It’s actually surprising how few books are available specifically on creating polymer clay canes. (I’m working on my own at the moment just to try to fill that need!) But in the meantime, listed below are my Top 5 favourite books on how to make polymer clay canes, and why I like them.
#5) The New Clay: Techniques and Approaches to Jewelry Making by Nan Roche
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This is the first polymer clay book I ever bought. I bought it at the Brighton Bead Shop. The bead shop has since disappeared, but Nan Roche’s book keeps on providing inspiration whenever I look at it. It has step-by-step caning tutorials in it, plus some bead history, colour theory, and examples of work by popular artists (from the 1990s – but many of whom are still polymer clay artists today). Whenever I read it I get a feeling of great inspiration, plus a bit of nostalgia, sometimes mixed with “wow – things have really evolved in the polymer clay world since that book was published”.
If you’re new to caning this is a great resource, because the hand-drawn illustrations are so clear that in many cases they are actually better than photographs.
#4: Polymer Clay Jewellery For Beginners – Book 1: Millefiori canes by Sue Heaser
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This is one of the very few polymer clay books on the market that actually mention “canes” or “caning” in the title. Sue Heaser very kindly let me have a review copy a couple of years ago, and this is a great book for beginners. It’s a very short book (20 pages in pdf format), but packs in a lot of great-quality information. Sue’s books are always beautifully and clearly illustrated, and her decades of experience really shine through.
Because the book is aimed at beginners there are several pages dedicated to tools and techniques, so because the book is short this means that a significant portion of it is taken up with information other than the caning projects themselves (9ish pages). However, if you are a total beginner in polymer clay (or just want to brush up your caning skills) then this is a brilliant way to start, especially because it focuses on just one specific skill, and lets you really explore it. The price is also extremely reasonable, so if you’re not sure you’ll be doing a lot of caning in the future then this won’t make a significant dent in your finances.
If I were doing a review of “polymer clay caning books for beginners” then this would actually be my #1 book. It’s got everything a beginner needs, and its title describes exactly what you’ll be getting in the book.
#3: The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework by Donna Kato
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It’s got “Canework” in the title – so that’s a great start!
If you’ve already got any two of the other books in this list then this one is probably not essential, but it is still a fabulous book. Donna shares many caning techniques, and the book is full of her distinctive and amazing artworks – plus many great examples by other polyclay artists. As with all of the other books in this list, it starts with covering the basics of using and storing polymer clay, but then moves onto a really varied array of cane designs.
#2: Creative Techniques for Polymer Clay Jewelry by Nanetta Bananto
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For years this was my absolute favourite book that I would go to for caning ideas. The projects are really varied, and have detailed instructions plus variations on the colours or designs.
I love this book. It taught me some techniques that I now use nearly every time I make a cane. Whereas before I was making canes with solid blocks of colour or maybe some nicely-controlled gradations of Skinner-blended tones, the techniques in this book led me to create much more unpredictable (and therefore more natural-looking) streaks of colour and tone. And in addition to the lovely canework, a lot of the photography is really nice and brings out the almost painterly quality of her work.
#1: Polymer Clay Creative Traditions by Judy Belcher
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This is my current favourite book for inspiration on making polymer clay canes. It reminds me of an updated version of Nan Roche’s book The New Clay. As well as projects and tutorials it also contains information about the history of polymer clay and related media, plus examples of other artists’ work.
This isn’t necessarily a list of the ‘best’ polyclay caning books, but rather my all-time favourites that I’ve collected over the years. If you would like to suggest any others, please do comment or use the contact page, or tweet me @polymerKay.