Reducing a Polymer Clay Cane From Start To Finish

Easter Lily Cane Polymer Clay TutorVideo #348: Featuring my Easter Lily design which reduces right down to a quarter inch in diameter.

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Basic description of what a polymer cane really is, and what it is used for.
  • Examples of reduced canes and millifiori beads that were made using my unique Easter Lily Cane Design.
  • Common challenges reducing canes and what to do to solve those problems.
  • Important factors to consider when reducing canes.
    – Hardness/Firmness of the different colors in the cane.
    – Temperature differences in sections of the cane.
    – Size of the cane… why bigger is not always better… but too small can be a problem too.
  • Showing the cane reduction process in fast motion so it does not take forever to watch, but you still get to see the entire process from beginning to end.
  • Tips on how to reduce canes with the most success and the least amount of waste.
  • Ideas for what to do with any waste cane you may end up with.
  • Saving sections of the reduced cane at a variety of sizes to give yourself the most options for using the cane.

Question of the Day:

Are there other cane reducing issues that I didn’t cover in the video, which you still need some help with? Or, does anyone have any other helpful tips to share?

I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

Oh and don’t forget to give these videos a Thumbs Up click at YouTube if you are enjoying them. The more Likes a video gets, the higher it rises in the searches. And that means even more people will be able to join in on this polymer clay journey of a lifetime.

Also, by subscribing to our YouTube Channel directly, you will receive notifications as soon as new videos are uploaded. To subscribe, click here… How To Reduce A Polymer Clay Cane. The Subscribe Button is right near the top of that YouTube page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Tantesherry, 21 February, 2013

    Love getting a close up view of your Easter Lilly Cane and can hardly wait to learn how to make it.
    I’ll use it to cover this years Easter egg for my nephew Jason – one each year since he was born :D
    ps – your colors are perfect

  2. Debs A, 21 February, 2013

    Fabulous tutorial!

  3. Hermine R, 21 February, 2013

    Very clear , very well done. Thank you|

  4. Monique U., 21 February, 2013

    Thank you for a great review of reducing, Cindy. I’d like to offer another tip: I use the flat top of my vibratory tumbler to “vibrate” my canes for about 5-10 minutes (depending on size) before I start to reduce. Any vibrating surface would work, I suppose, a clothes dryer, if not too hot! This seems to get all the molecules moving throughout the cane and makes it reduce more evenly. Hope you all will try it out! Love your little Easter Lily, Cindy… you know I adore canes, and you’ve made me appreciate flowers LOL.

  5. Dixie Ann, 21 February, 2013

    Monique that is a unique idea about the vibratory tumbler. I may have to try that since I have one sitting in my workshop not being used. Thanks so much for the tip. If you have any more using vibratory tumblers please pass them on.

  6. Tantesherry, 22 February, 2013

    What a cool idea Monique – I’ll try it for sure :)

  7. Nwna H, 23 February, 2013

    I hope Cindy have to do video so I can imagine Thanks to share your experience

  8. Dixie Ann, 21 February, 2013

    Thanks Cindy for the very informative video on reducing. This is one of my difficult tasks and I don’t know why except for maybe not having enough patience? Some of them turn out fairly acceptable and others I just want to throw away.
    I have not seen a cane reduced where you leave such a flared end before. Since the ends have a lot of distortion what can you possibly do with them other than making round beads? Is it possibly to reduce a cane clear to the end so you would only have one or two small slices to deal with and if so how is that done? Sorry for so many questions but you have given me more incentive now to try and master this technique. I love the flower cane but don’t remember it in any of your tutorials. Is there one?

  9. Cindy Lietz, 22 February, 2013

    Well Dixie-Ann, like I mentioned in the video, you can keep reducing those ends down and keep ‘pulling’ more sections of cane off of them. You can do that by pressing in those edges of the flared ends(much better than I did), if you put the time in. With the heat of the lights, the outside edges were moving faster than the insides were, so I would have had to let it rest some more and be more patient, if I wanted to get even more out from those ends.

    With the right consistency of clay, the right temperature, size and practice, you can have less distortion at the ends and therefor less waste. With perfect conditions, you could theoretically get little to no waste at all. I have found that the cane will move the best and fastest, when the whole thing was built quickly from the start and reduced right away. When all the clay is warm, including the center, there is little distortion at all.

    But don’t forget, that clay is clay and it really makes no difference whether you use a fresh piece of clay, a chunk of scrap or a cane end in the center of your beads. It cost you the same. So unless you NEED to have every last slice of a particular design, it doesn’t really matter that much if you create waste in your canes or not. I never really care that much if there is some distortion at the ends of my canes. I rarely get around to using up all the canes I make anyways, so some loss is just fine by me.

    The one thing I think is important for everyone to know is, worrying about doing things perfectly, tends to hold people back. If you worry about getting every last slice out of the cane, then you won’t make one until you have done every last bit of research on cane making. And as you are probably starting to see with all the information flying around out there, you will NEVER be done collecting everything there is to know on the subject. So the only REAL way to improve your skills is to make stuff… and not worry about being perfect.

    You all can watch and absorb every video I ever put out there, but until you get the clay out and start making mistakes… no actual skills will be developed. It is just book knowledge. So if you find that cane work is something that intimidates you, but you still would really like to know how to do it… then just start.

    Make some ugly canes. Make tons of ugly canes! If they turn out terrible then ball them up, blend the colors together until you have new color, and make a new cane with that, until your canes start looking like you want them to.

    That is one of the reasons why I make small canes in my tutorials. If you mess up, then you won’t have used that much clay. If it does work out, then you aren’t stuck with too much cane in the same pattern. If you love it you can make it in tons of colors. Its all good.

    I hope you understand what I am trying to get across. Reading back the way I worded this, sounds a little blunt. But if you could see my face and hear my tone, you would see that I mean all of this in the most loving and supportive way possible. I want you to get the help that you really desire. You will find most of your questions will quickly be answered when you start making and reducing some canes. :)

    Oh… and btw, the Easter Lily Cane Tutorial is coming up for the Month of March.

    I did this free cane reducing video for everyone so that I wouldn’t keep having to use up time in the actual tutorials for a technique that gets used over and over again. I will be doing more of these types of ‘basics’ videos over the next while, so I can focus on giving you guys ‘the good stuff’!

  10. Dixie Ann, 22 February, 2013

    Thank you Cindy, in other words “practice makes perfect” LOL, I know what you mean but I guess exasperation takes over sometime and I get a little inpatient with my results especially when I see yours turn out so beautifully and I can’t make mine do the same. Thanks for the words of encouragement, I am resolved now to work harder at these canes.
    and I am so excited for the gorgeous cane we will be making in March! (((hugs)))

  11. Michele K, 21 February, 2013

    Thanks, Cindy! As a newbie I’ve been afraid to attempt the “canes” thus far, but your video has inspired me to give it a try. I am amazed at the creativity of some of the canes I’ve seen, and have wondered how in the world one goes about figuring out how to assemble the pictire they want in cane form. I would like to see a video that covers that thought process sometime. Thanks again, your creativity is inspiring.

  12. DawnB, 21 February, 2013

    Thank you Cindy!

  13. Joyce Folsom, 21 February, 2013

    This is magical, Cindy. I haven’t been working with my clay for some time but when I get back to it making a cane will be a lot easier and perhaps successful. I’ll keep trying and watching this tute over and over until I get it right! Something to look forward to. Thanks for being so generous with your talent.

  14. Asya G, 22 February, 2013

    Thank you . Very good video

  15. Patt Word, 22 February, 2013

    Cindy -you have” magic hands”! I have never been a caner The fast motion really shows how to “work” a cane. You have inspired me to try again. Thank You!!! This an amazing tute. It is way out of my comfort zone………..

  16. Lezro F, 22 February, 2013

    Thank you!! I always wondered how to do this. REALLY, you showed it very well. I think the multi-size idea is great and wouldn’t have thought of it myself. Super videos! ~Lezro-F

  17. Jocelyn C, 22 February, 2013

    Cindy, just a wonderful tute. I learned so much! Cannot wait to try it. Thank you.

  18. Elaine Faulks, 22 February, 2013

    Oh Cindy how right you are,
    Isn’t polymer clay amazing. You can smash it bash it. stroke it and poke it. Pull it twist it squeeze it and stretch it but most of all you have to handle it to enjoy it. So explore it. Make loads of ugly canes, use hideous combinations of colors. Have fun, My first pirate cane was sooooo ugly it scared me! The second one was even more ugly it leered back at me with gap tooth grin and wonky eyes. I had to chop it into bits but the combination of browns black and white made some really striking beads. There is actually NO .WASTE. I have looked at some of Cindy’s ways to use up less than perfect canes. If you have got her complete library you will see, so many ways to use ugly canes and there are more that she hasn’t shown us yet. If all else fails and you have a warm sticky mess, hurl it up to see if it will stick on the ceiling and get your friends to place bets on how long before it fall on your head. Love this stuff……………….cheers xx

  19. Laura Reed, 22 February, 2013

    Excellent tutorial…making canes definately requires a lot of patience! :)

    I have one question regarding canes and would love to hear from anyone who has and input on this.

    Q: In the past I have purchased some canes on Etsy. I have been using them to cover pens, however some of the canes have been very ‘dry’ and when I go to roll them onto the pen they crack. They are either very old canes I was duped into purchasing or maybe it is the brand of clay they used. I am not certain. Anyhow, is there a way to revive these dry canes so they won’t do this? Hope this question makes sense.

    Thanks for any input anyone has on this issue.


  20. Elaine Faulks, 23 February, 2013

    Hi Laura,
    Good question. I have never used purchased canes, can you tell me if these canes are pre-baked or are they RAW clay as you would have to handle them differently.
    For baked clay I expect I would seal them in a little plastic bag and put them in a cup of very hot water for about five minutes to soften them up, I would probably warm up the pen or whatever you are covering.

    For raw clay I would just pop them in the oven at the normal baking temperature and semi bake them, probably for about ten minutes then wait till they cool enough to handle and again, warm up the item you want to cover. If the canes still crack I would find something flat to cover instead of curved surfaces
    Perhaps to frame a small mirror.. To do this, roll out new clay on med to thick setting, depending on the size of your item( as a background color to contrast or compliment your cane).

    . Use a piece of card stock to draw round the mirror and decide how wide you want the frame to be, then measure and cut out the middle piece. Lay this template on the clay and carefully cut it out and remove middle section. Use a ruler and set square and draw the inner line with a sharpie pen on to the front surface of the mirror as your guide. You can now put a thin coat of PVA glue between these lines and wait till it goes tacky Carefully lay mirror face down onto the clay and using pallet knife or other tool smooth the clay over the sides so it “grabs” the item. Cut thin slices of the pre-baked clay and imbed into the raw clay frame in a pleasing design (after turning it the right side up) Roll or smooth them in so they sit either flush or slightly indented into the surface. Then bake for one hour at usual temperature. Wait till cool to take out of oven and bake between two tiles with cardstock or baking parchment either dide of mirror. If you have smoothed the clay over the sides it should “hold”

    I thought Cindy’s new Easter lily cane would look lovely with perhaps a white or daffodil yellow from her latest color palette, as a frame for a mirror so am looking forward to making this cane and decorating the mirror with the different size cane slices. Hope my written directions will help but nothing beats a CINDY tute so perhaps she would consider such as, covering pens, journal covers, mirror frames as an alternative to making jewelry items, I not sure my written instructions come up to scratch so would appreciate any comments. I used to teach partially sighted people and would TALK them through what I was doing but that was a long time ago before PC so hope I haven’t lost it!!! As would like to do workshops in the future using words in place of pictures. What do you think……………..cheers xx……………………

  21. Laura Reed, 27 February, 2013

    Thank you Elaine…I had not even thought of these things you brought up….thank you for your input and advice…much appreciated. The canes are unbaked and they are beutiful so I will most definately want to “save” them…thank you again, I will post my findings ;)

  22. Cindy Lietz, 25 February, 2013

    Hi Laura, you may have some old canes alright. You will need to revive them if you want to use them without then breaking apart. Hopefully they are semi cured, which can actually happen if they were shipped when the weather was hot. You can try warming them up by placing them in a plastic bag and setting them in warm/hot water. There are people who will put them in the microwave for 10 seconds but I haven’t tried that and you could run into problems if you did it wrong. You can also try wrapping them in a layer of Fimo MixQuick or spreading the outside with sculpey softener to reintroduce some plasticizers into the clay. I will be doing some testing on this and doing a video in the future. (Have a few canes that have been sitting around for a couple years that have gotten pretty stiff and old. Until then, hopefully that will help a bit.

  23. Laura Reed, 27 February, 2013

    Thank you Cindy! i think they are old but I will do some expierementing and see what happens… :)

  24. Nwna H, 23 February, 2013

    thank you cindy

  25. Tantesherry, 23 February, 2013

    Hi Cindy, I’ve a request for a tutorial :)

    I’d like to learn how to make sun catchers, the kind that would stick to a window.
    I’ve tried and was not happy with the way it turned out – granted that was years back ;/

    One thing I used with liquid clay was the curling strands of cured clay that you get when drilling out bead holes (separated by color or cane colors in old med bottles) I still have a few of them (of course – do we the poly people ever throw anything away lol)

    so if you’d add this to “The List” that would be awesome :D

  26. Elaine Faulks, 23 February, 2013

    Hi Tantsherry,

    That’s a good idea, we all need a little “sunshine” in our lives. To see Cindy’s slant on “how to” make a sun catcher would be just great.

    No, I do not think poly peeps throw out anything. I chop up my drilled “worms” and use them as sprinkles on miniature cup cakes, ice cream cones etc for my dolls house foods. I also use the waxy paper from cereals for different things and cut up the cartons, they are flat packed and again, have loads of uses. Trouble is i now need more SPACE to store all my IWKTFMPCP. translated as I WILL KEEP THAT FOR MY POLYMER CLAY PLAY………. cheers xx…………………

  27. Cindy Lietz, 25 February, 2013

    Will add that suggestion to the list Sherry!

  28. Marthe L, 24 February, 2013

    I just have to say: i made my first cane today! Im hooked – its so much fun! Yey!

  29. Dixie Ann, 24 February, 2013

    Good for you Marthe H! I am so excited for you. I know the excitement of getting your first cane made and it’s so awesome. I wish you luck in making many, many, more!

  30. Ginny M, 01 March, 2013

    Thank you Cindy! Your videos are awesome! I can’t wait to make a Easter Lily cane this weekend ! ought to be interesting being that I am very new to clay making:)

  31. Jennifer S, 03 March, 2013

    Thank you your wealth of experience.

  32. Cindy P, 22 March, 2013

    I needed this as I am still trying to make canes and have them come out the same all the way thru the cane. Thanks Cindy

  33. Sparrow F, 12 September, 2013

    This is the most helpful tutorial I have found about reducing a cane! Thank you so much!

Copyright © Polymer Clay Tutor Bead and Jewelry Making Tutorials