The last couple of years I’ve gotten into fancy houseplants. Not the growing of them but making little canes of their leaves after a customer made a request. One of the more appealing ones is the prayer plant or maranta leuconeura. It has great dark green leaves with a pretty pop of coral pink and a light green. There’s a bit of complexity to the vein pattern.
And it’s a great illustration for the magic of doing polymer clay canes.
What do I mean? A lot of the canes I make are like this. One block of design, iterated. Sometimes only a few times – if you make a six petal flower you only need to make that block into six pieces although you can cut it into half and then cut the half into 3. For a sunflower – mine at least – you cut that original petal in half and then combine it with itself to make a double petal. And then you do the process of reducing and cutting again a few times. This way you get a lot of petal complexity without actual complexity.
The prayer plant leaf is the same thing. Once you isolate the design segment to this little vein you only have one block to make. You reduce that block to enough pieces to make all the leaf details… let’s say eight. Join it together to make HALF the leaf. And then cut that in half to make the symmetrical other half. You’re fudging a bit because the actual plant is not perfectly symmetrical but stylized still gets the point across. Add a bit of centre vein and join your two parts and voila, pretty prayer plant leaf cane.
Some of the leaf canes have been harder to get down to this sort of stage. I struggled a bit with polkadot and purple blush begonia leaves until I found a pattern I liked. Boston ferns are a pain but again same idea: base unit reduced and grouped, cut and combined until you get a good stylized design. My recent snake plant is the same idea although done a little different: initial block reduced and stacked. If you wanted a much more complicated version you could add more colours or do a lot more segments in the stack. Since I planned it to be used in miniature I didn’t want to start losing resolution.
Either way, I made a video for this one since I think everyone should be building maranta plants 🙂 Or at least everyone who’s reading a really niche blog about polymer clay canes and beads.