Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My way of Reducing a Square Cane

Barbara, one of my friends from Polymer Clay Central was having problems reducing sqaure canes made up of extruded square logs, every thing went fine until the final reduction and then the cane went "wonky". I want to make some quilt pattern canes and figured I would have the same problem so I set out to solve the problem.

I used Barbara's pattern to make the following cane. This is not a tutorial on how to make the cane but rather on my way of reducing a square cane.
I reduced the above cane to 6" in length, divided it into 4 1 1/2" logs and assemble it below
I then place it between 2 sheets of clear acrylic. I grasped each sheet as shown in the photo, my fingers over the top and the heel of each hand pushing in on the cane. I started the pressure at the bottom where the sheet rests on the table and firmly push upward with the heel of my hands. I, of course, used both hands but in this case had to use one to take the photo. After I pressed on one side I turned the cane a quarter turn and did it again, then another quarter turn until I had turned it 4 times. I then flipped the cane over and did the quarter turn 4 times a second time. I kept doing this until the cane reached the top of the sheet and was approx. 1" square.
I then switched to my 1" acrylic rods. I placed the cane between the rod and gently squeezed... again using both hands. I repeatedly turned the cane a quarter turn and applied pressure. I did this several times then I grasp the cane on each end and gently pulled. Put it back between the rods, squeeze, turn, squeeze turn.. stretch.. squeeze, turn... you get the picture.
At times I would place the cane against one rod holding it in contact with the rod and gently stroking with my fingers.
Then flip the cane over and do the same again.
When the cane became more pliable I put it between both rods and gently squeezed.
When the cane was a little over 6" long I trimmed the ends, cut it into 4 logs and repeated the reduction as above.

And as you can see, in this step, the cane turned out wonky... not what I wanted it to do.
So I went back to the drawing board. After I had reduced the original cane, I cut it in 4 sections and assembled them as seen below, I added a band of brown clay around the cane. To make the band I ran brown clay though the pasta machine on the #1 setting. To keep the corners sharp I cut 4 sections to place on the sides instead of wrapping the cane.
I reduced in the same manner as above. The only thing I did differently was to reduce the 4 part cane to a little more than 8" instead of 6", trimmed the ends and cut 4 2" logs before I assembled and reduced for the final time.. Turned out pretty good. Now I can make quilt canes with less distortion. I worked this out on my own so if there is an easier method please let me know.
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. It sure seems like a wonderful lesson in getting not-wonky canes, BJ, and I will try it next time I have this situation for sure. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You're welcome Jackie, thanks for your comment.

  3. Great tutorial. I've had my square reducing rods for a while but haven't used them. I'll give it a whirl using your tutorial.

  4. Thank you. Let me know how it works for you. BJ

  5. Very cool of you to do this. You solved the original problem and figured out how to reproduce that cool "wonky" cane!

  6. That looks great, BJ, thank you for sharing. Smiles

  7. You are welcome Sue. Thanks for stopping by. BJ

  8. Thank you for the great tute BJ :))