Creations in Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay Canework

Many of my items use a technique called canework.  Basically, a cane is a log of clay that contains a design.  Every slice cut from the log will contain the same design.  One of the most basic canes you can create is called a spiral, or jellyroll cane.  It can be used as a building block for many other techniques.  Here's how it's done.

Step 1 - After conditioning the clay with your hands to make it pliable, roll out 2 sheets of clay in contrasting colors.  To always make even sheets of clay, many people use a pasta machine that is only used for that purpose, but any kind of roller will suffice.


Step 2 - Cut equal-sized rectangles from each sheet.


Step 3 - Stack one sheet on top of the other, and compress them a bit so they will stay together.  Make sure no air bubbles are trapped between the layers.  Notice that I have pinched the ends together a bit.  This is optional.


Step 4 - Roll the clay up in a jellyroll fashion.


Step 5 - With a very sharp blade, slice off a piece of the cane at one end. See?  A spiral!  Every slice from the cane will look like this.


Step 6 - (optional)  By evenly compressing the sides of the cane, you can make the spiral as small as you wish.  This is called reducing the cane.  Reducing causes the cane to be smaller in diameter, and longer in length.


If you look closely at this flower, you will see that I used the spiral cane in this lesson as the center.  I made a petal cane, cut it into 6 pieces, and placed them around the spiral cane.  Then, I filled in the gaps between the petals and wrapped the whole cane with translucent clay.  Then, I reduced it.  The cane was about 3 inches across before I reduced it, and less than 3/4 inch across after reduction.  I then cut off some of the cane and reduced it more, so I would have the flower in several sizes.


Here is a bead made with several flower canes.  You can see slices of the flower made in this lesson drifting across the top of the bead.