Making a flower cane from Polymer Clay is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, I am not quite sure why I haven’t. You would think with my love of including flowers in my jewellery it would have been one of the first things I would have tried to do, if I’m honest, maybe I was just scared and thought they were really difficult and complicated to make. Well no it’s not really, yes it takes a while and making beads afterwards is not a quick process either, but the satisfaction of seeing the flower appear in your cane, once you have put it all together, squeezed it, rolled it, pinched and stretched it and finally cut off the messy ends is amazing. You really do feel quite proud of yourself.
Here are the first two flower canes I made, one with 6 petals and one with just 5.
I made the first by following a time-lapse video on YouTube, a brilliant video but not the easiest to follow without pausing it every few seconds if you are trying to learn and it is difficult to work out the sizes etc. Here is the link to the video, if you are interested Polymer Clay Millefiori Project.
After making the flower canes, I was asked if I would do a tutorial, to show others how to do it. Obviously I refer you to the YouTube video above, but usually when I am trying to learn how to make something for the first time, I prefer to follow a step by step guide using photos, so I can take my time. So here is my version of the flower cane tutorial.
For this cane I decided I wanted to make a flower that looked a bit like a daisy. So I chose to use white for the petals, a self mixed grey (with glitter), a self mixed green for the outside and yellow and gold for the centre. (You will see it didn’t quite turn out exactly like a daisy though, I blame it on the gold!)
You will need:
4 or 5 colours of Polymer Clay (I use Fimo Soft)
Pasta Machine or Rolling Pin
Long Blade for cutting
A mat or glass cutting board.
1. Once you have decided the colours you want your flower to be, condition each piece of clay to ensure it is soft and not crumbly, you will need more of the colour you will be using for the outside of the petals and around the whole thing, ie. for me the green.
2. Take the clay you want to use for your petals (Colour 1) (mine was white) and roll this into a cylinder approx 3″ long and about 1.5″ fat.
3. Take the clay you want to edge the petal with first (Colour 2) (I used the grey as I didn’t want a colour to show to strongly). Put this through your pasta machine, setting 4 or roll to approx 2mm thick.
4. Using the white cylinder of clay as a guide, cut the grey clay to this width, then roll the clay just over half way around the cylinder and cut.
5. Take the next colour of clay you want to use (Colour 3) (green for me) and do the same as you did with the grey and gently squeeze it together to ensure there is no trapped air.
6. Next you need to make 3 cuts lengthways in the white clay. Using your blade cut down the centre approx 1cm (this does depend on how thick your cylinder is) then do 2 further cuts on either side. Pull them slightly apart
7. Now choose the colour you want to use to add a vein to your petal. I used the grey (Colour 2), but in the first 2 canes I made I used what would be your Colour 3. Cut a strip of clay (check the size to your slits) and insert into the centre cut, then do the same with the other 2 cuts.
8. Now squeeze together (not too hard) to remove any trapped air. You need to maintain the shape of a petal, but roll, pull and stretch it until it is approx 19cm – 32cm (this depends on how many petals you want. For this flower I wanted 9 petals, so I worked it until it was about 32cm, so I could cut 9 x 3.5cm sections. But you will see from the other 2 canes I made, I have done a six petal and a 5 petal flower. Just think you want to allow approx 3-3.5cm per petal.
9. Cut out however many petals you want to use for your flower. Then put these to one side.
10. Now we want to make the centre for the flower. Take your centre colour (Colour 4), for me Yellow and roll into a cylinder, approx 5cm/2″ in length.
11. Take the colour you want to wrap around the centre colour, I used the gold. Run through the pasta machine setting 5. Cut to size and wrap around the cylinder and cut.
12. Then take another colour ( I used the same colour) and repeat with a second layer.
13. Now gently roll and squeeze to ensure no trapped air, maintain its roundness. Now cut to the same length as the petals, use a petal as a guide.
14. Position the petals around the centre, ensuring they look OK at the top and bottom, it does not have to be perfect, I have to say that, because mine isn’t.
15. Now take (Colour 4) Green for me, same as the outside colour of the petals. Roll out and cut into lengths to match your flower. You need to make triangular wedges to fit between each petal, you do this by keeping the clay on the board put pinching the clay together at the top to form a ridge . Ensure it all looks neat (although mine doesn’t!) and matches at the top and bottom OK, give it a squeeze and a quick roll to remove any trapped air, but not too much.
16. Take what is left of Colour 4 and put through the pasta machine (setting 4 or 5), You need to cut to size and wrap this around the flower cane.
17. Lastly you need to squeeze, roll, pull and stretch from the centre outwards to ensure you remove all the trapped air. Do not worry about the ends of the cane. Keep doing this until you are happy with it and then cut off the end and you will see your finished flower.
18. You can now cut this into sections and store some of the canes for future use (I wrap mine in cling film and store in an air tight box. Or you can take one of the canes, roll until it is at the desired size, and thinly cut slices to make your beads.
19. You can also use the leftover clay to make your beads. To make round beads, roll around the clay between your palms until it is smooth and round, then apply the slices and roll again, apply an even pressure to maintain the round shape between your palms until it is all blended together. TIP ~ Allow to stand for about 10-20 mins before making the hole in the bead, this allows the clay to firm up a bit. Here are a few examples of the beads I made.
20. When you have made all your beads and put a hole through them, you now need to bake them in your oven (as per the polymer clay manufacturers instructions). (TIP ~ I was going to buy a bead rack, but then I had the idea of using some foil trays with 0.8mm wire threaded through them, saving me some money).
21. When your beads are fully cooled, you can either use them to make something straight away or varnish them, apply lacquer or sand them, whichever you prefer. I varnish mine, using a piece of 1.2mm wire to hold the bead whilst I varnish it, then thread a piece of 0.8mm wire through it and hang it between 2 items to keep it off the bench.
I hope you found that useful, any questions or comments are welcome.