at the tip of his very puffy tail. I did not stop to try to get a picture of a black skunk crossing a dark street. Oh! You find out where the strip is if it lifts its tail, the white stripe is on the underside!

Pre-dawn occurred as I passed Darlington (I hope that was pre-dawn and not a nuclear problem!) dawn occurred at my first rest stop. Since I was now stopped I finally got to take a picture, there had been fabulous pinks earlier, now the colour was shifting to the yellows and blue sky.

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23-24) true sunrise at my first rest stop

A bit later in the morning, I drove past a field with a group of deer. Then spotted in two marsh areas near Kingston Ontario, groups of very big white swans! When did we get loose swans? Sorry, no pictures I was driving!  I had given up on radio and switched to an audiobook about werewolves and dragons.  Traffic was great at these ungodly hours and I cruised into the farmers market for a cookie purchase from Ann about 2 hours ahead of when I thought I was likely to get there (remember about the enthusiastic alarm clock sending me out over an hour before I had anticipated. Maybe I need to get a watch again.)

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 25-31) shots from the Farmer’s Market Ann sells at (and the chipmunk she was trying to take pictures of)

Ann still had the Cookies I was looking for so it is time to head home and write up the blog post of my prototyping a cane identifier. However, since I started with a quick nap in front of the computer maybe a lot of caffeinated Mountain Dew to wake me up long enough to finish this for your amusement is necessary. I am sorry I did not get you pictures of the ninja skunks and swans.

So in conclusion remember to pack your felting wire, make samples to see if a concept will work, assess the sample, make augmentations or adjustments then either finish the sample or create your fabulous extra impressive piece now that you know more about how it will all work from your investigation. Maybe skip the part with the skunks and the long drive.  but the scenery had lots of rocks and trees and even some water and wildlife! I would suggest keeping the part with Ann’s excellent cookies. Now I think I may have another little nap since the caffeine is starting to wear off. (Oh no, I left my spell checker in Oakville so I will try not to break your spelling by fixing mine)

Have lots of fun and keep felting!


PS, my cane dragon is now hanging out on my hat brim (it’s my driving hat so I’m not wearing it now!), I wonder if I can convince him to go back to the cane? or the basket of the walker?

13 thoughts on “Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

    1. thanks Jackie! seeing hows others aporch an idea often will give you the “oh i would try to do it this way…” or “Oh i havnt thot of that i wounder what would happin if i”……sparking more ideas than we have time to do! who knows there may be a sudden rush on portable forests and cane identifying felted opjects, maybe a small wet felted pouch to hold your remote for the TV or audio book player?…. oh no im thinking again!! Have fun and keep felting!

  1. Love the dragon as an identifier! It would be a huge interest wherever it went and a talking point for sure.

    As always, a lovely read and interesting photos, thanks Jan. p.s. glad you managed to find Ann’s cookies – her baking always looks so scrummy.

    1. Thanks Lyn and Annie! i am now debating if i start again with better gauge tows or keep going on the prototype. he already has a lot of personality and he is only in his underlayer!! (im not sure if its rude to show your underlayers if your made of felt) – ok i may not be cot up on sleep if im debating the rudeness of underlayers of felt.

      Ann is an excelnt baker! Mom Loves her cookies. i wish you lived closer so i am not torrturing you both with the temptation of cookie goodness!! we need a road trip to visit!! it will take a while since there is not a road to the UK from Canada ( i hope the road gose by Greenland and Iceland before getting to the UK so we can shop for fiber on the way) yes i realy do need more sleep….

    1. Thanks! even in his underlayers he seems to have quite the personality!

      Canes use to be fashon statements! Can we try to re establish them as such? the quod cane is wonderfull, it stand up on its own, if it dose fall over it is easy to tip upright again. (unlike a regular cane)

      if we can get canes back maybe we can work on jodpers, Hessian boots, top and wast coats and maybe even revive top hats.

    2. So I think “personality” is the right word for that dragon. I am also onboard with this proposed fashion trend but it must consist of felted dragons!

    3. i think we will need to add bigger wings or more dragons if dragons are going to become a fashion itum themselves (on there own), other wise it mite be a bit chilly or a tad educational in the spots the dragon isnt covering. i do agree that it would be an interesting new trend! (but a bit more challanging in northern countrys!) we could awlays just have them clinging to the eligent atier so its less drafty but also less educational.

      i wonder if a work breefcase dragon or lunch transporting dragon would be a good idea? oh no im thinking again!

  2. The dragon does seem to have some personality already. I would look good on a staff too. I prefer the idea of a staff for walking, it seems more versatile but I may change my mind when I actually need one for getting around. Also you look a little funny if you have a staff in town.

  3. I agree with Lyn, your posts are always a great read – fun and informative.
    I think your dragon is going to turn out to be very attractive. I always think of them as friendly creatures, especially after reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. I look forward to seeing yours completed.
    I see you have a kneeling pad to work on. I found one over here years ago and it was very useful to take around to shows when demonstrating. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a replacement after it started to disintegrate.
    When you do the Morning Glory for your mother in law, will you do some seed pods as well as flowers? I think they are special too, such a lovely shape and with the drying sepals curling up above the pod as if it’s got a hat on! Hope you will tell us about that too.

  4. Hello! It’s Leonor here (for some reason I can’t comment with my own account for now, so it’ll have to stay “Anonymous”)

    I’m loving the dragon and why you’re making it 🙂 Have you thought about adding something else to the cane, such as “yarn bombing?” It would give it even more pizzazz and that dragon would definitely shine (plus, there’s UV-reactive yarn out there, so that if you go out and there’s a black light, you can be sure people will notice :D)

    Also: keeping plants as pets isn’t weird at all. In fact, I’ve 120 of those indoors and they make me happy (plus two furry freeloaders, but those need more fussing with!) 🙂

  5. Great post Jan, I love the idea of a dragon identifier. I bet you would get a load of people wanting one for their walking appliance. I look forward to seeing your creation finished. The fall farmer’s market looks so appealing, wish I was closer to sample some of the good stuff on hand. The chipmunk is really cute too.

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