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How to make a Spiral Patterned Polymer Clay Cane

Polymer clay beads decorated with spiral cane sliceswith Sue Heaser

A spiral cane is one of the easiest types of cane to make out of polymer clay.  The spiral cane slices can be applied to all kinds of projects for a stylish and modern look.  These beads have been decorated with slivers cut from a red and white spiral cane. You will need polymer clay in two contrasting colours, about 1/2 a 56g block of each, (another coloured block of clay, if you are planning to roll beads), a roller, rolling strips or a pasta machine, and a slicer blade.

Step 1

Roll out the polymer clay in sheets about 1/8in (3mm) thick. Trim one sheet into a rectangle and lay it on top of the other sheet. The lower sheet colour will be the background colour, the upper sheet will be the colour of the spiral.

Rolled out polymer clay

Step 2

Trim the bottom sheet by cutting round the top sheet and remove the waste clay. You now have two sheets, each the same size and stacked one on top of the other.
 

Trimmed and rolled out polymer clay

   

Step 3

Press all along one short edge with your finger. This edge will become the centre of the spiral so it needs to be thin when you start rolling.

Preparing to roll the clays together

Step 4

Push up the thinned edge to start to roll it up, rather like a Swiss roll. Try to make the first turn as tight as possible and avoid trapping air as you roll.

Rolling the clays into a spiral

   

Step 5

Continue rolling up the cane, keeping the edges straight.

Keeping the edges straight

Step 6

Smooth the end of the outer sheet over the inner sheet all along the cane.

Tucking the ends in on the polymer clay spiral cane

   

Step 7

Now roll the cane on your work surface to make it thinner and longer. Keep moving your hand up and down the length of the cane to keep it the same diameter. 

Lengthening the polymer clay cane

Step 8

When the cane is about 1/2 in (13mm) thick, use a sharp slicer blade to cut the cane in half. The centre of the cane will be the best part because the ends can become distorted.

Slicing from the middle of the polymer clay cane

   

Step 9

The spiral pattern is revealed. Now you can reduce one half of the cane further if you need smaller slices.

The spiral pattern is revealed

 

Step 10

Now follow the instructions in Slicing a Cane (see below) to cut even slices from your cane.

A close-up of the spiral pattern

 

Turning the cane as it is slicedSlicing a Cane

You will need to cut even slices from a cane so that you can use them for applying to beads and to make jewellery. Cane slices that are to be applied to beads should be about 1mm thick. Canes used as slices and pierced horizontally as in the Flower Bracelet project, should be at least 3mm thick.

First allow the cane to cool down so that the clay becomes as firm as possible. A good tip is to put the cane in your freezer for about 5 minutes. Hold the cane on your working surface with your non-working hand and looking down over the top of the cane, cut down firmly with your blade. Give the cane a quarter turn, move your blade inwards about 1mm, and cut down again. The slight turn prevents distortion.

Continue turning the cane and cutting. Looking down on the cane from above enables you to keep the blade as vertical as possible for neat and even slices. If the cane is too soft, it will squash as you cut into an oval shape instead of a round shape. You can correct this by reshaping each cane slice before using it.

Cut thin slices of cane to decorate beads and other jewellery, or use the spiral cane in more complex canes.


 

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