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While it may sound like a 1950's horror movie, the Brain Cane is a beautiful and unique cane design you can use to create fascinating projects. Follow this terrific tutorial by Kathi Gose and add her method of this useful design to your "toolkit!"


  • Premo clay in three different colors …about ½ small package worth each
  • Premo white clay ½ block
  • Premo black clay 1 full package
  • Blade
  • Pasta Machine
(Click Picures for a Larger View)
Step 1: Condition all your clay. I chose to use pearlized clays - blue, copper and gold, each toned down a bit with plain pearl. As you can see, I have the white and black clay in longer strips. Set these aside while we do the next step.
Step 2: Lay your colors out in the order you want them to blend, and create a Skinner Blend from them. I chose to have it go gold/blue/copper so I would also get a bit of green and purple once it was blended.
Step 3: Make your Skinner Blend. When it's done, fold it in half and turn it a quarter turn so the skinny end goes through the pasta machine. You will then get a long blend as opposed to a wide blend.
Step 4: Lay the blend aside and get the black and white strips. Take part of the black and run it through the pasta machine until you reach setting #4 (medium thin). Take the other part of the black strip and run that through the pasta machine at setting #1. Also run the white strip through the pasta machine at setting #1.
Step 5: Lay the #4 black strip on the #1 white and run that through the pasta machine on a #1 setting. Turn it over so the white is uppermost. Then lay the other black strip (#1 thickness) on top of the white and run that the stack through the machine on #1. You will now have a sandwich of clay with a thicker black, white, and thin black layer (see example at the right).

Example of black, white, black blend
Step 6: Take your color blended strip and lay it on the black/white/black sandwich. Make sure you lay it on the side that has the thinner black strip. Run this whole thing through the pasta machine on a #1
Step 7: Once you have it all stacked up, it's time to create "the brain". Decide which color you want in the center of the cane and then start rolling and folding the layers of clay like this…..
Step 8: keep folding and flipping and folding until you are almost at the end. You want to make sure the black is showing all the way around the cane when you're finished. Once you have it all accordion-folded and wrapped, roll the outside smooth. The nice thing about this cane is that you don't need to be worried about distorting it when you reduce it!

Here is my cane smoothed out but not reduced yet. This cane is approximately the size of a 50 cent piece. It can be reduced down or used at this size.
Happy "Braining!"
Kathi Gose

Further Notes on the Brain Cane:
  • Carl Johengen taught his method of the Brain Cane at Shrinemont 2004, and his excellent work can be seen at his website, as well as this beautiful 2" pendant he made for Leigh at Shrinemont (pictured right - click for a larger view). And be sure to watch for Carl's tutorial in an upcoming issue of PolymerCAFE!

  • Kathy Gedrich did a wonderful webcam demo using Carl Johengen's technique, and that lesson can be seen here!

We want to thank Kathi for sharing this excellent lesson with Polymer Clay Central, and to Carl and Kathy for their contributions to this tutorial. If you have a lesson or tutorial, or something you would like to share with PCC, please email Leigh or Stephen and we will help you prepare your project for the PCC Website!

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