Backgroundless Flower Canes

This weekend I’m headed up to Phoenix to teach a class for the Arizona Polymer Clay Guild!  I am teaching this tutorial and I’ve been busy making lots of example eggs.  Just like the ornaments in this post, some of the eggs have a raised pattern and some of them have a smooth surface.  Cane slices can be worked into clay by rolling them with an acrylic roller.  I’ve posted a shorter video about reducing canes with no background.

polymer clay flower inalybackkgroundless flower canewhite cherry blossom eggblack cherry blossom egg

Cane Builder Egg

Speaking of eggs, I also covered one with the Cane Builder bonus cane!  I could make these forever!

bonus cane egg

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Frosty Color Skinner Blend

Here are two experiments I’ve tried to make an icy blend.  I used these for the snowflake cane in the January 2015 issue of Cane Builder.

First I just used Premo brand ultramarine and white.  This made the lower set of blocks that I’m holding.

frosty blend2

I wanted the blend to be a little brighter, so the next time I inserted a curved section of turquoise.  This makes the top set of blocks.

frosty blend1

frosty blend blocks frosty blend snowflakes

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Polymer Clay Copper Color Skinner Blend

This is very similar to the “honey color” or gold blend that I posted earlier.  This blend is used in the January 2015 issue of Cane Builder.

Premo brand: Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Orange, White

copper blend colors

copper skinner blend

copper blend sheet

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Patchwork Cane Ornament

This looks like a complex way to cover a glass ball ornament.  However, if you follow the steps one at a time, the geometry of covering the round surface isn’t as complicated as it looks.

You can use this pattern for any geometric square cane. These canes were made from the November 2014 issue of Cane Builder.

Step 1:  Press four slices of a square cane onto the middle of the ornament.  Check the slices from every angle to see if they are even in all directions.

canework ornament1 canework ornament2

Step 2: Reduce the cane a little and add them to the top and bottom of the first cane slice.  Imagine a line going from the center of the top of the ornament down to the bottom.  There is usually a slight bump at the bottom of the ornament.

canework ornament3

Step 3:  Repeat step 2 with even smaller slices.

canework ornament4

Step 4:  Make a triangle cane to fit in-between the squares.  I handmade two triangles of the background color.  I also added a strip of clay to the bottom.  You can see it if you look closely.

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Step 6:  Reduce this triangle until it fits in-between each set of squares.  This will take a little squishing and stretching because one side of the triangle will need to be larger as the other side tappers down to the smaller end.

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I cut the tiny triangles in half to finish up all the way to the top.canework ornament8

Step 7: Use a square cane to fill in-between the stripes.  Optional:  if you want to change the direction of pattern, (like a diamond shape) add triangles to make a bigger square.  These could be a background color, or other geometric triangle cane.


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Step 8: Reduce the cane further and reshape it to fit the curve in the glass.

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Step 9: Fill in the little spaces left over with solid color.  I either slice these from a solid color cane that I formed to fit, or cut them out of a sheet that I run through the pasta machine.

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Optional:  This is a very tricky step!  Proceed with caution :)

I shave off parts of the surface with a tissue blade to even out the cane slices.  A lot of the finishing just takes practice.  I find each ornament I make is a little better, but none of them are perfect.  It’s still worth it!

canework ornament14

Once the ornament is baked I sand it starting with 60 grit and working down to 1500.  Sometimes I try to get away with not sanding it.  The main reason I sand is because the off-white seems to get a film of red on it while I work.  The sanding process cleans up the colors beautifully!

polymer clay patchwork cane ornament

For an entirely different approach, try these ornaments from the bonus tutorial with Cane Builder.

sky ship balloons

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Elegant Polymer Clay Color Scheme

For those of you working with the November issue of Cane Builder, here is an elegant color scheme right out of the package!  Just three colors of Premo clay: ecru, white, and metallic gold!

elegant colors1 paper mache box mica shift polymer clay cane box and ornamnet polymer clay cane box cane builder ornament

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Art as Flow

I’m a clay artist, but also a painter.  I never fight with my clay, but I’ve fought with my paintings for years.  Whatever your art or craft, these thoughts might encourage you.

I often struggle with all kinds of doubt and discouragement as an artist.  I get overwhelmed and I can’t seem to get anything done.  Getting out rock climbing has taught me a few things about flow.

For the first time ever, I’m seeing painting as flow. Just like my new understanding of rock climbing. You don’t fight with it, you make it yours. You don’t attack it, you live there. Yes, sometimes you fall, and yes, sometimes you’re too tired to go on. Sometimes you just can’t make it. But so what? Stop when you are done and then go back. Stronger this time. And smarter. It has become part of your muscle memory. But not because you’re striving, just because you’re there. Sometimes you keep going when you don’t think you can. Sometimes you make a crazy, risky, leap. Not because your striving but because, “why not”? No fear. Always, you focus on one move at a time. You always make one more move (like just squeezing the paint onto the palette, or conditioning a little ball of clay), even if it might be as far as you can go. Maybe, once you’re there, the answer for the next move will turn up. Sometimes you rest. You look and look and look, for the way. Then the way turns up. Its still not striving. Its watching.

More thoughts along these lines in this post on my painting blog.


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Polymer Clay Butterfly Ornaments

I’ve been experimenting with ways to cover glass ball ornaments.  This first ornament was covered with a solid color clay.  Then it was decorated with backgroundless canes from the October 2014 issue of Cane Builder.  Here is a video on how to reduce and apply canes with no background.

The second ornament is decorated with cane slices in a way that lets the glass show through.  These are the same butterflies I used to decorated the wine glasses.

gold butterfly ornament gold butterfly ornamnet2white butterfly ornament white butterfly ornament2 white butterfly ornament3 white butterfly ornament4

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