Types of canes + techniques for making
....basic cane types & techniques
....beginner canes ---suggestions
....making canes with cutters, or with paper patterns
Finding images (& manipulating)
Tips for making canes
....contrast & color changes
....brands of clay
....misc. tips
....square canes, logs, beads, triangular canes
... "millefiori" (cutting & recombining canes)
Cutting canes

....slicing tech's & blades
... temperature
...misc tips
...slicing after baking
...vertical canes & lengthwise cuts
Sheets, from cane slices
"Slice painting" (for building up a picture/pattern)
Unloved, messed-up, leftover, canes
Misc. ideas & info
Odd-shaped canes & those without background clay
Repel Gel (clay won't bond when baked)
Wax, for holes
Caning with food
( to get to the page called Canes--What are They?, click on this link:


CANES -- general info (Pt. 1)
(see Canes-Instr. and Face Canes for specific cane patterns & lessons)


Basic techniques & types

There are various methods for making canes... and various patterns will result depending on method used.

... insertions
.....cutting across a log lengthwise (completely or partway), or cutting bits out of a log's edge, or making a hole (or cutter-shaped hole) down the length inside the log ... then placing a new sheet or log of shaped clay into the space created ...pressing all back together
...cut lengthwise & rotated
.....cutting a log lengthwise in quarters, then turning each 180 degrees before rejoining them (resulting in a square cane) ...or cutting lengthwise into other other shapes and recombining in various ways
...wrapped (creating bullseye patterns)
.......wrapping a sheet of clay around logs or other shapes of clay (then changing shape of log if wanted)
...spiral --aka jellyroll (can also result in bullseye patterns too if the clay used is a thin Skinner blend)
........rolling up different-colored thin sheets of clay from one end to the other
....folded...accordion-folding, or otherwise folding, layered sheets of clay which have been made into long, thin strips
...striped "loafs"... layered sheets of clay which are not made thinner
..."picture" canes (and many "complex" geometric canes) are usually made by forming different-shaped logsand slabs of clay... then combining these component pieces together much as one would put together a jigsaw puzzle (except that the puzzle pieces will be long, or thick, and the pattern is seen only at each end).

......The resulting large cane is usually then "reduced" in size by stretching and rolling, which also reduces the size of the picture or pattern.

The cane pattern can extend to the edges of a cane naturally
........or background clay can be added around the image/pattern to create a round, rectangular, etc., cane.
...some canes are freestanding images and some are "odd-shaped" (for more on those, see Odd-Shaped Canes below)

There's lots of info on creating complex canes by adding together "component" canes or logs, or wraps, etc. in Canes-Instr > Complex Canes ... and also in Faces > Caned)
... for example, Candy's many lessons on making complex canes with the component method
...Cindy's lesson on making a complex cane (lighthouse scene)

simple graphic shapes (like the letter A), especially those with straight lines, will show any tiny bit of distortion much more than other images in a cane
.... (If you'd made a leaf, for example, a tiny bit of distortion of the outside shape wouldn't even be noticed, or rather it would be completely accepted because things in nature usually don't have the rigidity of type face--which is what we've gotten used to when we see a single letter.)
Diane B.

one way to save a messed-up effort at making a cane is to do it in two colours only (let's say blue and white for instance).... Then if your first, second or third cane doesn't work out exactly as you wish....you can always mix the whole cane into one color still have some fabulous colored clay to work with instead of an expensive mud color. Tania (from Tamila's page)

some Beginner Canes

...some easy cane to try first, if you want, using several techniques...

For those unfamiliar with caning, I'd suggest that you start getting familiar with caning by making a few of the basic "types" of canes first; the following canes will not only be easy to do, but most all other canes you make will depend on a basic knowledge of those basic techniques. And many-many interesting and even sophisticated things can be done with the simplest of canes, and perhaps color-selection, placement, techniques used with them, etc.

"Component" type canes, which create a picture or pattern by putting various long and different shapes together into one long bundle, can be simple, or all the way up to the hardest-cane-to-do.
So I'd suggest that anyone start "getting familiar" with caning by making a few of the basic "types" of canes, rather than those component canes. Most all other canes one can make will depend on a knowledge of those basic techniques as well.

For each of the canes below, there will be many lessons and much more info on each of them on the Canes-Instr. page)

Bullseye cane...(also called a Wrapped cane because used for making one)
...make a short fat log of clay... roll a different color clay into a sheet
...place the log on the sheet near one end...using the length of the log as a guide, trim the sheet to a strip that's only that width... trim one end of the strip so it's an exact right angle
... roll the fat log over the sheet, taking the strip with you, till the wrap makes one revolution
... the first edge of the strip should leave a faint mark on the clay where it ends
... trim off the rest of the strip just inside that mark
... press seams together if necessary to butt, and roll the cane on the work surface to smooth the seam out
....reduce the cane (by stretching and/or rolling it) till it's the diameter you want
...then cut thin or thick "slices" from either end of the cane since the pattern will run all the way through it (..the very ends of the cane may have a distorted pattern inside though, esp. for more complex canes)
... let cool first if using a soft clay
....you can also reduce the cane a lot, cut a number of same-length pieces from it, and put them back together side by side to make a "lace" cane (perhaps save one part of the original size cane before doing this)
...you can also put multiple wraps around the cane, using different colored sheets (only one complete wrap at a time though)... or do all kinds of other things
(...later learn how to make gradient "bullseye" canes by using a "Skinner blend" sheet of 2 colors instead of 2 solid colors --which btw is actually a spiral cane that ends up looking like a bullseye cane)

Spiral cane (also called a Jellyroll cane) ...this one starts with two rectangular sheets of clay the same size, one on top of the other...roll over (or pasta machine) the stack of layers to make them into a long thin strip ...then just roll up the strip of layers, beginning at one of the short sides, just like a jellyroll... roll a bit to smooth out seam (...the longer and thinner the layers before rolling up, the more revolutions the spiral will have) ...you can use more than 2 colors for the layers, or make some layers thicker than others, or put a very thin layer of black/etc. between each of the colored layers, etc. Here are two other basic cane types made with "layers" or "stacks": Stripes cane ...begin with a stack of sheets of different colors (or just alternate 2 colors, etc.)... trim to make all layers the same width and length ...you can create those layers as a "loaf" to use in certain ways, or make a "square" cane by "reducing" the stack till it's long and slender .....use the long square cane as is ...or you could cut it into 4 same-length pieces and rejoin them in a "basketweave" pattern by turning every other one 90 degrees, like a 4-unit checkerboard (... repeat the cutting and rejoining to create a pattern with more than 4 units) Folded cane ...begin with at least two sheet layers... then make them into a really long and thin strip (of layers) ...fold the strip back and forth accordion-style, or around in loops, or just any way you want... then press together into a cane ...you can also add small ropes or sheets of contrasting clay in-between the folds or inside the loops, etc, as you go Here's another simple way to make a cane: Insertion ... make a round or a square shape of clay from a solid color (say, one inch tall and one inch wide) ...using a long blade, cut down across the cane anywhere, and separate the two parts ...put a thin sheet of clay against the surface of one of the cut sides, then put the two pieces back together (trim off the extra clay)... you can repeat this process as many times as you want --with different colored sheets or all the same color sheets ...could look like "plaid" cane if you wanted, or you could use the insertion technique to put a vein inside a leaf cane (bullseye cane, cut/insert vein, shape as leaf) Another simple way to make a cane: Indention ... use a cane you've made already --if you use a spiral cane that has lots of revolutions, you'll end up with a "chrysanthemum" cane ...use the edge of a credit card or something similar to press down into the cane, almost to the center, from the outside, and make the indentions all the way around the cane (like adding bicycle spokes or sun rays), let's say at least 6-7 times . . . leave the cane with it's petal-like indentions, or roll the cane smooth (...if you don't have a credit card, you can press down with a thin stylus, the back edge of a butter knife, etc.) More cane fun... You can also take any of those canes (or a combination of them) and make a very-complex-pattern cane from it (or them) by simply reducing, cutting into same-length pieces, and rejoining them. The pattern will get smaller, and also there will be a more complex pattern (roll that new cane to join those cane lengths together seamlessly). ...if the cane you started with is not totally symmetrical, you can pay attention to the orientation in which you put the cane lengths from a single cane back together and then create all kinds of complex "kaleidoscope" canes and various kinds of symmetrical patterned canes Another thing to do with any canes is to make a "pattern sheet" from them. ...Roll out a sheet of clay (plain or patterned), then cut thin slices of any of your canes and lay them on the sheet (you can wait till you've put on all the slices you want before flattening the whole thing into a pattern sheet, or you can roll in each slice separately). (... the thinner the slices, the less they'll spread out when you flatten them into the sheet) ....you can put these slices randomly all over the sheet, or in grids or patterns, or you can overlap them over each other (with or without the base sheet) ...then use the new pattern sheet for "covering" something, or cut out a shape of it with a cookie or smaller cutter, etc., and make a pendant or onlay for something else, or make clothing for little figures, etc. Quote Any tips to help me make a really good one? Oh definitely. Check out this page for loads of cane-making tips from those who've learned lots of lessons re making successful canes... it also covers how to slice canes so they don't distort: http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Canes--general.htm (....One quick tip is to be sure to use colors next to each other in a cane which will fairly strongly contrast with each other, or they won't have as much definition as you might want ....it's also true that the more a cane is reduced, the less bright and saturated any of the colors will become.) Also, reducing canes (making them a smaller diameter --the picture or pattern inside will also be smaller) is another step at which caning can get messed up a bit, from distortion. Check out this page for lessons on how to reduce canes successfully: http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/canes--reducing.htm


making canes with cutters... paper patterns

Shaped cutters can be used to create simple silhouette canes in any shape a cutter comes in --- e.g., a star, heart, or alphabet letter
(...by the way, this technique will yield two canes which have opposite-colorations, but the 2nd one doesn't have to be completed).

lesson: ...use two contrasting colors of polymer clay (each color will be a background in one cane, and a foreground for the other cane)
...shape each color into a short fat cynlinder not quite as tall as your particular cutter ...flatten the tops with something, or cut them off flat.
...cut the shape out of the center of each cylinder with the cutter
...then swap the colors of clay (dark shape into light background, and light shape into dark background). Diane B.
...... you might need to use a mold release to easily remove the clay from the cutter. If you do, be sure to remove the mold release from the clay (wash it off?) so it won't release from the other clay that you insert it into.
...you can then reduce the cane as a round cane, or you can cut off the 4 outside edges of the background color so that you have a squared-off block to reduce. Irene NC

I always had a problem with stuffing the star back into the hole till I saw Donna Kato do one on Carol Duvall.
.... she made a cut in the background color cylinder, from the end of one star point to the outside ... then she separated the opening enough to insert the star clay.
.........if you're not using a star-shaped cutter though, just try to make the cut from a pointed or angled corner rather than in the middle of a smooth curve to avoid a chink in the outline later (you can wrap the shape with very thin layer of background clay before inserting to avoid that also) Diane B.
....You can put the cane in the fridge for a little while to cool down if you just can't wait for it to rest! Then, try to keep the pressure even by turning and pressing to reduce it. Jean/PA

Maureen's lesson on making a small heart cane Christmas candy using a Kemper cutter
.....Donna Kato's mini-lesson on creating a large star cane with a cookie cutter . . . she also stacks four of the 1/8-inch sheets of clay (#1 pasta machined)
to achieve two same-height 1/2-inch thick slabs, which also leaves a very flat surface....this is a bit tricky to reduce, and thicker slabs can also be used
. . . (see places to buy many cutters --even tiny ones-- in Cutters > Suppliers)

If you don't have a cutter in the shape you want, you can use a paper pattern instead of a cutter if your shape has only straight lines (like a star)
(lesson): ...draw or copy the shape you want on a piece of paper... then cut it out
...create your 2 cylinders of clay in 2 colors as above, and flatten their tops
...place paper pattern on top of one cylinder and press slightly to adhere
...place the front cutting edge of a long blade (held perfectly vertical and rigidly) just outside to the paper pattern on one of the lines (e.g., beside one leg if it's a star)
...cut straight down (as straight as you can!)
...continue making cuts for all lines and remove each piece as completed
...... as each piece is removed, place it on your work surface in the same order as it originally was so you'll know how to reassemble the pieces later!
(doing this for both cylinders will result in two stars and two backgrounds
......(some of the cuts will overlap previous cuts... this is okay if you keep your pieces in order)
...place pieces of background #1 around star #2 ... reduce

If your desired shape doesn't have straight lines, and/or it has interior cuts, these 2 methods may be translatable?
...for example, if you want to create a letter A cane, you could cut away the two outer long lines... then cut the 2 interior straight lines with a blade, and switch to a #19 Xacto blade (which is short and straight) to cut out the top of the that area (horizontal cut)
...the small triangle at the top of the A could be removed with a tiny triangle cutter, or with an Xacto blade
......or maybe many exterior cuts could be made, but all kept in the same order for reassembly??

see also Mike B's technique of cutting away bits of clay from the edges of cane components with cutters or blades so that cane pieces can be nested together in Canes-Inst. > Landscape Canes

Finding images

how to find images on the web to study for cane-making:
...Google's "image search" feature . . . just enter the type of image you want to see (e.g., a koala, pineapple, sunset) and google will display *many* images http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en
(Advanced Search)
...you can also specifically find clipart images if you enter the word clipart after whatever you want to find (for example: squirrel clipart), then follow all the links it brings up (these may be mostly graphic drawings).

This tip comes from designing quilt tops by computer. After scanning your cane slices into the computer, you can use your image editing software to adjust the hue and saturation... change the color combination to just about anything else in the color spectrum. . . . Then you can also stretch, mirror, rotate, clone, and skew the images to preview all sorts of designs. It's a great way to generate ideas, and so much faster than constructing all the variations in clay. Judi Maddigan

I had thought of using some of my old photos to make canes before, but never thought of cross stitch or mosaics, etc. Diane B.

TIPS for making CANES

contrast & color changes

1. CONTRAST!!! The most beautiful color combinations, the most carefully reduced cane all will be wasted if you don't have enough contrast in value/color intensity to support the design after it is reduced.
2. Outline (helps acheive CONTRAST) if you have color combinations you love that are all the same intensity, you can still use them by outlining the elements with a darker or lighter value. Outlining also helps to emphasize features on face-type canes. Sara Jane

I took a workshop with Karyn Kozak ...and was interested to find out that she uses warm and cool versions of the same color within the same cane.... this gives the color more vibrancy when it's reduced. Julia S.
For great contrast, just make sure you have some white on hand ....it can really add a lot if you use it in a blend...Lori

color framing & separation
... colors often appear brighter...and more pure and vibrant when they are bordered by frames (prevents color clashing)... this can be seen in applications like stained glass
....if you want to use complementary colors without causing discomfort, you can outline each of the colors with a thin line of neutral white, gray or black... the outlines separate the two colors, which helps your brain keep them separated. Pantone
....After meeting Marie Segal at Shrine Mont, I just had to buy her two videos on making canes!!! I am very impressed with some of her methods especially the way she outlines in black to bring out the design even when the cane is reduced to almost nothing!!!! Leigh
....it can make a world of difference if you outline some of your cane components in a VERY thin layer of white to separate it from the other components. If you get it thin enough you don't even really notice there is white there but things look more crisp. Sometimes extreme contrast can be a bit much, too. Lori
put a contrasting color of clay between your elements to add a line of separation between them.....wrap each one with a really thin layer of black... or if using dark colors in the cane, white would contrast with those. Jenny P

Something you need to be sure of when making canes, it that you have enough contrast between the colors so that they don't look muddy...
....I take the colors I am going to use, in small bits, and lay them out next to each other... thenI take them into a dim room to see if there is enough contrast! (after doing that, you may decide there is not, and it is easier to bump the colors with white (or?) black at that point. Jenny P.

some of the colors or their relationships will change when going from a large cane to a tiny one, though usually the colors are all still *there.*
...... In general, all the colors tend to lose their punch, and some parts will become so small that they're not really visible.. . .one of the most important things I ever learned from City Zen Cane (two pioneer caners) was that the shocking pink they used in one of their (fairly large) canes became *much* more sedate when it was reduced

The best advice given to me regarding color and reducing canes is make sure there is adequate contrast and that your light colors are REALLY light.. . . you need to lighten reds up quite a bit if you are shrinking them down. I mix in some white and some translucent to get it to almost a pinkish shade, which reduces down to a satisfactory red.
.....I do the same thing with blues and greens. I cut my greens with yellow (and a dash of gold) to get a great shade.
cutting colors with translucent won't make them "brighter" it will make them less opaque (but not significantly so unless you're mixing mostly translucent with a "pinch" of color). Karen H.

There are also things that happen in your eyes especially when viewing small cane patterns. Your eyes simply can't distinguish those really small things, for example, so they will tend to perceive colors lying next to each other as sort of bled into by the other, causing each to become a less true color
....(especially for larger areas of colors placed together)
colors may take on the characteristics of their complementary color (simultaneous contrast)
http://www.colorcube.com/illusions/scindctn.htm and http://www.colorcube.com/illusions/scstripe.htm
other optical illusion effects may happen too: http://www.colorcube.com/illusions/illusion.htm

how well a cane is reduced can make a difference too, since many times some parts of a cane may get more stretched and therefore smaller.

Yes, I mean (clay building ) strategy. I have made well over a hundred canes in the year and a half I've been claying. The biggest problem with the rejects is nearly always contrast. What looks awesome at full size, loses much when reduced. ...some canes that were blindingly bright full size were just right when reduced.
.....since this happens, I also do a lot of using the dull canes with the leftovers from the brighter ones to make new canes. Kim 2

To figure out when too much is just right, I put the cane on a shelf and step back. If it looks good from a distance, it's probably going to work when reduced. Kim 2

To get small canes, you can start by making your cane small then reducing it just enough to pack the parts together well, or you can create up to a humongous-size cane and reduce it way down. How it's usually done just depends on what the creator feels comfortable making, how much cane they'll need, and what they might want to do with their canes later.
. . . Simple canes can be easily made small from the start (e.g., spiral canes, etc.), but the more complicated they become or rather the more precise and numerous the pieces get to be (e.g., anything pictorial), the more likely it is that they'll be made larger . .

...If you draw out the pattern in the size you want to end up with, you may be able to test how much the colors will change. Diane B.

(for more on all these things, see Color)

Actual bleeding from one clay color into another color can be a problem too ... especially for reds, and especially for clays which sit around a long time together before being baked
....I have found that mixing together a little more than one part translucent, to every 2 parts red will prevent bleeding & make that nasty RED (Fimo’s) easier to work with (when caning). Marilyn
...I sometimes add a thin sheet of translucent between a white sheet and a red sheet to prevent bleeding through. Seems to help a bit.Karen H.
...To prevent the color bleeding, a thin sheet of black (or white or another color) can be used to outline the red. LynnDel

Brands of Clay

As to which brand of clay is "best" for making canes, there isn't one agreed opinion, and there are now more clays to choose from (each with it's own properties re cane making).
It used to be that there were 2 basic clays for people in the US (besides Cernit which was harder to come by).
...There was Sculpey III (the colored Sculpeys) which was rather soft and worked fine for some things, but was brittle after baking in thin or projecting areas, and also could become *too* soft on warm days, with warm hands, or just in general (some people make great canes with it though!**).
...There was also Fimo (now called FimoClassic --though it's being formulated softer nowadays) which was great for caning because it's a stiffer clay, but the conditioning process was lengthy and difficult (now somewhat easier).
...A new clay was developed (2000?) by Marie Segal and the makers of Sculpey to avoid these problems and to be a sort of in-between clay; it's called Premo. ...Recently the makers of Fimo have also developed an "in-between" clay which is called FimoSoft.
...And since 2003, there's also been Kato Polyclay.

Some people say that FimoClassic (or Kato) makes the crispest lines in canes, but others feel they can get excellent results from one or more of the other clays as well.
Some people also find that having hot hands, or a frequently-warm ambient temperature, makes it more difficult to work with anything but FimoClassic or Kato (see more in Conditioning
> Cooling)
Some people get used to one clay, and may not at first like another clay (sometimes because they're expecting it to behave the same way), or they may never like another clay.

One of the most important factors to consider when making canes is in producing canes that "reduce" well (are made smaller) ... all the clays used in a particular cane must be the same consistency, becuase if they're not, the softer clays will "move" more than the stiffer ones during the reducing process (particularly in the middle where the heat of hands and friction can't get as quickly)
.....So to bring all the clays to the same consistency before beginning to reduce them, softer clays can have excess plasticizer "leached" from them by placing a sheet of it between sheets of paper for a few hours . . . . if one is too hard, a softener such as a softer clay, Mix Quick, Diluent, glycerin or mineral oil can be mixed into it.

Canes may not all have the same shelf life (staying pliable over time) .... though this can be improved for all clays brands by storing canes wrapped in (plasticizer-safe) plastic and/or kept in a small container with little air.
....I have canes that I made three years ago out of 1/3 Sculpey & 2/3 FIMO. I still have pieces of this cane that I reduced a month or two ago and they are like the day I made them. No distortion, no crumbling. Personally, I mix all my old FIMO with Sculpey III for this reason. I also add diluent when conditioning and haven't had the same results of crumbling canes over time, but I feel that is probably due to the Sculpey III. Tamila
...The problem I've experienced with Fimo soft is that after the cane sits for a week or two it becomes crumbly and difficult to work with.... On the other hand I have Fimo classic and Premo canes that have lasted over two years. That's just my experience. Cindy

In the past I have made my Fimo (Classic?) canes with Mix Quick, and when I come to use them months later they are still usable (as compared to using Diluent to soften the clay). . . Jenny P.

I am a Premo user. For those of you who might be new to clay, give it a try. It is strong, like Fimo, only it is easy to condition. All the talk about 'better canes' with Fimo made me try Fimo and Soft Fimo as well. (maybe I was missing something? I was happy with Premo, but everybody said . . . .) ...I hated the Fimos! Not only were they a B**** to work with, they didn't make the clean, crisp canes I was used to. The canes edges were fuzzy and the colors were nowhere near as vivid. It didn't sand and buff up nearly as nicely as Premo. The end result was very disappointing. I ended up throwing out two eggs and very apologetically selling the other two for much less than I would have charged for Premo eggs. Don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are Fimo users, but newbies, give Premo a try. Your hands will thank you. -byrd

You will hear some people swear that it’s impossible to cane with Sculpey III. It can be done though –quite well-- if you take certain precautions. (If you have really hot hands, it may be better to just go with another clay though!). Several famous polymer people have created beautiful, detailed canes with Sculpey! If you’re reading this on my website, take a look at the face canes I made with Sculpey and the explanation of what to do while caning to help, in the Faces file.)
...Shoot, I don't mind caning with Sculpey III. As long, as it's all Sculpey and I have a good blade, I don't have a problem. I do let it sit for awhile before I cut all the slices, but I do that with all the clays, especially if it is a round cane. . . . You can cane with S3 Dave, just use a good THIN blade to cut the slices. (I like to use S3 for in molds and to imitate rock, to make leaves, to transfer on and to color with pencils after it's baked. It has a little bit more porous surface to it. I just try not to make thin pieces with it.) Syndee
....Another point is that several fantastic clay artists used or still use Sculpey for their canes. Kathy Dustin and Kathy Amt for example. No matter what clay I use, I can't come close to their beautiful caning. . . no one could figure out how Kathy Amt got such wonderful canes and perfect cane slices with such a soft clay. The secret is that she leached it in a paper press before using it. DottyinCA
.........see much more on leaching in Conditioning > Cooling

Most canes aren't *rolled* to reduce them unless it's not that important to keep the proportions correct (like a spiral cane, e.g.). Canes are more often pulled, or pressed/squeezed and rolled over with a roller, etc. to make them smaller and longer.
... As to reducing canes which are not round (odd-sized)....sometimes the individual parts are made separately and reduced before being joined to other reduced parts (adding hair or ears to a face for example). ...some people reduce the cane as a log or a square, then reshape it as well.. . . Diane B.

Misc tips

As for how much clay to use for a cane, it's really only the proportions that matter unless you're trying to do something like, say, covering a bowl that's exactly 4" in diameter, etc . . .then you'll need a particular volume of finished cane. Otherwise, it depends only on how much cane *you'll* be needing for whatever your project is (but beware Clayers' Rule number 24! ....if you make a great cane, you will have made too little of it, and vice versa!!) Diane B.

Packing clay in and around various components (or simply pressing components together) can cause distortion in the cane when it is compressed and reduced, because it's really difficult to avoid having tiny gaps between the added packing pieces of clay.
.......unfortunately, these gaps will be filled in by any clay closest to them during reduction!

keeping component shapes in shape (even without gaps problem)
....I've always had trouble getting my canes to come out exactly the way I want and particularly when I have one complex shape, and I'm trying to surround it with a filler color. When I compress the cane, my complex shape always tends to distort a little. A simple example of what I mean is when you surround a center rope with 5 other ropes to make a simple flower. When I compress this, often my center rope comes out as a pentagon instead of a perfect circle.
..... Well, the trick I learned is to cool those component log shapes I really want to keep precise, and warm the clay I want to fill the gaps.
.....If you do this quickly enough, all it takes is a gentle compressing to cause the filler clay to perfectly surround the complex shape without any change in the complex shape. Then you can let the whole thing come to an equilibrium temperature before reducing. Wow, it makes a huge difference. Now I can keep my corners sharp. –Doug
....When I'm working with very soft clay like the Sculpy III metalics, I put the clay down a few times on a freezer ice pack (much like the microwave pack). It keeps the clay firmer
(for info about packing clay around facial features when making face canes and reducing, and how to avoid distortion, see Faces> Component Method)

Try using as many clay sheets as possible (can be layered and cut) rather than shaped pieces in a cane . . . will result in a more even thickness throughout..

Many parts of canes should be the same size and shape, e.g., filling in around flower petals or making eyes, etc. That's why canes/logs are usually reduced and cut rather than making separate canes, whenever possible. Using sheets or clay gun extrusions either alone or combined can help with that.
...Filling in around the flowers is even easier if you use your clay gun and the geometric discs from Darlin' Designer Discs!!! Think about what shape you want to be in that blank space then extrude it through the clay gun, it gives you equal amounts of clay in each opening!!! Leigh

1. Draw out your picture/pattern before you start. Know how big each component will be ahead of time! This will help you avoid canes that turn out to be the size of dinner plates!
2. Make **Plenty of back ground color. It's very hard to mix exactly the same color if you run out. Mix plenty before you start. You can make beads out of it and apply your can to it. You'll have a perfect match. (I got this tip from my Klew video- Animal Imagery) Cindy

For rolling even logs of clay, keep your hands diagonal to the log rather than perpendicular to it, so that your fingers don't leave depressions and raised areas on the log. I think I learned this trick from Marie Segal. Elissa
..Or roll under a sheet of glass or plexiglass. DB

One of the questions that I'm asked most, and that I've seen asked many times in the ngs is how long should it take to make a (more complex) cane ? Or, if I'm taking this long, am I doing it wrong? The answer is that there is no right or wrong. You take as long as you need to, to get the cane the way you want it. I have taken as long as 3 days to make one, including breaks for my sore hands, eating, or needing to step back and see where I am. My first cane was very involved and ended up working pretty well, but then I rushed the next one and ended up with a huge ball of mud. This can happen even if you're very experienced.
What I learned from that is to take apart the usable pieces and save them, instead of getting ticked off and smooshing the hole thing up. Therapeutic maybe, but a huge waste of clay....
So the answer is, take as long as you need. You learn something with each cane and you WILL get faster as you go and learn how to get the dimensions right.
One last thing...always make MUCH more background clay than you think you'll need. I don't think I'll ever learn that one. Kim K.
Yep. That one continues to get me...and I've been caning a long time. "Surely 2 pounds is enough" I'll say. Nope. "Surely 4 pounds is enough" I'll say....nyet. Huh uh, and no. (The only time there is enough background color is if its a very small cane or a standard color. Custom mix, and you don't remember the recipe? Instantly, you need more than you've got.) Sarajane
And if you do happen to make too much, you have a great base for beads and combined with the distorted end pieces, or some great Natasha bead material. Kim K.

Like you said, take a break and come back to the cane fresh. I can't tell you how many times I've done that....you spend all of this time on a cane and when you get it reduced, it's not the only thing that feels reduced! I've felt downright deflated when I've seen the end results! It's hard to slow down since the clay is so easy to work with...we like immediate gratification. That's why I like to have more than one thing going at a time so I can switch back and forth at different stages. Lori

I look at a painting with colors that I like in it and kinda take a close up look to see what colors are really in there. often it's not what you see at first. . . Sarah S. (then uses for her canes)

Sometimes I take my clay outside to enjoy the sunshine. There is a woman who walks her dog who always says hello. One day she saw me roll a cane, then listen to it. She came over and said she just had to know what it was saying to me. I explained that when there is an air bubble in a cane, or it's starting to shred, you can hear it. I thought I heard that sound when I was reducing the cane. She was confoozled as all of us are until our addiction starts, so I showed her by cutting the cane and sure enough, the cane was shredding in the middle. Kim K.

A lot of quilters go to the hardware store and buy the kind of peephole insert used in front doors; a cheap and effective substitute for a "reducing lens" (so you can see how your colors and patterns will look like when greatly reduced). Jane
I separated an old pair of binoculars [Gave one half to a pc friend.]. We put a cane [or even a colored drawing] on the floor...stand up and look into the wrong end of the binocular piece and voila!! A pretty accurate pic of what the reduced cane will look like. Don't know if this helps you but it works for us. Cecilia in SD

This is a great site for color scheme information... simply "click" on a color (in the palette) and you'll get a palette of colors that look good with the color you've selected.. Jan
http://www.colorschemer.com/online/ (there's also software at http://www.colorschemer.com, which takes it further)


Millefiori is an Italian word meaning "thousand flowers."
...Although the process was developed much earlier in Egypt, it is now most identified with a glass making technique in Venice where hot layers of hot glass were laid over-around each other to create an image (...or cold rods of glass were bundled together then heated to meld together for the image), then stretched into long rods while hot (the image might be flowerlike, concentric circles, etc.).
...These rods were then cut into one-foot lengths called millefiori rods.
...From these one-foot lengths, very short lengths (fat slices) were cut and laid next to each other in a contained shape or around a bead base, for example, and then remelted together to create a finished item called a "murrina" (after Murano, an island in the city of Venice).
(many images of millefiori, mostly glass) http://images.google.com/images?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&q=millefiori

In polymer clay, however, the term millefiori is used by some people to mean the actual multiple patterns created with canes of clay (rather than canes of glass) that have many flowers, or that look like African trading beads (opaque glass) many of which are geometric.
....... But other people use the term to mean the process by which the multiple images are created, rather than the end product.
...So the process of millefiori for polymer clay may be considered something like this:
....a cane is made (which could be an image, or a geometric)
....the cane is usually then reduced in size by rolling or pulling it out longer
....then the cane is cut into two or more equal lengths
....the equal lengths are placed together next to each other, then rolled into a new cane containing multiple identical images
(the process of cutting into equal lengths, recombining, and reducing can be done as many times as desired... the image patterns will keep getting smaller and smaller)

many examples of contemporary (& some traditional) glass canes and slices
http://www.glassandfire.com/murrine.html ... http://www.serre-papiers.com
histories and explanation
explanation of process of making glass canes in several different ways

history, definitions, & techniques, beginning with Egypt ....(*notice especially methods at bottom)
http://www.krause.com/corner/990101.html (gone)

Moretti Co. (history and examples of different kinds and sheets of patterns),
beautiful paperweights
cane slices and fish on crackled gold backgrounds, etc.

Jamey Allen's article from 1982 which sorts the principal kinds of canes used for glass millefiori beads into categories:

African Trade Beads
-- Venetian beads made from 1800-1950 were also traded to the countries south of Italy for slaves, gold, and precious stones, etc. (these beads were mostly cylindrical, and had a matte finish as opposed to those for the European trade). There were a huge number of these found in those countries, and it is thought that they were actually used as ballast in the trading ships. Many were also exported to America after 1970.

making Square Canes

To create a square (rectangular) cane:
... you can begin with a square cane
...or you can create a create a square cane from 2 right-angle isosceles triangle canes (or 3 tall isosceles triangles)
or you can begin with any cane and press-squeeze it into a square or rectanglar cane

Martha Aleo has a lesson on building a square cane (hers happens to be pretty much a mirror image from corner to corner)
...at the bottom of the page, she has combined 4 of her square canes together in two different ways)
...then she has also used 4 of those canes to add together again, creating a much smaller, more complex pattern


making Square Logs for Cane Components
(or squaring your canes and beads)

long, solid rods or tubes of acrylic (or brass, or other things) which are square in cross-section, can be used to:

...create very square logs of clay to use in canes where precision is important (checkerboard canes, quilt canes, etc.)
...reduce a round or square cane to a perfectly square cane
..."square up" canes which are already square but maybe not exact

spacers are sometimes used between the rods at both ends of the clay log to hold the rods apart (perfectly parallel)
.......these can be other acrylic (short) rods, square wood pieces, or even baked clay ones you make yourself
..And/or you may want to tape down the two rods so they stay in place and stay parallel to each other
...Some people use paper or waxed paper under the clay so prevent it from sticking to the work surface

a long and stiff blade will work best.. and the clay should prob. be at least a little warm?

some lessons and sources for acrylic rods/tubes
http://members.shaw.ca/clayquilt/rods1(pages 1-3)
http://www.quiltedinclay.com/artist_tools/acrylic_rods.htm (set of 12" rods)
http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/tools.html (4 prs of 6" rods)
http://tapplastics.com (click on Rods, Tubes and Shapes, in the Plastics category... ask to have cut to length you want)
Tap Plastics or any other plastics store (look in yellow pages... they also sell things like replacement plastic grids for inset fluorescent lighting, etc.)......have them cut to a suitable length... and they have them many diameters

...brass tubes can be found at hobby stores

....or use something you've made or found instead (two duplicate rectangular things)

longer rods (8" or more) allow me to make longer canes more easily
...I also like the fact that mine are solid. Mabel

(Diana Crick was the first to sell and use these, I think) .
I have a set of 7 pairs (each 6" long, ranging from 1/8" to 1" wide --the larger ones are hollow.

To create a log of clay that's very square to use in a cane:
...put a clay log between the acrylic rods, and press the rods toward the clay log
...then slice along the top of the rods with a stiff blade
...then turn the log 90 degrees, and slice off the top again
( ...this way you get very precise square rods. I've used these many times.)

You can also use them to help you make better rectangles or boxes.... stack them to make large things square.

You can make square beads, too, I would imagine. Just square your snake up between these, and slice. Sunny

Triangular logs

shows Monica pinching her square cane into a triangular shape with fingers on one hand
Donna Kato pinches the cane into shape with two hands ( lesson on "crazy maze canes" using 6 or 8 trangular canes)
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/cr_clay_jewelry/article/0,,HGTV_3238_1390488,00.html (
Figure H)

To create a triangular log from another log shape, first pinch all along the top of the cane to form a pointed ridge along the top
....If your cane was square to begin with, then just sharpen the other edges by pinch-stroking them.
....If your cane was round, then you'll have to pinch the 2nd and 3rd edges a little harder. .... you can change the shape of your triangular log by pressing down more or less as you pinch.

To even the sides, or to lengthen (reduce) the cane, you can stroke along the flat sides with thumb and first finger (or two), turning the cane occasionally and flipping it so it can be stroked from the other end. You can also combine this with rolling an acrylic rod or something similar along the flat sides at an angle to even and smooth them.
..for more on reducing canes with flat sides (including triangular ones), and using a brayer/rod, see Canes-Reducing > Square Canes

(by the way) diamonds are just two equilateral triangles, with their short sides together

for info on making triangular canes (pie-slice canes often used in "kaleidoscope" canes), see Canes--Instr. > Kaleidoscope Canes



Canes are usually cut into crosswise slices,and can be any thickness from very thin to thick depending how they're to be used.
..They can be sliced while they are raw, but it is also possible to slice them after baking (large canes could be more difficult though)... see below in "Slicing after Baking" for more info on that).
..They can also be cut lengthwise for some techniques.
..(Single-color "logs" of clay are also cut crosswise or lengthwise for some things.)

slicing techniques & blades

Turning the cane one-quarter turn for each slice helps keep the distortion to a minimum.

Try to learn to "slice" down, rather than "push" down (which will flatten it more) . . . you'll get the feel of it.
...Some people prefer the drawing-motion cut to the straight-down cut
...when you push down to slice, you are doing the work and hoping the blade catches on to what you are doing. . .when you pull the blade across the cane instead, you are making the blade do it's job. . .pull across and think down...when you get the blade going. . .with the gentle pull/saw not see-saw motion, you can cut through it right off in one swoop. Dawn

Irene Dean and Donna Kato both recommended that you tilt the blade (sharp edge) slightly toward yourself, and sort of SHAVE the slices off. I have tried this technique with some success, but I've got more practicing to do. Meredith

There's a certain amount of surface tension in the clay and the blade has to first break this to continue slicing through it smoothly, without pushing the cane out of shape. What I do is first make a tiny "slice" across the cane to break the surface tension by lightly dragging the blade across the cane at the point I want it to cut, then slicing straight down. Dotty?
...CZC makes a small cut in the cane first, then separate the slice from the cane a little before continuing the cut in the normal way . . . helps to cut down the drag.
I've discovered that when I slice larger canes, it's easier to get an even slice if I "draw" the blade through the cane, rather than slicing straight down. This prevents the blade from wanting to bow in the middle.

Try a rock-n-roll approach to cutting.... rock the blade (and if the cane is round, then also roll it a little bit as you cut). This will change the direction of force enough so that the bottom of the slice doesn't end up with such a flat spot...... never drag the blade back and forth like a hand saw. James
...a trick for slicing fresh or soft canes is to roll them with a sawing motion of your blade...helps prevent distortion and drag on the blade. Patty B.

If you are experiencing trouble slicing your canes made with Premo especially ... stretch the cane slightly to help break the surface tension...then pull your blade from both ends till it's taut and chop QUICKLY through the cane. The less time the blade spends in the clay, the less drag? ... this is what I've learned from the Premo Master herself, Marie Segal. syndee
...I just open my Premo packages as soon as I bring them home and let them sit out on the shelf, open, until I need them. This works as a kind of lazy leaching process.
...I failed to ask, but what kind of blade are you cutting your canes with? The blade can make the difference for the person also. I use either the Kemper blade or the Sculpey blade…The thinner blades work best on the newer clays for caning. - syn

The best cuts are made with a sharp, thin blades (for canes that aren’t really large); actually, single-edge razor blades work well if your cane is not too thick; then you really need a blade without a lip. For larger canes, a stiffer, longer blade may be better . . . DB
...some people like the stiffer long blades for making cane slices though

Use alcohol to clean your blade before each cut if you notice that it's dragging.
...Instead of rubbing alcohol, (which tends to oxidize blades), I use Diluent to reduce the drag. It also oils them to keep them from rusting and lasting longer... Meredith
...I've been using rubbing alcohol for years on all my blades, and I have no rust problems at all. I use double-edged wallpaper scraper blades and the occasional NuBlade..Irene NC
...I was having trouble with my blade sticking and I started using a paper towel dipped in alcohol held in my left hand, and running the blade thru the towel with my right hand. After a few days of doing this, my left hand broke out in a rash that itched and hurt so bad I had to stop claying for it to heal. My husband, who is always coming up with helpful ideas for me, found a single hot dog steamer in the cabinet that hadn't been used in years. He took it apart, cut a sponge in half, crammed the two pieces of sponge in it side by side and saturated the sponge with alcohol. Now, all I have to do is run the blade between the two pieces of sponge to clean my blades. The hotdogger also has a lid so I just close it when finished and it stays wet for the next time. I would think any container, with a lid, that would hold two pieces of sponge, would work. Tupperwear? Rubber maid?. Flo

...Some people put a little talcum powder or cornstarch on the blade if it gets sticky, to help it cut.... (would water work too for Polyform clays?)

One tip from Mike Buesseler to get even slices is to slice from the back side of the cane instead of the front. Don't ask me why this works, but it does. I stand or sit so that I'm looking straight down on the cane, and then slice from the end farthest from me. Elizabeth
...The key is to put your cane on a bed (trench) of scrap clay ( the acrylic rod makes a good impression to set it in). Be sure to powder the bed of clay, Then stand over it so you are looking down on the cane and start at the end farthest away from you. Keep your eyes on the scrap clay bed and slice away. Mike Buessler taught this method. He said not to look at the cane but the surface the blade was slicing to. Trina

It did finally occur to me to roll a ONE-color log and just practice, practice so I stopped ruining canes! (when even after getting a JASI cutter, I still couldn't necesssarily cut even slices)... Nancy VA
...A good way to get familiar with cane slicing is to use a solid color of clay and pretend that it is a cane.... form the clay into a cylinder and cut disks that are all the same thickness.... then try a square, a rectangle and a triangle
......... you will notice that pressure from the blade passing from top to bottom will squish the cane... you can either re-adjust the shape of the cane before you cut it or you can correct the shape of each slice after cutting. James


Usually the longer you can let the cane rest before cutting, the firmer it will be for cutting .
..this will make the canes easier to slice, with less distortion, and also allow thinner slices to be cut
....though generally each slice will need to be slightly-pressed back into a uniform circle after cutting anyway

keep a gel ice pack at your work space, and lay your cane on it. Jana

you could also make an enclosed cold area to keep right by your work space
..... using a cigar, cardboard or plastic box with lid, or a covered bowl, etc., with a cold gel pack or ziploc bag of ice inside it (cubes or solid)
...using towels or newspapers inside the container will help insulate it too, and keep the cold in longer
...then let canes sit inside for awhile, or just in-between steps, or whenever you need it fimer, etc.

(...for most info on using cold gel packs or rice bags, or a marble worksurface, to help clay or canes cool down, see Conditioning > Cooling )

Put your canes in the refrigerator or freezer for a while to firm them for cutting... especially canes made with softer clays.

I've frozen for a couple hours, but I've frozen them all night too and find that they work the best when frozen longer.
....after freezing overnight, I noticed I was able to work with the cane a lot longer before it started to warm up to much (in fact I was able to work on it until I didn't need it anymore when I froze it overnight)
...the thicker the cane, the longer you'd want to freeze it, I'd think
...I got this idea from a tut where they said to cut the cane so thin you could see through it
..This also would be a great way to store unused canes. ..just keep them in a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container. Nancy W.

I just popped my Premo cane in the freezer (FORGOT that I did it and 2 days later they were solid as a rock, but they sliced wonderfully! I noticed the cane starts to "weep" a little after it starts to warm up. I had to put it on a paper towel to soak up . . . .water condenses out of it. Wiping it off with a paper towel works, and so does waiting a bit for it to evaporate again. (I find canes slice most easily when they reach the stage where the moisture is evaporating - any warmer and they're too soft, any colder and they tend to flake a little when sliced.)
Storing canes in the freezer is just fine. I don't know how long, but some of mine have been in there since April and they're just fine. I put all my canes in the freezer, even for very short-term (hours) storage, because in 100 degree temperatures it is easier to slice them when they are frozen (they never actually get rock hard, even when frozen for weeks).
... freeze and roll ....that is my technique! Sharon
Remember Sunni's great tip? When she rolls out her cane, she cuts it into 3 same size pieces and refridgerates them all. She starts slicing one of these rotating it also as she slices it. But as it softens up from being worked, she replaces it in the fridge and removes another piece and starts slicing it, etc. I thought that was a great way to keep the flow going!!! Marylu

can also cool your work surface (a marble slab, etc ... or rotate some tiles you keep in the frig, etc... or put your work surface on top of a gel pack or rice bag that's been cooled, etc.)

and cool your blade (maybe frig. first, then laying it on a cold gel pack in between slices)

...see below for slicing canes when baked and still warm in "Slicing After Baking"

misc. slicing tips

This is a tip that I got from someone, you can make a "trench" with scrap clay to rest your cane in as you cut it. Take a wad of scrap clay slightly larger and thicker than your cane. Roll it into a log, and then press a trench through the middle of it, for your cane to rest. Then slice all the way to the bottom. the scrap clay will help prevent distortion at the bottom of your cane. This works particularly well if the cane is circular. ~*~Bunny001~*~ That was Rebecca, I think. You have to dust the trough with a release agent... like cornstarch.... to keep your cane from sticking to it. And KEEP it dusted at the least sign of sticking. . . . I haven't had a problem with canes sticking to the trench for some reason! . . . afterwards you can rinse off the cornstarch. Do NOT try to wipe it off. Lysle
...Rebecca's trough for cutting odd-shaped clay

I found a way to slice thin, thin slices--(e.g.) you know when you have only a small amount of cane, like only a quarter inch thickness left and can't really hang onto it or keep it standing perfectly straight. It is actually easier to press the flat cut surface to a piece of glass forming sort of a suction. Leave it lying on the glass on the table and use the tissue blade and start cutting parallel with the table instead of perpendicular. The suction holds the thin slice and you can make a much thinner and smoother cut. You can get very thin slices this way. And you can do big pieces as well if you are using a tissue blade or similar large blade. I was able to get 12 thin slices out of a 1/4 inch piece (This cane was about 2" x 2 1/2".. I forgot to say...after each cut, use the brayer and press evenly again to keep the suction and a smooth top surface. And TRY to wait a few minutes between each slice. This helps get a more even slice. Jeanne

For slicing round canes. . . .I bought a some (short-tube) copper pipe connectors - the kind you would use to solder two sections of pipe together. I got about 5, ranging in size from 1/2" to about 1 1/2" in diameter. They are each about 2" long. I slip the cane inside the appropriate sized connector so just the thickness I want to slice off is sticking out the other side. The bottom of the connector acts as a cradle to stop the cane from flattening, and I can run the blade along the edge of the connector to get a straight slice. Cindy—Jan’s site (or Claire?)
. . . .If the cane tends to stick a bit inside the copper connector, just put a little corn starch on the outside of the cane...Also, they come in a bunch of different diameters (I think I have 5 of them, ranging in size from 1/2" to 1 1/2") to accomodate different sized canes. And lastly, they're really inexpensive, about 20 cents apiece. Claire
.....Have you used any of the brass tubes from the hobby store too? or do the copper ones come really small? Diane B.
...tips section of Polymer Cafe ...they had taken the top, rounded part of a bead roller.... lie it over their cane like a cover...then they use the edge of the bead roller to slide the blade down the edge of the clay roller making consistant slices every time .. I'm betting if you used a sharp blade and a cool cane, and kept rolling the cane every few slices, this would work very well for keeping slices very thin .. ***hmmm, wandering off to find something small(ish) that's in half .. or will grind down or cut down .. maybe a small pvc pipe, cable cover... what else what else ...rainbowrave

Hmmmmm...cutting square canes..... I guess really you'd only need two straight edges for the sides, cause you don't have the smooshing problem on the bottom like you do with a round cane. Claire
.... There are also square brass tubes, and square acrylic tubes, but they'd need to be cut shorter for convenience.
I'm wondering if something kludgy might work though... a couple of lengths of that 90 degree, aluminum (or wood?) corner stripping. If two of them were placed together to form a movable square, I think that any cane as large or larger than the side length could be cut with some guidelines. That may be a bit far out though ...will have to play around with it. Diane B.

to cut even slices . . . and do-it-yourself stand slicers) . . .
...You might also try one of those little tiny miter boxes sold for use with an X-acto knife. Someone (I forget who now!) suggested this a while back on AOL and it works pretty well! You can set your cane in the box part on a piece of graph paper, and cut down through the 90 degree angle, moving the graph paper up in even increments. You may still get a little "wobble" as you slice, but if you are careful to hold your blade against one side of the "cutting groove" you can minimize that, too.
... Why not try using two lengths of square 1" by 1" of wood or acrylic, place them evenly on each side of the cane slice, move the cane or the two square lengths to expose the desired thickness of your slice, and slice against the end of the two squares? (sort of like Skinner’s JASI cutter, on a smaller scale –see Cutters for more)
...I went to a DIY store and bought two right-angle metal pieces designed to brace the corners of woodwork or shelving. I glued these firmly either side of a narrow plank of wood (narrower than my tissue blades), making sure they were alinged exactly with each other, and exactly the same distance in from the end. I used a set square to do that. Then I made a thin sheet of clay as long as the plank which exactly fits between the metal pieces, so that it can be slid along between them, made parallel lines along it and baked it. Now I can put my cane along a line, slide it up to the right-angles, and pull my blade through it holding it against the uprights, so it's vertical. This could be improved with something to measure the width of the slices, but at the moment I just use a Marxit to mark before I put it in my 'slicer'. The Crafty Owl
...to see more on stand slicers to buy, look at Cutters > Stand Slicers

To sharpen your blade, use 2000 grit wet-dry sand paper to polish the sides of your blade by placing the sand paper on a piece of flat glass and rubbing the blade on the sand paper on both sides ... you can work it up to a good shine. . .
...........Actually, the sharpness of the edge of the blade isn't really as important as you might think.... but the smoothness of the sides of the blade is important. James
(...for much more on sharpening --and even more importantly straightening-- blades for sharpness, see Cutters > Sharp Blades)

To keep your blade sharp on the edge, you may want to use a self healing mat as a worksurface, the blades do stay sharp longer if you do.
I must admit that I always cut my canes on strips of Plastizote http://www.acor.com/plastazote.htm... it is a high density polyethylene (polythene) foam . It's non-allergenic, not affected by clays and greatly reduces the notching of blades which is caused by cutting on hard surfaces, extending their life. I bought mine from a company called Trylon which supplies plastics to schools for crafts etc. I've found that a range of widths of strips is useful. I select one which is the same or slightly less than the cane's width - cylindrical canes can pose a problem, but if one is careful, they stay in place. Alan

Donna Kato invented the Marxit, which is a 6" long, hexagonal cylinder, intended to mark equal indentions along clay logs as a guide to slicing. Her slic marks range from medium to very thick. The problem with the Marxit though, is that if your cane is not very stiff (refrigerated?), the marks can't be seen when the cane is rotated to avoid flat spots ...
...Leigh's lesson on using a Marxit for cutting slices

...for info on using miniature modelmaker's circular-saw blades (which are usually mounted on a handle like a tiny pizza cutter) for impressing lines of dots (used as guidelines) into clay sheets or canes for slicing ...see Stamping > Other Ways of Making Stamps)
... I've used various kinds of combs for marking too, so maybe try sort of dragging the comb all the way around the cane without lifting the comb .... DB
...I read an article that suggested using a screw (or bolt) to mark slices on your cane... the spacing of the ridges depend on the particular screw. nancy g
...If anyone doesn't have a Marxit, get several sizes of plastic canvas and cut so that you have 'teeth' evenly spaced. Remove every other tooth for wider spaces, or just leave one-in-three etc. Crafty Owl.
...Jean Sheppard suggests using " spring dividers " (tools used for measuring, which look like a drawing compass with two pointed ends --would want one with the thinnest points if cutting), or using inside-type calipers, to mark or to cut even strips from a sheet of clay (or could use for other purposes such as marking canes for even slices)
http://diytools.com/store/search.asp?ProductTypeID=540 (diff. kinds)

to determine equal lengths of a cane for cutting:
...I have a really neat 'sewing notion' tool that I use to measure canes. It's a "SimFlex" measuring gauge ( accordion-folding). It's designed to help you evenly space buttonholes or pleats, etc. I use it when I need to cut a snake or cane in to a number of equal pieces. Gail FL

(see more slicing mechanisms, including the SlinkySlicer, in Cutters)

(for huge) canes... i use dental floss. a) Wrap floss all the way around the cane b) adjust it until you think it is perfectly even, then pull it until it makes an indentation all the way around the cane. c) move the dental floss up the cane and re-adjust until it is straight again d) pull the floss tight again until it 'marks' the cane all the way around. keep doing this until you have as many slices marked as you wish to cut. Do not cut the first slice until all slices are marked. (it gets easier as you move down the log) -Byrd

soapy water can be used to remove talc if necessary (.....cornstarch release powder may remove more easily than talc)

I've been claying for a couple of years now and have been frustrated trying to get very thin, consistent cane slices. For the last month, I've been covering eggs. . .trimming, shaving and sanding my little hands off. Then, tonight I was slicing a cane and realized that I have 5 perfect slices stuck on my blade. My hands started to shake, I was so excited! Of course, the next few slices sucked, but I realized that I finally could rely on muscle memory. Muscle memory, for those who aren't familiar with the term, is when you've repeated a motion long enough that you can do it practically without thinking. .... Scott Hamilton was talking about Skating Stupid during the Olympics, which means don't think about your routine, just let your muscles do what they know to do. Kim K.

Slicing/shaving mokume gane stacks requires a very sharp blade, so in addition to cleaning the blade before taking the slices, it may be necessary to use a newer blade. . .
(see above for blade cleaning, etc., and for more info on sharpening blades, see Cutters/Blades)

If I can tell that the slice ist oo thick (much thicker than the #4 thickness I wanted), I start on a wider pasta machine setting and work the slice down to #4.
... Also, if I don't want the slice to be too distorted in one direction, I roll it into the machine about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way, then back it out. I turn it a little, and roll it in a little, and then back out. And so on around the slice till I get all the way around and then I roll it all the way through.

Another option if all else fails to prevent blurry cane slices - sand after baking.

slicing after baking

Sometimes it's a good idea to cut slices from a cane or log after baking it (or heating/baking partially). Some people do this when the cane is still warm, others do it when cool (does clay brand or amount of plasticizer/leaching make a diff. here?).
..A sharp blade is still be able to slice the hardened clay (it's actually still rubbery when warm); for small canes esp., many people like to use a straight-edge razor blade.

Slicing after hardening the cane (at least a bit) will avoid any distortion that could be caused by pressing down with the blade during slicing, and it will leave the original shape of the cane intact (round, square, etc.).
......This is also an excellent way to slice "odd-shaped" canes as well (see "Odd-shaped" below) ... these canes could be a freestanding image (for example, a star or snowman or flower) which is not surrounded by background clay ...or it could be any abstract shape left unsurrounded.
...when slicing canes to make miniature candies for gingerbread decorations, it's also a good time to cut after baking to keep them very round, etc.

........Tamara suggests baking these tiny canes for 5 min. at 175 in glass baking dish before slicing )
....OR, if you have a hard time cutting with clean razor blade, warm the cane just a bit (in oven at 180' F), and quickly cut before it cools... to speed the process of cutting, and keep the cane warmer, cut it into 2 ft. or so lengths and cut several at once. The bigger mass stays warmer longer. Three is easy, Bake the logs on brown paper folded into an accordion, I bake 24 canes or so, on a cookie sheet, nicely this way.
.....Candy mentioned keeping clay and canes in a warm oven to make them an even temperature throughout. That keeps the clay from distorting. Linda
...Leigh uses a heat gun to warm just the outside before slicing
....I let them cool and slice them with a band saw. Then I sand buff and pollish them. Lysle

Some resulting slices will have a whitish coating on them from the slicing
... to get rid of that, brush Sculpey's Diluent-Softener on the sliced baked canes and bake for a few minutes to get rid of the 'dusty' surface (or bake for the necessary time to completely cure if you didn't before)
....or you can sand and buff each slice.
....or you could use a clear finish, I think

Also... different brands of clay can give you different results
....in my experience, Premo has a nicer after-baking edge to it than Fimo Classic (I haven't tried Kato clay.) Karen in Fl
...don't use Sculpey III.... it's too brittle to slice after baking (even when still very warm though??), unless you are taking a very thick slice (and even then, it's not guaranteed).....you're better off with any of the stronger, more flexible clays. Lisa

These slices might be used as inclusions or onlays (or tiled) or even impressed into clay sheets or pads till even with the surface).
...They can be sliced very thin or thicker.

If they need to have side to side holes drilled through them to use for beads, e.g., they should be sliced at least 1/8+" thick and the holes created with a tiny drill bit (or could mark slicing lines before baking, and pre-drill holes along the raw cane?)

(see also "Odd-Shaped Canes" below ....one way to deal with slicing them is to do it after baking)

cutting slices from canes while vertical
(& making lengthwise cuts)

. . . . worked well. She just stood the cane upright (on the work surface), held it below her blade, and shaved away. I think the secret was having a really sharp blade. My blade was dull, and I was mushing my cane all over the place. Chilling thoroughly in the freezer for 15 or so minutes helped a lot. I'm gonna try Sunny's shaving method, or maybe Sunni's hold and shave method next time. Gillian
....(After placing the cane on end) Just put your fingers on the cane BELOW where you are slicing. Not right at the top where your blade can hit you, but if you NEED to use your thumb as a stopper, just cut SLOWLY. . . . The mum cane I was slicing was 1.5" thick, so it stood upright all on it's own. My fingers were below, just to steady the cane. Sunny

**"shaving" a cane (cutting very thin, partial or complete slices, especially for canes with translucent in them you hope to be see-though; hold it vertically in your hand, don't lay on work surface)
(esp. for translucent cane slices)
... i use my thumb as a stop, but i'm moving so slow and carefully it's never a problem. the blade comes to rest at the thumb so gently, especially if my blade is very sharp. (dull blades are more prone to cutting skin because i'm pulling harder. i don't hold the blade like a paring knife cuz i want more control and less strength or pressure applied to the blade)... roll a quarter turn, slice 2-3, roll, slice 2-3 until i get all the slices i need. Sunni
. . . for a right-handed person, cutting right to left (lesson):
--cane should be in left hand with thumb against its left side, and left forefinger against its back side and also touching the flat, bottom side of the blade;
--right hand holding blade, with forefinger along the top dull edge of the blade, cutting edge against left side of cane--forefinger should be close to cane so it can help control the cutting direction;
--while cutting be sure to go slowly, especially during the last half of the cut.. . . various fingers and parts of hands can help guide the cut. DB
... i'm not looking for exactly even cuts, just ballpark same thickness and don't really pay much attention to one end being thinner than the other.
...i run the slices thru the pasta machine at 1 setting above the thickness i need. give the slices a quarter turn and run thru again on the thinner setting.
... for (even thinner) perfectly-even slices, i place the slices between 2 pieces of wax paper and run them thru on the next to thinnest setting on my pasta machine. pull the slice(s) off the wax paper, replace it, give it a quarter turn and run it thru again on the very thinnest. ...if i have a problem removing the thin slice from wax paper, i simply remove only one sheet of wax paper and burnish the thinned slice onto the raw clay thru the other sheet of wax paper and then pull it loose. Sunni

a Dove Cutter (a Y-shaped holder which grabs and holds long blades taut) would help with making lengthwise cuts in logs
see Cutters/Blades/Long Blades for more details
... or stand cane on end, or make a scrap-clay trench to hold cane, etc. ... use a long, stiff blade

SHEETS of slices
(applying indiv.slices, then smoothing, etc.)

--see also Covering > Slices & Sheets
--for more details on covering certain other items, see also Pens >Sheets, Bottles of Hope, and Vessels >Bowls)
--for many sheets of pattern which can be created for covering things, see Sculpting Tools/Body > Fabric, Canes-Instr-Types > Sheets of Pattern, and Canes-Instr-Types > Quilt > Collage Sheets)

The following category covers both making sheets from slices, and applying slices one at a time to an object, then smoothing them. (I'll sort it out sometime <g>). . .
(...for using very thin slices of one of more canes to build up a picture or pattern, rather than having the picture or pattern completely contained in the slice, see component caning below

A fun and very useful thing to do is to make patterned sheets from your cane slices (or from anything at all you'd like to put onto the clay and flatten). This involves using a base sheet of clay, adding decorative clay elements, then flattening by pasta machine, roller, or paper & finger. You can add clay bits or shapes, mokume gane shavings, cane slices, etc., randomly on the base sheet, or you can lay them out carefully into a grid or row... just whatever you want. (lessons)

--this type can be a planned pattern as well as a random one, but not every bit of the surface of the base sheet will be covered
An example of a random pattern is Cynthia Tinapple's pattern sheet made by applying Kemper cut-outs of different colored clay to a base sheet before flattening in the pasta machine; for this sheet she has even decorated both sides!
Mia's insertion of Skinner round blend canes (slices or actual canes) into layers of stripes (sheet wrapped around a pen) http://www.clayfulmingles.com/pensets.html (pen # 5) (gone)
--there is also the "patchwork" effect achived with different patterns of clay laid together in crazy quilt fashion (see below)

--overlap is often used with round cane slices; since they won't butt against each other without leaving some base clay showing in the gaps, the slices are overlapped until they completely cover the surface before the sheet is flattened

(note: when you butt all the slices right up against each other, sometimes secondary patterns will appear also --because the sides and corners of the cane now relate visually to the sides and corners of touching canes.)
-- pinch the long edges of a square cane to make their corners fit together better when applied (round canes can be made into square canes by rolling the over the length of the cane, then successively rolling each side until it's squared)
-- cut a number of slices as close to the same thickness as you possibly can!, rotating the cane one-quarter turn between each cut to help it remain square.
(......instead of cutting a single slices at a time, you could cut 4 or more lengths of your cane and combine them before slicing; that way you would already have a 2x2 super-slice which has perfect butts between 4 of its slices)
-- lay out a thin scrap sheet (or one that's the same color as the very outside of your cane, so any gaps won't show a diff. color)
-- lay the slices exactly next to each other on the base sheet
........ try hard to get the sides of each slice to line up with the others
........ I often press individual slices just a bit with thumb and middle finger to reshape them before applying.
........if you have a slice that's just a bit too large, butt the first edge to an adjoining slice when you place it on the base sheet, but place the second edge where it's supposed to be, then gently press down the middle part (which is probably sticking up)

--If you've overlapped the canes or used random bits, press straight down (to avoid smearing) on any higher hills first. If you've used square canes for a grid, also press straight down on any higher areas.
(-- If you're using square canes, then press and wiggle over any seams that gap--do not allow your finger skin to move over the surface, just wiggle!)
--Then roll gently with a large roller (or use the finger method just below) and put the sheet through a pasta machine opened just a tad thinner than the thickness of the sheet (if the sheet distorts too much in one direction after passing it through the first time, you can rotate it 90 degrees and put it through the next-thinner setting).

This is the method that Donna Kato taught me at Ravensdale last year and wow, does it work great for putting cane slices onto a sheet of clay:.
..... first cut your slices very thin... put some of them down on the clay sheet... then roll the sheet with an acrylic roller six different ways (end to end, side to side, and then both cattycorner to avoid distortion).... put down more slices and repeat.... continue until all your slices are done and rolled into the sheet of clay. . . . use some pressure each time.
....then you can fit the sheet directly onto whatever you wish to cover, or add a backing sheet for strength, and cut out whatever pieces you might need.
... I had tried rolling the slices in before, but had never done it this thoroughly, and that is what makes the difference. I also found I can completely eliminate any lines around the cane slices. It's well worth the time spent doing it. DottyinCA

If I've cut my slices very evenly to begin with (a constant learning process!), I may be able to avoid the pasta machine altogether. Then I'll just put a sheet of patty paper (or tracing paper, regular parchment paper) over the sheet, and press straight down on any lumps with my finger before rubbing vigorously back and forth over any problem areas. Because the paper is stuck firmly to the clay, you won't smear the surface at all. Then I go over the whole paper with a wide roller (and possibly put through the pasta machine). DB
....I've also used a thickish piece of glass or acrylic to press down evenly on all the slices at the same time, which evens the pressure and also avoids distortion. Diane B.

upside down" method (2 ways) on glass:
I've a different way of making flat clay sheets from canes - came up with this for a different reason, but it works.
... take a sheet of GLASS (heavy, tempered, edges you can't cut yourself on etc.) and put your cane slices down onto that, so you can't see light between them.( If the slices are thin, put a backing sheet of thin clay on the back, and use a rolling pin to flatten it into the slices.)... Let it rest (or refrigerate it?), then peel off the whole thing. The surface you pressed into the glass is dead flat.
. . . Even better, if you want a flat baked sheet which is shiny on one side: cut the shee you've made on the glass it to the shape you want, peel off any unwanted bits, and leave it on the glass to bake.
...I've also made a thin-walled tube of clay (blue translucent and white Fimo soft) made by this method (no backing sheet) but I made and baked it inside a tube of glass - the tube of glass removed after baking. It's the size of a votive shade - which is good because that's what it's for - and the outside is totally flat, and looks shiny & polished (because it was baked on the smooth glass surface). Crafty Owl.

This sounds simple, right? Just lay same size slices next to each other in a row. Yeahright. It isn't as easy as it seems, especially for your first few (many in my case) times trying it. It isn't as easy as you'd think to get uniform slices. Good lighting helps. A JASI slicer helps even more. The firmer the cane, the easier to cut without smearing. Remember to cut straight down, then as syndee holt says, "slice down with authority. That lessens the smearing and the possibility that your blade will slice thicker on the top or bottom. For some people, me included, it helps to slice from the end of the cane farthest away from you. Something to do with not trying to interpret just doing it without letting your brain tell you something different. Kim K.

When I slice the cane, I lay the slice on a clean glass sheet on my work table. Just laying my thumb on it long enough to warm it and anchor it to the smooth surface (but not smooshing it)....old clay sometimes slips, so press a bit. Then using a rigid blade, I tap the egdes inward to square it up. (use a blade to lift and position on what ever you're putting it on)....
....I also do just one row (of slices) at a time (on my eggs?) and bake one row at a time. That way you don't mess up the row before and it gives you a firm backing for the next row. I have a small convection oven ,fast working. I suppose if you use a full size oven it might be a problem. Some people use a heat gun,but I never could without burning my fingers, LOL!
....on smoothing, I use a Dremel with (stitched?) buffing pad to lose the real rough spots and then buff like mad with steel wool of varying grades. Jack

The thinner the slice, the least distortion. . . . A stiffer clay does distort least. Donna K.
....I try to get slices from my cane as thin as I can and still be able to work with them. . . . After I put them on the bead, I take my blade (I use the NuBlade) and carefully slice off the excess clay. I think of it as "shaving" them. Also works with opaque cane slice so I don't have the obvious lines of where one slice stops and the next one starts. Jules

I get the seams of my cane slices to "blend" together by using a "rolling" motion like with a rolling pin on dough motion. I use either a brayer or the round handle of my needle tool and roll it rather than dragging it across the surface. Try a practice piece by rolling. Try rolling, lightly, from the middle of the cane slice gently over to and across the edge of the seam and then back from the adjoining cane slice in the same motion, and even rolling up and down the seam. Use light pressure to allow the clay to spread and fill the crack rather than dragging your instrument across the surface. It doesn't happen with one roll across it either. Do it gently in different directions over the whole piece, or section, and then do it again in different directions. The lighter you do it, the less the distortion....I find that when the cracks get smaller and the edges start to blend, you can then roll a bit harder to get that smooth surface....but still, not too hard as the clay will gradually heat up from the motion and the heat of your hands. Also, if you're working with it and holding it, there will be some skin/finger prints, so move it around a lot in your hand if you can, get it as smooth as you can. Work over the whole piece rather than in one section to avoid parts being higher than others, and you can get rid of the "skin prints" after you bake it, by sanding and buffing if you'd like. lori
...i lay the slice into position and then use a plastic knitting needle to roll firmly back and forth ...sunni

I also found it is easier smooth out the seams with a bit of talcum powder (or cornstarch). I have a little jar next to my work area when I am smoothing out pendants, and it prevents the smearing. I just dab a bit on my finger and carefully press out a seam. I think I got this tip from Elissa on a chat one night. Since (I sand these pieces,) it will be sanded away later... it works pretty good, and the top layer becomes less sticky too. Dar
...if cornstarch is used rather than talc, it should be able to be rinsed off the raw clay if any is visible (so it should work even without later sanding. Diane B.

I laid out the cane slices, sometimes one nearly on top of the other then used the brayer. If after braying there were still some indentations between the raw slices, I filled those with translucent clay then brayered again. Pauline

So does going back with soft clay in the background color after the first baking and pushing it into the small holes. ... and yes, sanding can also cover a multitude of sins...Kim K.

I add the background to the cane slices after baking. First I apply a fairly thick slice of cane to the item I am covering (directly, not on a background sheet). Then, after baking, I add the entire background. The bonus to this method is that you are less likely to sand away the cane image later on, too. Kari

Add a wrap of your background clay color around your cane before taking slices (if you just put it on the first inch of the cane, you'll have enough for at least several slices). . . . I use a # 1 sheet on the pasta roller, cut a strip and wrap the cane end. . . . allow to sit for a few hours after you have rolled it just a bit to make sure it is stuck on. Then cut your slice and you will be melding black clay to black clay, and both will be the same freshness/wetness of clay ---it'll blend into the background very easily. Sarajane

(I cover the surface first with my background clay)...then i lay the slice in the palm of my hand and place my other hand over it to warm it up....or hold it under my halogen lamp while still in the palm of my hand (my barometer so i don't accidently bake the slice!), or hit it lightly with a heat gun. (since the background clay is fresh) it is still soft and malleable as well....
... you can also make a slice softer, and also give it thinner edges so it will be easier to blend into the background, by pressing all around the edges of it with your fingers... this will warm and stretch them. Diane B.

I find that matching the softness of the background clay and the slices works best.You won't want to put soft cane slices onto a stiff background... the cane slices resist sinking in to the background, they slide and move across the surface.
. . .On the other hand, a stiff cane slice will sink into the background clay. . . . .there may however be times when these characteristics will work to your advantage. Donna K.

If your slices are hard and stiff, you might want to leave them on your newer background clay overnight to allow some of the plasticizer from the new clay to leach into the old clay before you begin pasta machining or otherwise stressing the slices (or they could crack rather than stretching). Diane B.

If I want to add just one or a few slices of cane to a background, I use the inlay technique. This works best if your cane slice is the same thickness as your background layer, so cut your slice as close to the same thickness as you can, then roll through the pasta machine at the same setting as your background. Cover the (surface) with your black background, then very gently lay your cane slice on top where you want it. Cut around the cane slice with a craft knife. Then lift off the slice, remove the black clay underneath, and place the cane slice in the space. Blend the seam with a clay shaper or your finger. Claire
...I also have baked the clay piece I'm "inlaying", then done the rest like Chryse's mosaic technique by using a grout to cover any seam imperfections. Auroraj

Bev's excellent lesson on covering a round, glass ball ornament with slices...she first covers with a layer of clay (by pinching 4 seams top and bottom in a wrapped-around cylinder of clay, then slicing off). . . then she adds lots of cane slices to about 70% of the available area. . . then she adds her favorite or more complex cane slices to the remaining areas, partly overlapping or actually centered on top of others slices . . . hand rolls, bakes and sands.

Several ways to prevent curling of thin flat clay when baking. One is to place something heavy on top of the piece while baking.
. . . However, if the weight will harm the surface technique, then wait until the pieces comes out of the oven and while it is still somewhat hot, place heavy books on top of it until cool. . . . OR, while it is still hot but not so much so that you can't handle it, fill the sink with cold water and then lay the piece down on the bottom of the sink and hold it flat until it is cool. Dotty in CA

many items to put a flat polymer sheet (transfer, cane sheet, mokume, etc.) into . . . keyrings, coasters, bookmarks, banks, mugs, paperweights

...although consider also using just one huge cane slice instead of a sheet of smaller slices, e.g., canejane's covering a lid top (in this case, it was a papier mache heart box)

for making pendants, etc., using two or more "stacked" pieces cut from sheets (freehand or with templates or stencils, or Shapelets, see Cutters > Stencils)

MISC: faux "vinyl" . . . .http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/cr_paper_crafts_boxes/article/0,,hgtv_3289_1376364,00.html --sheets of dried, acrylic paints which have been patterned . . .could also do with liquid clays? (see details in Liquid Clays/Faux Enamelling/Miscellaneous)

"slice painting"
(building up a picture or pattern with individual slices)

... using one or more (usually tiny) canes to create a picture or pattern on a raw base by laying on very thin slices one at a time ...slice by slice
.....appliqued flowers...Donna Kato also calls her flowers built up slice by slice, petal by petal this way, Blooming Flowers)
(Donna's lesson) http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/cr_clay_jewelry/article/0,1789,HGTV_3238_2856588,00.html

... the results can be so elegant, especially placed on a skinner blend background. Robin
...You have to make the canes (or reduce them) quite small (depending of course on what your project might be) because when you roll over them on your sheet, they do get quite a bit bigger. Dotty
...because the slices are so thin, it's important to place them on a light colored background or to use an opaque clay (or mix a bit of white, which is opaque, into the other clays
....... after creating a beautiful "petal" cane (Skinner blend log, dark in center, with a gold wrap) and reducing it re-eally small (in several sizes) but keeping the log in a petal shape (dark end pointed)... she cuts thin slices from it (refrigerate first to hold shape while slicing if necessary?) and places them on a base (maybe SB) sheet or bead, e.g., in a circle (small ends to the middle) leaving an empty space in the center (she may flatten them at this point or wait till later); then another circle of petals is added in the empty area partly overlapping the previous outer row; this can be done several times depending on the flower being simulated (reducing the petal or not) ...flatten the petals into the base surface every so often to avoid distortion . . .(should add leaves, stems, or other background elements first)
...she also shows a leaf can and a "reed" cane (like dried sepals, etc.?)

...I have one of Donna's pendants and it's absolutely beautiful... looks like a watercolor painting on clay. . flowers and leaves on a blue Skinner blend background with tiny, tiny stars on it, which BTW were also from a cane. Gwen
http://home.att.net/~reserved/k atovisit01.htm ...and http://home.att.net/~reserved/katovisit03.htm

(see much more on this in Canes-Instr > Overall Techniques > Slice Painting
........................... and also in Canes-Instr > Flowers > "Slice Painting" w/ flowers & leaves )


(see also Desiree's multiple-cane slice switchplate in Covering/Plastics for something to do with leftover cane bits from other projects)
(see also making Mike B's football-shaped beads, etc., in Mica)
(see also Lori’s bargello-like squashed-cane slices below)

Carve them (see Carving)

. . . quick way of making "instant" canes for beginners. In a class that covers a wide variety of techniques, (not just canework) I get the students to make small sample canes so they get the idea but the conditioning does not take for ever. Form blocks of several colours - each one about 1 1/2 inches square and 1 inch tall. Cut each into an identical geometric pattern, cutting right down through the block. Now replace sections of one colour with sections of another from a different block - you end up with as many canes as the blocks you started with but the colours all alternating or whatever. Then reduce - you can then stack the canes and reduce again for more detail if you wish, wrap, combine etc etc. It is all colour coordinated and looks great. . . Sue Heaser

Similarly, you can take any cane and do the same thing. .. . OR you can take individual lengthwise cuts from the cane and cut each into identical lengths to combine like any other millefiori . . . this would result in the same number of new canes as the part-canes you cut if you do it for each cane, or one big cane if you combine them . . . the colors should work well together. OR use cut, shaped slices to make tessellations (see below in Quilts & Tessellations for more info)

If it's the repetition/rotation idea that fascinates you, many canes are created this way. . . .The repeating units can be squares or rectangles, long or short triangles (put together radially to form circles or in opposite orientations to form rectangles or squares), paisley shaped, or whatever can be nestled next to another cane of the same shape--tesselations. Or they can have divisions between them for interest or for making the shapes nest.

Don't despair! There are so many cool things you can do with a flat cane...
-Slice normally and use to cover beads (sort of like a globe with those vertical lines)...
-Slice into 5 4" lengths and run throught the pasta machine side by side to make ikat...
-Flatten to #1 on pasta machine, then carve out grooves to reveal cool color patterns and use as earrings or to cover beads...
-Slice into 3" lengths,stack, and compress into a loaf that has a very original curve/stripe pattern.
Lori’s canes: run through the pasta machine; cutting across this cane will result in long, stripey-looking things; use these (offset, like bargello?) in many ways to create new patterns

Teri's fine-grain feather-ish pattern made by manipulating an unloved Kaleidoscope cane (could use any cane) (like Crushed Ikat technique)...flattened and pasta machined for long flat snake, cut lengths crosswise and stacked lengths; took thin slices and laid next to each other to form a sheet
...........Clayfreak's lesson on similar pattern made pretty much the same way for a bookmark?

Jeannie's lesson on making "marbled paper" clay sheets for covering things from Donna Kato's video using "ugly duckling" canes
(see many more lessons and examples re making these dragged-lines sheets in Sheets of Pattern > Dragged Lines)

Susan Bradshaw's feather of "stripes"--offset lengths of long, flattened cane ribbon (either several colors or several unloved canes squashed on a base layer) with black sheet added to sides, plus a center spine
http://www.pbase.com/stargazer/susan_bradshaw_feather_cane_class&page=2 (sheets & slices)
...........Jean's lesson on making Susan's offset feather cane
(could also lay lengths of these squashed multiple-canes in a bargello pattern... see "Bargello" in Onlay for ideas)

(see also "Crushed Ikat" in Canes/Instructions for other things to do with flattened canes)

another use for yucky canes, etc.. . . ..Here's something cool to try with canes that you have too much of, or just don't love. Take 2 equal lengths of cane,and cut one DOWN THE LENGTH of it to form half circles. Lay these on the flat surface, and cut again to form quarter-wedges. Place these, POINT side out, against the other (whole) cane. There will be spaces between the wedges which you can fill with snakes of the same, or different color, clay. This should now be a square cane. Reduce, using the squeezy method, then cut into four lengths, and stack. This can produce some great designs... you can do this with just one kind of cane, as well. Olga Porteous showed me this technique---it works wonderfully for making squares for quiltblocks or tile effects. Sarajane
...Sarajane, I copied your post and tried the technique....it's fabulous!!! I took 2 of my so-so canes and combined them to make a striking new cane!!
...Sarajanes’ idea of using (these) for flower centers also worked beautifully-- I used two of my "mistake canes" and was ecstatic with the results!!

I think we can all find a lemon or two (in our canes) but there is usually a place for the worst of it, you just have to look further- I cut canes apart (lengthwise) and then add missing colors to make them more interesting... I add color not so much because I don't like it but more to diversify a group of canes or highlight a certain aspect of the design. ..Sarah S.

Cynthia Toops "reclamation" methods, taught at Arrowmont? (radial repeat pattern)
--flatten the canes you don't like; --cut and stack and reduce and --repeat until you get layers of long flat elipses, --pinch one end (edge?), and (you have triangle logs)
--use the resulting triangles to make a new circle, sometimes interspersing with a plain color. (Envision six sections -- squashed cane, plain, cane, plain, cane , plain. Related to a kaleidoscope cane.) Especially if you work in related colorways, these can integrate with other work nicely, make neat cone-shaped beads (half a largish circular slice), can be reduced and used as slices or to cover shapes, etc.

When all else fails, I've cut reduced ugly canes in half lengthwise (like a hotdog bun, as Nan Roche says), and flattened them out in the pasta machine. When I wrap them candy-cane style around a pen, some look edible, especially when Futured. The teenager in the house thinks these mistakes are my best pens.

I make a lot of Natasha beads from cane ends and canes 'gone wrong'. I sometimes leave them square but lately I've been rounding them into spheres with tapered ends or round spheres. The best way I have found to do this without losing the mirror image at each end is to pinch and stretch the opposite corners at each end of the bead until they meet. Then I roll it in my hands without touching the ends to round the bead leaving the ends tapered. I'm sure there's a name for this shape but I can't think of it. For a sphere, I roll the whole thing in my hands after pinching the ends together. I've combined the different shaped beads of one design into a necklace and it's really stunning.

Marcia B's lesson on making a tiny wire body with head of wrapped wire, hair of 7 loops of embroidery floss cut, and a polymer cane slice which is wrapped around (square orientation) it for a dress http://www.rubberart.com/classes/class6_people.html

Another neat trick is when you've got some ugly canes (no insult intended but it will happen), as long as you've maintained good color contrast , you can reduce the heck out of the cane until the eye can barely make out the pattern - the cane begins to look good again. Your eye tells you there's something intricate and interesting there, but it can't tell exactly what. Desiree

Remember in the bullseye cane project (see lace canes below) there are six canes surrounding a core cane? You can use your first cane as the core cane and surround it with newer, stronger contrasting color canes. I think using a differently patterned core cane produces an more interesting lace cane. Desiree

You can also chop up a disfavored cane, toss it in the food processor with, in your case, some plain white clay and mix lightly. Remove the clay and simply compress it into a solid log. Wrap that compressed log in a sheet of lightly colored clay and use that log as a core cane. What you'll have is a speckled pattern cane of various colors. ...You can also take that choppy mixture, gently roll it out to form a sheet and use that flecked pattern to wrap another cane. (The trick with these two methods is to not mix the colors too much.) Desiree

I've turned some of my ugly canes into centers for flower canes. . . My most popular flower center is the ugly face cane that doesn't look nearly so bad when reduced to fit amongst the petals. People are so intrigued when they notice a face looking out where they didn't expect one. LynnDel

adapt for covering anything ....Try this when you're creatively blocked, I guarantee it will get you going in directions you can't even begin to imagine.
-Take a 2x4" piece of black clay rolled thru at a #1 setting to make a black sheet.
-Slice off thin bits of solid color clay, canes (jellyrolls or whatever...) and spread randomly across the surface.
-Run this sheet thru the PM at a #2, rotate a 1/4 turn and roll thru #3.... Do this until you reach a number #5 setting.
-Now add bits of metallic leaf to the surface, and roll thru to #7. This will spread the colors and crackle the foil
-You will now have a beautiful 'fabric' that you can then adhere to a thicker backing piece, for covering everything from amulet boxes to vessels. It's addictive...Carolyn

. . . could by used for mosaics . . . the mosaics (bits) are used by color, not detail. Imagine a section of flowers(maybe just showing yellow color) with green for leaves. It is so aaahhhsome to look at something from a distance and then up close see little tiny other detail. Dar

~like hoop earrings? Try splitting some old canes in half, embedding a post in the end with TLS and creating your own hoop earings. I use -1/2 inch lengths of about 1/4 inch canes (Skinner Blends are perfect for this). Split in half lengthwise, fold to form the hoop with the flat side OUT. Embed a small post or just a length of Artistic Wire in the end with TLS. Put a little more TLS around the outside of the wire and bake!! It's a great way to use old canes or (heaven forbid!!) canes that didn't quite come out the way you wanted... Syndee

~...all I need is the exact combination of (Pearl Ex) colors applied to the translucent, and handled "just" so..... 7 hours later I'm *still* having a blast- where does the time go?!? And my "boo-boo's"? Made into chrysanthemum canes, of course! I've got a stash of those now so large. Miracle

use a wavy blade with them, in various ways...
Kim K's lesson on one way to use a wavy blade on an unloved cane (or scrap)
Marie Segal's use of a ripple blade on a sun cane

~Nora-Jean's Chop 'N Toss canes (can be made mirror-image, if desired) --see below for more (website gone)

Kim's rolled, shaped, textured and metallic-powdered cane slices (for spacer beads) (website gone)

other ideas:
--use slices as mosaic tiles (which don't have to be even)
--cut into strips or bits & surround with backing clay, or on top of foil
--turn large bits into Skinner Blends
--cover with translucents and powders to partially obscure bad areas
--carve over bad parts, or use pens to fill in, or add onlays
something from a tall, thick cane
--use Kemper cutters for some interesting onlays
--mobius beads

I've made some canes I thought were really ugly and plain, but they made surprisingly good beads or backgrounds. Play with it a while before you squish in disgust....you will allow yourself more freedom to experiment with a "bad" cane than you likely would with one you cherished and where you desired every little slice! Sarajane H

(first put slices from the unloved cane onto a base bead and roll them in, then do the following...)
... Sometimes if I feel like a bead is going bad, instead of throwing it in the scrap pile I will wrap it in a very thin layer of translucent clay..... that mutes the pattern underneath... you can add cane slices on top as well, letting the under layer show throw again. It's a nice save. Heather P.

Of course, after smashing the ugliest cane in the world to peices, I had SO many (other) people fall in love with the few beads that I had made, that I began to wonder! Turns out I could have sold things from it ten times over! ...Do check it out with others first, maybe it is not as bad as you think it is at all! Emma

And you are absolutely right....add black, white and Premo gold, and almost any cane can be rescued to great Natashas! kelly

~With my sun-dried (accidentally hardened) canes, after crumbling them I whizzed the pieces even finer in my food processor, then incorporated them into some "mud" I already had--and came up with my own version of Granitex! I put it aside to use later, but alas--for the Granitex idea anyway--by the time I got back to that project a week or so later, the dried out pieces had become "reconsituted" by the good clay, so that when I ran it through the pasta machine a few times, the speckles blended into the rest of the mud. LynnDel
It looks pretty cool too to use the crumbled pieces as is in pasta-machined sheets . . . I have several that look almost like scenes . . . with varied layers of fine, speckly colored bits. Diane B.

Sarajane Helm taught me to use the ends of canes for color coordinated spacer beads, too. She usually rolls a few bits of foil along with them to add some sparkle.

it was fun making the (sanded balinese filigreee) tins (see Onlay). and it seems to be a good technique for using up all those little bits of blended clay that you end up with from different projects. I did think that the pearls (clays?) work much better in this. kellie

when I make a Bad Cane (or have largish chunks of distorted ends of canes, or even leftovers of colors I can't get apart), I squish it flat and run it through the pasta machine,then roll it up from the skinny end into a spiral, and reduce it as if it were a good cane. I pile 'em all up at one end of my desk until I have a bunch, and then use them to make all sorts of new canes with a kind of loose, free-spirit oil-paint-y look to them. Or I cut slices off the squished-and-spiraled canes and layer them onto a flat sheet of clay, then cut out shapes with cookie cutters for pins..
Polymurphy's law explains why I have a deep-seated fear of making large canes! When in doubt or frenzy, pinch, reduce into a triangle add some solid color ie; black or white, then reassemble into a 6 part kaleidoscope! I have found that repition can cause the pattern to appear to look intentional!

. . . Next phase for an ugly cane is to chop it up and *partially* food process it. Pour out the speckled contents and tightly squeeze it into a snake. Wrap it in a sheet of some marvelous color and, again, you've got a kind of patterned thingy cane that can be used in other canes. These kinds of canes make good cores of flower canes. Desiree

I did read something very heartening at Tamila Darling's page......one way to save a messed-up effort at making a cane is to do it in two colours only (let's say blue and white for instance). If your first, second or third cane doesn't work out exactly as you wish....you still have some fabulous light blue clay to work with, instead of expensive mud. Tania

MISC. ideas & info

a bas relief cane slice effect can be created on thick cane slices (particularly larger ones) by pressing down around the perimeters of the images with various tools, so that the images are raised against the background, leaving the cane slice surface dimensional...
... Maureen Carolson called this
("dimensional millefiori")
(see Michael Christoph's lesson "sculpted" 3-D face from a face cane slice in a Maureen Carlson class, in Face Canes > Other Ways to Make Faces)
dimensional face slice on cloth doll (&) blackboards (on Grapevine Wreath) http://www.weefolk.com/ideas.htm#home
...or might work to put a thick clay slice of the appropriate diameter into a face mold??

...NoraJean's "push cane"... she first pushed the background clay down, then pushed the leaves down not quite as far, then pushed just parts of the roses down as well
...Debbie A. does something similar with her faux leather technique, using metal leather working tool
......she may also texture this depressed backgorund by impressing witn a tiny metal stamp or pin for all-over texture (see Faux-many > Leather)

Heather R's lesson on making dimensional kelp "leaves" from flat slices of a teardrop log or cane, by indenting each slice with a needle tool
NF's whimsical scenes mostly using overlapped cane slices (forests, mountains, flower hillside, cows)
...also Klew's overlapped-leaf beads

I've been thinking about your idea... painting details on a background cane, a good idea.
... I can see a lot of possibilities like nature scenes with caned background and details added like tree silhouettes made by painting on top of them ....or a "base face" cane where one would paint expressions later on top to, or use pencils... this might actually be a really cool thing... PöRRö

you can rub metallic powder on the edges of a thick-ish cane slice to make it look more finished or to hide the color
....you can coat the outside of a cane with Pearl Ex, then seal it with Pinata (alcohol-based) ink - gorgeous. syndee

When caning with Granitex, you can lightly sand the little little fibers away after baking. (more in types of clay, brands)

I've found when my canes get dirty, I can easily clean them with a light rub of alcohol or a "Wet Wipe"

square or rectangular logs: see above in Cutting Canes for using square rods. . .

slices from large canes can be used in many ways ... they can be used anywhere you'd use a sheet of slices or other pattern, or a cutout ... to cover tins, make bowls, make leaves, etc.
...Alan's bowl using butterfly cane slices to create a bowl (leaving some holes between)
...Alan's bowl using flowers and a background clay applied after them (actually individual petal slices)

I applied cane slices in rows, very symmetrically: Baked 10 minutes, then used translucent as a grout, applying with a leather burnishing tool (shaped like a tiny, flattish spoon). I like to use translucent in this way, because if any should overlap a tile, it doesn't show. (see Mosaics)

~Containers: made by Glad...and yes they are with the Glad (and zip lock <g>)plastic bags. They are sold in fours, in 2 different sizes and are clear plastic (microwave safe/dishwasher safe/ and freezable) You can put the raw clay right on to them and the raw clay will not eat into it or stick! I now keep my canes up on end in one of these containers. Kept on end...there is room for many canes and I can see them all at a glance. I believe they were about $2.50 to $3.00 for 4

If anyone makes millefiori beads, I have a great source of inspiration. It's a book called Volume Vi - Millefiori Beads from the West African Trade by John and Ruth Picard. I think that they recently opened a bead museum... The book consists of page after page of bead pictures, some of which are spellbindingly beautiful. I've seen the book on Amazon
..Picard African Trade Bead Museum (in Carmel CA). They sell beads and books on beads, including one dedicated to Chevron Beads. They're web site addy is: http://www.picardbeads.com/ Desiree
... there are also four other books in the series of Beads from the West African Trade. Ruth

As to the size of canes... My personal style is to make most things relatively small until I think I know enough to do an acceptable cane of that type --well, unless it's going to be a difficult cane that I'm going to put a lot of work into like a complex face, or unless I know I'm going to want to use a lot of it from the get go. As for wasting clay, that was a concern for me too. Guess I thought I could always duplicate a good one (since I often saved slices as I built the cane), or that it was more important for me to build lots of canes till I got better.
Buying the larger bricks of clay by mail order has freed me up a lot too because the clay ends up costing less and I'm never afraid to use a color "because I'll run out and not have any more if I need it." Ditto for learning to mix colors...I decided to buy a brick each of red, blue and yellow (nowadays I've changed that to magenta, turqouise and lemon), plus black, (twice as much) white, translucent, and gold so I'd have to buy only 8 bricks and could mix most colors. I still find that a good idea except that now I buy the secondary colors as well (green, orange, purple).
Since I don't sell things, I usually don't need to have a lot of any one cane, but people have different needs and working scales they're comfortable with, so it's a more a matter of figuring out what works best for you...Diane B.
....I got in the habit of working big, (but, oh boy, not *that* big! ;-) especially with canes that I know I'll use a lot of, like leaf canes. (2-3 packages of clay?) Some have been hanging around for over a year, but even that is young, for the age of a cane. Some people keep canes for many years. They're still usable, though they can take some work to get them "moving." (see Canes--Old for suggestions) You can start a cane just slightly bigger around than the finished size you want, and reduce it only slightly, or you can start with a cane many times the diameter of the finished size and reduce it greatly. Elizabeth

I find that it's easier to make (a bunch of) canes ahead of time before creating a piece...it's more efficient that way. Also, try to have a variety of techniques and difficulty. I find that a face cane in my glassware is a big draw for customers and help sells the item. …Many times I receive custom orders and am required to create pieces quickly and the stock of canes come in handy. In most of my glassware I have at least a dozen or more canes at hand to create interesting pieces. As the supply dwindles, I have to make more to keep the supply up . . . But just add one or two very complex (canes) to make it a show stopper! Wanda S.

...~…there are people in the Detroit guild that use their clay guns (with caulking gun) to extrude lots of strands of clay, then put them together using cross stitch designs, then reduce! I plan on trying it sometime, haven't yet. Helen (DB: also mini foundation piecing designs . . . )

...(I've sculpted clay) 'cartoon' animals, photographed them, and then converted them to cross-stitch patterns.. Debbie

Cane Math

The length of a cane will vary inversely to the square of the reduction (ratio).
In other words if we start with a cane that is 1 inch around and 1 inch in length and reduce it to a cane 0.25 inches around, the length will now be 16 inches (here are two examples:)
1) reduction: 4 to 1
2) (square of reduction) inverse = 4;
3) square (of reduction)= 16 (to 1)
4) new length = 16 inches
Original cane 3 inches around 1 inch in length reduced to .3 inches
1) reduction = 1/10
2) inverse = 10
3) square = 100
4) new length = 100 inches
--DH of deb hayes


These are canes which are not round or rectangular in final shape, but are canes created as freestanding shapes without any "background"
... (e.g., a flower, house, or anything else)
...or canes in which the background has been removed, or is translucent

....canes can be created as a whole, then reduced while surrounded by temporary backgrounds or in temporary troughs which are removed after reduction
...or canes be created in separate component logs or canes (very small), each of which is reduced alone ...then all components are joined together in their proper places for the final cane before slicing

The component method also allows diff. elements (lengths or slices) to be added to lengths or individual slices of the same cane (before or after reduction)... e.g., different styles of hair, neckwear, etc, added to a completed face cane (portions of larger cane might need to be removed before adding some elements, as with hair)

slicing can be done with a temporary background ...in a supportive trough (either with cooled canes)
...or on baked final canes while warm
...for more on slicing these odd-size canes, see above in Slicing > "Other, baked"

many of Kim Korringa's canes for jewelry show this (cats, fish, people, faces)
Tamara's many miniature canes without background clay
http://www.designcanes.com/Canes1.htm (click on other pages too)

Amy K's houses, faces, flowers, etc....thick, non-round slices for bracelets, watches

http://www.creationsinclay.com/ (click on Watches)
Toucan Clay's thick cane slices... many

Cornstarch Release

This in response to a request to describe Margaret Regan's released cane technique more clearly -- this works best if you build your cane in a thick slab -- so that it is flat on the ends and maybe 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.
.....Then build a slab of scrap clay the same thickness in a regular shape for reducing it (i.e. square or round...), and significantly larger than your cane. ....Carefully mark the shape of your cane on the center of the scrap slab, and cut out inside the marking, so that you can insert the cane into the slab
.... To insert the cane, you may have to cut through one of the edges of the slab and "open" it.
.... Once the slab is cut to the right shape, liberally dust the sides of the cane with corn starch
..... insert it into the slab
.... reduce as you normally would, EXCEPT that periodically you must carefully slit the scrap clay open lengthwise, remove the cane, and re-dust it's sides to prevent it from adhering to the scrap..... If you cut carefully, you can feel where the casing ends and the cane begins.
... Then you can take a slice, push out the interior shape with your fingers, and have a positive and negative image. Trina

see info on using Kato Repel Gel to act as the release rather than cornstarch below in "Repel Gel"
......you'll need to use a good amount of Repel Gel to make sure the good clay and waste clay don't bond. But it does work. DottyinCA

ArmorAll might work too?... but it will prevent anything else (finishes, etc.) from being added to the clay in those spots afterwards

Trough support & release

For slicing an odd-shaped cane, you can create a bottom cradle of support for it... from soft clay
....press indentions down the length of a scrap pad in same shape as the bottom of the cane
....powder the trough well (or use Repel Gel or ArmorAll?)
... then cut down through cane and scrap trough for each slice
(when trough has too many cuts in it, make it into a new trough)

Rebecca's raw clay trough for slicing odd-shaped clay

Translucent Background

Canes can be created with translucent clay as their only background (use the clearest translucent clays)
...these can either be sliced extremely thin, then applied to a background (so the translucent background will "disappear")
...or the translucent can be cut away from individual slices before application

(see Canes-Instr. > Translucent Effects for these methods when used for translucent+opaque canes)

Cut Away method

To get a cane to a friendly shape when I have had to reduce shapes that were not friendly
..I reduce it... slice ...then I cut away all but my image
....so first, I add the same color clay as the last (outermost) layer {my most favorite were clown fish so the outermost layer was a black}
... then I add enough white (or other scrap) to make a round shape
....I cut away the white & salvaged that
... then I cut away the thinner layer of black but that was when I was to the final slice-then-apply-stage
..granted it took lots of clay, but it was re-usable (about 90+% of it) when I was done. patsy

(see Canes-Instr. > Translucent Effects for similar methods using for translucent+opaque canes)


It's possibe to reduce canes of strange shapes - but it's a very painstaking process - and fraught with possible problems
...best way I found is to design the final odd shape
...then make canes of all the elements in the final shape
...then reduce the sub units
...finally combine the reduced elements into your original design. I used this technique sucessfully with butterfly wings. Alan

I make irregular shaped canes by making all of the individual elements tiny.
....For instance, if I'm making flowers, I make a petal, reduce it down to the size I want the end petals to be
....cut (lengths for) the number of petals I want
....place them around the center of the petal that is already the right size
... make those leaves that go with it, but already reduced.
...Then press all your pieces together in the form you want.
So instead of working on a big round cane, you're working on a small long cane (I haven't done any that are longer than 10" yet)
.... I usually let it rest for at least an hour before slicing.
... I've had great success with this..... the polymer clay also gets help adhering to itself in the oven as it bakes. Julianna

Also, sometimes it's possible (as when adding ears to a cat face cane, for example) to make the majority of the final cane some easy-to-reduce shape
.... then add just any projecting parts (as reduced canes) to the larger reduced cane --either before or after cutting slices. DB

Slicing after baking

Whole baked final canes can be easily sliced while warm... esp. very small canes
(.....for much more on slicing these odd-size canes after baking, see above in Slicing > "Other, baked"


Kato Repel Gel is a thick, paintable, water soluble polymer clay medium which prevents polymer clay from adhering to itself while curing (baked or raw) ...it can be used for clay-to-clay contact during baking when removability is desired...
s now available in some places
... see Glues > Superglue Release/Repel Gel for using another brand of "CA debonder" in the same way

Repel Gel can be painted on various layers of canes to keep them from bonding together during curing
...we'll probably come up with lots of ways of using this effect, but some possibilities for caning are:
...in cane cradles which might hold canes in shape while cutting slices (without distortion)
...to create holes or filigree effects
...creating odd shaped canes?
...creating face or other canes so mulitple outer areas could be added?
(it can also be used for molds and stamps, and for making vessels and vessel lids ...see those pages for more)

(Unfortunately, the Repel Gel does not work with the liquid clays.
Kato (liquid clay) penetrates into the Repel Gel (even when it is dry ), unlike the raw clay where the Repel Gel will just lay on top of the surface. Tony A.)

(see more in Glues > Superglue Solvents)

Can ArmorAll (silicone) be used in same ways? (though it won't allow other things to stick to those areas later)

using WAX to create SPACES/HOLES

You can purchase wax in rods [round, square, rectangular, triangular, half-round] which melts below clay curing temperature. I did a few experiments with 180F melt wax and found that the smallest diamter rods fell apart while reducing the cane and the larger rods did not reduce with the cane. If you are doing an 'assembled' cane, as in the method Ford & Dierks show for butterfly canes, you can have nice round holes where you want them. Lay your clay on gauze/papertowels or be prepared to clean lots of wax off. you can buy in small quantites from: TSI 1-800-426-9984

I believe the basic technique is to soften the wax in warm water, shape it into the snake shape you desire, let it harden and then apply the polymer clay around it. Carefully slice, place on several sheets of absorbent paper (brown bag comes to mind) and bake as normal. The wax will melt out and seep into the paper. Be sure to use adequate ventilation (paraffin fumes are easily ignitable!) and be careful with the baking temperature.

If you don't have a very sharp blade the clay tends to smear over the wax on the sides of the slice. Heating your blade slightly (i.e. under a light bulb) will help cut through the wax.

Thinner slices, once baked, will have a slight flex in the spiral, i.e. you'll be able to flex the center of the slice in and out.

Another possibility is to use a water soluble wax which can be dissolved before firing the polyclay. P>> This sounds promising. . . where does one find water-soluble wax? P
>>Jewelry supply houses and some foundry suppliers. Robert
I tried jewellers wax & p.c., but it stained the white clay orange (the wax was orange). It would probably sand off but if you've got intricate bits it's hard to get in there to sand. But by all means try it and see! Margaret R.
"Creating With Polymer Clay" showed some work by City Zen Cane, who was at the time experimenting with this technique using Beeswax. Beeswax is softer than> parafin candle wax and therefore can be warmed and shaped a bit better within the clay. Bonnie

I wraped satay sticks in aluminum foil and folded tighly-packed strips of foil to incorporate into the cane. Then baked it for 10 minutes, then removed the foil and finished baking. I got nice results with this.. . satay sticks are just shorter thinner wooden skewers, I get em in the grocery store in the asian food isle. The foil strips were just about a 6" wide piece of aluminum foil folded over lenght wise as many times as i could squish em together. Sigh...it was the only really good cane i have made, however not very strong with all the empty spaces between the clay, especially since it was sculpey III…The best way to describe it is...you know those little wagon wheel pastas? Sorta kinna like that. Miki

. . . but there was a lady who made candles and she ask me if i wan to try to make a rose cane from candle wax .{ i hope it is the right word for it ] so i try to make a rose cane for her of the candle wax , and it did work , it was very difficult becouse it was very hard stuff . but she was realy likeing the rose cane , i make him gold and black . than we try it make bigger and flath with the pasta machine and that was working too. . . Brigitta

Desiree's three beads (inside each other) http://home.earthlink.net/~dddmcc/howTo_BeadInBead.htm...(see more in Beads > Holey)

See also Boris' interesting experiments using beeswax (reusable) to make hollow figurines and shapes in Armatures > Wax.

(see also Cornstarch for cornstarch and other melt-able armatures)
(see also Eggs/Vinegar Eggs for other possibilities)

caning with FOOD & doughs

. . .refrigerator cookies are one option. . .The Joy Of Cooking has a basic recipe using chocolate and vanilla dough to make jelly rolls, checkerboards, and bulls eyes. You can use food coloring to create your oun colored doughs. I recomend paste colors found at your local cake decorating store.

Marzipan is also an option, although it is a lot more expensive. The colors in both the marzipan and cookie doughs have a natural yellow tint though.
Also fondant.

make your own edible candy dough
....another fun medium is what I call "chocolate clay." You melt (regular?) chocolate and add white corn syrup (e.g. Karo syrup). The resulting "clay" can then be molded or sculpted and put in the refrigerator to harden. It can be used as a decoration and then eaten. My classes love this! I always make this with regular brown chocolate. Nuchi
...I wonder if white chocolate (with or without coloring) would work, and then be possible to use for canes?
another recipe for edible candy usese Candy Melts instead
.....melt 14 oz. package of Candy-Melts... add 1/3 cup light corn syrup ...stir to blend
.....turn out onto waxed paper and let set at room temperature to dry
.....wrap well, and leave at room temp. till needed (best overnight) --can store at room temp. for sev. weeks
....(to tint mix --white or other light colors presumably -- with coloring made for icing or candy... knead in
........can also mix colored doughs)
...as with polymer clay mix will be hard after sitting, so "condition" small portion by kneading until pliable
...... if gets too soft, let cool or put in frig briefly.
...for making sheets, sprinkle work surface with cornstarch to prevent sticking
....... http://cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-1985-Candy-Clay-for-Modeling--3D-Figures.html
OR purchase edible candy dough
...Wilton also sells Kandy Clay... also in kits (at Michaels?, etc.)
http://www.epinions.com/content_150962605700 ......or http://www.wilton.com (...search for Kandy Clay)
...another one is called EDO, advertised as "Edible Candy Dough" ...looks & works like polymer clay
...I think they sell it at Target also.... the colors are mixable, and it's moldable
.......good for little sculptures, cake decorations, caning? . . . The taste isn't too bad but unexpected because the texture is doughy and doesn't really match the flavors --kind of like biting into white bread but tasting tangy watermelon. LivingClay

What a great holiday conversation piece, or pieces... Can you imagine a cookie with a truleigh rose in it... Or a caned leaf... Cool... I still have a bunch of my cake colors.... Dave

(not caning, but see Liquid Sculpey > Molds for a way of making impressions in tempered chocolate) . . . You can use flour or cocoa powder to make the impression...and eat the results! :) Jan R.

My son-in-law the pastry chef made a "Skinner blend" fondant . . . you should have seen that cake...it was so cool (and a lot of my tools he says would be perfect for cake decorating...and visa versa). Joy

The Alley Goop brand of two-part silicone putty (which we use with polymer clay) is also FDA approved for food ...in fact, confectionaries use it to make chocolate items for cakes (they pour liquid chocolate into the mold, put it in the freezer and then pop it out for cake decorations!) Karen
(see Molds > Silicone > Two-Part putties for more on Alley Goop)
.... couldn't we then make our own molds for liquid chocolate or craft "chocolate melts", or for lollipops, jello, e.g., using items or textures or bas reliefs, etc., we've sculpted or otherwise created from polymer clay? Diane B.


(see Books & Videos page for suppliers to see covers of the videos)
....here is just one supplier: http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/videos.html

Tory Hughes has a video called The Principles of Caning which shows a spiral, checkerboard, a stained-glass window, a star, and a face. Final projects include earrings, button covers, pins, and plenty of finished canes to use later.

Lindly Haunani, Roses, Leaves & More
... five principles of canemaking:
selection, clay preparation and cane construction ...color coordination between the roses, leaves and backgrounds to increase impact .. laminating, onlaying and cane modification ........also hypertwisting and Natasha beads.

Marie Segal:
Advanced Millefiori Techniques (Vol. I):
Skinner blend, woven cane, face cane, cathedral cane (wrapped?), rose & leaf cane to cover a glass vessel, sunflower cane, butterfly cane, and clay angel to sit on the ridge of the glass
Advanced Millefiori Techniques (Vol. II): Skinner blend, plaid cane, spider web cane (to cover a glass vessel), signature cane, face cane, moon & stars cane

Sarah Shriver, Intricate Kaleidoscope Caning with Sarah Shriver
....amazing, very complex-looking, geometric kaleidoscope-type canes.... plus creative ideas for all caning
(order from Sarah for $29.95 +$4.00 shipping --phone a credit card number/address, or check: http://www.sarahshriver.com/video.html
...or order from abbadabbavideo: http://www.abbadabbavideo.com/sarah/sarahpages/sarah.html )

...My first reaction? WOW ! I am just blown away by it! I have never been a huge fan of caning - building flowers and such. But Sarah's caning is so creative, artsy and just plain gorgeous. This tape has gotten my creative juices flowing again, with all kinds of ideas flowing in my head. She doesn't just teach you how to make a certain cane but shows you ways to get creative to come up with your own design. She shows you how to look for contrast, work your colors, and ways to experiment with different designs. She is an excellent teacher! Brenda
..."Inspired greatly by textiles, I use interlocking repeat patterns along with detailed color blends to create my language of images"...Sarah

Sandra McCaw, The McCaw Cane
....beautiful, very precise and complex, geometric canes, some optical illusion-type
...start by building simple square canes in graduated shades of color. Then cut and recombine using the magical McCaw methodology....variety of cane combining strategies to create objects that have visual interest bordering on hypnotic. ...detailed demonstration of the construction of a pin. ...finishing techniques that will give a professional look.

Mike Buesseler, Landscape Canes
has a wonderful video on landscape canes ... it shows how to cut away from the edge or to cut out from the middle parts of Skinner Blend blocks in order to insert mountains, trees, moons, and more. . . . also features his "jaggy cut" which increases realism and a patinerly look. Very inspirational. DB

Christine Alibert, Face Canes: construction techniques for face canes, plus variations for skin color, shape of nose, mouth and lips, hair color and style, glasses, clothing, "families," etc.

Judith Skinner, Precision Caning
....Judith's "Skinner Blend"... log cabin quilt block pattern cane using it.... cut and recombine the canes into classic whole quilt patterns. ...ideas for using slices from the quilt canes to create pieces of jewelry. 1 Hr 28 Mins
....In this video Judith shows the Log Cabin and the "Barn Raising" (quilt) patterns... there are many ways to recombine the primary canes these patterns are made up of. She also has a segment on precise color choices and mixing matches, quite a bit on reduction, and quite a bit on the steps for assembling the primary canes. Then, there's assembling the intermediate and finished canes. She follows charts along the way, showing you all the steps both in the clay and in printed graphics. There are tons of closeups in this video and I had no trouble following it. I also learned a new way to reduce canes, and I have had little to no distortion since then using her method.... Elizabeth
...The Skinner video focuses on a single end result.... I think it's a good video, but more in-depth for experienced caners, IMHO.

Karen Lewis (Klew) ...has a several videos which show caning, some in order to create her onlaid "drum" beads:
http://www.klewexpressions.com/videos.htm (reviews of 2: http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/bookrev_ma5.html)
...Tips and Techniques of Caning (spirals, bullseye, striped loaf , and a more complex leaf cane from a Skinner Blend),
...Animal Imagery (Petroglyph Caning)... complex canes, petroglyph, goat, plus faux granite and slate for canes),
...Bead Shapes and Design
(vol. 1 and 2), and Appliquéd Millifiore Beads "Drum Beads"
(many feature Skinner Blend leaf canes, wrapped-bullsye canes, stripes, etc.)
...Klew's is a great one, too. I agree with you that her style is so unique and beautiful. It's great to see how she gets that look (she has several videos that, when taken together, show you how to achieve that look yourself). You are right that you don't get the usual jellyroll and checkerboard stuff with Klew. Lisa

Donna Kato ...has a several videos, which feature a few canes on each. .
.Introduction to Polymer Clays (I) (lime cane... plus tools, color mixing, mold making, figurines, making granite, malachite, and stone using embossing powder, mosaic, simple transfer)
Potpourri of Techniques (II) : mokume gane slices on a bead, crushed ikat, checkerboard cane for bracelet, a kaleidoscope cane (made with tiny logs) to cover a pen, "marbled paper" look to cover a frame, and translucent/metallic leaf jellyroll cane)
Millefiori Basics (III): jellyroll-spiral, stained glass (wrapped canes?), checkerboard, quilt, flower, watermelon canes, plus reducing and covering a "stubby" pen, "rainbow" patterns for clay.
...I think Donna Kato's caning video is a good one for learning to cane (by the way, I don't think that her book covers the tricks I've found most useful from that video). Lisa

(there are probably more which feature some caning which aren't listed here yet...)