Polymer clay canes are logs of clay with a pattern running through the log along it’s length. They are made by making a pattern with shortish rolls, strips, and sheets of clay. The cane is then reduced in diameter and increased in length by stretching it, taking care not to distort the pattern or image. The cane is then cut in slices, and each slice will have the same pattern on both sides.
Slices from canes can be used to make jewelry, like earrings, pendants, bracelet links, etc., or they can be used to decorate any items by covering the item with many slices. For example you can cover books, pens, boxes, cutlery handles, glasses, christmas tree baubles, and more.
There are many different types of polymer clay canes, but in this article I will just describe a few simple ones that can be made quickly and easily and which don’t need any expensive tools.
The Jellyroll Cane is the simplest cane to make. It’s a spiral of 2 or more colors, and it’s made by stacking sheets of clay on top of each other and then rolling them up.
The Bulls Eye Cane is made by wrapping sheets of clay around a log of clay. The slices will have a circle in the middle, with concentric circles around it in different colors.
The Checkerboard Cane is made up of squares of two or more colors. It is made by cutting strips from sheets of clay and stacking them together, taking care not to put the same color strips next to each other. In the picture below you can see a checkerboard cane that has been reduced and cut into 4 shorter canes and then reassembled to make a Quilt Cane.
Polymer clay canes can be reduced, cut, and reassembled to make more elaborate and detailed canes that would be impossible to make otherwise. You can see another example in the photo below of two pendants made of cane slices, each about 2 cm in diameter. The one on the left is made up of more than 6 canes: the earth in the center, the whale, the sun, the shell, the flower, and the little stars that are too small to see clearly in the photo but that are filling in the gaps between the other canes. The rest of the canes are part of the shell canes – can you see the little green and blue bubbles surrounding the shells? These are canes made with skinner blends, reduced to various different sizes, and finally packed around the shell to make the resulting cane round so that it could be reduced without distorting the shell.