Polymer Clay Tutorial | Ghost Cane Lesson on Video | Beginner Level

Making Polymer Clay Ghost Canes

Vid #108: This Technique Allows You To Float Cane Designs On Any Bead Surface:

I’m not positive who made the very first polymer clay ghost canes, but you may have seen them before on polymer clay beads from Donna Kato and many others.

The cool thing about these particular canes is how opaque and translucent clays are combined together. It creates an image or drawing that appears to float on the surface of a bead, like a ghost.

This means the cane takes on a different look, depending on the color of the bead it is layered upon. As you can see in the photo above, the same ghost canes were placed on both the purple and the orange beads, thus allowing the base color of each bead to become the background for the ghost cane design.

Ghost canes can be done in any line design, using any color of opaque clay you desire. White is probably the most popular color of ghost cane, but I love to use black as well as lots of other colors including blue which gives the look of a tattoo.

This week’s library video project to be released on Friday May 29th, will show you step by step how to make a simple ghost cane with circle shapes in the pattern, as well as a spiral or jellyroll ghost cane design.

You will also learn tons of tips for altering the canes, plus see various examples on how to use them in your jewelry and bead designs.

The full version of the video will be available in the library on Friday (May 29). But further down on this page is a little sneak peak clip for you to watch right now if you like.

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The full version of the “Ghost Canes” preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-012 Back Issue Package.

The following topics are covered in this “Making Ghost Canes” video:

  • How to create the circles ghost cane in both a true circle as well as a stylized squashed circle.
  • Beginning with a single bulls eye cane that gets reduced in size and cut into sections.
  • How to make a spiral or jelly roll cane using the ghost cane technique.
  • Optional ideas for creating a polka dot cane as well as alternate color choices.
  • Discussion about how thick to slice these canes for best results.
  • Trick for cutting the wrapping layer of clay at just the right length so it wraps perfectly.

  1. Jocelyn, 27 May, 2009

    Been dying to see this done, mine are far from “ghost-like” which means I have a lot to learn! Cannot wait for Friday….

  2. Sue, 27 May, 2009

    I think a big factor in the success (or otherwise) of this technique is the transparency of the translucent clay, particularly when you’re not completely covering the underlying base clay, or when you’re layering slices of the “ghost cane” to create a three-dimensional effect.

    Transparency seems to vary a lot between brands, although I don’t believe any are truly transparent.

    While I love my Kato polylcay, for translucent I also use Premo Frost (Premo bleached translucent) because it is definitely more transparent than Kato translucent (the old formulation, anyway; I still have stocks of that so I haven’t tried new formulation Kato translucent yet). However, Premo Frost is also definitely yellower than Kato translucent and more sensitive to temperature, so I don’t use just one or the other: I pick the one that suits what I’m doing (for what I see in the preview video that’d be Premo Frost unless I was overlaying white or nearly-white clay), and sometimes mix them when I want a combination of characteristics.

    I’d be interested to hear what other people have found with different brands of translucent clay!

    (I haven’t done an “every brand available” comparison yet… although that’s on my “to do” list.)

  3. Cindy Lietz, 28 May, 2009

    @Jocelyn: I think you’ll like it!

    @Sue: I wrote about some of the brands of translucent if you want to check it out, click the link by my name. The brand in the video is Premo translucent, not frost. Premo Frost isn’t always easy to find for people, so I like to make canes in the videos with either Premo translucent or Fimo Translucent. The Fimo is quite a bit whiter than the more yellow Premo but I find they both work nicely if they are thin enough.

  4. Silverleaf, 29 May, 2009

    I like it – reminds me a little of some of Donna Kato’s work. Not that I’m a fan of all her stuff… but… well… I’ll stop talking now! I like it anyway. ;)

    I use Fimo trans myself, mostly because it’s easy to get over here in comparison with Premo. I did try Sculpey III once when I couldn’t find any Fimo but it wasn’t very translucent at all and it’s a peachy colour rather than white like the Fimo trans.

    I buy more trans than any other colour, it’s just so useful!

  5. Cindy Lietz, 31 May, 2009

    Thanks Silverleaf! I think Donna may have been one of the first people to do this style of cane but I’m not positive since so many people do it now.

    I buy a ton of translucent clay too. Probably more than any other color as well. I bought every package they had of both the Fimo and the Premo when Michaels had their sale last week. I find I use both brands depending on the look I want. Fimo is whiter and Premo is more yellow. If it is thin enough, it doesn’t make a huge difference though.

  6. Kim Elliot, 15 June, 2009

    Hi Cindy,

    I read all the messages you send and I’m sure you get tired of hearing this over and over, but I can’t express how much I like getting my e-mail saying that another one of your videos is ready for viewing. I received the one about making the clasps, and I thought “no-no-no I want you to teach me polymer clay, not metal work”… but as usual, I watched it and it contained extra information I had not thought of and hadn’t learned in the class I took. I thought the same about the texture video… “I don’t use those and don’t like them” but after watching, I got all these other ideas that I could do.

    I checked out the Tim Holtz site mentioned somewhere in your site and got new ideas about stenciling and inks!

    The Baking Tips you offer are completely priceless! I have had the same issues as others… soft clay, cracking, and scorching… and you have covered all kinds of ways to prevent that. I made these totally great “fat sunbathers” that would float in water, but when I put them in the oven… needless to say they burned. The irony was not lost… but I was so disappointed after taking all the time to make them, that I haven’t gone back to try them again. Now that I have had all your tips and tricks, I am re-motivated to give it another shot!

    Thanks so much for making these tutorials…they are definitely worth the money!

    Kim Elliott

  7. Cindy Lietz, 15 June, 2009

    I never get tired of comments like yours, Kim. You are truly a delight to have as part of the community here.

    So glad to hear that you were able to benefit from “Hammered Copper Jewelry Clasps” and the “Textured Beads” tutorial videos.

    And your story about the polymer clay “sunbathers” getting scorched in the oven is priceless. The irony of it reminded me of the Alanis Morisette song where she sings about when it “…rains on your wedding day.” Do let us all know how things turned out for your sunbathers.

  8. Freda, 27 July, 2009

    Comment on Ghost canes. First of all, let me say that I haven’t done canes before. I’ve seen these ghost canes on other people’s work and wished I knew how to do them. I watched your video three times.

    Are you supposed to roll the cane into the bead completely before shaping it so that it is then a part of the bead? Doesn’t it get out of shape?

    I realize this is probably a basic part of canes that I have missed and hope it doesn’t sound too dumb to ask.

  9. Cindy Lietz, 27 July, 2009

    First of all Freda, no question is a dumb question. If you don’t know the answer to something and you don’t ask any questions, then that’s dumb. If you can’t find the answer already discussed somewhere here at the blog, never be afraid to ask me any questions you have. It is my job to help as best as I can.

    In the Ghost Cane video, I only showed how to make the cane not how to add it to a bead, since I have already taught that process in another video. So that is probably why you feel like you are missing some information.

    The link by my name will take you to an article with some tips on how to add cane slices to your polymer clay beads. There is also a short preview video of the technique should you need to learn from a video.

    Should you have any more questions after looking at this info, don’t hesitate to ask.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 07 December, 2009

    **PHOTOS ADDED: Some project pictures have just been added to a Spotlight Feature showcasing Jackie Norris, a member who is very much appreciated here at this supportive polymer clay community. Click on the “Ghost Cane Beads” link by my name to have a look.

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