Helpful Tips for Working with Ready-Made Canes
POKING: Hole-poking tools ("pokies", as they are known in my house) can also be purchased in the clay section of a craft store. You can also use a quilling needle, or a regular sewing needle which has been baked partially embedded into a polymer clay log. Take your time poking holes. Carefully position the tip of the pokie, then envision where you would like it to come out on the other side, and aim in that direction. Slowly apply pressure while rolling the handle of your pokie slightly back and forth. You are twisting your way through the clay, rather than pushing. This creates less distortion. You may find it helpful to poke only halfway through the bead. My personal technique is to twist through until I can just barely see the tip coming through on the other side. At this point, remove the pokie, flip the bead around, and poke it through from the other end.
If you are new to working with ready-made polymer clay canes, here are some tips I'd like to share with you:
SLICING: You can find polymer clay blades in the clay section of most craft stores. I like to use surgical tissue blades, because they are extremely sharp and therefore give you a better cut. These can be ordered online. Hold the blade between your thumb and index finger on each end, and position yourself so that you are looking straight down at your cane. It's a good idea to practice first on a log of scrap clay.
BAKING: Polymer clay can be baked in your home oven, although if you are going to be doing it often, you may wish to consider using a separate, clay-dedicated toaster oven. I place my beads on a disposable baking sheet with a piece of cardstock lining the bottom. Different brands of polymer clay require different temperatures for baking. Check your polymer clay package for the recommended baking temperature. iKandiClay canes are made from a mixture of Kato and Premo, and I recommend baking at 275*F for at least 20 minutes per 1/4" (6 mm) of thickness. (I, personally, tend to just bake EVERYTHING for 45 minutes... maybe an hour if it's especially thick.)
It's a good idea to use an oven thermometer to verify that your oven is baking at the correct temperature.
COOLING: I prefer to leave my baked items to cool slowly in the oven. The baked clay is flexible and somewhat fragile while it is still hot.
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