Monday, 17 May 2010

Polymer Clay: Working the Cane

My experience with polymer clay is advancing. I have to say I enjoy very much working with this medium. It is flexible, colorful and the effect of your work is almost immediate.
But it can also be a bit frustrating. When you look at clay items on the Internet and read the descriptions it all sounds so simple. But once you start working on it yourself it turns out that, even though the method is simple, you need a skill to perform it. Well, whatdayaknow...

Anyway, I struggle especially with cane making. It is one of the basic techniques of polymer clay. The simple idea is that you wrap layers of polymer clay sheets. Reduce the cane by pressing it from the middle out and than cut thin slices to use in your work. Again sounds simpler than it really is. The reduction can distort the image and the cutting can easily change the shape of the slice. But practice makes master and I shell not give up! Here comes a few points about what I learned so far:

1. To cut thin and well shaped slices you need a really good blade. A modeling knife is too thick and other thinner pieces of metal will not be sharp enough. Have a look at ebay and get yourself a proper polymer clay blade (cost: around 5 pounds/$7.20/6 euros)

2. Make sure that each layer of clay is thick before reduction. Otherwise it will become so thin, once you reduce the cane, that it will blend in with the others.

3. It is easier to reduce the cane when clay is still warm. But it is easier to cut thin slices one the cane cools down (an idea: put the cane to the fridge to cool it down quickly).

4. Black looks good as a divider between colors in the cane. However black Fimo Soft smudges a lot when cut. Very annoying.

Below is one of my first cane projects:


  1. I like these. The colours are good. I use Premo now as Fimo is too soft and smudgy.

  2. I need to consider switching too. You say, you like premo more? I wonder if it is hard to buy it in Europe.

  3. The process of making polymer clay canes sounds really similar to how they make sticks of rock from coloured sugar...

    Your first cane project is lovely - the pattern came out really well.

  4. I get my premo from ebay UK there's someone on there who sells it very cheap and it comes in a couple of days. look for dougarts I think the seller is called. I'll check and get back to you.

  5. found it

  6. Wow Fiona,

    thank you so much. I will definitely try Premo when I run out of my fimo stock.