Polymer Clay Cane Tutorials

black and white polymer clay beads
Striped beads made with polymer clay canes

Polymer clay cane tutorials are the best way to learn this advanced design technique quickly.

About Polymer Clay Canes

If you have a little experience making beads and art projects with polymer clay, you may want to try your hand at making polymer clay canes. You can make these canes from clay tubes wrapped within other colored clay tubes in such a way that the final tube can be sliced into several sections to reveal an identical design in each slice.

You can make geometric canes by stacking and cutting rectangular or triangular layers of clay, rather than by rolling layers into cylinders or shapes. If you want to design multi-colored flowers or complex bead patterns, then canework is the best technique for your project. In either case, the designer then cuts the cane into slices to use them as individual flat beads or buttons or to apply edge-to-edge to enhance larger polymer clay beads.

Basic Skills

Be patient with yourself when learning this skill and be willing to practice until you get the desired results. Canework is not the easiest method of designing with polymer clay, but it is one of the most versatile. If you need several identical clay items for a project, then canes are nearly always the ideal design method for this purpose.

The most basic cane and easiest to learn is a bullseye cane, in which a single cylinder of clay is wrapped with a thin sheet of another color of clay. If you were to look at one end of a bullseye cane, you would see a solid-color core framed around the edge in another color.

Basic Tools

Besides having at least two colors of polymer clay available (preferably both of the same brand), you will need these tools and supplies:

  • A smooth work surface
  • A sharp craft knife
  • An acrylic cylinder for rolling your outer layers of clay flat
  • Ideally, you should have a basic pasta maker that you only use for polymer clay projects (never food). You can make canes without this, but it's a worthwhile investment that will make your crafting faster, easier, and prettier. You can find a pasta maker on eBay for around $15, plus shipping.

Video Polymer Clay Cane Tutorials

If you find it difficult to follow text tutorials to create canework, then you may want to watch video polymer clay cane tutorials online. This will allow you to see the hand and knife actions for a more precise understanding of how to build a cane.

YouTube offers a wide range of clay tutorials, some more helpful than others. This time-lapse video showing how to make a simple polymer clay cane of lemon slices is great place to begin. It's really best to start with a simple design so that you don't become discouraged. Once you learn the basics, you can progress to making more complex canes, such as multi-colored polymer clay flowers and even human faces.

Polymer Clay Design Websites

Many crafters who are experienced and skilled in designing with polymer clay offer excellent tutorials online. Polymer Clay Central, one of the oldest websites dedicated to this craft, has a great selection of tutorials from instructors with several years of experience. The organization has not upgraded the website for ease of navigation in several years, but a bit of exploring will lead you to some excellent polymer clay cane tutorials, such as one for making beautiful shaded flower canes or a dramatic leaf cane to complement your flower canes.

The Crafts Unleashed site has a tutorial for making a jelly roll cane. You'll want to take your time and explore this site, as it's one of the most comprehensive polymer clay tutorial sites available.

Once you have mastered the basics of polymer clay canes, try making a beautiful cane bead necklace with a tutorial from the makers of Fimo brand polymer clay. This site is a bit difficult to navigate, but their downloadable PDF tutorials are well worth the effort to find them.

PC Polyzine offers a nice mirror cane tutorial with advanced blending techniques

Helpful Tips for Making Polymer Clay Canes

Be sure to have on hand all the crafting supplies and tools that you need before trying the techniques in any of these tutorials; the right craft tools can make or break your cane designs.

Use only one brand of polymer clay for each cane, because brands vary from each other in their pliability and texture. Mixing brands could cause unexpected results. Consistency is vital when building a polymer clay cane.

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Polymer Clay Cane Tutorials