I’m giving this tutorial an update! I initially wrote it in 2006 my website tells me and I’ve improved since then. The steps won’t be much different but in the thousands of canes since I’ve simplified processes. One of those is I tend to use, mostly, the same colour for cane component outlines. Generally that’s Premo! gold which looks brown when sliced and baked. Sometimes I’ll use Premo! antique gold or silver. Sometimes black. For the most part though? Plain old gold. It saves decision making. It comes in pound blocks.
I still make most of my canes with a translucent clay background. You can check this post for a note about my preferred mix but this cane will work fine with whatever you want. Finally, I’m updating my tutorials to include video versions on Youtube. Here’s the one for this cane. Cheers!
Making the Petal
Step 1: Gather up your tools and materials! I used a blend of lavender to white (1 pack each of white and lavender), an outline / vein colour of gold, and a background colour of translucent. I’m missing the lump of flower cane centre I also used. Exact amounts will depend on how big of a blend you use!
Step 2: Shape your blend plug into a teardrop face with a slightly blunted ‘end’. You’ll want your chunk to be at least 2 or 3 inches (50-75mm) long.
Step 3: Since our flower petal has veins, here’s where you mark them – score your cut lines first and then cut all the way through your clay. You should have 3 pieces after.
Step 4: Roll out some of your outline colour to the thickness you want your veins and outlines. That’s a 3 on my Atlas pasta machine, third from the thickest. Insert a strip into each of the cuts you made. These are the veins of the flower petal. Have them be as short or high as you’d like. Just make sure not to trap air as you close the petal back up.
Step 5: Next up, we’re adding the outline. I used the same colour and the same thickness for my outline as I did for the peal veins – a 3 on my pasta machine. When I wrapped the petal, I leave the bottom of the petal blank as a way to mark your cane as you reduce it. It won’t show later since it fits against the cane’s centre.
Step 6: Now that you have the petal cane, reduce it to at least 12 inches or 30 cm in length. You want pieces that are at least 2 inches / 50mm long.
Cut into six even lengths.
Making the Flower Cane
Step 7: This is a bit of a tweaking step. Take your petal canes and arrange them into a flower shape. See how large the centre is and find a good flower centre about that size (I make these ahead and stash them). Arrange your petals around it, adjusting them slightly for fit. You want them all to fit and all to touch the centre the entire length of them. If you need to, use needle tools to tuck crowded edges in.
Step 8: Roll some of your background clay (translucent in my case!) to a thinner setting, 3 or 4 on my pasta machine, and do an initial wrap around the cane. Use your tool to tuck the translucent in between the petals a bit, pop air bubbles, and basically get the first coat. Trim off the excess. For the next layer, make some wedge strips and use those between the petals. And, finally, optionally, do a final outside layer. Mine is usually a 3 or 4 again. You want enough to pad the petals while you reduce the cane and avoid squaring off the edges. You don’t want too much extra because it’s a waste of clay.
Again, go over the cane and tuck edges, trim loose bits, pop bubbles. Make sure your petals are all neatly in.
Step 9: I reduce my canes right away, while they’re soft and moving. Most of my canes don’t get so big that parts cool more rapidly than others and I like to get the simple canes like this down to the size I use and sell them at which is about 1/2″ or 12mm in diameter. For some canes I do a bit of reduction, cut the cane in half, tuck half away, and reduce the other piece down to what I’ll use.
Start by compressing the cane evenly and then pick an end and squeeze, pull, pinch, and reduce it. If your cane was about 2″ in diameter and 3″ long (50mm wide by 75mm long) you can expect to get about 48″ (120cm) of cane reduced to 1/2″ (12mm) wide. Some of that will be waste from reduction.