Learning a New Craft on Vacation {Part 3}

Some months ago I came across the term “cane” in reference to clay. Curiosity lead me to “just google it” as my grandson would say when he was about three and I did not know the answer to one of his many questions. According to the website of a polymer clay company, Sculpey, the definition is:

cane \’kan\ n — a polymer clay rod of two or more colors; the colors inside the rod are constructed in such a way that when the rod is cross-sectioned at any point, a 2 dimensional pattern is revealed.

When my sister asked if she could bring her clay and tools for us to play with on our vacation, I enthusiastically agreed. After reading a couple of tutorials, I started experimenting with making canes. This is the result of my first experiment:Polymer Clay Cane BeadsI was pretty excited about the process and the results, but after doing several more this became my least favorite of everything I made on vacation.

Melinda decided to give it a try and made these cute beads:Making Clay Beads from Cane

Next I tried making spiral canes and combining them into one cane. I sliced part of it very thin and layered the pieces onto a pendant. Then I reduced the cane even smaller and sliced off beads. The scrap pieces from the ends were rolled into small round beads.Clay CanePolymer Clay Cane SpiralI was trying to look up some videos for ideas of more canes to put together but our internet connection at the time was sporadic. I managed to watch almost all of this tutorial before losing connection and was excited to give it a try.

Mokume Gane was a new term to me, but it was fascinating. The original process is actually hundreds of years old and started in Japan. It was the layering of mixed metals to form a laminate of unique wood grain patterns. Here’s a little history lesson. Using a layering/cutting technique with polymer clay achieves a look with similar characteristics to the original metal process. Here’s what I made with this technique:Mokume Gane Polymer ClayNow I was hooked. I finally saw another tutorial and learned that poking holes with toothpicks and various other sized pokers produced more unique patterns.

And this is what I came up with in my experimentation:Polymer Clay BeadsMokume Gane BeadsPolymer Clay BeadsI wanted to make a landscape cane (no clue how to do it) but I tried. It didn’t look right so after slicing the cane, I layered those pieces and cut and poked into the layers and came up with something that looked like a fish swimming in the lake. You never know what you might create! I flattened out the rest of the pieces, rolled them up and cut them into beads. No clay goes to waste.Polymer Clay BeadNow I have several bags of handmade beads and pendants. I guess the next thing I get to learn is how to make jewelry. It’s another one of those things that looks overwhelming when I look at the isles of jewelry making supplies and beads, but I will study or find someone who knows how to make jewelry to get me headed in the right direction. After all, I still want to make more clay beads and pendants. There are so many more creative techniques to try!

Did you play with play-doh when you were a child? Playing with polymer clay may take you back to those fun memories. There’s just something therapeutic about squishing the clay between your fingers. How about giving it a try?


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