Happy Camper Cane | Polymer Clay Tutorial Vol-073

Happy Camper Cane Tutorial - Polymer Clay Tutor6 Videos #526 to #531: Featuring a fun polka dot technique (optional) using one of Cynthia Tinapple’s new extruder disk designs.

Images of Vintage Trailer and Retro Campers are Hot, Hot, Hot! You will find them everywhere, in jewelry, fabrics, Scrapbooking papers and patterns, all kinds of creative places. It represents the nostalgic memories of the simpler days, having fun camping with friends and family.

They are just so darn cute too! So in the spirit of Summer and Roadtrips and camping… I thought it would be super fun to make a darling polymer clay cane in the shape of a vintage trailer for our next upcoming PcT Tutorial Series.

Posted just below is a Sneak Peak and overview of my Happy Camper Polymer Clay Cane Tutorial. The rest of the 6 part video series will be posted tomorrow (Friday, June 6, 2014) in Vol-073 at the Polymer Clay Tutor Library.

BTW, if this Happy Camper Polymer Clay Cane Tutorial looks exciting to you, please do click that YouTube Like button. Many of you have been giving the Thumbs Up to the weekly YouTube videos, which is great… Thank You! However, these monthly intro clips need some love as well. When they don’t get as many likes, it makes it look like they are not appreciated as much… which surely can’t be true with all the nice comments you all leave :)

Vol-073-1: Video #526: Introduction: In this 6 part video tutorial series, you will learn how to create my original Happy Camper Polymer Clay Cane design. Included are many tips, tricks and techniques that you can can use to create this cool cane in the colors and style I suggest, or your own, to make truly one-of-a-kind polymer clay projects. These adorable and funky looking complex canes, can be used to create cute bracelets, earrings, pendants, and other jewelry pieces. Plus the design is great for making crafty fridge magnets and buttons too. This project will appeal to all ages, as it makes you smile, dreaming about the happy times, hitting the road in a cute little camper.

Pt 2 Happy Camper Cane Tutorial - Polymer Clay TutorVol-073-2: Video #527:
Polka Dot Cane:

In this video, I demonstrate how to make a retro looking polka dot cane using an extruder tool and one of the disks from Cynthia Tinapple’s new extruder disk set. I also show you how to make the polka dot cane by hand, just in case you aren’t able to pick up Cynthia’s new product at this time. The polka dot pattern is not only a great design element for today’s Happy camper cane, but it also works with many other jewelry projects as well. Of course if you prefer to not have a polka dot section on your Happy Camper Cane… that is totally up to you!

Pt 3 Happy Camper Cane Tutorial - Polymer Clay TutorVol-073-3: Video #528:
Planning Building Trailer Design:

In this video, you will use the polka dot cane from the second video to create the top portion of your trailer design. I will show you how to tweak your design; How to add an element such as a pinstripe; How to add the bottom section; and How to map out the rest of your cane design. These techniques can be used in future canes of your own design, and can be adapted to your own personal taste. Once you have made this cane once, you will understand how all complex cane patterns are just a series of parts… much like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.

Pt 4 Happy Camper Cane Tutorial - Polymer Clay TutorVol-073-4: Video #529:
Cutting Out The Window And Door:

In this lesson, you will learn some unique techniques for spacing the components of your cane design, such as the window and door. The tips and techniques you learn here can be transferred to other cane projects that you may create in the future. I will show you how the careful removal of excess clay is critical to avoiding distortion and broken or wiggly lines in your cane design. Things that are not that noticeable before reduction of the cane, can look very off when compressed smaller. It’s all in the details!

Pt 5 Happy Camper Cane Tutorial - Polymer Clay TutorVol-073-5: Video #530:
Window Door Tire Doorknob:

In this video, you will learn about important information about the proper way to make and add several of the smaller cane elements that need to be incorporated into the main design of your cane (i.e. the windows, door, tire and doorknob elements). Although the overall cane project may seem complex, once broken down into it’s individual components, you will find that the parts are quite simple to make. There are some cool tricks to getting the pieces to all fit together properly that I think you will really appreciate.

Pt 6 Happy Camper Cane Tutorial - Polymer Clay TutorVol-073-6: Video #531:
Completing The Cane:

In this video, the cane really starts to come together! The tire and doorknob are added, and the overall cane is wrapped and reduced to a usable size. I will give you pointers for reducing the cane successfully, but for more in depth info you can refer to this Free Video Tutorial: Reducing Square Polymer Clay Canes. You can use this cane for making tons of funking polymer clay projects, such as earring, pendants, beads, bracelets, buttons, magnets and so much more. This tutorial is a technique tutorial and not a project one. So if you need more help with how to actually use your Happy Camper Cane, do a search here on my blog for more info about baking, sanding, polishing and creating jewelry projects. I think you are going to love making this adorable Happy Camper Cane and will be itching to create all kinds of cute trailer designs of your own, once you’re done making this cutie!

Other Suggested Supplies:

  • Cynthia Tinapple Extruder Disks
  • Baking Tray.
  • File Folder, Cardstock, or Aluminum Roasting Pan for tenting.
  • Stiff large drinking straw.
  • Flat piece of acrylic.
  • Small 1/2 inch round cutter.
  • Ruler.

By the way, many of the “shopping” links I provide for the various tools and supplies used in my tutorials, are “affiliate” resources. That means companies like Amazon and the other suppliers I refer, 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 little bit helps in keeping the cost of my tutorials down. And, the prices for products that you may purchase through my links, are exactly the same as what you would normally pay, even if it is a “sale” price. So please feel free to click whenever you need to pick up a few things for your studio. Thanks so much for your support.

The full video series for the Happy Camper Cane tutorial described above, is available in Vol-073 at the Polymer Clay Library.

If you would like to receive 3 free beginner videos right now, plus some free color recipes that get sent out each week in my Friday email newsletter, please click this link: Polymer Clay Tutorials


Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my monthly library 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, 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.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

Cindy – I REALLY enjoy your site. You are so precise on your instructions – and us “old dogs” need that! ~Judy-M

Cindy you certainly have a way of turning the hardest looking things into a simple step by step process. I was really surprised when watching how much information and techniques you really cram into a video. I am absolutely certain that anyone, beginner or advanced polymer clay person would more than benefit and learn so much by joining your tutorial sessions. The Video Library is like a treasure chest to me. I keep going back there not only to scoop up new ideas but to rely on the old tutorials so that I can duplicate them and make more projects from them. When I look backĀ  BC (before Cindy) and see all that I missed, I was so excited to learn that I could purchase back issues to complete MY Library. Thanks Cindy! ~DixiAnn-S

The time you’ve spent on these tutorials and your web site is amazing… you obviously have a wonderful husband who supports you. Thank you! ~Naomi-D

If anyone is still on the fence about signing up for Cindy’s paid membership… I posted a picture in the Red Clover Flower section… it shows how much I’ve grown because of the continued work and effort that Doug and his family does for us. The single bead was made about a year ago (lost the other one). The new set I made yesterday. Thank you Cindy I could not have done it with out YOU! ~Tantesherry

How different our lives would be without art. It is everywhere. Teachers like you, Cindy, make it look easy. But if it were easy no one would need to be taught. I always say to people who think they are not talented, “Talent is only 10%. 90% is practice, practice and practice!” Sometimes only a small word of encouragement is needed for people to succeed. And one word of discouragement to crush someone’s inspirations. I love the positive atmosphere here! That alone is a great tool for improving creativity and artistic abilities. ~Catalina-L

The full video series for the Happy Camper Cane tutorial described above, is available in Vol-073 at the Polymer Clay Library.

If you would like to receive 3 free beginner videos right now, plus some free color recipes that get sent out each week in my Friday email newsletter, please click this link: Polymer Clay Tutorials

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Liz A, 05 June, 2014

    Hi Cindy! I am so looking forward to tomorrow to see the rest of these tutorials!

    This bracelet looks so pretty and fun to wear, how could you not feel like a “Happy Camper” ! I really enjoy your tutorials, Thanks so much, Liz?

  2. Cindy Lietz, 05 June, 2014

    This jewelry makes me smile and feel happy every time I wear it… so I’m keeping everything you see in the video for myself! Have fun with the tutorial tomorrow. I think you are going to love all the new stuff you learn about cane making. You can translate those new skills to your own cane designs in the future as well. Happy Camping!?

  3. Sandra J, 05 June, 2014

    Hi there I can’t see the video :( comes up with an error message. Anyone else having problems?

  4. Doug Lietz, 05 June, 2014

    Hi Sandra – The Intro Video for this Vol-073 Tutorial Series is hosted on YouTube… and it appears that YouTube has been experiencing some technical difficulties today. I found references in Google saying that the issue is browser related… so firing up a different web browser to watch this particular video may work as a temporary fix on your end. I can tell you the problem is not happening for everyone… but it is definitely happening for some.

  5. Pengy C, 06 June, 2014

    I found away around the YouTube issue. I went to the desktop version on my smart phone and it played.

  6. Doug Lietz, 07 June, 2014

    Thanks for sharing that information Pengy. It tells us that the issue likely has something to do with YouTube’s “Mobile Version” of the video… in other words, the version of the video that they (try to) playback for you if you are on a smartphone or tablet.

    I have submitted a ticket to the YouTube support desk, in hopes that they will be able to resolve this situation quickly. It is the first time this has ever happened with videos that we publish at YouTube.

    For now, the workaround is to watch the Vol-073 Intro video on a laptop or desktop computer.

    I wish I had more control over being able to work on a fix, but at this stage, all we can do is wait and see if, or how quickly YouTube will respond.

    Cross your fingers.

    >>> PS: The main parts of this paid tutorial series (Parts 2 through 6) are in fact working on all mobile devices… which is a relief. That is because we don’t use YouTube to publish those ones.

  7. Doug Lietz, 08 June, 2014

    I believe I have the issue fixed … the Vol-073 video should now be playing again on all mobile devices. Could those of you who were having issues playing the clip on your phones or tablets, please let me know if its working now. Thanks.

  8. Sandra j, 05 June, 2014

    Oh so cute! I think I know what I am doing tomorrow! So cool!

  9. Cindy Lietz, 06 June, 2014

    Have fun with the tutorial Sandra!

  10. Catalina, 06 June, 2014

    Wow! This is cute. It so reminds me of our trailer when I was young. We took it out camping only once! My mom thought it was too much work with four kids and not enough “fun” for her! So, my dad sold it :( Now, maybe a little campfire cane to go with it!! :)

  11. Cindy Lietz, 06 June, 2014

    LOL What a cute story Catalina! I love the campfire cane idea… something I should put on my list to figure out! :)

  12. Tante Sherry, 06 June, 2014

    So many memories of going camping as a little kid came rushing back with this tutorial – and for that I thank you guys <3 Totally happy moment happening right now! just ordered my very own polka dot die set from Cynthia Tinapple’s site.

  13. Cindy Lietz, 06 June, 2014

    Thanks Sherry! I know, it brought back memories for me too. It is probably why they have been such a popular image in so many areas lately. I have seen vintage trailer Scrapbooking dies, cards, beads, jewelry, charms, pin cushions, curtains, and more with this theme. Whether the memories of camping as a kid were good or bad, they are fond memories of a simpler time!

  14. Patt W, 06 June, 2014

    Wow -Cindy, you did such a wonderful job showing how to cut sections apart. That is an important part of a good cane.

    We camped with our 3 kids, and 3 of their friends. Yep, six kids. We did that for years. What fun. A pickup camper, with a small catamaran strapped to the top . We looked like we were invading the campsite. LOL. But we All had a great ole time. The grown kids still talk about out trips.!!

    What a fun reminder this can will be!! TY for all your time and effort !!! Grin………..

  15. Cindy Lietz, 06 June, 2014

    Thanks Patt! That cutout technique will come in handy for future cane designs as well. It is important to understand how the polymer clay moves and behaves in order to have successful canes that will reduce without getting too distorted. Just because it looks good when it’s built, doesn’t mean it will still look good when reduced. I thought it was a good technique to share with you all.

    I love your camping story as well! I bet you guys had a great time!

    One of my fond (not so fond) camping memories is when my Dad would tie a fish head in a tree at the farthest edge of the campsite so the bees would hang out there instead of where we were cooking. There was a lot of “eew gross!” and “eeek bees!” squeals from all the kids in the campsite. I wasn’t convinced that it worked very well… the bees seem to be attracted from all over the campground to our site!!

  16. Jocelyn C, 07 June, 2014

    What an adorable concept for a cane! We lived just down the road from a major campsite in the sixties, and enjoyed watching all manners and shapes of campers cruising down Route 1 to the site. They all made me smile then, and watching the instructions and variations kept a big grin on my face through the whole tute.

    Predict that objects made from this cane will be a big seller this summer. It screams vintage. Cannot wait to try it.

    Thank you Cindy and Doug for bringing such a happy memory back into my life!

  17. Cindy Lietz, 07 June, 2014

    Thank you Jocelyn! I am glad you enjoyed the tute! It is funny how a certain shape or image will bring a smile to your face. I too find this design to be adorable each time I see it.

  18. Dixie Ann, 07 June, 2014

    Cindy, this is a darling cane for a camper. It gives one a good idea as to how these types are
    taken apart and put back together. An excellent beginning project for anyone who wants to
    learn this process including me. I am going to love creating this. QUESTION: I am currently working on your faux batik tutorial and am at the stage where I want to wash off the ink and glue.
    Did you use warm or cold water in doing this? I know you don’t like to use HOT. I had to actually let my tile sit overnight because the inks were not quite dry and it was bedtime. Does this make a difference letting it sit that long?

  19. Cindy Lietz, 07 June, 2014

    Thanks Dixie Ann! As far as the Batik tutorial, I would use cool water… warm only if you need to. Don’t know how well it will come off a day later or how much it will have soaked in, but I guess you’ll find out. Do let us know how it goes… you have me curious now.

  20. Stephanie S, 10 June, 2014

    Cindy you have a way of explaining things that have helped me understand. Thank you for that. I have searched the web over and you have been my most favorite to go to!

  21. Joy Davis, 11 June, 2014

    Hi there Cindy, I wanted to say how much I truly enjoy your video series, they’re wonderful, you explain everything so well and have such a beautiful speaking voice and your husband’s great filming ability, well, let’s just say that you two make a very successful team! I have been working with polymer clay for a very long time, I’ve taken a lot of classes and have a fully equipped studio, which I love, I know most methods, but like to brush up and love your tutorials! I am excited about the “Happy camper” video that is so cute! I look forward to a lovely, long exchange between us! It’s going to be just great! Be well.

  22. Pat H, 19 June, 2014

    Hi Cindy. Just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful video tutorials. I have been glued to my computer for the last few days after becoming a member and have been able to get so many wonderful tutorials. My only problem is that I can’t buy them all right now!!! It is very difficult to decide which ones to get now and which ones to wait on. At any rate, thank you again for being such a generous teacher and sharing your fabulous ideas with us. I am very grateful to have found your web site and have already learned so much from your videos. Thanks again. A very happy camper… LOL.

  23. Nadini N, 22 July, 2014

    Hi Cindy,
    I am at a loss of words to let you know that I just love your tutorials and wish I could meet you in person some day… I am unable to articulate, but would want to tell you that your tutorials are just superb and lucid, and very easy to understand,even for a beginner like me. I wish you could come to Mumbai (India) and share your great work with art and craft lovers here. Amen !

  24. Susan Smart, 29 May, 2016

    Hi Cindy,

    I’m planning on using the techniques from the Happy Camper Cane to make a cane that resembles my new teardrop trailer. As “Veronica” is a plain darker blue with black doors and fenders, I opted for fancier wheels that have chrome v-shaped spokes. I’ve skimmed through the videos looking for means to make the tire/wheel cane, but am unsure exactly what to do. Should I make the chrome hub with the chrome spokes coming off, filling in the non-chrome sections with triangles of clay as I go, or do you have a different idea?


  25. Cindy Lietz, 30 May, 2016

    It sounds like you are on the right path, Susan… or should I say Road? :) When you want to tweak an idea in another direction, sometimes you will have to play with the design a little before you get one that will work the way you picture it. I suggest that you make a couple of test wheels (smaller and way shorter than what you will need for your real cane) just to make sure that your concept and colors will work. That way you won’t be wasting an entire cane, if it is off a little. Your idea and approach sounds like a great one. I look forward to seeing samples of your finished ‘Veronica” cane!

  26. Kathleen Debernardi, 14 November, 2018

    How do i find Cinthia Tinapples new extruder disk set you used in the Happy Camper video? I looked on a number of sites today and could not find it. Thank you Kathleen

  27. Cindy Lietz, 15 November, 2018

    Hi Kathleen, you can find them at PolyClayPlay… Cynthia Tinapple Extruder Disks here… it is Set #1.

  28. Kathleen Debernardi, 16 November, 2018

    Well it is me again bothering you. i went on polyclayplay and they are out of stock for cynthia tinapples extruder disk just my luck thanks for all of your help Kathleen

    but what are the dimentions of that log to try myself?

  29. Cindy Lietz, 19 November, 2018

    Hi Kathleen, sorry for taking so long to get back to you, but I’m swamped. I don’t think Cynthia is making those discs anymore, (which is pain). If you have the Lucy Clay disks you could do a work around… I believe the disk #4 would work. If you want to make your own, I would find the largest square disc you have and then find a spaghetti disc with an appropriate sized “noodle”. to fit into grooves that you press in with a bamboo skewer. You could also cut or shape square logs that are about 1 cm in size and do the same thing. Because you can reduce the cane to any size you wish, it doesn’t matter what size you use. You would just put the logs together until you have enough to cut out your shape, like I show you in the video. If you need more help let me know.

  30. Dixie Ann Scott, 19 November, 2018

    Kathleen, you might want to try polyclayplay for those extruder disks. They might have a set.

  31. Cindy Lietz, 19 November, 2018

    Thanks Dixie Ann but I already suggested that and it turns out they are sold out.

  32. Kathleen Debernardi, 20 November, 2018

    Cindy, Thanks for response I will try it.

  33. Regina Hovaldt, 21 April, 2019

    First let me say that I love your tutorials. I watch them over and over. You are great at giving instructions as to what to do and how to do it. Thank you.

    The reason I am writing is that I saw your tutorial about the disk from Cynthia Tinapple for the Makins extruder. I tried to go to her blog but could not send a message about buying this disk or any others that she may have that are different from the ones from Makins. If possible, please let me know how I can get this disk. Thank you in advance.

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