Tutorial by Marla Frankenberg
Published November 3, 2006
This article was originally published in the Spring 2003 Issue of PolymerCAFE Magazine.
The inspiration for this pansy came to me in the mail. Our guild was about to
host its first workshop—Leigh Ross* teaching her Millennium Garden Beads
technique—so I was already thinking about flowers when we received an invitation
to my Aunt Betty’s birthday party. Aunt Betty loves pansies, and the invitation was
bordered with them. The two ideas clicked, and this cane is the result.
Remember, flowers are organic. If your petals are a little lumpy, those lumps are ruffles!
I chose to use very light, medium, and dark shades of purple for this cane, but you
can choose colors that appeal to you. I started with the same amount of each color
and ended up using more of the medium color.
Start by making flat sheets of
each color, using the thickest setting of
the pasta machine. My sheets were each
about three by six inches. Cut each
sheet approximately into thirds.
Set one piece of each color aside.
Tapering the inner edges of each color
with your fingers, form a
striped sheet of clay, overlapping the
The striped sheet
should be about the width of your pasta
In my sheet, from left to right, the first
lavender sheet is tapered on the right
side, then overlapped by the tapered
edge of the white sheet. The other
tapered edge of white is overlapped by
the tapered edge of the purple sheet. In
the second layer, from left to right, the
same lavender/white/purple overlapping
pattern is repeated.
When tapering, messy is good! It gives
some natural variation to your design.
Remember: think organic!
With all three colors touching
the rollers, run this striped sheet through
the pasta machine once only. Cut the
sheet in four pieces and stack the pieces
on top of each other. The edge of your
stack of clay should now look like an
Compress the sides of the
stack to make it narrower and longer.
I compressed mine to about one inch
wide and eight inches long. Cut this into
four equal pieces and stack them.
Add more of the medium color (lavender,
in my cane) to that colored end of
Now it’s time to shape the
stack into a petal shape by rounding the
edges and compressing and tapering the
darker end. You can trim away some
clay from the dark end if you need to.
Reduce this tapered cane and cut it
lengthwise into four pieces.
Combine two of the pieces
to form the large bottom petal. Gently
compress them together, side by side,
then form a depression in the top of
the petal. I used the handle
of my needle tool.
Line this depression
with a sheet of yellow, then put a
thin snake of light green inside the
yellow sheet. This will be
the throat of the flower.
At this point, line the outer
edges of the three petals with a very
thin sheet of a contrasting color. I
used dark purple. This will delineate
the petals of the pansy. Trim a little
clay from one side of each side petal
before you put it in place.
This will make the side petals appear
to be behind the bottom petal.
To make the back petals,
make a Skinner blend of two colors. I
used my medium and lightest colors.
Roll the blend as shown, forming a
Shape the plug
into a petal shape and reduce it to
twice the length of your cane. Line
this petal with your contrasting color,
then cut it in half. Trim some clay
from one side of one petal and add it
to your pansy
The remaining petal shape is
trimmed and cut away to fit beside
the first back petal and should appear
to be behind it.
Fill in the
indentations around the pansy with
your background color, then wrap
your entire cane with a sheet of your
background color. Compress and
reduce your cane.
Pansy Cane covered surface.
*Author’s Note: I first met Leigh Ross at the 2001 NPCG
retreat at Shrinemont, where I was struck by the exquisite
detail of her work. Her Millennium Garden beads are lushly
colored, intricately patterned and perfectly finished. She also
works in silver, which complements her gorgeous work in
polymer clay. In addition, Leigh and her husband Stephen
own and run Polymer Clay Central, the virtual center of the polymer clay world.
** ikat-noun-1. A craft in which one tie-dyes and weaves
yarn to create an intricately designed fabric. 2. The fabric so
created. (Source:American Heritage Dictionary)