Here is a general approach to building a simple, symmetrical six-petal flower cane with a translucent (cooks clear, good for layering effects) background. The blank outer ring represents the outer layer of translucent clay – for this cane, the background is about 15% of the overall cane.

What you need:

  • a 60g Skinner blend (~2oz) of a light to dark value, arranged into a plug
  • a shade of the dark value, about 15g (~1/2oz)
  • a contrasting value or small amount of lace cane, for the center
  • thoroughly conditioned translucent clay to pack the cane
  • a pasta machine, a sharp blade and a ruler

Instructions for the Skinner blend plug I’ve used are here and here for a simple lace cane. The term ’shade’ refers to a colour value that has been darkened with the addition of black or brown.

Make the Petal Cane

six petal flower cane

Slightly round your blend plug(fig. 1). Slice into the end you want to be towards the center, one slice per vein you wish.

six petal flower cane

Here, I have two. Place the darker colour clay sheets into the vein holes then heal the cane by compressing it slightly(fig. 2).

six petal flower cane

Now, trim or outline the whole cane in the darker shade(fig.3).

six petal flower cane
Shape the cane to the petal shape so that the bottom and tops of the petal face are easy to keep track of. Compress and reduce the cane to a fairly long length, 12 or 18 inches. Check the length for a consistent diameter and slice into six equal length segments(fig. 4).

Building the flower

six petal flower caneTake the center cane you put aside and reduce to about 6 or 8mm (~1/4″) in diameter. Cut to the length of your petals. Now lightly arrange your petals around your center cane to check for fit. You may need to reduce the diameter of the center cane or pinch or flatten the bottoms of the petal canes to make a good fit.

Once you have the fit right, lightly compress the length of the cane to tighten the assembly.

Adding a Background

Adding a background to the cane allows the caner to make the canes at a much larger, convenient size and reduce them to whatever size is necessary. A background is not necessary but it will keep the cane more consistent in use. Here we’ll use translucent clay for our background. Slices from canes with translucent backgrounds can be layered and details of deeper layers can be seen ‘down into’ the pattern.

Roll small, even tiny, rods and flatten them slightly into triangular wedges. Insert these between each petal. Then, wrap once or twice around the cane with a thin sheet of translucent. Compress the cane and begin reducing. If the cane is small and the clay you’ve used is firm, you may not need more translucent clay than this to get a good reduction.

six petal flower cane

If you used more clay than the list above or the cane is very soft, add another outer wrap or two to buffer the picture. Reduce your cane to the the size you need. Instructions for various reduction techniques can be found here and here.

Here’s the cane I made demoing this process April 7th, 2006:

The leaf cane I demonstrated at the same time can be found in the shaded leaf cane tutorial.

Here is a Christmas ornament decorated with some of this cane – as well as different petaled variations:

purple six petal flower xmas ball