Polymer Clay Tutorial | Basic Leaf Cane Part 2 | Reducing Canes

Basic Leaf Cane Tutorial Pt 2

5 Things To Keep In Mind When Reducing Your Polymer Clay Canes:

Besides letting you know that Part 2 of the Basic Polymer Clay Leaf Cane tutorial will be posted in the library later this week, I wanted to also give you some tips on how to reduce your canes. This is just one of the topics that I’ll be demonstrating in Part 2 of the Leaf Cane Making video.

If you haven’t seen Part 1, click on the following link for info on how to access that video: Instructions for Making a Basic Leaf Cane (you can watch a preview clip at this link)

In the first video of this 2 part series, I show you how to make a quick skinner blend (teardrop method) for the leaf cane, and some cool tricks for working with canes that end up getting too wide. I also show you how to create a long strip from the blend and then form it into a Skinner Blend Plug.

In the second video, I will show you how to cut, shape and reduce this cane plus tips and techniques for making it into either a basic leaf cane or a complex leaf cane.

If you are unsure what reducing a cane means, it’s the process of shrinking the overall size of the clay cane that you built on a larger scale, down to a smaller more manageable size.  During the process the image or design inside of the cane remains in tact.

The reason why we caners can get such tiny detailed pictures in our work, is because we build the picture big and then reduce it.

There are some things you should know about reducing canes to get the best results. So I’ll pass along 5 tips here:

1) It is important that all the clays in a cane are the same consistency. Mixing hard and soft clays together will cause your canes to reduce unevenly. When doing a blend using my teardrop method, all of your colors will end up getting conditioned to the same degree, which is exactly what you want.

2) A Polymer Clay Cane needs to be the same temperature and softness on the outside as it is on the inside to reduce properly. If you build the cane from start to finish in one sitting, it should work nicely for you.

The problem comes in when you make different parts of a cane at different times. Often the center gets very firm and the outside gets soft and it won’t reduce evenly.

This is where you will need to let the whole cane rest for an hour or so before reducing so the outside and inside temps balance out and ‘move’ together more easily.

3) In the part 2 of the basic leaf cane video, you will see me making small pinches up and down the length of the cane, trying to exert even pressure to all sides. Small movements are easier to correct than large ones. In other words, if you squash really hard in one spot, the cane might bulge out and distort which is harder to fix.

4) Another important tip is to not just roll your cane on the table to reduce it. There may be times you do a quick tiny roll to straighten out the edges, but any long rolling back and forth will twist the cane and distort it.

5) Once the cane starts reducing easily (you will get the feeling it is ‘stretching and moving’, even in the inside), you can gently ‘wiggle and pull’ the cane to get it to reduce.

The whole cane reducing thing can be a bit of a mystery if you’re a newbie. Experienced clayers often look like they are just fidgeting around with the cane. Pinching, pulling, pushing, wiggling… fuss, fuss, fuss! But as you watch my polymer clay cane tutorials while working with your own canes, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

When learning how to reduce canes, it is never a bad idea to grab two colors of clay, make a little cane and reduce the heck out of it. You can always wad it back up make a new cane to do another practice run. Reducing canes has a learning curve that can only be overcome with a little practice. And a basic leaf cane is a great place to start!

See you in the library: Basic Leaf Cane Tutorial

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 10 March, 2009

    What are your biggest challenges when it comes to reducing canes? When you let me know about the frustrations you are experiencing with specific techniques, I am able to address them for you in upcoming video tutorials.

  2. Norieta Kawewehi, 24 April, 2009

    I see the simple leaf cane video (above) starts with the stack of clay that you work down, cut in half and make the leaf from there. Is there an earlier video that shows how you arrived at that stack?? I’m still finding my way around the site so if it is there I am sure to find it sooner or later. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so looking forward to next weeks newsletter! and every one after that. much much aloha and warmest of hugs to you from Hawaii. Norieta.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 24 April, 2009

    Hi Norieta,

    Building the blended stack of clay you are referring to is shown in Part 1 of the Basic Leaf Cane 2 Part Series. The link by my name above will take you straight to the Full Part 1 Video Tutorial in the Members Library. You must be logged in for that link to work.

  4. Rezvan, 08 May, 2009

    Hi Cindy, When I make flower cane, it doesn’t matter what brand of polymer clay I use by the time I reduce the cane all the peddles are distorted. I would appreciate it if you tell me what I am doing wrong. Thanks.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 10 May, 2009

    Rezvan, it is a bit of a tricky question since I’m not sure how you’re doing it. There are several different things that can cause distortion in a cane. I will be doing some flower cane videos soon, and hopefully they will be able to answer your question.

    If you click the link by my name it will take you to a post that talks about how to pack the backgrounds in a cane to avoid distortion, using an extruder. Maybe that will help.

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