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Spiderweb Cane
with Sunni Bergeron and RuthAnn Ford


A spiderweb cane has been bandied about on the eLists lately and there isn't an online tutorial to my knowledge out there. So listnening to the gals' ideas, I cobbled up one of my own for your viewing and claying pleasure. My spiderweb just may look like someone else's and, maybe, I build mine the same way someone else does, but - I really did figure this one out all by myself with the help of my clay partner, Ruthie. My design starts out similar to Marie Segal's Leaf Cane, but there are definite nuances of difference. Like the leaf cane, it is tremendously easy to do!!! You will build only one quarter of the cane and then create the web from there. In this tutorial, a tissue blade is vital. The curved cuts can be made with a knife or something similar, but the tissue blade is really helpful because you can bend it!!

The clay I've used in this tutorial is Premo! Translucent and Silver. However, you can use any clay in any colors you wish so long as you stick with the same brand.

First a tip about what clays to use for canes:
When you are making canes, it doesn't matter which brand of polymer clay you use. What does matter 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. 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 compatible in canework. 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. Therefore, when you use the same type of clay - all Fimo Classic or all Sculpey III or whatever - you are using clays made with the same characteristics.

BUT! - 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. Cool colors move much faster and remain softer than the warm colors. Also, it can depends on how much you have conditioned and then worked a color - this, too, can contribute to its moving faster. For optimum success,  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 for a couple hours or the freezer for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of your cane. --sunni

3 ounces (90 grams) of Translucent
3/4 ounce (22.5 grams) of Silver
Pasta machine or rolling device (e.g. glass jar, acrylic rod, etc)
Tissue blade
Needle Tool
Manicure scissors

You need to condition all of your clay first and that is accomplished by manipulating it. Fold it, run it through a pasta machine, mash it, twist it, work it until it's pliable. To test if it's conditioned enough, roll the clay into a fat snake and bend it in half. If there are no cracks or fissures along the bend, the clay is ready. If you have Fimo Classic, it will crumble at first. Just keep pressing on, it'll whip into line eventually and it makes beautiful canes.

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1.  Work your translucent into a square so it is even on all sides like a large set of dice. I use a tile to get mine square. I press on one side, give it a quarter turn, press again, quarter turn, press, etc.

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2.  Using your tissue blade, cut the square on the diagonal.

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3.  Pick one of the cut corners to be the center of the web. Do not forget where this corner is!!! I keep my two halves oriented the same way they came apart.

Now pick up your tissue blade and give it an acute bend. Don't worry, you won't hurt it. Now go up a little short of a 1/2 inch (12mm) from the tip chosen for the web center and make a curved slice. You want the U of the blade to be away from you. It's a bit tough to do and ungainly, but press on. It's actually more interesting if your cut is not perfect!! For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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4.  When you've cut the first section, measure back from the cut about the same distance to make the second cut. Bend your tissue blade again, but not quite so severely and slice through all the way. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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5.  Now we're ready for the final cut. Bend the tissue blade again and this time place it so the blade is in each outside corner of the section. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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6.  Loosely reassembe both halves of the square and set them aside. Be sure to keep your bearings on where the center of the web is. It is the end the curves are pointing to and has the narrowest cuts.

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7.  Pick up the silver clay and run it through your pasta machine on the medium thin setting. My Atlas has 9 settings and I use #7. For those who do not have a pasta machine, roll it out about .5mm (just under 1/32 inch). You want your spider silk to be thin.

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8.  At this stage, stop and pierce any air bubbles with your needle tool and smooth them out. Air bubbles are the polymer clay artist's worst enemy (unless you want them for some special effect).

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9.  Using the largest section in one half of the square, roughly measure and cut off a bit of silver. I do this for ease of handling (I'm lazy). For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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10.  Press the silver only onto the curved side of the section. I didn't squish mine on, but it was on firmly enough for me to let go and not worry about its slipping around. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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11.   Trim the excess away with your scissors and set the section back down into the spot it came out of. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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12.  Now comes the only tricky part. There are two cut edges: the straight one where the diagonal was cut in the square and the curved ones cut with the bent blade. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail. The straight cut is where the spokes of the web are going to go while the curved cuts are where the connecting silk goes. 

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13.  Pick up the second section of the web and, following the directions in Steps 9-11, apply the silver to the curved side facing the center of the web making sure to not overlap into the area for the spokes. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail. Again, perfection isn't necessary here, it adds to the charm of the web. Close enough is just fine and if it slops over some, that's quite alright.

Repeat Steps 9-11 until all the silk is placed in the curved cuts.

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14.  Pick up one of the halves and slap the silver onto it making sure it sticks out on all sides. Press the two halves back together with the sheet in between. Snip the excess sticking out all the way around so there is no more silver sticking out. Again, perfect isn't necessary.

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15.  Now look at your section of web. You will be covering only the two sides (indicated by the green line) radiating out from the center point of the web (as indicated by the red arrow). Press the silver along the two edges so it adheres firmly and trim it so it is the same height as the cane. These will be the other spokes of the web. You will not be applying any clay to to the other sides at all. For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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16.  Reduce the cane by pulling and using the "Slap and Spank" method. To see my Slap and Spank method, go to our Giraffe Skin tutorial and browse there. When you have it long enough to cut into four (or more) sections it is time to cut off the waste ends. (Waste? HA! Precious scraps in this household!)

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17.  Set the waste aside for pure right-brained experimentation another day. Cut the remaining section into four equal lengths. (You may cut it into more sections if you choose, just compact the sections accordingly when you assemble them together.

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18.  Pinch the corner of the web where the center is supposed to be to make it fit together snugly with the other sections and to avoid the air pocket down the middle of the cane.

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19.  Remember, the center of the web is the point between the two silver colored sides of the clay. The two sides on the outside of the cane have no covering at all.

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20.  To get your cane started and to insure it sticks together, place the newly assembled square in the palm of one hand and squeeze. At the same time, squeeze the other two sides with the fingers of your other hand. Don't be shy. Don't kill it, but do be firm. Give it a quarter turn, squeeze, another quarter turn, squeeze. Continue this until the cane is all one piece securely mooshed (technical term *grin*) together.

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21.  Now you can pull, slap and spank! Pull gently and firmly along the length of the cane, then grab it firmly by one end and SLAP!! it down on your work surface. Then spank it with your palm or fingers, not a gentle pat - SPANK it!!! Pick it up, pull some more, give it a quarter turn then slap it and spank it again! The abuse really makes a square cane come together nicely, getting the molecules moving and the clay to mold together very well.

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22.  My recommendation is to reduce it a bit, cut off a third and set that aside. Continue reducing the other two thirds awhile, cut a third off that and set aside. Continue until you have two or more different sizes of the same cane! Voila! You are done! For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.

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23.  What's fun with this cane is to lop off a slice without paying any attention to how thick it is or straight it is. Then slap that puppy between two sheets of wax paper and run it through your pasta machine on the next to thinnest setting. Separate the wax paper and sandwich the slice again, give it a quarter turn and run it through the pasta machine again on the thinnest setting. It warps out quite nicely and more closely resembles the real thing. The added benefit is it is thin enough to apply to your project surface and get the translucent effect!! So go forth and enjoy! For a closer look,click on the thumbnail.


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1) Coathanger Christmas Tree
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Copyright 2004-2013 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: February 20 2013