Polymer Clay Canes for Beginners

27 videos, step by step, beginner cane workshop beginner Cane Tutorial What people are saying about this tutorial. jennifer rose Just finished this first workshop on how to make canes, and I must say I learned so much. This is exactly what I have been looking for, someone who could explain cane making in a step by step that process that I could replicate. I watched the videos, went into my studio and began to create all of the canes Alice showed. I finally have results I can be proud of, and I say thank you so much for doing this workshop. My only question now is when do we get more workshops. If you are only going to take one online class let it be this workshop. Thank you Alice for your hard work, and your dedication to helping others learn the joys of polymer clay.

Online Workshops with Alice Stroppel


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More About Polymer Clay Fish Slides

Fish slide polymer clay

Arlene Harrison from Harrison Hollow Designs left a comment asking what a slide was. Well my understanding was something that slides off and on a cord or wire. But later I began to think about the difference between a slide and a pendent with a bail. Or why isn’t the fish with the hole considered a bead? If I drilled the hole more in the center of the fish would it be a bead or does a bead have to have a design on all sides and be round?

What is the difference between my fish and the pendant I made for my class at Beads F.O.B. in Sarasota? I made the “bail” out of polymer clay for the class pendant and drilled a hole through the bail, with the fish I just drilled a hole straight through with no bail.

Class pendant - polymer clayBut  when I googled bail here’s what I found;

Bail A finding that connects a pendant to a necklace. They come in different forms: some clip onto the pendant, some have mounts to glue the pendant to, and some attach to a ring on the pendant. The purpose is to hold the pendant flat when worn.

So maybe the pendant above is really a slide just like the fish?  I don’t know …….I’ll just have to ask Marty and Karen at Beads F.O.B.. But the good news is I can tell you how to make whatever they’re called.

fish with needle toolOnce I’ve finished my mosaic fish I mount it on a piece of clay (double thickness of the widest pasta machine setting) and cut out with a exacto knife.

Then I poke a hole straight through the body of the piece and then insert small rivets that you can purchase in the scrapbook department.

I bake it and then remove the rivets and re-drill the hole with my Dremel tool then replace the rivets with a tiny bit of super glue. Make sure you don’t fill the hole with super glue. The rivets just finish the hole and neaten everything up.

Here are all my almost finished fishies, some are going to my Etsy shop. But I have to finish them by signing the back with my name and the date, so it will be later today.

Fish Slides - polymer clay

Polymer Clay Cane Mapped Fish Slides

Fish Slides

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on these fish slides for an exchange I will be taking part in. They really have been so much fun and each one is different than the next so I can’t say I was the least bit bored by the number. I still have more to go and hope to finish up in the next few days.

Even though you can’t see it, there is metal leaf on each one of these fish. I’ve recently begun to use the metal leaf with my cane mapping and have some other ideas that don’t involve fish, so stay tuned. By the way you can learn how to map out the use of your old canes by signing up for my newsletter if you haven’t already. Just fill in your name and email address in the spaces on the upper right hand side of this page. I send out a newsletter about once a month and a class up date from time to time.

Okay so I’m not telling the exact true about being bored with these fish. I can say that bored is probably not the right word anyway, I think I get tired of doing the same type of item for a long period of time and have to break it up with other projects or activities along the way. But I’m always excited to come back and make more because they make me smile. Okay so they don’t make me laugh out loud like my girls do, but they do make me smile a lot.

I usually sit down and make five in a row, get them baked and the holes drilled, then I do something else for awhile. Today I am playing around with how to package them. Most of the time in an exchange just including your card  is enough, but I wanted to do mine a bit different this time.

I’ve used cards like this before to display my pins and I think I just might use them this time as well. These are smaller than the ones I’ve used before and I like them better for these smaller pieces.

I have soft wire that I’ve run through the slide and out the back of the card, twisting it together to hold the fish in place. I use a very small hole punch to make the holes so everything looks nice and neat.

The next thing I’m going to play with today is the design of the card. I think it might need some updating, I just signed my name on the top but I don’t think I like that. You never know until you try…words I live by.

Polymer Clay Cane Class at Beads, F.O.B. – Sarasota

I’ve been busy this week making slices to exchange at a retreat I’m going to in September. Very excited about it and I’ll tell you more about it another day.

Bead class BEADS, F.O.B.

I’ve also been making a zillion, yes that many, skinner blends for a fun new workshop I’ll be teaching in Sarasota, FL at Beads, F.O.B., Inc. on Saturday, August 20th – 10am – 4pm and Sunday the 21st from 10am – 1pm.

Marty Montague is the owner of Beads, F.O.B., Inc and she and Karen Johnson is manager, designer and teacher at the shop.  They both attended my pen and ink class last month and we all had such a good time Marty asked me to teach a cane/bead class for her. I’m delighted.

It’s a two day workshop for people new to polymer clay, don’t worry you won’t have to buy lots of equipment, I have pasta machines to share, but you will be investing in lots of clay. The up side of that is you will be “stocking” your cane pantry with enough colors, blends and canes to make hundreds of beads or pendant with the techniques I’ll show you.

It’s also a workshop for those who have been playing with clay for awhile but have just never tried caning and are ready to take the plunge.

I’ll be showing you how I make reasonable sized to small canes to use all kinds of fun projects. I never make giant canes because I don’t like to have lots of one cane, I’d rather use my clay stock to make hundreds of small interesting canes. It makes it easier on your pocketbook if your just starting out.

I’ll spend some time with skinner blends, I’ve learned a few important things over the years that I’ll share. Plus we’ll be using the skinner blends to make many different canes and beads.

So here’s what you’ll be learning

  • Create a Skinner blend
  • Make these basic canes: stripe, checker board, jelly roll, bulls eye,
    flowers and some fun little accent canes.
  • Use tons of  tips gleaned from my years of practice. If  there is an
    easier way, I’m going to do my best to find it.
  • Learn several ways to make beads.
  • Finish a simple yet striking pendant.

This strand of beads are just a sample of the beads you’ll be able to make from the canes we produce in this workshop.

Beads for Workshop at Beads F.O.B. - Sarasota, FL I’m still making samples for this class and will be posting them over the next couple of week. To find out more about this class download my pdf, to register call Karen or Marty at 941-921-0871

I’m not sure if their August newsletter is out yet, but it will be shortly. You can download it from the front page of Beads, F.O.B.

Polymer Clay Cane Mapping Class at Alice’s Studio

Orange Cane Mapping fish

The next class in my studio will this month, July 30, 2011. We’ll be using up your old canes and creating some very cool fish.

I’m using fish as the subject, but you could cane map almost anything. I’ll be showing you a couple of other cane mapped items in the next few days. The photo above shows one crazy fantasy fish that I applied to this cute little tea pot. Fun! Here’s a close up. It’s only about 3″ square.

Orange Fantasy close up

The Class is $55.00 and that will include lunch and Foam core for mounting your finished fish and cording or pin back to finish your small fish. Plus…I’ll add a bit of metal foil to add the pop need to create a fantasy fish.

Click here for all the information. Hope to see you here,


Sarajane Helm’s 2011 Mini Mask Swap


If you were in Sarajane Helm’s 2011 mini mask swap and


or your surprise might be ruined.

Whew, glad I remembered that some people might not have their masks back yet. But not everyone will be receiving these masks. There are 1,000 masks involved in this adventure and there are only 30 shown here.

I had the most fun yesterday opening my package of mini masks from Sarajane Helm and her husband Bryon. As I’m sure you know, Sarajane is the host of the annual mini mask swap and the author of A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks.

Thanks to my friend Leila Bidler I found out about the swap in enough time to join in. And I will be forever in your debt Leila, because these masks are all incredible. I have to step up my game to be in it next year I can see that.

I was in three groups of 10 and that meant I sent in 30 masks and got back 30 masks including one of each of the ones I made. Here’s group one.

Sarajane Helm's 2011 Mini Mask exchange 1


Are these not the best??? I just enjoy each one so much, looking at how they made them and believe me they are all different.

Of course you could pick my brightly colored crazy design out of the line up I bet. Nothing earthy and tribal for me. Okay so I tried to be tribal with this next one, but couldn’t stay away from the color.

Sarajane Helm's 2011 mini mask swap group 2

Group 2

Again……a wonderful group of fabulous faces. If anyone knows who the gold masks with all the cool faces belongs to, I’d love to know.

In this next group I combined sculpting, mold making, pen and ink and markers. Lots of fun.

Sarajane Helm's 2011 mini mask swap group 3

Group 3

Aren’t these all so interesting? I wish you could see each one up close, the details are what grabs you. I love the time and effort that went into every one, and now I get to look at them all the time.

Here’s a picture of all of my masked man, just because they are all different even though they are all made from the same mold.

Sarajane Helms 2011 mask swap - Alice Stroppel

My guys

Now I know exactly why Sarajane wants to be the hostess for this swap. there are 1000 masks exchanged and she gets to keep one of each. If the ones I’ve received are this fantastic, I know the rest of them are just as wonderful.

Thank you, thank you, to all who took the time to be in this swap and for those of you whom I managed to  be lucky enough to get your mask, I’ll be emailing you personally.

A special thank you to Sarajane for hosting such a fun exchange and Bryon for helping her.

Almost Like Paperdolls – Polymer Clay Doll

I know I said I wasn’t going to post today, but I wanted to say Happy 4th of July to everyone here in America. It’s a grand day for our country so celebrate and enjoy.

Plus…….I finished this girl last night and wanted to share.

A polymer doll

When I was little my sister had a set of paperdolls that she drew herself. She created a girl and a guy and the girl had the most wonderful clothes. I loved the way they looked and wanted so badly to be able to draw just like my big sister. The paperdolls aren’t around anymore, I wish they were I’d love to look at them again.

When I made this girl I was reminded of my wish to be able to draw my own paperdolls, somehow I feel like that little girl wish from years ago kind of came true. The difference is her clothes are made from polymer clay and can’t be removed. Still having fun here and fulfilling dreams.

Combining Polymer Clay and Pen and Ink

Woman on CanvasWhen I tell you I have too many ideas in my head, it’s the truth. I was inspired and reminded by Vicky in my class the other day that I love playing with color on faces.  I love her faces.



She said she was inspired by a face cane I did and an artist friend of hers. Here’s a bracelet I made with that face cane.

I was inspired when making the face cane by a fabulous watercolor artist friend of mine, Janet F. King. Here’s a sample of her work. Look at all the different colors in her faces.

Boys in  the Band - Janet F. King

Boys in the Band - Janet F. King

And so it goes, inspiration is around us everyday and in everything. The problem is finding the time to execute all the ideas. Which brings me back to the  first picture on this post. This is a painting with pen and ink and markers on canvas coated with polymer clay, then accented with polymer clay canes. The layering inspiration came from a Kathleen Dustin class.

Combining lots of ideas got me here and I really, really, really like doing these and can’t wait to make more.

I was going to wait to post this next idea until tomorrow, but since it’s the 4th of July, I probably will be outside all day so I thought I’d go ahead and post it now.


I am just as excited about these women as I am about the canvas woman. I’ve cut out the shape from polymer clay, used pen and ink and markers, then added polymer clay canes again. I’m excited! It’s why I love polymer clay, the possibilities are truly endless.