Polymer Clay Cane Designs Inspired by Dainty Spring Flowers

Polymer Clay Cane Inspiration from A Beautiful Pansy Flower

Some ideas and techniques on how to make polymer clay canes patterned from beautiful spring flowers:

I love Spring and I love Johnny-Jump-Ups even more! These cheerful little pansy flowers jump up like weeds all over my vegetable garden. This year I got my husband Doug to take pictures of them and I thought they were the perfect inspiration for making polymer clay canes!

I really love the way the deep purple shifts from a magenta based purple to an indigo one. Then to a bluish white and next a warm sunny yellow. The deep purple slashes accentuate the blends of color and create a bridge from one color to the next.

In polymer clay cane making, a design like this is broken into elements that can be translated into clay techniques.

First your base colors would be decided upon and custom mixed. Then, since it is a flower, you would add a fair amount of translucent to each color to give it a more realistic translucency.

Next, three different Skinner Blends are created to imitate the petals. Starting with the back petals a blend could be created from magenta based purples to indigo. Saving some of this blend for the back petals, white can be added to the remaining blend to create a new blend for the center two petals. Some of that would be saved and finally yellow would be added to the remaining blend creating the three colored petal at the bottom.

Each blend would be shaped into petal shaped logs (canes) and wrapped in a contrasting color, such as a pale blue, so that each petal would stand out from one another.The deep purple slashes would be inserted into cuts in each of the front canes and each cane would be placed in their proper positions to build the shape of the flower.

The whole cane would then be wrapped in a sheet of translucent, then back filled to create a round cane for reducing.

I explain here, the process behind creating a beautiful polymer clay cane from an inspirational flower photo. Not as instructions per se but more as a way for those of you who have never made a cane before, to begin to understand the steps in making one.

As you learn the different techniques in polymer clay, you will begin to see photos like this as a source for original cane designs. You will be able to see things more simply. More as a series of steps, rather than an impossible piece of art to create.

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Over time, through my blog, my newsletter and my courses, I will share the different polymer clay cane making techniques and skills that you’ll will need to be able to look at a picture like this and not only see a beautiful flower but also see a beautiful polymer clay cane!

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  1. Cindy Lietz, 27 May, 2008

    To simplify this cane you could choose to only have three petals instead of five. Less realistic, but just as pretty!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Scrap Polymer Clay Lentil Beads – Free Video Tutorial

  2. Krista, 18 July, 2008

    What a great idea! Adding tranlucent to the blends to gave a more realistic look. I would have never thought of that. I love the the picture of this flower too. I am a big time purple lover and I actually find that purple beads or beads with any purple sell much better then others.

  3. Tina Holden, 18 July, 2008

    Besides blue and green, purple is my most fave colour. Haven’t caned in quite a while, but your article inspired me to want to cane again! So much so that my current beadwork project is going to have to wait, lol. Thanks Cindy!

  4. tk, 18 July, 2008

    I do love the idea of using nature as a palette and creating Skinner blends. My mom always told me that to match colors “ask the pansies. If God put it on a flower you can wear it too”. The photo reminds me of her, and makes me want to work on more blends based on nature.

  5. Cheryl, 18 July, 2008

    I really liked the part about adding translucent clay to give it a more realistic translucency. I can see all the flowers in my mind now, of course being new it will take me a while but I will get there. Thanks, Cheryl

  6. Brenda Estes, 18 July, 2008

    Pansy’s are my favorite flower. I will have to take a closer look at all my flowers in the garden. I can set and look at color for hours.

  7. Karen Orton, 18 July, 2008

    Though I am literally brand new at the P.C. bead making, I have already gotten a ‘different eye’ in my surroundings for looking at color. I was actually in my bathroom the other day, for my morning sit down and noticed my shower curtain. It is in rich browns, golds and tans. I’m thinking what great colors and textures it would be use to as a polymer clay tube bead. Also, I got a catalog from a well known flower company and just looking through it, at the color spectrum available in nature, I see ‘treasure’ now in even my junk mail! Thanks for helping me to be inspired with the idea of color in nature, mail and yes, even my bathroom curtain.

  8. Sue, 18 July, 2008

    I have to admit that making canes is the most intimidating part of this new craft. I’ve seen some breathtaking canes, realistic peonies and roses and irises (my favorite) that take my breath away. I spent my fiftieth birthday in Venice (amidst the antiquity, heh heh) and was amazed by the milefiore glass on Murano. Just as with polymer clay, a number of different techniques yeilds numerous effects. I think I will master some basics before I explore caning, but I am certainly intrigued! Thanks!

  9. Abby M, 18 July, 2008

    I would love to make a wild violet cane because of the vibrant purples which the skinner blend plug technique you showed last week would be perfect for at least a different kind depth would be seen in the cane.besides the only flowers that grow around my house are either wild or made of clay! and looking at photos for ideas of depth, shape, & color should be a tried & true method when it comes to caning & any other polymer clay project! even if the photo is a beautiful/simple hand drawn pic made all by yourself! p.s. I love the videos you send every week they really do inspire me!

  10. Kam, 18 July, 2008

    Karen….thanks for the giggle…’your morning sit down’….I just got home from a LONG day at market…and that struck my funny bone! Anyways, back to issue at hand….WAY over my head this cane making flower thing!! But oh so beautiful! I am very excited to learn this technique. One of these days I just might be brave enough!

  11. Sandra Henry, 19 July, 2008

    If you have done nothing else Cindy you have made people stop and look at the world around them. This fast pace world that we live in, does take up to much of our time and then we ask ourselves where did the time go. My motto is Stop, Look and Listen. Look around you and enjoy the beauty from with in, an think to yourself how can I create that beauty into a work of art. Creating something show other people there is still beauty in the world and if your art work can make people stop and say thats nice, you have accomplished what you set out to do. I think that is why I have so much fun Polymer Clay.

  12. Kim C., 19 July, 2008

    I love flower canes. I have seen instructions for the pansy before. It’s a daunting task for someone who is still making bullseye and jelly roll canes, but I’ll get there.

  13. Alli, 19 July, 2008

    i have been studying flowers and plants well pictures of them there are not vary many in old AZ
    and the translucent clay makes it just that much mare realistic.

  14. Garnie S, 19 July, 2008

    Awesome descriptive writing you have here, Cindy…you “done good”,kiddo! Looking around our world is not only good for finding inspiring artwork ideas, but it also nourishes the soul….and makes our eyeballs happy campers! :)

  15. Angela, 19 July, 2008

    The word “dainty” in this tutorial really scared me, for I am far from a dainty person (in life and with my clay). I must say though Judy Skinner has brought one of my favorite techniques to polymer clay, I love that skinner blend :) This is one of the main ways I make my dragons scales and to a non-skinner clayer, it just baffles (is that oh that is spelled??) them, how that was done. IT”S MAGIC!!
    I think translucent clay is so under estimated, just use it!!!

  16. Andrea R, 19 July, 2008

    Cindy you make it seem that creating canes can be so effortless. I love what you do, and how you put into words the instruction for others to follow.

    I love the colors of flowers in nature to and I think that those colors in that one flower in this post are amazing. Colors are always inspiring, but your videos and instruction really make me want to think outside the box. Thanks!

  17. Cindy Erickson, 20 July, 2008


    You have completely inspired me and boggled my mind all at the same time! Whoa!!! Is it really possible to make a cane like this beautiful Johnny-Jump-Up flower!?! Well, wonders never cease! If I can learn to make a cane anywhere near as beautiful as this, then the world truly is my oyster (hey, I could probably make an oyster too)!

    I know that I use a lot of exclamation points when I comment, but, Cindy…I am soooooo excited about all of this new found knowledge that I am receiving from you!!! I think you must be a polymer clay angel sent from above :)

    Sincerely, Cindy Erickson

  18. Cindy Lietz, 20 July, 2008

    It is exciting to see the range of abilities that are participatng in this treasure hunt. Some of you are professionals selling their beads and some of you started working with clay just in the last couple weeks!

    I feel very encouraging to be reading these comments and learning from you all. Keep it up, it is a great learning tool for us all!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Spider Jewelry Polymer Clay Cane Design

  19. Annie Jones, 21 July, 2008

    I haven’t made any flowers yet. But the tip about wrapping the petal in a contrasting color helped me to see how this can be done. So far my canes have been very simple ones and some were mistakes but made great beads when sliced and rolled into a round bead.

  20. Cynister, 21 July, 2008

    Caning is one technique I have yet to try & frankly I don’t think I’d be good at. For someone who doesn’t consider herself artistic or at least to be able to create something from scratch that looks so intricate, caning is very intimidating. I’ve read countless books and articles about the “techniques” and how-to, but this is one hill I have yet to climb. I’m sure like anything, with practice you master the skill, but for now it just makes me appreciate all the more the time and effort put into canes that I buy.

  21. Yvonne, 22 July, 2008

    I have been trying my hand at different wild flower canes. Not a simple task. Using a wildflower book with up close photos have helped but I think now I have found out why they didn’t have that realistic look to them. By adding translucent clay, which I did not do before does them much more justice. All your post/articles add to my creativity in greater depth——thanks.

  22. Sue Castle, 23 July, 2008

    Thanks for sharing so many great tips and ideas, Cindy. Every year I grow a border of Johnny-Jump-Ups in as many colors as I can find, for their sunny faces and great colors. I take pictures of them and pick and dry them etc. as they and Pansies are my favorite flowers. I am a caner but have trouble with the Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups and this article really helped me where you explained the steps of the different skinner blends. Thanks, again and hugs, Sue C

  23. Marianne Huber, 24 July, 2008

    I am anxious to start caning. However,I can’t figure out why the clay doesn’t all mix together. This polymer clay is a mysterious beast.

  24. Linda G, 24 July, 2008

    I must admit I have not made any canes as of yet. But I do love Pansy’s I think they are one of the prettiest flowers in a garden. I would love to see you make a video of this cane. I am still having trouble using the translucent. I either use to much or not enough or something. I know I have said this before but I have really learned a lot by getting into this treasure hunt. Of course I am seeing double by the time I pull myself away from the computer. LOL And my husband thinks I left him. But it has been worth it all. You do a great job and I really appreciate it.

  25. Cindy Lietz, 25 July, 2008

    Thank you all for the insightful comments!

    I think many of you have put too much mystery into the cane making process, especially you Cynister. You are selling yourself short! If you can make a round bead, you can make a cane… you just have to be properly taught how to make them!

    As many of you know from watching my free videos, I do have ways to break things down and make them simple. Every last one of you is capable of making fabulous canes, and when my cane courses come out, I’ll be able to prove it to you!!

    Cindy’s last post..Jewellery Making Beads – Blue Gingham Polymer Clay Cane Designs

  26. Darleen Stry, 27 July, 2008

    I’m only a beginner but this certainly was an inspiring article. Now you’ve given me another goal to work towards. Thank you.

  27. Pepper, 27 July, 2008

    Cindy….after fighting with these canes for quite a while, I went back and reread your articles. And one thing kept staring out at me. So now, I have painted a big sign that I put up in front of my craft table to help me remember……..
    Keep It Simple Stupid!!!! Kiss…get it…

  28. Cindy Lietz, 29 July, 2008

    Thank you guys! Pepper, keeping it simple is great, but don’t be too hard on yourself… you are definitely not "stupid" (smiles)!

    Cindy’s last post..Slicing Fimo Nail Art Canes | Sculpey Polymer Clay Cake Toppers

  29. MJ, 30 July, 2008


    Really appreciate finding your site. Am very new to PClay and my first attempts were not fulfilling to say the least. Now know that the problem was improper conditioning of the clay. Am anxious to try again. It will be awhile before I get as far as this technique. I tend to be more technical rather than creative and my hope is to become more creative with good technique. Will view my surroundings a bit differently now.

  30. Cindy Lietz, 31 July, 2008

    @MJ: I am very pleased to hear you are looking at your surroundings a little different now! Maybe ‘stopping and smelling the roses’ could include ‘looking at the colors too’!

    Even though you feel your are more technical than creative, you will find that if you give yourself permission to make more mistakes, you will become more creative. Super creative people aren’t afraid to come up with dumb ideas, cause there’s a really good one waiting around the corner!

    @Karen Orten: I didn’t get to mention this to you yet but, great comment!! LMAO Now that’s using your creative brain!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Rainbow Jewelry Pillow Beads Made From Extruded Polymer Clay Canes

  31. Marijke, 01 August, 2008

    Wonderful flower! Just tried to make some different colored canes. One more succesful than the other.

  32. Cindy Lietz, 02 August, 2008

    Thank you for you nice comments Marijke!

    Yeah some canes are better than others but even the bad ones can have a purpose. Try reducing some of your cane really small. Sometimes they can make nice centers for other flower canes.

    You can also include poorer canes into a kaleidescope cane.

    Sometimes you can just take a chunk of the cane and roll it thin to make an interesting flower bead. just don’t get discouraged by them!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Dragonfly Pendant Jewelry Necklace – Fimo Rubber Stamping Techniques

  33. Kody Kalist, 02 August, 2008

    Looking at these flowers, and knowing the art of polymer clay, I believe nature gave them to us as inspiration to create!

    Can one think of any other medium that would capture that bloom?

  34. Lindy, 02 August, 2008

    I am new to PC. So new, I had to look up what “skinner blend” was. I can’t wait to go clay shopping for some translucent clay. Skinner blends is exactly what I need to learn. I wanted to make a heart pin in pink, black, & white to go with a plaid blouse of the same colors (wearing a black vest). I ended up with, well, Yuck! describes it pretty well. Good idea, wrong execution”===.
    By the way, I jump over to check out the spider skinner blend cane – Wow! (and I don’t like spiders!)

  35. LisaG, 02 August, 2008

    You make it sound so easy… this is something I know will come in the future, but just reading about how to make a cane, makes it easier to understand how they are made. And what better way to create a cane than taking a cue from nature.
    I would love to learn how to make flower canes, that is something I will save until I am more comfortable with polymer clay.
    As of right now, I can kill a plastic plant, so all the polymer clay flowers are safe for now.

  36. Linda, 03 August, 2008

    I have some wild violets growing just now, same purple colourings as the Johnny jump-ups but a bit different in shape. Will be out with the camera in everyones gardens for ideas, spring is comming soon here so there will be lots to inspire. Cane making sounds like really good fun, I think I will have a go at it.
    Pansies are my absolute favourite so your basic ideas in a myriad of differnt colours is going to keep me too busy to be planting real ones.

  37. Pamela Reader, 04 August, 2008

    Johnny Jump-ups – their name just inspires me to live life more fully. I love having them in my yard and am glad to see you love them as much as I do. As a new clay lady, I don’t understand the translucent clay and how it works with the other colors, but I bought some this weekend and am going to try it out. I don’t have the knowledge or skill yet to attempt a cane . . . ok, I don’t have the courage! LOL but I am itching to give it a try. I love the colors in your photos – nature truly is an inspiration for my little artistic meanderings and your instructions have given shape to my meanderings. Thanks so much.

  38. Cindy Lietz, 04 August, 2008

    @Kody: What a beautiful comment… sounds like poetry!

    @Lindy: Yeah I know about the Yucks! Don’t worry, keep reading these posts and take the courses. You’ll be making nice stuff before you know it!

    LisaG: Cane making can seem intimidating until your know how they work. Just keep learning and before long it will all make sense!

    @Linda: Oh the wild violets are fantastic! Thank you so much for your comment!

    Pamela: The translucent in the mixes lets the light into the color and gives it more depth. When you look at any petal some light is getting through, it is never completely solid.

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Faux Turquoise Jewelry Bracelet – Polymer Clay Bead Making Projects

  39. Cindy Erickson, 04 August, 2008

    Hi Cindy…just a quick question…from your experience, is any one of the PC brands of translucent clay any more clear than the others? Is there any way to get a completely clear polymer clay?

    I hope it is not inappropriate to ask this question here…if so, I totally understand :)

    Thank you much!

    Sincerely, Cindy Erickson

  40. Cindy Lietz, 05 August, 2008

    That’s a great question Cindy! The answer is not that quick though, so I will answer that in an upcoming Q+A post. Be patient, the questions are flying in like crazy!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..How To Make Rose Petal Beads with Polymer Clay

    INSERT: September 12, 2008: Just wanted to put a link in here to an article that addresses the translucent clay question.

  41. daisy, 10 August, 2008

    I just have to know….. what is the recipe for the bark blue seen in the lines of the pansy near the center. I saw that color and know you have to have made it. it is so beautiful. I have to know. thank you

  42. Cindy Lietz, 10 August, 2008

    Hi Daisy thanks for your comment! As far as the recipes go for this Pansy flower color palette, I have had a lot of requests. Due to demand, I’ll probably be making a course so you’ll just have to wait for that. I hope the waiting doesn’t drive you too crazy! ;)

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

  43. Andrea Dimmick, 11 August, 2008

    This sounds complicated,difficult to believe that a beginner like me can achieve such a pretty flower.My husband has just got a new camera so I will be sending outside[in the rain, as I would like to add waterdroplets to some pieces if pos].

  44. Cindy Lietz, 15 August, 2008

    @Andrea: The water droplet idea is cool… you could probably get that effect by baking a drop of liquid polymer clay like TLS (translucent liquid sculpey), Fimo Gel or Kato Clear. Kato is supposed to be the clearest but I haven’t tried it yet myself. (So many things to try in polymer clay isn’t there?)

    @Kimberlee: Lovely comment! All of your comments have been fantastic, I really appreciate them!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Fimo Clay, Premo, Sculpey – Which is Best for Cane Making + Sculpting

  45. Kimberlee, 15 August, 2008

    Cindy, Here you are inspiring me and boosting my confidence again! Again, I admire how you can take us through your thought process and break down what you see in the photo. For example you describe the Skinner blend-like color transitions and how the black slashes “bridge” the colors. I feel like you’re teaching me to “paint” with clay. Having never taken any art classes, I imagine that this is the way an art teacher engages students in beginning to see the world in a more nuanced way–a way in which recreating nature in art becomes a possibility through understanding and being able to dissect what one is seeing! I want to try this very soon, but I’m still having problems with my skinner blends. (Of course I want your course! I’m working on the treasure hunt!)

  46. lynn watts, 22 January, 2010

    Hey don’t forget Cindy came up with an easier way to do a blend. It is called the Teardrop Method. Yes making canes with images are easy once you know the technique. You are in the right spot to learn that.

  47. Cindy Lietz, 23 January, 2010

    Thank you for the reminding everyone about my Teardrop Method, Lynn. It is a super cool, easy, quick, fun way to do color blends :-)

    I’m glad you ended up getting a chance to see that video.

  48. lynn watts, 26 January, 2010

    Yes I got to watch that one when you had it up for a limited time for EVERYONE to watch.

  49. Phaedrakat, 14 February, 2010

    The “Lietz Teardrop Method” is awesome! Actually, the entire Vol-009 Back Issue is great!

    If you haven’t seen Cindy’s faster skinner blend method, you should get the back issue. You’ll also learn a how to do a cool cane and two types of beads, as well as the blend method!

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