Making polymer clay canes can be such a fun and rewarding process! And cane work can add intricate little details to your clay pieces. It can also be an extremely frustrating process for beginners. Here are my top five tips for making and working with canes.
#1 Let it rest before reducing. I know, I know, you just want to see the end result. But patience, my friend, is key - especially if it is a more complex cane that has taken you a while to build. The more you have been touching the clay, the softer it gets from the heat of your hands. Letting it rest for a day can really help it firm up so that you can reduce it more uniformly without the dreaded smush.
#2 Go slow when reducing. I mean slooooow. Generally, when I’ve been disappointed in my end cane result, it was because I rushed the reducing process. Applying too much pressure too quickly can result in a smushed and distorted cane. Make sure to take time to press evenly around the entire diameter and length of the cane, especially at the beginning.
#3 When reducing a round cane, do not roll it. This can really distort and twist your design. It is also more difficult to reduce the center of the cane this way, leaving the outside smushed and the inside not reduced enough. Instead, start reducing in the middle of the cane by applying even pressure all the way around - creating a somewhat of a “waist”. Think of it like cinching a belt. Continue reducing from the middle of the cane the ends. The ends will be slightly bigger than the middle, but this method actually creates less waste because you won’t have those caved in ends.
#4 Having problems with your cane smushing when you slice it? Pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up. This is especially useful to keep the slices round when slicing a round cane.
#5 Most importantly, be patient with yourself! If you mess a cane up, no big deal! Just pay attention to what you did so you can learn from it. And use those scraps to make some beautiful Natasha beads or some other fun scrap method. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cane scraps make the BEST scraps!
I hope these tips were helpful and be sure to tag #howdoyousculpey so we can see your amazing creations!