Posted by: doras_explorations | August 26, 2008

Canes of the Week, 8/26/08; Starburst and Pinwheel


  One of my favorite polymer clay techniques is the Skinner blend.  It is difficult to imagine what the polymer clay world was like before it!  Since its invention by artist Judith Skinner , polymer clay artists such as Sarah Shriver , Donna Kato , Kathleen Dustin  , and many others  have been using and tweaking this technique to produce remarkable depth, shading and dimension in their work.    

   Many of my canes start with a Skinner blend.   I blend two or more colors just to see what will happen, what cool new color combinations I’ll create.  At this point I usually have no idea what my ‘final product’ will be.   After I get my blend/blends,  I roll up, cut up, and add other elements to the blends and then do some more cutting up, reducing, and reassembling until I get several different cane designs with the same color palette.  In the past, this process was very haphazard and hit-or-miss, but now I spend more time thinking through my color choices, and how I will build the cane components.  My canework has improved thanks to this more disciplined approach. 


The following two canes started as a four color Skinner blend using a fall color palette; a brown made from mixtures of various Fimo Soft brown scraps with copper metallic clay added,  Fimo Soft ‘Indian Red’,  a mix of Fimo Soft Lemon Yellow and Sunflower Yellow, and a mix of Fimo Soft ‘Sahara’ and white.  The blend was reshaped into a rectangular block, black stripes were added, then the block was cut in half on the diagonal…the two halves were used to make 2 different canes.  Here are the pictures of the process.  Click on the photos to enlarge them.  If the enlarged image is too big, click on it again to make it a viewable size.  I added an extra lamp to improve the color of the photos, I hope it works !



  1. Dora! That is absolutely the coolest demo I’ve ever seen!!!! I’m hoping it’s considered a tutorial because I’d love to try it! What a fabulous procedure….I’m just in awe!

  2. I’m glad you like it, Susan ! Of course, you can try it out. My Cane of the Week features are really short tutorials, so anyone is free to copy what they see. The best way to show a technique is to do it in person or through a video, but since I don’t have a camcorder, photos will have to do !

  3. sweet!! I am imagining my “tropical” blend done this way and using it as a center of a flower cane. YOur pictures and descriptions are perfect Dora. Easy to follow along!

  4. Thanks, Kathi ! I can spot a couple of missing steps in my directions, but those who are experienced with caning can probably fill in the missing info just fine..That is a great idea to use the pattern to make a flower cane center ! The starburst cane in particular looks like part of a flower.

  5. Both canes are really spectacular Dora! Especially like the more red one. Love the impact the spiral makes!

  6. Thanks, Cindy ! I think I prefer the dark pinwheel one too, it seems to have more ‘movement’. I plan to use both canes in one jewelry piece or a set. They should look good together, since they both have the same color palette.

  7. Dora! These are awesome!!! Great job with the instructions. It was so easy to follow along. You’re really inspiring me to do some canework.
    Besides getting everything lined up correctly as I went along, one of the biggest challenges I always faced was what to do with the cane once I made it.
    I’m looking forward to your next Cane of the Week!

  8. Karen, I never know what to do with my canes once I make them…That’s why I have so many of them sitting around ! I always get ‘stuck’ at the canemaking stage…

  9. Gracias Dora, por estos tutoriales, le han salido una cañas preciosas, tiene mucha imaginación y me parece muy generosa al compartir con los demás cada paso en la elaboración de sus cañas.
    Espero su próxima caña.

  10. I’m glad you liked the tutoral, Pilar !

  11. Woweee … what an excellent tutorial writer you are! Great clear instructions and pictures. I know I’ll be checking here often.

    Thanks so much!

  12. Thanks, Elsie ! I hope to improve my tutorial skills further, as I do see definite room for improvement. My career as a speech pathologist has taught me the importance of giving clear instructions, and of supplementing verbal information with visual. I plan to present another cane soon, hopefully sometime next week, so stay tuned!

  13. Dora.. love this. Although I haven’t made a cane in a while, you may be peaking my interest again. I always thought you were/are a great teacher. Thanks!

  14. Thanks, Judy ! I’m glad you like the cane….I hope to finally get my newest cane posted this weekend. My weekdays are now very busy, since I’m working full time. I leave the house at 7AM and don’t get home til 4:30…and I have absolutely no energy in the evenings. I will be so glad when this job ends (the day before Thanksgiving), and I can go back to be retired !

  15. Thank you for this tutorial! I had a go the other night – the light half came out a bit smudged after I reduced it, but the dark half is lovely.

    • I’m glad you liked the cane and that you had some success with it. Canework is just one of those things that takes practice..Even though I’ve been working with polymer clay over 13 years, I still make more than my share of ‘stinker canes’.
      Of course, those stinker canes don’t make it on my blog, LOL!

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