Fimo Nail Art Designs – Making Polymer Clay Canes To Fit Fingernails

Tiny Fimo Nail Art Polymer Clay Canes

The size of your Fimo cane really does matter for today’s nail artist… Here’s some polymer clay techniques for teeny tiny cane designs:

The fun thing about Fimo nailart canes is that you can make one large cane and then reduce it down to the tiny size of 1/4 inch. You end up with hundreds of wonderful detailed mini artworks to add to your nail art design tool kit.

Problem is, not every polymer clay cane design will shrink down that tiny and still look good.

First there is the problem of the clay. Soft mushy clay gets very badly distorted the further you try to reduce it. Lines twist, shapes contort and become out of proportion. Colors blur. A very disappointing ending to a beautifully built cane design!

Another problem is the colors. In a large cane it is easy to see the subtle shadings of a expertly constructed fimo cane. But shrink it down to nail art size and the colors will visually mix together. This is where using colors of high contrast is very important.

Also the intensity of colors is critical for making Fimo nail art canes. Colors get denser and darker as they are compressed.

So a lovely blend of light blue to Medium Blue to Dark Blue in a large cane, may end up looking like just one shade of blue when reduced down to a small cane. So a better way to achieve a similar blend would be to shift from White to Dark Blue.

Electric colors like Florescent Green or Hot Pink are great choices to use in Fimo nail canes because their shocking intensity is muted by the smallness of the cane.

Black and white are also good candidates for their high contrast to each other.

The cane design itself should also be taken into consideration. Bold graphic patterns do well when they are shrunk down.

If you look carefully at the photo of the nail art canes above, you will see that the flaming heart cane and the flower cane stand out quite clearly.

Even the highly detailed spider cane and pirate canes are recognizable at this tiny size because of the clear outlines and the high contrast colors of black and white.

For a size contrast, here’s some links to photos for 3 of these cane designs in larger form. Have a look:

So as you can see, unique polymer clay canes like the four pictured on this page, have a lot of versatility. Used large they can become jewelry beads and pendants. Made tiny they become fun and funky Fimo nail art designs. That’s pretty good mileage that you can squeeze out of just a few blocks of colorful clay!

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  1. MJ, 09 August, 2008


    Nail art is not my thing but really appreciated the suggestions about contrast when working with small canes.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 10 August, 2008

    MJ thanks for the comment! You’re right about this idea working for all small canes.

    If you can see my nails in the picture you can see that I haven’t spent a lot of time on my nails. ;)

    Though with all the cool nail art I’ve seen lately I can totally see getting my nails done for a special occasion.

    Fimo nail art is perfect for Weddings, Proms, banquets, nightclubs, costumes, and summertime beach parties!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Cool Polymer Clay Tutorial – A Fimo and Sculpey Cane Making Tip

  3. Lona Martinez, 22 September, 2008

    Hi Cindy, I was reading on your home page about the fimo in nails art. I’m a nail tech and I just bought a bunch of canes. I tried slicing them but it is not a clean slice. Then I seen that you wrote that they get warmed up before getting sliced. How do they warm them up?

  4. Cindy Lietz, 22 September, 2008

    Hi Lona,

    Thanks for dropping by. I published some information that addresses your question in an earlier post. You can click on the link by name above to go that that article. Be sure to read the comments on the article page as well. There is additional information there.

    If this information is helpful, please do leave a comment to let me know. Thanks.

  5. yvette newell, 07 December, 2008

    hi, how do you apply the canes on acrylic nails. I’m curious and have never heard of this. thank you

  6. Cindy Lietz, 07 December, 2008

    Yvette, the canes are warmed slightly in hot water and sliced very thin. Then after a layer of acrylic is added to the nails, the slices are glued on with nail glue. You can sand the nail art slices slightly if you wish and then add a couple layers of acrylic on top of them. Don’t use regular nail polish with nail art cane slices because it will react with the clay and get all sticky.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  7. M.Peters, 22 February, 2009

    Hi! Cindy I was hoping you could help me find a book on making nail art canes. I would like to get started as soon as possible. Thanks.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 22 February, 2009

    Hi M.Peters,

    Although I don’t have a how-to-make-nail-art-canes book recommendation to pass along to you, I can provide a link to another post in this blog that may be helpful for you.

    The Fingernail Art Designs link by my name above, will take you to a conversation I had with another reader (vito) who was looking for some advice on how to get started making Fimo Nail Art Canes.

    If you are brand new to polymer clay, the advice I provided to vito over in the other thread, may apply to you too. Have a look.

    If you have any further questions, by all means, ask away. I’m here to help.

  9. Heather, 22 April, 2009

    I was hoping maybe you could tell me a website where I can buy the canes?? I’ve only found one so far, and the designs aren’t that great =( Please help!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  10. Cindy Lietz, 22 April, 2009

    Hi Heather,

    I provided a link to where you can purchase polymer clay canes over at another article. You can click on the “Fimo Nail Art Designs” link by my name above to go there.

    Please do let me know how you like the canes that are being offered there.

  11. Linda Garbe, 02 January, 2010

    I have begun to have trouble with my finger nails. I do not have polish on them. They are not nearly as strong as they used to be. The edges seem to have soft spots. Have you ever heard of polymer clay damaging finger nail?

  12. Cindy Lietz, 02 January, 2010

    I have never heard of polymer clay causing problems with peoples fingernails. I have super strong nails and work with polymer clay all the time, so I suspect it could be something else all together. I’ll keep an eye out for others mentioning this, just in case.

  13. liliana, 12 March, 2010

    quisiera saber domicilio de aqui en mexico donde adquir su productos

    GOOGLE TRANSLATION: I want to know where to purchase your products in Mexico.

  14. Phaedrakat, 12 March, 2010

    @liliana: Hola, Liliana, Ir a este enlace, alguien que ya hizo la pregunta dónde comprar Polymer Clay en México.

    Buena suerte!

  15. Phaedrakat, 13 March, 2010

    I can’t get over how well the Gerbera Flower Cane reduced so small! Incredible! I bought that back issue (Vol-015,) because I loved the flower cane. It never occurred to me to make it this small – the only cane I’ve made this tiny was a leaf cane. I guess I’ll start practicing some of these little ones. They’re so cute, even if I don’t use them for nail art! (And the spider cane is a must-make. There will be some trial & error, but it is AWESOME!)

  16. Sue P-F, 24 September, 2013

    Hi Cindy, a quick question about light cured topcoats for clay. As a retired nail tech I was wondering if a gel resin would work with clay. Gel is a plastic type of product with acrylic in it. Have you ever tried it?

  17. Cindy Lietz, 02 October, 2013

    Hi Sue P-F, As you might be able to tell from my nails in the videos, I am not really a fancy nails girl. :) But the same thought has crossed my mind and have kind-of kept my eye out for a UV Nail Gel that I could test. Probably haven’t looked in the right places, but I hadn’t come across any yet, so I have no idea whether or not it would be compatible with polymer clay. Regular nail polish is not, but I am assuming the gel is a completely different product. If you have some, why don’t you do some test samples and let us know if it works or not? Also, where is a good place to buy the stuff and what is it called? I wouldn’t mind trying it out myself! Thanks for commenting!

  18. Sue P-F, 06 October, 2013

    Thank you for your reply Cindy. I will get some uv gel and give it a go. As to where you may be able to purchase true uv gel, I would suggest Sally Beauty. I don’t think you will need a license to shop there. The product come in small jars and is already mixed and ready to go. The cure time would be about 2 mins in the uv light. There will be a sticky film after curing which can be removed with 70% isopropal alcohol. Then it should be nice and shiny. Thin coats are best. Make sure the gel is clear, as it comes in pinks and whites. I am on the road for the next couple weeks but will get to it asap. If you get to it first keep me posted.
    take care

  19. Sonia Rodriguez, 25 February, 2014

    Hi Cindy!!!I am Sonia Rodriguez from Spain. In your video tutorials I can see one nails lamp on the top of your working table. Do you use this lamp for de polymer clay? How do you use this lamp? I am very curious!!

  20. Cindy Lietz, 26 February, 2014

    Hi Sonja, thanks for the compliments! Good eye! Yes that is a nail lamp. I use it to cure my UV Resin that I put on my polymer clay projects. I did a tutorial on it if you’re interested. Here is the link… UV Epoxy Resin Tutorial

  21. Kathy O, 12 July, 2021

    So I used to have these tiny polymer clay canes for adding to nail art and never used them. they were stored in a ziplock baggie in my salon for years. Needless to say they are hard as a rock and now that I’m taking up resin as a hobby I’d like to know if there is a way to salvage this stuff. Luckily I had sliced some of them to put in little containers, but I still have the majority of the canes in the baggie. I tried slicing one and it just shattered all over the place. I did a google search and found your website so I’m guessing baby oil or vaseline is what I should coat them with and wrap them up again? Just wondering how long do I wait and then do I clean them or what? Any info would be great. Thanks!

  22. Cindy Lietz, 13 July, 2021

    Hi Kathy, it all depends on whether your tiny canes were baked or not. If they were raw, you might be able to put some clay softener on the outside and let it soak in. I wouldn’t use Vaseline… I haven’t worked with it on polymer, so I can’t advise whether that would work or not. Another option is to bake them and slice them when they are warm. You can usually get quite good results with that technique. Lastly, if you think they may already be baked, then you can warm them up in the oven or a bowl of boiling water. A sharp razor blade and a warm cane will usually be much easier to slice. Hopefully one of those things will help you out. Good luck!

  23. Kathy O, 13 July, 2021

    I don’t know if they were baked or not, they used to be pretty stiff so I’m thinking maybe they were baked? They weren’t overly easy to slice, but they did slice quite thinly, and I used a razor blade device they provided with it. I think I’ll try the boiling water method and let you know how it goes. Any idea how long I should put them in there?

  24. Cindy Lietz, 14 July, 2021

    Just put them in a bowl of boiling water for long enough for them to soften up a bit and feel bendy and rubbery. They are pretty tiny so they’ll only need a minute or two. You can’t hurt them by leaving them in the water though. Let me know if that helps!

  25. Kathy O, 29 December, 2021

    I tried what you suggested and the canes were just too dried out and crumbled when I tried to slice them. They are really old so I guess they were just past their prime.

  26. Cindy Lietz, 04 January, 2022

    Hmm that sounds frustrating! I would try baking them at 275F again for 30 mins and see if you can slice them with a really sharp razor. There’s a chance they were never baked properly in the first place. Even a really old cane that is properly baked should be able to be sliced. But who knows, they also could have been made with a brittle clay. You could consider cutting them into thick beads instead. Good luck!

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