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About Canes and Basic Cane Designs

Here's an overview of the history of cane as it relates to glass beads. Then links and thumbnails that lead to tutorials about how canes are used with Polymer Clay, with a focus on miniatures.

A question about making canes came up on the CITY-o-Clay list 10-12-03 and I thought it was a good excuse to ramble. Remember the links are to the earlier experiments. For more current efforts go to the ComboTutes. Updated 08/31/10.

G'Day Gonna:

The term "cane" comes from glass bead makers.

Glass bead makers would take colored rods of glass and layer them. They'd make flowers and other designs with these rods of glass. When it was heated two workers would pull that "cane" and make it longer, narrower. Then they would slice off little disks that had that design. The earliest example of this that I've found is an Ancient Egyptian Ibis, done a gazillion years ago.
"Art of Glass Making

This art is of very ancient origin with the Egyptians, as is evident from the glass jars, figures and ornaments discovered in the tombs. The paintings on the tombs have been interpreted as descriptive of the process of glass blowing. These illustrations representing smiths blowing their fires by means of reeds tipped with clay. Therefore it can be concluded that glass-blowing is apparently of Egyptian origin.

The remains of glass furnaces discovered by Flinders-Petrie at
Tel-El-Amarna (1400 B.C.) illustrate the manufacture of rods, beads, and jars or other figures, formed apparently by covering clay cores with glass and later removing the cores.

Egyptian glass articles were of colored glass, often beautifully
patterned. Analyses of ancient Egyptian glass articles show that
generally glass was a soda-lime glass with rather soda content as
compared with modern soda-lime glass. "

Millefiori, the term used with Polymer Clay means "Thousand Flowers" in Italian, a technique used for beads where these little disks would be applied to a glass bead and then reheated so they would melt onto the glass bead.

During the African Slave Trade days 16 million tons of beads were funneled into Africa to buy people and raw resources. That's what made Venice, Italy rich back in the 16th Century.
That's also why I wince at the term "canes" used with Polymer Clay.

But enough of ancient history and glass beads. What are we using canes for here with Polymer Clay?

Think jelly roll cake, or Sushi if you will. It's the same sort of

Everything in the world, when reduced to a two dimensional picture, can be broken up into dots, lines, and/or a gradation of color. When making a cane that dot is a snake of clay and the line is a sheet of clay. A gradation of color is a blend.

We want that two dimensional picture to be a log that we will slice and do things to the slices. Snakes, sheets and blends. It's that easy to "raise cane".

How Polymer Clay and Glass are similar is how we can start out with a large log of design and pull it to make the design smaller. That's the only similarity. That's why I'd love to have another term coined for this technique.

Below are some links to tutorials of different types of canes, for a number of uses. Why not tell us what you're wanting to make? Then we can narrow down the focus for the tutorial that might help you.

Canes made with blends add depth and variety to your finished items.




Animal Cane Review: 06-11-04



Once you get canes made you can press them on to sheets of clay




You can use cane for eyeballs for your figures



Or for mini food




Since we are miniaturists as well as artists who use polymer clay we tend to be focused on using canes for three dimensional flowers and leaves, for eyeball iris, for shading on skin for our figures, for clay sheets that act as clothing for our figures, for mini food and even Ice for our pitcher of Lemonade. The colors used for mini food, flowers and leaves are determined by nature for as miniaturists we are
dedicated to simulating nature, but on a smaller scale.
Biz-Archive/food/2-02-lunch group I love this lunch group too much.

I tell you true, melted cheddar cheese was the hardest color mix I ever ran across. I made some cheeseburgers and fries back in late 2000 and I STILL have some of the melted cheddar cheese mix left over. Biz-Archive/food/Cheeseburger Group
Canes made the tomato slices, pickles, purple onion, lettuce and cooked meat patty.

I've been layering a thin slice of that melted cheddar cheese mix over mini bread to give it that toasty effect. White bread is done as a jellyroll blend. Doing a blend of light brown to white, roll the resulting blend like a jelly roll, form like a baked loaf, then layer that melted cheddar cheese mix on top and smear down the sides and slice for sandwiches.

As miniaturists we are experimenting with using Translucent Liquid Sculpey to give sauces and dressings and frosting and glaze to our mini food. This is in addition to doing canes.

So canes are a means to an end and not the end in itself to me. It's part of the bag of tricks that we can use when making Mini Scenes... and things. LOL

Welcome to the list. (Demo information edtied out because Demos are retired) 02/12/08.


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