Tips and Tricks

Wallace shares new tutorial

Since my studio’s closed for construction, I’m hungry for some hands-on polymer clay activity and Amy Wallace was kind enough to share a brand new tutorial with us.

Her “stacker” beads are a riot of color and pattern that combine into a patchwork quilt effect. If you like the surprise of “natasha” beads, you’ll love Amy’s simple tutorial. Amy’s instructions contain few words, just pictures (I think steps 6 and 7 are reversed). Amy’s tweaked it and added a few more instructions. Write her for clarification if you need it.

The technique is called Damascus Ladder by metal workers and you can find similar tutorials on Polymer Clay Central and other sites. What sets Amy’s version apart is her spiraling the cane into a disk/bead which adds interest by exposing two variations on the pattern, the flat side is a stripe and the edge is a figure.

See more on her etsy site and her blog. Thanks for sharing, Amy.


I may have to make this cake to keep my caning skills sharp since I’m out of the studio for another day.

Tips from Klew

I resurrected this video shot last year to remind myself to take better care of my best polymer clay tools – my hands. We’re lucky to have many talented masseuses like Klew in our ranks to keep us healthier.

For the life of me, I can’t make my thumb joint pop like Klew does on Sarah Shriver. The instruction is good anyway and I’m paying better attention. (Grasshoppers were making that annoying background noise.) Here’s the full-size version.

On a sillier note, I made myself a very attractive (and much younger) avatar/manga at this Italian site. Perhaps I should make a cane of it. The site’s in Italian but with a little clicking around, it’s easy to get the hang of it and email the results to yourself. I found it on Samyii’s Flickr site.


Weltman’s Extruded Marbles

Ronna Weltman has been playing with her polymer clay extruder in a much more freestyle way. “I put in little blobs of this and that color (not randomly picked, but for harmony) and delight in the serendipity of my multi-hued bead caps,” she says.

“Yesterday I played around with randomly placing the strings on translucent and/or translucent mixed with ultra-light, running it through the pasta maker, and then covering an ultralight core with the result.” I love her looser approach. Check it out.

Follow-up note: I have not tested the PolymerClayExpress large extruder because I needed small batches. Word is that it’s quite wonderful. Oh, the perils of talking about tools! We all have our favorites.

Extruder fun

In my search for the perfect polymer clay extruder, I finally hit upon a dream machine.

I’ve written a short article about it (read it here) for Stacey Apeitos’ arts and crafts e-zine. Her Astarte’s Megazine is an Australian online magazine that you can subscribe to. There’s plenty of lovely info free on the site as well.

My hunt for a good small extruder (see an earlier project) became such an odyssey that I felt I could break my rule not to discuss tools on this blog. The BullensWullens adapter (contact [email protected]) was developed by an Ohio couple which makes my discovery doubly special.

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  • I'm Cynthia Tinapple, an artist, curator, and leader in the polymer clay community for over 20 years.

    On this blog I showcase the best polymer clay art online to inspire and encourage you. I also send out weekend extras in the premium newsletter, StudioMojo.

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