Sunday, November 15, 2009

strawberry cane failures and FINALLY, a success

strawberry cane failures and success
Originally uploaded by Snowfern

i love strawberries. i love how they look, they taste. ok maybe i like the artificial flavour better than the real ones (real strawberries tend to be sour X( ) but i love them even more in mini.

let me run through how i failed, so that i can remember NOT to repeat my mistakes.

all strawberry canes were made following Marjo Caris' tutorial.

you can find it under "Miscellaneous -> Workshops->Workshop 01", click the strawberry pics. i would have provided a direct link but i think it's rude not to explore her wonderful site :)

i modified it heavily for my most recent attempt though. explanations will follow. for those who care ;) also, since i tend to mix brands/colours, i paid zero heed to the tutorial's colour mixes, so results will definitely vary if you follow my method. wish i had pics, but the whole process is so tedious i didn't want to stain my camera red either.

in chronological order:

1) upper left - sliced after baking
my first attempts. iirc i mixed some daiso polymer clay with fimo translucent, and fimo white for the white bits. there were actually 2 attempts for that but those failed miserably cos i used translucent white and that didn't show up at ALL. i think i have already chucked out that batch. they were found to be extremely extremely brittle. you can also see the sizes are inconsistent and shapes 'wonky'.

2) lower left - sliced after baking
2nd attempt. this time too much white. that's ok, but the white wasn't translucent enough. also, very brittle, as i tried to finish up the Daiso clay, thinking that if i baked for longer it would be stronger. no such thing.

3) upper right - sliced after baking
sculpey red used this time. found it too soft to work comfortably with, and there was lots of wastage clay at the ends of the canes. whites again too white, and the skinner blend results weren't visible at all since i'd neglected to mix in white with the translucent -_-" an oversight, i must have been too anxious to get the 3rd attempt over and done with LOL

and FINALLY, the ones i'm satisfied with.
i decided to work with KATO clay after all these failed attempts. KATO has been heavily recommended by caners as it's firm when unbaked, and stronger when baked. word of warning though, multiple bakings tend to darken KATO, unlike FIMO from my experience. i'd long since given up on sculpey, so can't say anything about it.

instead of using primary red, this time i blended KATO red with oil colours, i think it's the darker, magenta-ish red since strawberries in my mind have a darker hue than the bright primary red. did a skinner blend into red, and further into pink. i have totally forgotten the ratios grr but i guess you could eyeball it yourself. made sure the light pink/white layer was much thinner this time.

to achieve the inner rim of white, i mixed a teeeeeeny bit of pink into a LOT of translucent white. the translucent white was made with a tiny dab of white oil paint into translucent KATO. it was the mix i used for my dango (recycling LOL) remember not to mix brands of clay if you wish for your cane's details to remain consistent throughout.

the whites between the red bits (the white stripes in the red border) were slightly flattened as i layered them between the reds. it thins out so that it looks more realistic. at least, IMO.

the heart of the strawberry was achieved with a skinner roll. i kinda messed up on the top bits, but i think it's ok. i originally wanted the top part to be paler, but i think out of habit or sheer space-cadet-moment, i forgot to add it and happily smooshed and stretched away at the cane. le sigh.

oh yes. and the strawberries in this pic were sliced BEFORE baking. actually, with all my strawberries, they looked pretty 'ok' when glossed as it takes away alot of the scratches. but even with KATO, i found it hard to slice thinly and evenly without breaking the cane, even while it was warm. feck it, i'll pre-slice my canes prior to baking from now on, saves me from all that agony. KATO is firm enough to hold its shape and doesn't smear anyway.

ok. so summary of my modifications, and my lessons learnt:

- slicing baked canes is easier when canes are warmed, but chances of breakage still high
- KATO is far superior for caning than any other brands i've tried, doesn't smear when sliced raw either
- translucent translucent translucent. lots of it
- never use 'pure' white for foods, it looks so fake
- even when slicing raw clay, try to warm up the clay a little in hands before slicing as cold clay can get brittle too if it wasn't properly conditioned
- KATO is a b*tch to condition, even with a pasta machine.

ok. i'm losing my attention span quick, it's time for breakfast. feel free to summarize or add further tips.....and's

<-----thataway for the link to glassattic polymer clay encyclopedia if you wanna know more about how to mix paints into clay, caning, skinner, techniques etc. too much stuff to elaborate here.

strawberry canes are definitely not for beginners!


  1. haha, that reminds me that i have several huge bags full of failed strawberry canes (and a small good ones). sometimes i use them on cakes too, covering the top with other things so it's badness not too visible. LoL

  2. Oh boy! Believe me even I have TONS of crappy strawberry pink that got turned into flowers, tea pots, etc... It does make a decent pink though so I would just recycle those.

    Thanks for the Kato idea. Seeing that I just got like 6 pounds of premo from my last order I think I will have to leech out the premo until it is like Kato. It could be done but it is a pain to condition later. Will report findings after I move for sure.

  3. P.S. Have you tried the hammer method? I personally use Kato with a rubber mallet to "condition" it. Works like a charm but I guess you are in an apartment complex so you gotta be careful.

  4. Asuka, LMAO i can't help but smirk and agree, i try so hard to 'disguise' my crappy strawberries but it's hard when in your heart you -know- it's bad, right? *cringe*

    were yours made of resin clay? :O i can't imagine caning with resin it even possible???

    Betty!!! i wish i could swing a hammer around but the likelihood is really really low. perhaps if i convinced bf to go all caveman-like, he might do the deed for me XD yeah i don't wanna anger my neighbours further, i already have a pretty noisy dog :(

    yea. the leftovers of my current caning project (i just made 1/3 and 1/4 scale strawberry canes :O) will go into making strawberry icecreams XD that's what i call planning ahead! HA!

  5. Hammer with a cloth underneath and the sound's muffled and not too bad. Or bring them out to the corridor and near the stairs. :) I have my few irate neighbours moment I don't care to remember.

  6. Yay strawberries! <3
    The ones in the upper left look like the dehydrated straberries in cereal because of the texture.
    Im not sure on the size of them but if you didnt throw them out yet maybe that can be a way to use them?

  7. Sans, that sounds like a great idea! *eyes the pestle in the kitchen*

    fairywhiz, now that you mention it, YEA! oh dear does this mean i'll be making mini cornflakes??? *dies*

  8. do resin clay mean air dry clay? LoL, kind of confused about it, don't want anybody to misunderstand.
    usually i used grace in caning. you can't do it like polymer clay; you can't elongated it since some parts can dries before the rest of it. but i've learned how to keep it wet enough so i can elongated them, but it still a big risk to take! (not to mention the unequal parts you might get)

  9. Whenever I used to make canes, I would freeze the entire thing for 20 minutes before slicing them. It prevented the colors from smearing.

  10. Hi Figment! sorry for the late reply i hadn't noticed your comment :O

    yes, i used to freeze my canes too, but with sculpey, it still smeared :( worse still, the condensation would appear so quickly (it's rather warm and humid here in Singapore) making holding the cane a little difficult (esp at 1:12 scale)...which is why i gave up and started using ONLY KATO for my canes. :(

    but it's good advice for those in cooler climates! i used to also switch to placing my canes on icepacks then working on other stuff while the canes firmed up, but sigh. as always...nothing worked well until i used KATO. :-/


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