Making A Jellyroll Cane Without A Pasta Machine

by Sunni Bergeron

jellyroll.jpg (3152 bytes) Supplies:

2 sheets of 8"x11" typing paper
Wide cellophane tape
Narrow cellophane tape (optional - you can use the wide)
2 ounces translucent clay
2 ounces of opaque clay in the same brand as the translucent
1/2 ounce of a second opaque clay, also in the same brand as the translucent (optional)
A jar for rolling out the clay (or a pasta machine if you have one)
Long, thin cutting blade
2 small pieces of plexiglas or mirror or glass for reducing

"Why," you ask, "must you use the same brand as the translucent?" When you are making canes, it doesn't matter which brand of polymer clay you use. What helps is staying with the same brand for all the clays used in the cane. As an example, you would not mix Fimo Classic clay with Fimo Soft as they are actually two different types of clay and one "moves" faster than the other. Or Sculpey III with Sculpey Superflex since they, too, are two different types of clay. While Premo and Sculpey III are similar in consistency, they are not generally compatible in canework. Again, you ask "Why?"

Different clays are made with different ratios of chemicals, so some "move" faster than others. The softer clays will squish out faster than the firmer clays. Think of a sandwich. You put cream cheese on one slice of bread and mayonnaise on the other. Jam them together and squeeze. The softer spread - mayonnaise - will squish out faster than the cream cheese. Canes work along that same principle. With this line of reasoning it works better when you use the same brand of clay.

A word of caution, though. Even if you use the same brand of clay, different colors will move at different speeds unless the cane is allowed to "rest" before you begin to reduce it. The cool colors are the ones that move faster: e.g. blue, purple, greens. Also, it can depend on how much you have conditioned and then worked a color - this, too, can contribute to its moving faster. So just let it sit overnight to let the different sections reach the same consistencey. If you're in a hurry pop it into the refrigerator and leave it sit for about an hour, depending on the size of your cane.

Making Guides For Rolling Out Your Clay

If you don't have a pasta machine, you need something else to make sure you get even sheets of clay. If you roll it out with a jar, marble rolling pin, or whatever, just eyeballing it will never give you a perfectly flat sheet. That's where the guides come in. Guides can be practically anything from two equal width pieces of balsa, two equal rods of metal to whatever you can find that meets your requirements in thickness. You can make your own to any thickness that suits your needs. In this demonstration, I've used two sheets of 8"x11" typing paper and folded them so the guide will be 11" long.

jelly001a.jpg (5553 bytes)

1) Fold the paper lengthwise in half and, leaving it folded, fold in half again.

jelly002a.jpg (3117 bytes)

2) Leave the paper folded, and repeat with two more folds until it looks like the completed guide on the left.

jelly003a.jpg (8303 bytes)

3) Place the still folded paper in the middle of a length of wide cellophane tape. If the tape is too long, that's ok.

Bring the tape over the side of the paper away from the fold, taking care to keep the paper tightly folded. Looking at the picture above, that would be the edge facing away from the demonstrator. If the tape is a little too wide, that's ok.

Next, grab the edge just covered and roll the paper back onto the remaining tape to give you a perfectly aligned edge and insure a nice, tight, smooth covering.

jelly004a.jpg (6759 bytes)

4) Snip off any tape (this step is optional) extending beyond the ends of the guide.

jelly005a.jpg (4662 bytes)

5) Tape the guides parallel to one another on your work surface. Be sure to tape both ends. I made sure the tape was even with the work surface between the guides in case the clay completely filled the space inbetween.

Using typing or computer printer paper folded lengthwise and wrapped in tape will yield thicknesses equivalent to those found on a nine-setting Atlas pasta machine.

1 fold = 9 (thinnest setting)
2 folds = 6 (medium thin setting)
4 folds = 3 (medium thick setting)
8 folds = 1 (thickest setting)

These guides also make excellent straight edges for cutting and marking your clay.

Page 2: Making The Cane
Cane Reduction

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Copyright 2004-2013 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: February 20 2013