Six Polymer Clay Cane Tips for Making Beads and Jewelry Projects

Polymer Clay Cane Making Tips

Size, Consistency, Color, Contrast, Temperature and Shape:

1) Start with smaller projects. Some people like to make enormous canes as big as a dinner plate and then reduce them into miles and miles of finger sized canes. This is great if you are a pro and plan on selling your stuff. I would much rather have lots of different kinds of canes rather than tons of the same design. Plus it isn’t such a waste if one of your projects does not turn out as planned!

2) Make sure all the different colors of clay are the same consistency. Soft clays will ‘move’ easily when you are reducing the canes and hard clays will not. So mixing different softness in the same cane will cause lots of distortion. For example, if you are making a face cane using firm Fimo clay for the eyes and squishy Sculpey clay for the mouth… when the cane is reduced, you’ll probably end up with a large twisted mouth and tiny beady eyes!

3) Firmer clay is harder to work with but results in better canes with less distortion. Lines also stay crisper without blurring into the color next to them. To learn about clay selection, read these 2 articles:

4) Use high contrasting colors for small canes. When a cane is made really small by the reducing process, it gets harder for your eyes to see the subtleties of the design. High contrasting colors help, especially on super tiny Fimo Nail Art Canes.

5) Always let your cane ‘rest’ for a bit before you reduce it down in size. This lets all the clay adjust to the same temperature which will allow for a more even and consistent reduction.

6) Square and triangle canes are the easiest to slice without distortion.

I hope you found these polymer clay cane tips to be helpful. If you have any ideas to add or if you have questions, feel free to comment below!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 17 September, 2008

    What part of making polymer clay canes do you find the most challenging?

  2. Marianne, 17 September, 2008

    Even though you make the canes look easy, I still haven’t had the courage to “jump in”. I think I like the checkerboard canes and that may be my first cane, although the bulls eye might be a better bet. So to answer your question. Right now just making up my mind
    what to do and doing it is hard.


  3. Andrea, 18 September, 2008

    I have wondered about those huge canes I’ve seen in the mags,for one,how on earth do you start to reduce & why would I need such a large amount.I agree it would be better to have lots of different designs, rather than having to make tons of pieces all the same.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 19 September, 2008

    @Marianne: The trick is to try making tiny little canes. This way you won’t be afraid to waste clay. Make a couple of sheets of clay in different colors. Take a little 1″x1″ square form each and stack. Cut in half and stack again. Repeat. Now you have a striped cane. Try making miniature versions of each of the beginner canes in the course. If you mess up, mush it up and start again. You don’t need to worry, just jump in!

    @Andrea: Well it is a lot harder to reduce those ‘monster’ canes and you better be sure you are going to like them! Kathi Gose a polymer clay artist that makes really huge 5lb canes, takes her ‘monsters’ out to the driveway and pounds them on the pavement!

  5. Andrea, 20 September, 2008

    Well I guess it’s better to take your frustrations out on the concreate rather than beating up the other half for not agreeing to buy yet more clay.

  6. Cindy Lietz, 20 September, 2008

    Hehehe! Definitely a much better thing to do!

  7. Kimberlee, 21 September, 2008

    How do I make smaller canes? I always put clay together at about 4″ snake size, but then I add more clay and it gets really big really fast.

    I’ve tried to put smaller amounts together, and sometimes that isn’t enough clay to roll together, but I guess I just haven’t done the testing enough. Can you give us some ideas of about how much clay to use for a cane that does not end up snaking off the table? Like how much compared to one block of clay should the total amount be (including all the colors)?

  8. Cindy Lietz, 21 September, 2008

    I usually only make my canes about 1.5 inches long by 1 to 2 inches across. It uses up only 1 – 2 blocks of clay in total that way. For the tiny canes I was suggesting to Marianne as samples to learn the technique, I’m talking baby finger sized canes.

  9. Phaedrakat, 07 April, 2010

    What a cute little cane! It looks luscious — edible! Anyway, thanks for the tips. I haven’t seen this page before, but it’s got some helpful info!

    @Andrea: Funny!

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