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


[caption id="attachment_102" align="aligncenter" width="100" caption="Member IPCA"]Member IPCA[/caption]

Strange Oven Week in Polymer Clay

This week has been fabulous and frustrating. So humid all my canes just stuck together like they were magnets and now it’s cool and breezy outside. I like that, the cool part that is.

Good news, I finished my order. Bad news, something was wrong with my oven and several of them had spots on their faces when I took them out. The spots were all the way through and I couldn’t sand them away.


I had quite a bit of time invested in these girls and used lots of canes in the process. In the middle of the night I thought, okay, what can I do with these girls? Freckles are okay on the cheeks, but not down by the chin. I took my Pigma Micron pen and gave a couple of them mask with a bit of hanging fringe. I liked them.


If you want to use the Pigma Micron pens, just be sure to heat set them. The ink will rub right off if you don’t. Either use a heat gun, or pop them back into the oven for a few minutes.

I cleaned the pan I’ve used for years to bake my clay and I hope that that was the problem with the spotting. I also checked the temperature with a gauge, just to be sure.

I have an order in for blue and orange wine stoppers for a University of Florida fan in the oven now and should find out how all my cleaning and checking worked. I’ll let you know.

I still have a several more girls with spots but I’ll have to figure something else out for them as they are the full face girls and I’m not sure the hanging fringe will work. After Christmas maybe I’ll think of something.

Later …I just checked the wine stoppers and they are just fine, no spots. So I guess the lesson for me today is to clean your pan. Don’t know what was on it that could have made spots, but whatever it was, it’s gone now.

Process vs Product by Suzanne Ivester

When I opened my International Polymer Clay Association newsletter this morning, our president  Suzanne Ivester greeted us with a timely article about selling our work. She brings up some very interesting points. She made me look at the process a bit differently and I think you will enjoy reading what she has to say.

If you are already a member of IPCA, perhaps you’ve already read Suzanne’s article, let me know what you think. If you aren’t a member, you might consider joining this wonderful supportive group. Visit the IPCA website and take a look at all they do for our clay community.

With Suzanne’s permission, I’ve printed her article below.

Suzanne Ivester - President - International Polymer Clay Association

Suzanne Ivester - President - International Polymer Clay Association

Process vs Product

by Suzanne Ivester

I meet often with a group of friends to clay and share our ideas, hopes and frustrations. None of us is what we consider a “professional” artist, but occasionally we all offer our work for sale.

When we talk about pricing and selling, we often lament “Don’t they (the customers) understand how much work goes into each piece?” Then we click our tongues and shake our heads in solidarity as undervalued artists, united in dismay at the ignorance of the shopping public.

But is this fair? And is it helpful? Maybe there’s another point of view to consider.

The Value of  Process

As my friends and I work/play together (and, to a lesser extent, when each of us works alone), we revel in the process. We develop and share techniques, testing them by trial and error. Our focus is not on the finished product. In fact, most of what we create ends up in bags of “loose parts,” to be completed or discarded later. This activity has tremendous value to us–educational, recreational, social–but it can’t be translated into dollars or Euros, except insofar as it helps us to gain skills that will enable us to make products that have monetary value.

A piece of my artwork represents to me the history of the process of its making. I know that it took me three hours, I burned my hand taking it out of the oven, and I tried four different surface finishes before I was satisfied. But do potential buyers know these things, or care? And should they care?

The Value of a Product

When I approach buying, for example, a piece of jewelry, my primary focus is on the product I’ll receive in exchange for my money. Is it beautiful? Does it fit comfortably? Will it be durable? Does it reflect my personal style and complement my wardrobe?

In judging the product’s value to me, I may also consider some process issues. If the item is handmade, are the design and construction superior enough  to similar manufactured goods to warrant a higher price? Was an artisan in a developing country exploited in its production? Will the hand-crafting process of this piece provide me with interesting information to share with those who compliment me on it?

Resolving the Dilemma

In my opinion, while an artist may be concerned mostly with his or her process, the primary focus of a buyer will always be the product.

Therefore, an artist intending to sell pieces of art must concern him/herself with the finished product as it will be viewed by an objective person.

A few simple rules may be derived from this conclusion.

  1. A  difficult or time-consuming technique won’t necessarily result in a more valuable product than a simple technique that the artist has fully mastered and can use creatively.
  2. The elements and principles of good design are flexible enough to inform artistic decisions based on comfort and fashion.
  3. A clever artist will develop a narrative about his/her process that will enhance the value of the product by providing a “conversation-piece” factor. This narrative may be shared via demonstration, conversation, or merchandising.


Let me know your thoughts on what Suzanne has written. Leave a comment. And take a look at my series on selling your work and how Suzanne’s thoughts add another layer.

Part 1 Selling Your Polymer Clay Artwork
Part 2 Pricing Polymer Clay Artwork to Sell Wholesale
Part 3 Mermaid Bracelet Listed on Etsy
Part 4 Inventory Lists for Your Polymer Clay
Part 5 Display Cards for Polymer Clay Pins and Necklaces
Part 6 Creating Tags for Your Polymer Clay Creations

Dora’s Explorations in Polymer Clay Puts a Hex on Us!

Dora's Joy of Hex Cane

Dora's Joy of Hex Cane

Lately, I’ve been following Dora’s Explorations Blog and her polymer clay cane experiments. She seems to enjoy the complicated canes and I understand the challenge.

Her plaid canes are fabulous and there are many more just waiting for you give them a try. She is generous to share these tutorials on her website.

If you want to challenge yourself, take a look at her newest cane tutorial, “Joy of Hex“. It free and the pattern possibilities are endless. Thanks Dora for sharing your talent with us.

Found Objects and Polymer Clay – Video

Bakers Man

Baker Man

Boy have I had fun the last few days. Filming the video on found objects and polymer clay really got me excited about all the projects that I have promised myself I was going to do when I wasn’t working anymore. So watch out..I might be on a roll. I say might because I always have great intentions.

I could have made this video an hour longer, I had that many found objects that I could have shared with you, but I figured you would thank me if I kept it at 15 minutes.

The photo above is just one of the projects that I used some of my found objects on. Kitchen items from my husband’s grandmother and a necklace from a garage sale. I love using items that have meaning to members of my family. He is going to hang on the Christmas tree and once a year we will be reminded of grandma and the fabulous things she use to make for the holidays. Easter pie was a favorite, even for Christmas.

Embellished Book

Embellished Book

This photo is of an old flea market book and one of the pieces I made in this video. Old watch part from my dad, who is no longer with us, fabulous magnifying spectacles that belong to a long ago relative.  A great coffee table book.  Enjoy the video!

Found Objects to Use With Polymer Clay

Found Objects

Several days ago, I promised you a video showing how to use objects you might have around the house to imprint polymer clay projects. Or you may want to use that interesting found object to embellish one of your creations.

I “found” all of these items while I was clean out and cleaning up. You might say I “re-found” them. Most are things I have collected over the years because they were interesting and I just knew one day I’d “make something from them”. ( I think there is a name for this illness……..most of you have it too I think!)  Some are just everyday items.

Even my husbands work space didn’t escape the scavenger hunt……don’t tell him though, he gets scared when I venture into his garage with that look on my face.

Today, I’m working on samples and tomorrow or the next day I’ll post the video. Start looking around you, I know you’ll find lots of things to play with. Roll out some fresh clay and experiment. Or be ready with your treasures for when you watch my new video and we can experiment together.

Just remember, if you use something from your kitchen for clay, you won’t want to use it again for food.

A Nod to Naama Zamir and Her Special Stripes Cane

Naama Zamir's Special Stripes Cane

Naama Zamir's Special Stripes Cane

While I was searching for the author of the eye cane tutorial at the bottom of this post, I came across this tutorial from Naama Zamir. She Posted this tutorial on March 1st, 2009! I made my Ancient Mystery Bracelet on Aug.10, 2009.

I didn’t see her tutorial until 10 minutes ago. In fact I had already started this post to look for the author of the eye cane tutorial.

Ancient Mystery I

Ancient Mystery I

This post is to acknowledge that she thought of the technique before I did! It just must have been floating around in the air and landed on me. Take a look, she explains how to do it wonderfully.

Now to the reason I was searching the internet… this ikat cane tutorial.

Ikat Eye Cane

Ikat Eye Cane

Do you know who wrote this tutorial for an Ikat Eye Cane? It was on a website several years ago.

I printed it out and I use it sometimes for my face canes. I copied and pasted it into another program to print it to save ink. I usually labeled things I printed out with the author’s name and the website address. But somehow I’ve lost that information.

I’ve searched for it online for quite some time with no luck. I’m afraid that it is no longer available. I would like to suggest this cane for my face canes and send people to this tutorial. If it is no longer available, then I would like to be able to share the technique.

If you know the author or the website address, or someone who might be able to help me, would you please leave a comment or email me at alice@polymerclayetc.com? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Update.. Several people were kind enough to leave comments or email me about the tutorial. Click here to go to Kerstin Rupprecht’s Ikat Eye Cane Tutorial. Kerstin shared this tutorial in 2002, thank you Kertin.

Using Old Polymer Clay Canes

Ancient Mystery I

Ancient Mystery I

Here’s how this started! I was going to shoot a video to share about all the items I found while cleaning that I can use with my clay work.

But as always, I had to clean up my clay space before I could begin. There sat slices of canes that I used in my (not finished yet)  Polymer Clay Collage Project…. you’ll see a line of red squares across the bottom. Some were slices that I messed up and then there was this small little piece of cane left.

If you have been following this blog at all, you know me well enough to know that I do not like to make scrap clay. So, I layered the messed up slices with a layer of black #7 on the pasta machine. Then I sliced the remaining cane and added those slices with the  black layers in  between. Ending up with a new cane.

Why I didn’t start filming this for you, I don’t know, except that I didn’t know that it was going to come out this cool.

I sliced this cane into thin slices and added them to a sheet of black. Then placed the whole thing on my bracelet. It looks pretty good, I liked it anyway.

Then I had just a couple of slices left of this scrap cane (and I’m laughing here)! I didn’t want to scrap the rest of the cane I didn’t use because I liked it.

So I decide to play with what I had left. this next bracelet was the result and I like it way better than the first one.

Ancient Mystery II

Ancient Mystery II

I laid the left over slices out on a skinny strip of black and ran it through the pasta machine. It was ragged along the edges and I kind of liked that, so I put it on a layer of ecru clay and covered the bracelet form, added dots and there it was.

It was interesting and fun to experiment and the best part is I made something out of clay that was going to become a gray blob.

But..I still haven’t made the video with the found objects to use with clay. It will  have to wait now, I have a special request for more girl bracelets in my Etsy shop, so I better get moving.

I’ve listed the other two bracelets there, so cross your fingers that summer sales will happen.

Prizes for Adrienne and a Service Added to my Esty Shop

Adrienne' s Prizes

Adrienne' s Prizes

As winner of the Fish Mosaic Contest, Adrienne Lindsey will be receiving the perfume pen with one of my girls on it and as a bonus, (she doesn’t know this yet) I’ve sent her a note card with her fish on the front. I’m sending her a pdf by email with a layout for two note cards that she will be able to print over and over again. She can sell them, give away sets to friends or just use them herself for thank you notes etc. All she has to add is the envelopes.
(I also did a pdf for Laura Lang’s fish too.)

I’ve added this service to my Etsy shop, for those who don’t have the software to do it themselves. If you do have the software, you should consider using your artwork in this way. It really makes sense, you can sell the original and still continue to make money from the item. That’s what other artists do with prints of their originals. Why not Polymer Clayers? Gotta think outside the box.

I just looked at Naama Zamir’s two fish that she made after viewing the video. They are so cute, they would make darling cards or prints for that matter.

Winner – Polymer Clay Fish Mosaic Contest

The winner of the Summer Fish Mosaic Contest is

Adrienne Lindsey

Adrienne Lindsey

Adrienne Lindsey's Winning Fish Mosaic

I love this fish, the colors are so vibrant and full of contrast. Our judge, watercolor artist Janet King, said that it was hard to choose a winner, but she really like the red color choice in Adrienne’s fish. I want to thank my friend Janet for taking the time to be our judge. Janet is a fabulous watercolor artist and  instructor. Please take the time to visit her site and spend some time with her paintings. This bird painting is one of my favorites of Janet’s and represents her humor. See why I asked her to be our judge and why she is my friend?

Adrienne will be receiving the perfume pen in the mail very soon. Thank you Adrienne for the time you spent with your fish. Adrienne was the first to enter a fish and she enjoyed it so much she made another and entered it too. As you can see it paid off, she won!! We do improve with age. (At least with polymer clay)

Thank you to the rest of you who entered this summer contest. I wish I could post all your photos. It was such fun to receive the fish photos in my in-box. But I think what I enjoyed most was talking with so many wonderful people out there that share this crazy passion for polymer clay. Or maybe it’s just the shared love of making things with our hands. The creative process is such a healing, exciting, self affirming activity that it is a necessity for our very being.

Several people told me that this project has rekindled the creativity spark in them. What a compliment for me and an affirmation for  just starting something creative. Thanks again.

I did want to show another fish that came very close to winning that I felt I needed to share it. Laura Lang’s fish is beautifully done and I enjoy her color choices. Thanks, Laura for entering.

Laura Lang's Entry

Laura Lang's Entry

If you want join in the on going adventure, simply sign up for my newsletter at the top right hand side of this page and watch the video.

New Polymer Clay Collage Project – Part Two

Project Idea

Project Idea

How funny is this? I haven’t had much time to work on this new project. The Fish Mosaic Contest entries were coming in and I was having fun and other life stuff got in the way.

But part of “in the way” was having to clean off some shelves in my studio. I save everything, much to my husband’s dismay. The box in the picture is “the box” that I think everyone that shops at Sam’s club here in the states bought as a Christmas gift “for that person that you have no idea what to buy” It’s a funny gift full of little candies that look like little bottles of liquor.

When I saw the box, I was going to throw it away, but I thought maybe it might make an interesting addition to my “project”. I need to cover up the liquor logos, add some back ground or something else to the clay. But maybe this could turn into something fun! OR maybe not. (This may just turn into one of those projects that goes on for years.)

Tell me what you think. Should I continue, or forget about it?

Fish Mosaic Contest Winner to be announced on Friday. You’re gonna love it.

If you are new here, don’t forget to look at my videos. Just click on the link on the left hand side of the page or at the top. Or for the Fish Mosaic tutorial, just join my email list at the top right hand side of the page.