Faux Wood Cane Video | Polymer Clay Tutorial

Faux Wood Cane - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #242: “Cindy I would like to make my polymer clay look like different kinds of wood. Do you have any tutorials for oak, walnut, cherry, maple?” ~Sandra-H

As promised in the Celtic Heart Tutorial from last week, the next lesson in our February series will show you how to make a faux wood cane.

Polymer clay is awesome at imitating different materials, and does an especially good job of mimicking wood and wood grains. Because of the unlimited colors and layering possibilities of polymer clay, with a little planning, you can capture the look of any species and finish of wood that you want.

In the examples I show you a blonde wood version of a faux wood cane, which I will teach you how to create in this tutorial. But I also show examples of darker woods such Faux Oak and Faux Black Walnut varieties. Once you learn the techniques of making a faux wood cane, you can go on to experiment with different color and grain patterns of your own, making the options unlimited!

So… coming up tomorrow (Friday, Feb 10, 2012) in the Vol-045-2 members video at the Polymer Clay Tutor Library, I will demonstrate how to make a faux wood cane that you can use to cover (laminate) over your polymer clay projects like the Celtic Knot Heart Pendant. It will make the piece look like it was carved carved from real wood!


Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-045-2 Faux Wood Cane:

By the way, if you did not already know, those “shopping” links I provided above for the various tools and supplies, are “affiliate” links. That means companies like Amazon pay me a small commission if you click on the links and end up making a purchase at their site. It’s not a lot, but every bit helps in keeping the cost of my tutorials so low… at only $3.32 per month ;-)

The full version of the Vol-045-2 Faux Wood Cane video will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday, February 10, 2012.

Here’s a sneak peak…

The full version of the “Faux Wood Cane” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Volume-045 Back Issue Package.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

Hi Cindy & Doug, I hope you had a nice Christmas and New Years. I first want to say YOU made it possible for us to have a Christmas this year!!!! You are probably wondering HHMMM how did I do that??? Right ??? Here it goes. (Sorry I am not an author so please bare with my story telling)

My husband has worked at Polaris Industries for 22 years, about the 12th of December, he was told his employment would end on Friday the 16th of December. Now we knew he would be losing his job, Polaris has moved the Osceola, WI Mfg Plant to Monterrey, Mexico, we were told that since Jon (my husband) had helped with the move (going to Mexico every other week for six months), he would retain employment until March 2012.

When you are told you were going to have a regular paycheck until March, why worry? Right? We had a financial plan in place to start in March 2012, but needless to say, it didn’t work out the way we had planned.

Now he started collecting unemployment December 29th and had a one week paycheck the week of Christmas, of course insurance premiums and 401K payments had to be taken out which left a whopping $290.00 – of that half of the house payment was taken out.

So Christmas shopping that I always wait until the last minute to do, was not going to happen this year. We sat down with the kids (we have 2 teenagers), and explained we would not be exchanging gifts this year and that Christmas is not about what’s under the tree but who is around the tree.

Both of them said they understood and decided that we should take there old iPods and MP3 players and bring them to a homeless shelter for the kids who really didn’t have anything. I was the proudest mom in the world what great kids I have. Still I could tell they were a little disappointed about Christmas.

I should probably mention that I am a stay at home mom, I have just started selling my clay jewelry at Art and Craft Fairs about four months ago. I had 2 craft fairs booked one on December 17 and one on December 18.

This is where you come in – I made a few (50) Christmas Spiders I had sold 2 or 3 but not many up until the last 2 shows before Christmas. Cindy I sold everyone of them for $20 each. I had people placing orders for these cute little spiders.

I had to watch your video four times to be able to write the story down so everyone could have a copy with the spider. You have to know the story or the spider is just a spider, instead of a Christmas Spider.

I made enough money to cover my costs and still surprise our kids for Christmas. And if I hadn’t watched your video explaining the story and showing how to make them, I would not have made enough for a truly miraculous Christmas.

To think I almost didn’t watch that video because I am not that into Halloween, and I truly thought they were Halloween Spiders. What a wonderful surprise I had when I did finally watch the video.

You can bet that I sometimes wait up late on Thursday nights to see what the next tutorial will be about. I don’t even wait until the coffee is done brewing on Friday (if I fall asleep on Thursday night) to watch the newest creation.

I forgot to tell you we did take the Ipods and MP3 players to the homeless shelter, but we also picked up some new gifts for the children at the shelter. This was the best Christmas we ever had and it was just one of your awesome tutorials that made it happen.

Thanks so much for all you do and sharing your wonderful knowledge and ideas with the world Cindy and Doug. You honestly have touched more than a few hearts in “smalltown” WI.

Now for the main reason I wanted to contact you… please could you send an email to let me know when my membership fees will be due? I want to make sure there is money in the right account at the right time. I can’t afford to miss even one tutorial. LOL. Thanks again for everything.


The following topics are included in this week’s Polymer Clay Tutor Library, Faux Wood Cane video tutorial:

  • See examples of jewelry, sculpture and functional pieces with a faux wood grain finish.
  • Find out how simple it is to create this realistic looking cane, using a few layering and rolling techniques.
  • Plus, with some creativity and ingenuity, there are many ways to come up with other unique wood grain copies of your own.

The full version of the “Faux Wood Cane” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Volume-045 Back Issue Package.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Monique U, 09 February, 2012

    As usual, I can’t wait to try this technique! Just watched the preview and am very impressed with the realism of your cane. Unfortunately, I have put away my PC stuff to protect it from the inevitable dust – I am setting up my sewing machines to catch up on overdue quilting projects. Hope that proceeds without too much drama so I can get back to my new fave CLAYING!! Catch up with everyone later. xoxo

  2. Monique U, 09 February, 2012

    Oh, Cindy, I forgot to say: SO glad you added Kelli’s inspirational story here! Hope things are going well for you, Kelli…

  3. Cindy Lietz, 09 February, 2012

    Thanks Monique! Now don’t be gone too long… we need you around here! You brighten up our day with your sweet and helpful comments.

  4. Hope Martin, 09 February, 2012

    Oh wow! That’s the best looking faux wood I’ve seen. Sooooo excited to try this. I’d better go make sure I have the right colors (or at least something close to them).:)

  5. pollyanna, 09 February, 2012

    Another can’t wait. This will be used in so many things.

  6. pattw35, 09 February, 2012

    This is wonderful ! So much better than using a wood grainer from Home Depot !! This is the real thing – soooooooooo useful ! This is really new to me -can’t wait – did I say that last week,too ? Well, it’s true. Fridays are special -“Cindy’s Tutes”. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy – see you then……….

  7. Peggy, 09 February, 2012

    Love working with faux wood, another wonderful gift. Willow you keep going like you are Mom and Dad are going to retire early and put you in charge. You do great work Sweetie. Enjoy it all. I feel like I am complaining all the time but I have missed so much here. I was just wondering if there is a way to get to all the old color recipes yet. You know how the saying goes. Third times a charm !!!. NO not for me, yep you guessed it. I now have shingles for the 3rd. time since last fall. I miss so many of the color palettes until they are no longer available. So if there is a way we can get to them so I can get them downloaded that would AWESOME. If not I will just keep on patiently waiting like everyone else.
    Thanks for all the GOOD PC YOU HAVE BROUGHT INTO MY LIFE. Praying for Love, Great Health, Relaxing crafts and sending many many Uuuuuugggggs

  8. Polymer Clay Tutor Doug Lietz, 09 February, 2012

    Very sorry Peggy, to hear that Shingles has hit you yet again. I’m also sorry to say that we still don’t have archives set up for the B-recipes. It is still on the agenda though. Of late, all of our spare time has been going into the upcoming launch for our art therapy book. And I am am also continuing to look for new video player options in an attempt to find a solution that will work across the board, for everyone. The latest challenge has been for those who are using some of the new “Tablet” computers (i.e. Galaxy Tab, Kindle Fyre, Toshiba Thrive, etc). As it turns out, many of these devices are using the brand new HTML-5 technology. Supposedly this new HTML-5 platform is going to standardize web video so that it will work more seamlessly with all makes and models of computers and operating systems. But in the early stages of this transition, it is actually causing me and some of the members a lot of grief. It will all work out in the end though.

    PS: Also want let everyone know about a couple of pics that were just posted yesterday, of a Red Clover Flower design (click link to see the pics), that Cindy just came up with.

  9. Pauline Duke, 09 February, 2012

    Hi Cindy & Doug:
    Yay- looking for to the package coming in tomorrow. I am a night owl also, and I am just going to discipline myself to get myself beside BEFORE that comes in, or I just might go through another daytime before I find the time to try that bedtime thing again!
    Thank you for your diligent work, and I would like to say that your Daughter Willow ….is a Polymer Clay artist to be reckoned with…Great job Willow!
    Pauline (MtnMaMaDuke)

  10. Justine E, 10 February, 2012

    I love this tutorial. thanks again for making things so easy :o)

  11. Brenda M, 10 February, 2012

    Just watched the Video. It was awesome as usual. I can see using this technique in several ways.

  12. Marlene C, 10 February, 2012

    Fantastic tute, as usual Cindy. I had found a different tute on wood grain quite a while ago, and not only was it not as clear and consise as yours, the result was not half as realistic(turned me off after the first try). BUT, Yahoo, thanks to you and Doug am going to be back in the lumber business!

  13. pollyanna, 10 February, 2012

    loved this. Such a realistic wood grain. Thanks once again.

  14. Monique U, 10 February, 2012

    “This is going to be hard on some of you that need to have things absolutely precise” Hah! I had to stop the video cause I was laughing so hard! That is SOOO me… comes in handy for some skills (quilt piecing, counted Xstich) but a bit of a hindrance when we attempt to be “random”… Can’t get my hands on the clay for a while but that won’t stop me from watching your videos, Cindy (even if that gets squeezed in while I exercise LOL)

  15. Bonnie Kreger, 10 February, 2012

    Another great tutorial. If and when I find the top of my work table I want to try that. My head is filling with ideas for that cane.
    Thanks again Cindy, it was awesome.

  16. Jocelyn, 10 February, 2012

    Ahhhh, the knots are the key to the realism you get! Very nice idea. Also encourage folks to push the color way boundaries, try reds, greens, purples, etc. The wood grain is so apparent and lovely, but, by using out of the norm colors, it causes the whole design to pop.

    My complex just completed post storm trimming, and took out all the junior black walnut trees. For some reason, they grow like weeds here. I nearly choked, if they had just let that stuff mature, what a bounty they could reap selling it to wood workers.

    Had the maintenance person slice some of the bigger diameter lengths into rounds, can’t wait for them to dry. In addition, now I can’t wait to try and replicate the patterns, as it ages, the color darkens to deep browns and blacks.

  17. Karonkay C, 10 February, 2012

    As always a great lesson. I do have a part of my project that the woodgrain will work well with, but it would have to be pretty long… wondering how I would bake that? Would have to use my regular oven instead of the clay oven due to the size required if I chose to do it in clay instead of real wood.
    another great tutorial.

  18. Cindy Lietz, 10 February, 2012

    Thanks Karon! When Willow baked her spoon, it was too large for the toaster oven, of course. So she covered one of the wire racks in our regular oven with 4″x6″ ceramic tiles, (I think she used 9). On the tiles she placed a sheet of parchment paper. On the paper she placed her spoon and tented it with another sheet of parchment. Hopefully your pieces won’t be longer than the size of your racks, corner to corner. Otherwise you will have to figure out how to bake shorter pieces, that you can glue together after baking. Hope that helps!

  19. pattw35, 10 February, 2012

    Now I can faux my beloved Mesquite wood ! What a great tute. Jocelyn is right -the knots are the key. Imagine ANY wood – what a gift. Thanks so much – spread my wings…………

  20. Ellen C, 10 February, 2012

    I’ve seen other faux wood grain tutorials but never like this. Wow! you never cease to amaze me.

  21. Mitz B, 10 February, 2012

    Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m weird. When you mentioned not wanting “too many knots” in the cane pattern, my mind went in the reverse direction. -Lots- of knots, a few half turns, maybe even a few bends of the cane… Burlwood!

  22. Jocelyn, 12 February, 2012

    Tiger eye maple? Quarter sawn oak? Silverized teak?

    I predict a bump in sales for all wood tones, lol.

    Cindy, you should ask Premo to track it…think lots of folks will eagerly try faux wooding over the next little bit.

    Very neat to know little Willow’s a big part of it, too.

  23. Dixie Ann, 10 February, 2012

    I love this wood grain tute. It looks so natural. I am so anxious to try this. Cindy you are such an artist. It amazes me how you put things together! I just finished the Mokume Gane Can that looks like metal and it is just beautiful and so easy with the metallics. Now if I could only get the shaded rose cane to come out right. I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong but after 3 trys it just does not look like a rose, just a squishy mess. I think it is in the reducing part of it. Some canes are easy and others are just so frustrating. I really love this Rose cane so will probably try it again later on.

  24. PATTY JORGENSON, 08 April, 2012

    Im off to work but wanted to watch the tutorial on faux wood making a perfect little 10 minute Play before work. THis is my FAVE tutorial so far. I will be watching again and again. Wish my Dad was alive he was a woodworker and someone mentioned tiger eye and quarter sewn. I wonder if the way you slice it. ie like wood is sliced or what would happen if you put more eyes in it like birds eye maple. Yes I wish premo would track it too. Gosh I wonder how many members there are now. This is the BEST PROGRAM ever. its to the point. and what you learn is incorporated into projects. Yes I love Willows spoon design. Is Willow going to follow in moms footsteps.

    Also I wonder if Cindy is going to do some more extensive jewelry teaching. She has me wandering off into that realm as well. and I prob need to stay focused. but see how she is. she gets your creative Play mind going. thanks Cindy. More of Willow’s work available to see. Happy Easter to you.

  25. Mary-Ann Noyes, 15 September, 2013

    Cindy, could you please tell me what would be an appropriate thickness of clay to cover a thin cell phone case. I purchased a beautiful wooden case for my delicate Samsung GalaxyS III. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be able to stand up to any accidental drops… and I was correct. I am attempting to make a replacement case.

  26. Sue F, 19 September, 2013

    Hi Mary-Ann,

    I’m obviously not Cindy :D but a couple of factors would be the clay brand you’re using — some are stronger than others, some are stiffer than others — and also whether you’re planning for your replacement case to function on its own (e.g. replacing the standard back of the phone entirely) or whether you’re thinking of attaching a decorative polymer clay layer to something like the standard polycarbonate backpiece. (You mention a thin phone case… is it the standard polycarbonate one, or some other material such as a weaker plastic?)

    I’ve had a Samsung Galaxy S III for about 15 months, and mine at least isn’t actually that delicate: I’ve dropped it heaps of times, have had it bashed against all sorts of things, and when it’s not in my back pocket it’s usually thrown into a sports bag with nearly 20kg of miscellanea. (Not that I recommend treating it that way! :D) I would suggest protecting it from bending, however, as after 14-1/2 months of being sat upon and pressed against the curve of my buttock the glass developed a crack, although the case itself is fine after all the above ill treatment.

    So make sure your replacement case is quite stiff by using a strong clay brand that cures stiff rather than bendy, and/or by having a stiff standard case underneath, and/or by increasing the clay thickness if you are using a bendy brand like Premo in order to counteract the bendiness somewhat.

    I hope that helps a bit. :)


  27. Mary-Ann Noyes, 19 September, 2013

    Thank You for your reply Sue.

    I attempted to make one case on a rigid plastic case using the faux burl wood style. It held up great in the oven and looked great polished up with Renaissance Wax, but it too did not last after a fall or two. It started to chip away.

    Can you share with me if you were to attempt to do this, what thickness you’d attempt and if you’d recommend using all of 1 particular brand of clay, as far as lending to its strength (& if so which brand)? I tried to use as much Premo Sculpey as possible, because I thought Cindy had determined it was strongest, but with the number of different colors used to create the Burl look, perhaps it wasn’t enough. I appreciate your input. My phone is not made sturdy and it really needs as much protection as I can provide it.

    Sue, I was seeking the information that you have noted to be important. Strongest Brand of Clay to use, suggested thickness for added strength (the least “safe” thickness to maintain the sleekness of the phone) in anyone’s experience and I’ll add, any coating I should apply to lend strength? I used to polish the first one, just to finish it off in a polished look.

    I am awaiting input, to be able to make the case as soon as possible. I appreciate any input (hopefully experienced). I can’t afford to “practice” on this one. Either I am able to make it and it works or I’ll have to buy one. I always prefer to have something that either no one else has or is rare, not just the same look that millions of others have. Thanks for Any & All Help!

  28. Sue F, 19 September, 2013

    Hi Mary-Ann,

    That sounds nice… what a shame it wasn’t quite robust enough!

    When you say that your faux burl wood-covered case started to chip away, do you mean:

    (1) bits of polymer clay broke away leaving some polymer clay underneath, i.e. it was the polymer clay itself that broke, rather the bond between the polymer clay and the rigid plastic, or the rigid plastic itself; or

    (2) bits of the polymer clay veneer you applied started to break away fairly cleanly from the underlying rigid plastic case, i.e. the bond between the polymer clay and the rigid plastic was insufficiently strong to secure and support the polymer clay; or

    (3) complete bits of the covered case chipped off, i.e. pieces of polymer clay and rigid plastic broke off together, without the polymer clay veneer separating from the underlying rigid plastic?

    If it was scenario 1, i.e. insufficient polymer clay strength, what temperature and time did you use to cure your clay? Premo isn’t the strongest clay but it’s pretty decent, so maybe curing at a more consistent temperature, or at a higher temperature, or for a longer time would be sufficient to give you the strength you need. (I’ve also added some notes below on what I’d do and the stronger clay I’d use, but it brings other factors into play.)

    If it was scenario 2, i.e. the polymer clay veneer chipped from the rigid plastic underneath, did you use any kind of glue to attach the polymer clay firmly to the rigid plastic? My expectation is that you would need to do so to get a strong bond between the two, and that depending on the type of glue and the type of underlying rigid plastic, you might possibly need to treat the rigid plastic somehow to ensure a strong bond to it as well. In other words, your clay might have been strong enough for a veneer, just not firmly enough attached.

    If it was scenario 3, i.e. pieces of polymer clay and rigid plastic broke off together, you’re even rougher on your phone than I am! As with scenario 1, adjustments to the clay curing process or a stronger clay would probably help, as might a coating of resin, but you might be better off working with a metal case underneath the polymer clay as well.


    If I were to attempt this myself I’d use Kato clay… and not just because it’s my favourite! However, I’d also use a metal case underneath the polymer clay rather than a plastic one.

    Some of the reasons that make Kato my favourite clay make it most suitable for this kind of thing too in my opinion. Kato is quite a bit stronger than Premo when cured properly — noting that Kato must be cured at a minimum temperature of 150C/300F for proper strength, i.e. noticeably higher than Premo’s curing temperature — and it’s also much, much stiffer.

    Kato’s high curing temperature is actually one of the reasons why I’d apply my decorative polymer clay veneer to a metal case rather than a plastic one, although the added strength of the metal is a bonus. If I were to use a plastic case I’d probably be looking at a polycarbonate one for its relative strength, but polycarbonate deforms at the temperatures needed to cure Kato properly which imposes logistical difficulties. I couldn’t bake the Kato polymer clay on the polycarbonate backpiece because the backpiece would deform. I could use the polycarbonate backpiece to make a temperature-safe support on which to bake the Kato polymer clay, and I could then take advantage of Kato’s reheat-and-reshape versatility to glue it tightly and cleanly to the polycarbonate backpiece, but that’d be a lot of stuffing around.

    I like mixing my own colours, but if you don’t then Kato has another downside for the faux burl wood technique you mentioned (which I love too). Kato and Premo appear to have applied different philosophies in setting their colour ranges. With Kato the expectation is that you’ll mix your own colours: there are only a limited number of packaged colours although they’re well suited to logical colour mixing, and you’d definitely need to mix up your own component colours for the faux burl wood. Premo, on the other hand, has a large number of packaged colours including some lovely metallics and pearlescents, and seems more set up for people using colours straight out of the packet. You can make the same standard, metallic and pearlescent colours with Kato that you can with Premo, but you have to mix them yourself.

    As for the clay thickness I’d use, if I were applying a Kato polymer clay veneer to a metal backpiece, I’d probably go for a thickness of about 0.5mm (i.e. very thin!). I’d bake it on the metal backpiece at 160C/320F (which will make it even stronger than the usual Kato curing temperature of 150C/300F) for 30-40 minutes, then once it had cooled I’d prise it off, apply suitable glue, and glue it back to the metal (polymer clay won’t bond strongly to metal). I’d probably consider finishing it with a coating of clear resin too, for a shiny finish and a bit of extra strength.

    With Kato I’d also consider making a backpiece from scratch, i.e. purely from Kato with no commercial backpiece underneath it, with the polymer clay being structural as well as decorative. Judging by large thin pieces I’ve made in the past, Kato should be strong enough and stiff enough for this to work although I’d need to experiment a bit to determine an optimum thickness. The main difficulty with this approach would be forming it precisely enough that the fully-home-made backpiece attached securely and tidily to the phone body, and on balance I’d be almost certain to be “lazy” and veneer a metal case as described above instead.

    If I were using Premo, I’d still use a metal backpiece underneath a polymer clay veneer, but I’d make the polymer clay veneer thicker at about 1mm. I’d bake it on the metal backpiece at 135C/275F for an hour, then do the rest as described above for the Kato veneer (cool, prise, glue, and maybe coat with resin).

    But I must emphasise that I haven’t actually tried making such an item! (I’m boring and really like the plain slate blue of the standard Galaxy S III case ;D) Hopefully someone with direct experience in what you’re after will chime in.

  29. Chris C, 03 February, 2014

    Hi Cindy,

    Thank you so much for your great tutorial on the faux wood grain-you have done such a great job explaining how make the cane I can’t wait to get started!
    Your video gave the color used for blond wood but I really love the oak color you used on the pocket knife. Would you be able to share which colors you used for the darker wood…also should I use a darker color than beige to cover my piece in the beginning when using a darker veneer?

    Thank you in advance for your information!

  30. Cindy Lietz, 03 February, 2014

    Hi Christine, glad you liked the tutorial! As for colors to use for a darker wood, I like to use different combinations of Burnt Umber, Gold, Raw Sienna, Bronze, Copper and a touch of Black. You can really use any color combo you like. Just make sure to include some metallic or pearl colors to keep the wood from looking flat and try to vary the colors so there is some contrast between layers. Otherwise you won’t be able to see the grain. Go to Google images to get some wood grain inspiration if you like. The combinations are endless!

  31. Sandy Henry, 21 January, 2019

    Good Morning Cindy
    I have an idea and I would like your opinion. I love wooden carved Santa’s. I don’t want to carve into wood. What are your thoughts about baking a block of clay and then carving that block of clay like a wood carver would do. I have a lot of scrap clay premo, Fimo and kato Clay. I then could rebake the finished carved Santa then paint.

  32. Cindy Lietz, 22 January, 2019

    Hi Sandy, that is an interesting idea! I haven’t tried that before so I don’t know how hard it would be to get the same look as wood. Polymer clay would be a different hardness once baked and it wouldn’t have the grain, but it would definitely be soft enough to carve. I could see it having possible issues with air pockets and chips, but you should try it.

    If it were me, rather than going from a solid block, I would shape it into the general form (like a blocky head shape for example) and the cave in the details after it was baked. That way you would waste less clay and have fewer issues with cracks, air pockets and stuff like that.

    Do try it though. You have nothing to lose and knowledge to gain! Let me know how it goes!

  33. Sandy Henry, 22 January, 2019

    Thank you sooooo much. I am taking a classes from Maureen Carlson in April. I am so excited to try this idea out. I will try both ways and keep you updated with my progress. Thanks for the quick reply.

  34. Cindy Lietz, 22 January, 2019

    You’re welcome! :)

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