How to Slice Polymer Clay Canes For Making Fimo Beads and Jewelry

Polymer Clay Can

Some canes are made "unfinished" or without backgrounds which can pose difficulties when slicing them:

Q: "How to slice an unfinished cane such as a flower that has not had the final filler canes put around the edges. Should I be using fimo classic? I don’t like it because it’s so hard to condition. All the canes I make with polyclay seem to be easily distorted." ~Sue Neundorfer

A: The reason a cane most often has a background is to keep it from distorting when you reduce it and when it is being sliced. Without the background it becomes quite tricky to work with.

Often to make the cane appear as though it doesn’t have a back ground, a translucent clay is used instead of an opaque one. However, there are cases when you want the shape of the bead or slice to be the same shape as the cane, and you don’t want a background.

In that case, your hunch to use a firm clay like Fimo Classic is a good one. The firmer the clay the less it will distort. If you have trouble conditioning it, try using a food processor to mix it for you.

Read this article on Conditioning Polymer Clay with a Food Processor for more info.

Putting your cane into the fridge to cool and harden will help make the slicing process easier too. As will a sharp tissue blade and a light touch.

Another way to avoid distortion all together with these unfinished canes is to bake them first and then cut them after. This limits the use of the cane but it works well if you are making cane slice beads, charms or scrapbook embellishments which can be drilled after baking.

For more info on slicing baked canes you can go to this article:
Slicing Fimo Nail Art Canes


Today’s Polymer Clay Q+A article focused on how to slice polymer clay canes for making fimo beads and jewelry. Specifically I talked about working with unfinished canes. Thanks again Sue for your great question! If anyone has follow-up questions about this topic, please use the comments section below.
Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


 

 

  1. Cindy Lietz, 25 August, 2008

    The best way to build a cane that does not have a background is to reduce each piece before assembly. That way it does not have to be reduced later, which is a much more difficult task!

    Cindy’s last post..Clay Flower Pendant Necklace Project with Vintage Glass Beads

  2. Mary Neuges, 08 September, 2009

    Thanks so much for being patient with me, I did get it working and watched the videos in Vol.1. I will try to make the lentil beads, it looks easy but, I will confess I will be purchasing some canes from Etsy. I do alot of Breast Cancer Jewelry and I wanted a cool bead to work with.

    Now I know how to use the canes to put on a plain bead. I have a problem cutting the canes, I’m left handed and can not cut a straight line, is there something that I can use as a guide.

    Thanks again, Mary

  3. Cindy Lietz, 08 September, 2009

    Hi Mary,

    I’ve transfered your email question about cane slicing over to the blog here. This is so that others can benefit from the information as well.

    First of all, I am so glad to hear you were able to finally access the Lentil Bead Making videos in Volume-001. They are a very cool looking bead that are addictive (in a good way) to make.

    In regards to finding information about slicing canes, now is a good time to teach you how to use the search box at the top of the page. There is already a bunch of free information published on this topic in various articles.

    Use search keywords like:
    Slicing Canes
    Cane slice
    Cane Making
    Etc.

    If you still have unanswered questions after reading through the existing articles, then by all means post a comment under the article that matches the topic best, and either myself or some other helpful member will chime in.

    There is a comments section under every article at this blog. Often there is more information in these guest comments that in the articles themselves.

    Posting a blog comment is easy to do.
    1) Simply put your name in the Name Field;
    2) Add your email to the Email Field;
    3) Type your message in the big white box;
    4) Finally, click on the “Submit Comment” button.

    And if you want to receive an automated email when someone replies to your comment, then be sure to put a check mark in the little box under the “Submit Comment” button that says, “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.”

    Easy as pie :-)
    Talk soon,
    Cindy

  4. John Duck, 14 May, 2010

    Hi,

    My name is John Duck and I am 63 years old and live on Social Security Disability. I turn pens on a mini lathe but the dust from turning is beginning to effect my breathing. In my search for another hobby I discovered polymer clay.

    I would like to learn how to make pendants and earrings. I have bought a pasta machine, a small set of polymer clay tools and a resin mold for a hart pendant and earrings.

    I have found several sites for polymer clay canes buy my lack of knowledge will not allow me to order any. The ones that I like best state they are baked. I hope you might be able to help me out…

    Can baked canes be cut into thin slices and run through my pasta machine to make them larger? Can I apply them over a clay backing, insert a hoop and bake the completed pendant?

    Cindy, I honestly cannot afford to pay for classes or to join a group. Do you offer anything like this that is free of charge?

    I have found a lot of videos on YouTube on polymer clay but most say to use their molds, their tools, and one type of clay. Can you please tell me one group of videos that I might follow?

    Which type of resin should I use? What type of molds work best for pendants and earrings? What is the name of a clay tool set that has the most used tools?

    I am a complete newbe to polymer clay and I would like to learn from one source to develop my skills.

    Thank you for your time and any possible suggestions that you might offer me.

    John

  5. Cindy Lietz, 18 May, 2010

    Hi John, welcome to our happy little claying community! You’ve come to the right place!

    As far as your question about adding baked cane slices to raw clay, that will not work. The edges around the baked clay will not blend with the raw, and the whole slice will crack should you try and roll it out. You need to use raw canes for this sort of thing.

    Resin is relatively expensive, so I would concentrate on making a good quality polymer clay product first before moving on to adding resin, since your budget is so tight. A good sanding and buffing will get you a long ways to a beautiful finish.

    As far as getting the knowledge you need, there are currently 807 articles here at the blog (the count grows daily), that have free information in them… as well as over 15,506 helpful comments filled with valuable information. The links at the side, plus the search box at the top will help you tremendously with finding the information you need.

    Eventually you will want to purchase some of the tutorial videos since nothing is quite as effective as learning by video. I have a beginner’s course, which I have linked to by my name as well there are weekly tutorials in the member video library (link at top of page) that will help.

    Make sure to sign up for the free newsletter and receive three free videos and weekly color mixing recipes. (The link for the newsletter is the big green and blue box on the top right hand side of this page.)

    Get involved in the conversations around here and come back as often as you can and you will be a polymer clay pro in no time!

  6. Stacy Z, 12 April, 2011

    Do they make a machine to cut the very small fimo canes so you don’t have to do by hand? I was wanting to cut some thin really thin and add to like a vase or something not sure what to attach to with, seen site thought I would ask thanks sites awesome I book marking it.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 13 April, 2011

    @Stacy Z: There are some cane slicing machines available but they are very expensive. ($500 range) Are you working with raw canes or unbaked canes? Because that will make a big difference as to how you are going to attach them to a vase. A quick search using the search box at the top of the page will bring up articles on adding cane slices to projects.

    If you click the link by my name, it will take you to a previous post on how to slice Fimo Nail Art canes. Hope that helps!

  8. Sarah S, 06 November, 2011

    Hello, could anybody give me some help on baking canes? To prevent squishing the canes like I usually do when slicing, I tried baking two for 5-10 minutes and discovered that they always crumbled when I tried to slice them, even gently. And do all baked canes look so matte after sliced?

  9. Cindy Lietz, 11 November, 2011

    I think your canes are crumbling Sarah because they are under-baked. Tried baking them for an hour instead and slicing them when they are warm. Come back and let us know if that works for you.

  10. Jilian H, 21 February, 2014

    Hello Cindy!

    First of all I want to say that I love all your work it’s wonderful.

    I’m new working with polymer clay and I really have problems slicing the canes, that made me research for tools to improve this slices, happened that I found a new machine from Lucy Clay (Lucy clay slicer) I think it’s expensive but I like to see how it works however I would like to have your opinion. Have you seen it? Would you work with something like that? In your opinion do you think is really worth it.? It is $215

    Thank you

    Lilian

  11. Cindy Lietz, 22 February, 2014

    Hi Julian, I haven’t had the opportunity to try the Lucy Slicer out… it does look like a very good machine, but it is very expensive. I don’t think it would be your best investment as a new clayer.

    What I would do is get a good clay blade and practice slicing. (Just roll up some scraps into a round log or a square cane and just start cutting.) Do a few hundred slices and you’ll be slicing much better in no time!

    If you really must buy a slicer, then buy the Simple Slicer I reviewed a little while ago. They are much cheaper, at about $75. But even then it probably would be necessary until you reached the intermediate level.

    If you’ve got the money, I’d rather see you spend it on a better pasta machine like an Atlas 150 or on more clay or other supplies like inks and mica powders and such.

    Down the road if you are at the professional level and you still want a Lucy Slicer, than buy one. They seem to be an excellent product!

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