A “Cool” Summer Polymer Clay Cane Tip

Chilling Polymer Clay Canes

Vid #55: How to use frozen ice packs for chilling polymer clay canes:

Here is a neat little tip for making polymer clay canes easier to slice thin without distortion… cool them on a frozen lunch box ice pack! A lot more portable then a fridge, these handy little gel ice packs can cool down and firm up even the squishiest premo sculpey canes in preparation for slicing.

Polymer clay artists have known for awhile that a cool clay cane is easier to slice than a warm one. So the smart ones have been popping their polymer clay millefiori canes into the fridge or the freezer to chill.

This is a very handy thing if you make your polymer clay projects in the kitchen, but what if your studio or clay room is in another part of the house, far way from the fridge?

A frozen ice pack will do the trick! I use a little one made for lunches but any old ice pack will do. You could even just freeze a bag of water if you want. Anything that will help to cool down your polymer clay cane right to the core. I’ve even heard of people freezing bags of liquid dish soap to make their own gel ice packs. Perfect for icing sore hands and wrists as well!

A warm clay cane is a problem for a couple of reasons. First of all it will distort badly if is too soft. This is problematic if you are slicing a round cane because it will flatten the bottom of it and push it out of shape.

Another distortion problem when slicing canes is smearing. You know when you slice a cake how the icing smears down the side when you cut through it. A similar thing happens to a warm soft clay cane. Especially with the softer brands of clay like Sculpey III, Fimo Soft and now the new Premo.

You worked hard to build that picture inside your polymer clay cane… last thing you want is for it to become smeared and distorted!

Want to slice paper thin slices for adding to beads and pendants? If the clay is warm and soft… Fah-getta-bout-it! Firm cold clay is about the only way you’re going to get it super thin.

So hopefully this “cool” polymer clay tutorial was helpful for you. I know it is a simple one, but sometimes the simplest things can make a huge difference when making sculpey or fimo polymer clay beads and jewelry. And here’s another a link to another article that you may find useful: Clay Cane Slicing Techniques

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The full version of the Chilled Canes preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-002 Back Issue Package.

In this “Keeping Canes Chilled” video tutorial I discuss a unique and convenient method for keeping your canes cool wherever you may be working on them. Keep your canes cools keeps them from gong all mushy on you.

  1. Sue, 09 August, 2008

    Another great idea – especially timely because we’re in the middle of a heat wave where I live!!

  2. Cindy Lietz, 10 August, 2008

    I agree Sue! It’s really hard to cut polymer clay canes if your clay room is hotter than an oven! You may want to freeze a few extra to keep yourself cool too! :-)

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

  3. Marianne Huber, 10 August, 2008

    COOOOLLLLL….pun intended.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 10 August, 2008


  5. Judy Moore, 30 June, 2010

    I made blue and yellow clay to make beads and the blue smeared the yellow. After baking, the beads turned an ugly color. You can’t tell that I used yellow. How do you keep the darker colors from smearing? Thank you for your reply.

  6. Phaedrakat, 03 July, 2010

    @Judy Moore: Hi Judy, I’m not sure how the blue clay smeared the yellow. Are you talking about when you sliced a cane or something? This time of year, when your clay is warm, it’s very easy for your cane slices to smear. You need to keep them firm, and for that, they need to be cold. Put them in the freezer for a little while, or the fridge overnight. You can take them out to cut slices, then put them right back in the refrigerator. That will cut down on your smearing. Also, make sure your blade is clean in-between slices. Use rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or cotton, and clean after every slice. You’ll get much better results.

    BTW, the ugly color that resulted was probably because your blue & yellow were not “pure” (they must have had some red tones) so that instead of getting green when mixed, you ended up with a mud color.

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