Sunflowers are a popular motif for accessories and jewelry. A natural application for this bright flower is to reproduce it in polymer clay for beads and decorations. Crafters create polymer clay canes using a technique similar to the glassblower's millefiori or "thousand flowers." For centuries traditional craftsmen have used colored glass rods bundled together and then heated and stretched to form mosaic glass embedded with tiny flowers and designs. Thanks to modern materials such as polymer clay, this traditional technique is used by home crafters to create intricate designs in baked clay. Try your hand at creating sunflowers in polymer clay.
Items you will need
- Polymer clay colors:
- Light olive green
- Dark brown
- Deep gold
- Medium gold
- Pale yellow
- Clay roller or rolling pin
- Clay blade
Roll pieces of light olive green clay into strands. Roll several thin strands of brown clay for the sunflower seeds. Lay the strands of green and brown together lengthwise to form a bundle that will be the center of the sunflower. Set aside.
Roll a pale yellow clay rod, called a cane, which will be the center of one petal. Roll and cut a flat ribbon of medium gold clay to fit lengthwise around the pale yellow cane. Press it lightly around the cane.
Add a similar flat ribbon of deep gold to fit around the cane. Add a ribbon of white to one side of the cane to form the outer edge of the petal. Form the cane into a slight teardrop shape to with white at the tip and yellow at the bottom.
Repeat from Step 2 until you have enough petals to fit around the sunflower center. Bundle the canes together around the center cane and press lightly.
Roll pieces of translucent clay to fit in the empty spaces between the petals and round out the cane. Roll a flat piece of translucent clay to fit around the entire flower cane.
Roll and press the completed cane in your hands to soften it. As it becomes workable, roll the cane evenly on a flat surface, stretching it as you roll. The flower will shrink as the cane becomes longer and thinner. When the cane is the diameter you wish, use a clay blade to cut off round slices. Bake as directed by the clay instructions.
Tips & Warnings
- Form a sunflower bouquet by cutting lengths of the rolled cane and pressing them together to form a new multi-bloom cane. Roll the new cane to the desired diameter, slice and bake.
- "The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework"; Donna Kato, et al; 2008
- "The Polymer Clay Techniques Book"; Sue Heaser; 1999
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