Polymer Jewelry to Make – Using Handmade Beads and Clay Cane Slices

Rainbow Spiral Bead

Your hand made jewelry will stand out from the crowd when you use bead designs created by YOU ! And… polymer clay canework is an important part of the process:

One of the most exciting aspects of making jewlery these days is the vast number of supplies, materials and ideas that are at your disposal.

If you make hand made jewelry, polymer clay is an amazing material that can add beautiful variety and versatility to your jewllery designs.

Unlike with glass beadmaking, it takes relatively few tools and supplies to begin making polymer clay beads. The tools to get started with polyclay (Fimo, Sculpey, Primo, etc) are inexpensive. Plus the learning curve is short compared to glass beads… yet the artistic potential is just as great.

Many beautiful polymer clay pendants, beads and charms are made using slices from clay canes. Once you become proficient at canework, your jewelry designs will come to life with originality because of the one-of-a-kind focal beads you create.

For those of you that aren’t exactly sure what a polymer clay cane is and how they are made, here’s a brief explanation…

Clay canes are much like those slice and bake cookies with a design that runs all the way through it. The designs are built into a ‘log’ of clay material known as a cane. The clay designs are built large in pieces similar to a puzzle. From the end you will see a flat image but in actuality the design goes from end to end.

This larger cane is then ‘reduced’ until it becomes the size that you want it to become. The extremely cool thing about polymer clay is that as you reduce the size of the cane, you are also reducing the size of the image. Now when you take a slice off the cane with a razor or tissue blade, you have a tiny, detailed image that would have been impossible to create on it’s own at that miniature size.

Once you have built your cane, you can use slices of the design over and over until you run out of cane. These thin slices can be added to polymer clay beads (like the one pictured above) and to slabs of clay to make pendants.

Thicker cane pieces can also be cut and made into what’s called cane slice beads. The small pirate beads in my pirate crossbones jewelry post are examples of this cane-slice bead technique.

Polymer clay and canes also have the added versatility to be combined with many other jewelry making mediums such a metal working, wire wrapping, metal clay, paper, image transfers, bead weaving, acrylic and oil painting, faux techniques and many more.

If you are a jewelry artist looking to expand your design creativity, consider learning how to use polymer clay canes to make unique focal beads. This will take your jewelry making abilities to a whole new level.

If you need help getting started with polyclay, have a look at my Bead Making for Beginner’s Course. It’s a great primer for getting up to speed quickly.

And then before you know it, the polymer jewelry you make using your handmade (cane slice) beads, will be virtually flying off the shelves in your Etsy store.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 17 July, 2008

    Many people tell me that canes are a complete mystery to them. Is this the case for you? If you have any questions about canes or canework, ask me anything you like in the comments section below.

    Cindy’s last post..Flower Beads for Jewelry Making, Created from Polymer Clay Canes

  2. Carol Cooper, 18 July, 2008

    Canes were what inspired me to begin “playing” with polymer clay. Now my kitchen is overrun with clay, and tools of all kinds. Not many meals have been prepared in the last few months, since I began, but a lot of clay has been baking.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 18 July, 2008

    Carol, that’s what I like to hear!!! Baking (cookies that is) is not that good for you anyways! Stayed tuned for all kinds of great info and courses on making polymer clay canes, I think you’ll like it!

    Cindy’s last post..Clay Cane Leaf Beads for Making Jewelry from Polymer Clay

  4. Kim C., 19 July, 2008

    The bead you used in this entry is GORGEOUS!

  5. Cindy Lietz, 19 July, 2008

    Thank You Kim! I’ll probably make a polymer clay cane course for that particular pattern! It is fairly simple to make and turns out quite dramatic!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post is about..Making Polymer Clay Cane Leaf Beads for Jewelry

  6. Cindy Erickson, 20 July, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    The bead at the top of this page is absolutely beautiful. Wow!!! I am so looking forward to the day that I can make beads even nearly as beautiful and original as yours!!!

    I am on the treasure hunt, but had to stop and comment here as well. I am just so excited about this new thing called Polymer Clay!!!

    Sincerely, Cindy Erickson

  7. Cindy Lietz, 20 July, 2008

    Thank you Cindy!! I am working on a course on how to make that particular cane on the bead above so stay tuned!

    If you practice the things I teach you on this blog, in the newsletter and in my courses, you will be making your own Gorgeous beads in no time! Way sooner than you think!!

    I just saw your comment on Craft Test Dummies Review of my Beginner Bead Making Course and I was thrilled! Thank you so much for your great endorsement! You are the reason I do this business!

  8. Cindy Erickson, 21 July, 2008


    You are more than welcome! You give so much of yourself, and you deserve so much praise and kudos!!! Your blog is so very helpful and inspiring to me. YOU, are the reason I am so interested in polymer clay, because you let me see that I really can do it too! Thank YOU a million times over! :)

    Cindy Erickson

  9. Marianne Huber, 24 July, 2008

    The bead is very pretty. I am just getting into PC and I am finding this site a great help.

    Two questions if I may or if you want me to put them in a different area just let me know. How do you roll the cane evenly. I get finger bumples (is that a word?) when I try and roll a log. I haven’t tried canes yet, but imagine they are the same. Also, can you bake PC with styrofoam?

    Thank you.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 24 July, 2008

    @Cindy: You’re welcome!

    @Marianne: The 1st question is answered in a video in my beginner’s bead course. For the 2nd one, some people bake with Styrofoam but I wouldn’t recommend it because it melts quite easily. Sometimes an oven will spike and get hotter than you intended and it would be a shame to wreck your beads with melted Styrofoam!

  11. Pepper, 25 July, 2008

    I played a little last night with my clays, keeping in mind the things I learned from your videos. Wasn’t great…but I am getting there. It’s funny because I know in my mind how these things are supposed to be done……I guess my hands just haven’t figured it out yet!! I am so intrigued with so many techniques and I have to keep reminding myself that I have to PRACTICE doing these things for it all to come together. For instance, mokume gane… when I tried to do it…well, let’s just say that my dog could have done better! But I know (in my head) that I can do this and get good results… now if I can just get my hands to get on the same page!! Sorry for the rambling… Thank you again for showing my hands how to behave!!!

  12. Cindy Lietz, 26 July, 2008

    No problem about the ramble Pepper. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing. You know what they say, practice makes perfect.

  13. Phaedrakat, 03 June, 2010

    To see a rainbow cane done in Glow-in-the Dark clay, check out this page. It has a preview video of The Glowing Jellyroll Cane – Psychedelic 60’s.

    You can make a bead like the one above, but it will glow-in-the dark! Very cool! There are other options, and ways to alter the tutorial, if you like. The link will take you to some comments & feedback about this wonderful tute, and a discussion of tips and some optional methods you can use. This is one of the most exciting tutorials done lately — people were (and still are) extremely amazed by how cool this gorgeous rainbow, glow-in-the-dark cane really is. The secret blend method is just one of the reasons for the excitement… Have fun!

  14. Phaedrakat, 24 May, 2011

    I know this is an older post, but looking back at my GITD Rainbow Cane comment above, I have to admit it seems pretty weird. I didn’t make it clear I was talking about one of Cindy’s tutes…so it looks a bit like I’m trying to direct traffic elsewhere (No way!) :-)

    Anyway, the bead at the top of this page really is so pretty — shines like glass! Hope everyone has a lovely day… :D

  15. Rini Pramod, 16 July, 2010

    Dear cindy,
    I am very much impressed by viewing your polymer bead making and the good efforts taken by you.
    I would like to learn more about bead making.kindly sent me all the details as a beginner.I will do my best to learn from you Since I have an intrest towards this. I do flower making, metal empossing,etc. I live in Middle East(Gulf, Doha Qatar) .Awaiting your response by return
    Thanks n Regards
    Mrs.Rini Pramod

  16. Cindy Lietz, 16 July, 2010

    @Rini Pramod: Welcome to the community Mrs. Rini Pramod. It is so great to have you here.

    Not too long ago, someone else asked me how best to access and utilize all of the information available at my polymer clay tutor web sites (there is a lot of stuff :-). The information I posted for her will be helpful for you too. The link by my name will take you to the comment.

  17. Ifama, 24 July, 2011

    I always come back to the video library to refresh what Cindy has taught me. I just wanted to leave this note to thank her so much for emphasizing sanding my polymer clay pieces. Even though I use a glaze (future), I have discovered the importance of thoroughly sanding my pieces BEFORE I apply the glaze, it makes them look so much better and makes me happy, LOL I tried taking a short cut but as a seller of my productions, I was not pleased because as a result of circumventing this important step, the results items I was not completely satisfied with. Thanks Cindy

  18. Cindy Lietz, 25 July, 2011

    @Ifama: Thank you so much Ifama for saying that! It really does make a huge difference to the quality of your jewelry pieces, to do a great job in your finishing work. I am glad you see the light!

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