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by Shelley McLoughlin
edited by Sunni Bergeron

When you are making canes, it doesn't matter which brand of polymer clay you use. What does matter is staying with the same brand for all the clays used in the cane. As an example, you would not mix Fimo Classic clay with Fimo Soft as they are actually two different types of clay. Or Sculpey III with Sculpey Superflex since they, too, are two different types of clay. While Premo and Sculpey III are similar in consistency, they are not compatible in canework. Why?

Different clays are made with different ratios of chemicals, so some "move" faster than others. The softer clays will squish out faster than the firmer clays. Think of a sandwich. You put cream cheese on one slice of bread and mayonnaise on the other. Jam them together and squeeze. The softer spread - mayonnaise - will squish out faster than the cream cheese. Canes work along that same principle. Therefore, when you use the same type of clay - all Fimo Classic or all Sculpey III or whatever - you are using clays made with the same characteristics.

A word of caution, though. Even if you use the same brand of clay, different colors will move at different speeds unless the cane is allowed to "rest" before you begin to reduce it. Also, it can depend on how much you have conditioned and then worked a color - this, too, can contribute to its moving faster. So just let it sit overnight to let the different sections reach the same consistencey. If you're in a hurry pop it into the freezer and leave it sit for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of your cane. --sunni

Supplies:

4 ounces of turquoise
2 ounces of black
Cutting tool: tissue blade, razor blade, exacto knive, sharp kitchen knife, etc.
Pasta machine or something to roll the clay into sheets (glass jar, marble rolling pin, etc.)
Clean work surface

Shelley McLoughlin
2001 Text and Pictures

Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Step 1
Picture of a single color log
Choose two colours that have a good contrast. It doesn't matter how much you use, if you use more clay you will have a larger lace cane. I have chosen a turquoise as my main colour and black as my surrounding contrast colour.

Roll the main colour into a log, making it as even as you can. I made a 2" long log here and about 1/2" thick.
Step 2

Roll your second colour into a thin sheet - for my log, my sheet was black clay about 1/8" thick. Cut the sheet into a rectangle as wide as the log is long - I cut mine 2" wide. Cover your log with this sheet. Be careful not to overlap the edges as you cover. When you have the turquoise log wrapped, press gently where the edges overlap and then pull the sheet back again. You will notice a line where the clays meet. Using your cutting tool, cut along that line and put the excess clay back into your storage bin. Wrap the black clay back so the edges abut one another. Roll gently to smooth the join. You now have a simple Bull's Eye Cane.
Step 3
Reduced log cut in 6 equal sections.
Roll this log slowly and evenly along it's length to reduce its diameter. Continue rolling until it is about 6 times it's original length. Trim off the distorted ends and set them into your scrap pile to be reused later for something else. Now cut the Bull's Eye Cane into six equal lengths. I started with a 2" log, 'reduced' it by rolling it out to a little over 12" in length (remember, we cut off the ends to clean it up). Then I cut it into 2" lengths again.
Step 4
6 covered logs arranged in a group.
Combine the pieces together as shown with one in the centre and 5 on the outside.

When you make your own Lace Cane, you can use as few as 3 or as many as you like in your grouping.

Step 5
Gathered canes reduced
Gently compress the cane together to form a round log again. Don't worry about the ends distorting, it will be just fine on the inside, honest!
Step 6
Reduced cane cut in 6 equal lengths.
Repeat steps 3-5. - cutting and combining as before.
Step 7
Final product of reduced logs - voila! A Lace cane!
Tidy up the ends again. Cut a slice from your smoothed log and take a look at your lace cane! You can carry on cutting and combining again if you want a smaller design. But don't do this too many times or the lines will become so fine that you will loose the definition.
Figure 1
Brief how-to example of a Lace Cane with different colors.
For variations why not use more than just two colours. Here I have surrounded my purple log with a thin white layer and thin a thin turquoise layer. You can add as many layers as you like. Experiment and have fun.

Figure 2
Examples of Lace Cane variations.
Here are some of the things I've made with my lace canes.

In the front row are some slices from my canes.

In the middle row, I used scrap clay (cut ends etc.) and covered them with slices of lace cane.

In the top row are a few of my tiny wish bottles. Some are completely covered with slices, whilst others only had a few slices. For these, I kept the background colour the same as the thin lace lines in the cane.


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