Category: Tips&Tricks

My Translucent Clay

translucent clay

Many of the canes I make use translucent clay as a background. Adding a background makes canes easier to reduce, protecting the central design. Clayers use translucent clay because, sliced thinly, it’s not highly visible in layered cane designs. It bakes up as a mostly clear area where you can see the designs underneath. Of course, it works best if sliced thin, sanded, and buffed. It’s also notoriously the first colour to brown and it shows most on light colours. If you can make the cane without the background? Absolutely go for it. I do that for a lot of my “bead canes”.

The clearest translucent in the clay line I use is Premo White Translucent but it’s not the friendliest. As a result, I tend to mix it with Sculpey 3 (also very clear but the texture of peanut butter in warm weather) and Premo’s regular translucent in sort of random proportions. That means I mix it ahead and store it like the box above. It’s always nice to have it ready when I’m ready to make a good cane!

polymer clay lilac cane

The lilac above and the butterfly below are both examples of designs where a background colour – translucent in this case – is used to support larger, complex images. I can see both of these as part of layered cane designs, perfect for spring.

turquoise butterfly polymer clay cane

Estimating What You’ll Get From a Cane

If you make polymer clay canes – as I do – you want to know how much goodness you’ll have to use after you reduce it. Luckily, estimating is an easy job for the average cane.

If I’m using my defaults which may be big for new, hobby clayers and tiny for others. My average new cane is about 2″ in diameter and 2″ long. I generally reduce canes down to half an inch wide. That means my final size is one sixteenth the original size on it’s face and *16 times* as long. You’ll always lose a little for reducing but basically for halving in the face of the cane – from 2″ to 1″ and then 1″ to 1/2″ for mine – you get 4 times as much in length.

Skinner Blends and Videos

Outside of crafting I do a fair amount of technical work – computer stuff, coding, some car electronics, amateur radio – and the last bit I’ve gotten back into doing web development and some graphics work. That includes bringing myself into the modern day as far as videos go.

As a bit of an introductory, super basic project I popped up a super speed version of me reducing a butterfly cane up on my Instagram. And another of a basic Skinner blend – for the same butterfly cane – up on my YouTube. The blend video, apart from being sped up a bunch, has none of the fun video magic the better video tutorials have. It has fumbling with packaging, awkward cutting, lots of crooked edges, and my blend sides are a mess. It still made a really great butterfly cane.

I have a plain old tutorial, with words and graphics, of the same sort of process. Version 1 got popped up in 2006. I redid it in 2017.