Millefiori is a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The meaning of Millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “Mille” –thousand- and “fiori” –flowers.
The Millefiori technique was adopted by Polymer Clay arts over 40 years ago.
One of my most beloved creations with Polymer clay in the last 12 years is creating Millefiori flower canes. I gathered some of my most helpful tips for Millefiori caning, and I hope you’ll find this article helpful to you as it is to my hundreds of students and me.
Targeting your project
Before you begin to create, first of all plan what you want to create.
Is it a flower cane? a bowl covering? a keychain ornament? or even just a Skinner blend?
Early planning always saves time, material and focuses you on the project.
The early planning can be done by drawing of sketch, printing an image you like to copy, a palette of colors, an inspiration from other artist etc…
Your working Surface
The most recommended working surfaces are: Ceramic tile and Glass tile.
KEEP YOUR WORKING SURFACE ALWAYS CLEAN!
One of my working accessories and always on my table is a package of baby wipes. A clean working space will prevent the light colors to get dirty.
How to choose your colors
It is not simple to tell you what is a choice of colors are right or wrong.
Everyone has his own color palette he likes to create with, the colors that he enjoys, by inspiration or according to your desire or even an order from your customers.
However it is possible to recommend you how to choose the colors. I usually recommend my students to start with Family colors. For example, if you like to create a Red flower cane, you can create with red, orange, yellow, brown.
it is recommended to combine Cold Color family with a cane created in hot colors. It is always gives a great color balance.
For remembering what hot and cold colors, – hot colors remind the sun and earth, cold colors remind the sea, sky. The combination between hot and cold colors gives the perfect balance when creating flower canes.
To achieve good shades of colors, use white clay for the bright shades and a small amount of black or brown for the dark shades.
Flexibility of the Polymer Clay
One of the most important ways of success creating polymer clay flower canes is conditioning your clay.
Since we work with some brands of clay – Fimo, Premo, Kato and more – every brand has a different flexibility. In order to be able to create a cane that will stay stable last long and unbreakable, we have to condition the clays to the same flexibility. Usually for conditioning clays, we use Pasta machine, sometimes if needed I use the Sculpey Mold Maker, for softening a very hard clay .Remember – use it in very small amounts, otherwise the clay will be sticky!
For softening the Translucent /Frost Sculpey clay, I usually mix 1/2 package of Fimo Translucent and 1/2 package of Frost, for combining between the deep translucency the Premo frost has and the softness the Fimo014.
Save your money on other materials but DO NOT SAVE ON BLADES.
Actually, for creating Millefiori canes we need only 2 good and sharp blades.
I use one stiff blade and one tissue blade. The stiff blade I use to cut blocks, like if I create a kaleidoscope cane, and the tissue blade I use to cut very thin cane slices.
Dedicate one sharp tissue blade ONLY for cutting slices. Keep your tissue blade always clean. Clean the blade with a paper towel (a wet wipe can ruin the blade and rust it).
Also, I recommend NOT using the blades to open the clay packages. For opening the packages, use a simple knife, scissors.
The Caning Method
The Millefiori Caning method is creating a log up high.
Remember! When designing the petals to a round flower, ALWAYS check the cane on its bottom, and fix cane’s petals shape. You want the cane will be equal up and bottom, in all its length.
The height of a cane
In order not to lose material in the reducing procedure, the cane’s height should not be less than 3 cm.
The Cane Background
You Do NOT want to save on clay when filling the cane’s background, whether it is translucent background of colored background.
Saving on clay between the petals will cause the petals to be rectangle instead of round!
Reducing a Flower Cane
This is the most important step when creating a Millefiori flower Cane.
The reducing is very important,
1. In order to squeeze out all the air bubbles located between the petals
2. In order to make the cane smaller.
Pressing evenly from the center towards sides, will assure that the whole flower components inside the cane will be reduced and the whole air bubbles will be squeezed out of the cane. This step will keep your creation stable and long lasting after curing in the oven on your creations.
The cane’s Diameter
You do not want to reduce the cane to a very small diameter.
When creating with canes, sometimes we want to have a big flower for example, when covering vessels, and sometimes we need smaller canes, for example, when creating beads.
When reducing a cane to small size, we will not be able to enlarge it anymore…so Remember! Reduce your flower canes to a medium diameter .You can always reduce more!
That is all for now, I hope you find this article useful .
If you have any questions, you are welcome to post them here in the comments and I’ll be happy to help you on-line.
you are mostly welcome to share and spread this article to your friends
Practicing make perfect caning !