The Pixelated Retro Blend Cane

Bettina Welker 3. Juli 2012 121

Hier klicken für die Anleitung in Deutsch

While doing a project for my new book “Polymer Clay Bracelets” I was doing an extruded veneer for a bracelet. I had some leftovers with which I just played around a little bit – I stacked it, compressed it etc. Then, when I cut it open I suddenly had this beautiful blended rainbow cane in front of me. The original veneer was a spiral and so the cane I had now was not a rectangle – it was more shaped like a piece of cake. I definitely had to try and figure out what had happened inside this extrusion and translate the whole process  into a rectangular shaped cane. I called the cane “Pixelated Retro Blend Cane” – maybe you guys come up with a better name for it:)

So, here is how it’s done:

Mix at least 5 different shades of a color.
I used light green and blue with 3 mixes  of both in between.

Roll the sheets out on the thickest setting (#1) of your PM and
punch out 4 circles of each color with a cookie cutter that matches
the diameter of the extruder barrel.

Roll out black and white (#1) clay and punch out
6 circles of white and 5 circles of black

Arrange the circles like shown, compress it a little and
feed it (dark side first) into the barrel of your extruder.

Insert the small circle die (2.5mm) and extrude a long snake.

Then lay out the snake like shown in the picture, starting with the light color

Using this amount of clay my snake was around 5 meters long.
With the diameter of the snake being 2.5 mm I now can calculate
the number and the length of the lines I need to build a sheet for the cane.

I needed a cane height of 60 mm for my bracelet tiles.
Again, with the snake being 2.5 mm thick my calculation is:
60mm : 2.5 = 24 lines.  …..  Well I made 25 ;)

To determine the required length of the lines I divided the
5 meters (5000mm) by 25 lines which gave me a length of 20 cm (200mm) for each line.

Makes sense? Are you still with me?

When the clay sheet is done, roll over it with a brayer or
an acrylic roller to adhere the lines to each other.

Then use the blade to lift the sheet up, cut the sheet in half and stack.
Do that at least 2 more times – the resulting cane should be at least 6  sheets high.

I needed to repeat the whole process (cutting out circles, extruding,
laying out, cut, stack) to have a cane big enough to cover my bracelet tiles.

Now reduce the cane a bit, cut it in slices and arrange them on a thin sheet of clay
(I rolled mine out on a #4 stetting on my atlas).

Lay the decorated sheet between two sheets of deli or baking paper
and rub over it with your acrylic roller to close all the seams.
DON’T ROLL but RUB, in order to not stretch out the clay.

Your veneer is done. Now you can decorate whatever piece you like with it.

Have fun and happy claying!

© Bettina Welker, 2012 



  1. Svitlana 3. Juli 2012 at 15:23 -

    great pattern, Bettina. Thanks for sharing :) i´ll definitely try it :) By the way, I´m waiting for your book to come out. It will be full of interesting projects, I know.

  2. Ann Dillon 3. Juli 2012 at 15:41 -

    Love this, Bettina! Thank you! I’ve been doing extrusions for awhile… always random. This will be fun to experiment with!

  3. Knorzi 3. Juli 2012 at 17:00 -

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial!!!

  4. Silvia 3. Juli 2012 at 17:00 -

    thank you Bettina
    i love this pattern !!!

  5. marykot 3. Juli 2012 at 17:03 -

    Vielen Dank Bettina für dieses Tutos; ich probiere sicher einmal, das gefällt mir sehr.
    Schöne Ferien und…. bis bald, ich hoffe

  6. Kathi 3. Juli 2012 at 17:35 -

    You are the bombdiggity Bettina, even if you HAD to math in there hugs gf

  7. Crazy Nancy 3. Juli 2012 at 18:11 -

    Thanks so much for your great tutorial!
    Its lovely.

  8. Valaparis 3. Juli 2012 at 20:30 -

    Thank you for this great tutorial.

  9. Lynda 3. Juli 2012 at 21:48 -

    waaaaaaa Bettina!!!! ist wunderbar !!!! merci merci pour ton partage c’est trop top !!!!!!

  10. Dein Gartenzwerg 3. Juli 2012 at 22:04 -

    Merci Bettina pour ce tuto très sympa.
    Dein Gartenzwerg

  11. Bettina Welker 3. Juli 2012 at 22:21 -

    Thanks a lot everybody! I’m glad you like it. Please go ahead and share pictures of what you make with it:)

    Merçi beaucoup à tous!

  12. Priscilla 3. Juli 2012 at 23:00 -

    Gorgeous and so kind of you to share this will the polymer addicts of the world!

  13. Pauline Duke 3. Juli 2012 at 23:42 -

    Thank you for being SO generous including the instructions on how to make this awesome pattern. I have been following your work for a while now, it just “caught my EYES” Pauline

  14. Ronit G. 4. Juli 2012 at 02:59 -

    Amazing !!!! Thank you for shearing.

  15. Kerrie 4. Juli 2012 at 08:54 -

    you are so generous, talented….you must have a flaw somewhere!!
    Brilliant tutorial and such a fab result…
    thank you for sharing

  16. Bettina Welker 4. Juli 2012 at 09:11 -

    thanks Kerrie, and yes – there are flaws


  17. Olga 4. Juli 2012 at 17:53 -

    I love your cane’s design. Thanks you for sharing.

  18. Rita Sim 4. Juli 2012 at 18:53 -

    Fabulous!! Thank you :-)

  19. Martha Aleo 4. Juli 2012 at 20:12 -

    Beautiful cane Bettina. Your work is awesome!

  20. Bettina Welker 4. Juli 2012 at 20:21 -

    You’re all sooo sweet – thank you!

  21. Linda Hall 5. Juli 2012 at 05:15 -

    You define
    the word genius! Merci.

  22. Sue Margetts 5. Juli 2012 at 12:11 -

    Many thanks – it looks great!

  23. Jayne Dwyer 5. Juli 2012 at 13:08 -

    This is gorgeous, and I want to make it, but I don’t really get how the pattern and little white circles show up inside..we don’t wrap the snake it anything? I seriously love this!

  24. Strawberries 5. Juli 2012 at 13:39 -

    Beautiful…thanx so much for sharing! :)

  25. Bettina Welker 5. Juli 2012 at 13:51 -

    It happens with the extrusion. The barrel is thick and the die hole is small – so all the clay is pushed through this tiny hole. The first color in the front will first wrap most of the snake…well it’s really hard to describe. Just imagine, what happens inside with the clay when pushed through this tiny hole;)

  26. Deborah Ross 5. Juli 2012 at 15:31 -

    This is an awesome look!! I love it and can’t wait to try it. I keep thinking of all the color combinations to try. Wow! Thank you so much, Bettina!

  27. Varda 5. Juli 2012 at 16:31 -

    I was sold on this technique from the first time that Nan Roche demonstrated it (many, many years ago). She was actually more interested in the pattern that you get when you remove uneven layers lengthwise but I was fascinated by the concentric circles of the cross sections.
    Thanks Bettina for showing how to control the appearance of cross sections.

  28. Wilda Kemp 5. Juli 2012 at 16:39 -

    I loved, loved, loved your pixelated retro cane tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing your clay discovery.

  29. Consuelo Okdie 5. Juli 2012 at 17:28 -

    Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this technique! Lately I’ve been doing more cane work & extruding, so I’ll definitely give this a try.

  30. Veronique Hoffmann 5. Juli 2012 at 20:27 -

    Liebe Bettina, ich möchte mich bedanken für dieses schöne Tutorial.
    Es ist sehr großzügig von Dir.

  31. Carrie Harvey 5. Juli 2012 at 20:45 -

    What a fantastic effect – thank you, Bettina :-)

  32. jade 5. Juli 2012 at 20:45 -

    Amazing!! thank you very much Bettina

  33. Pörrö 5. Juli 2012 at 22:59 -

    You are SO smart! This is genius!

  34. maerys 6. Juli 2012 at 08:34 -

    merci pour ce partage, et quelle superbe réalisation, le choix des couleurs est aussi judicieux

  35. Viviane 6. Juli 2012 at 13:00 -

    Vielen Dank, Bettina. Sieht suuper aus!!!

  36. stephanie 7. Juli 2012 at 00:35 -

    I love this, thanks so much for sharing, i can’t wait to try it!

  37. Rhoda 7. Juli 2012 at 00:49 -

    Instead of an acrylic brayer for smoothing seams, I’ve found that a fondant smoother does wonders! It helps avoid stretching the clay. Love your project, I may have to try this one.

  38. Bettina Welker 7. Juli 2012 at 02:03 -

    a fondant smoother is a great idea Rhonda!!!

  39. Debbie G 7. Juli 2012 at 15:04 -

    Oh cool!!! Pattern across shading! Love it. Thanks for sharing an excellent tutorial, Bettina.

  40. Nuchi Draiman 8. Juli 2012 at 05:50 -

    I think it’s important to note that the extruded “Retro Cane” technique was originated by Esther Anderson of Chicago. She is rarely credited for it, but it was her original discovery. (If you need corroboration of this, ask Donna Kato.)

  41. Bettina Welker 8. Juli 2012 at 08:35 -

    oh, thank you for pointing that out. I never heard of her but I always wondered who came up with extruding colors that way. Thanks again

  42. laurette 8. Juli 2012 at 09:29 -

    thanks a lot for sharing. It is so clever in this way, I will try in summer shades

  43. Peggy Barnes 8. Juli 2012 at 22:31 -

    What a wonderful gift for all of us. Thank you so much for sharing this great artistic creation you have made.

  44. polymeramoi 10. Juli 2012 at 17:20 -

    grand merci pour ce tuto si astucieux.
    Je viens de l’essayer et c’est très facile et agréable à faire ( photo sur mon blog)

  45. Bettina Welker 10. Juli 2012 at 17:43 -

    thank you very muc – your rainbow blend is beautiful;)

  46. Val 11. Juli 2012 at 13:55 -

    Thank you for sharing this with us…the result is so nice. I wonder how the idea came up to you!

  47. Marty 12. Juli 2012 at 02:19 -

    I just tried this technique. It’s awesome!!! Thanks for sharing!

  48. Petra In NZ 14. Juli 2012 at 07:13 -

    Awesome and thank you Bettina

  49. Deborah groom 14. Juli 2012 at 16:06 -

    This is beyond wonderful. I will definitely buy the book. I did have a question. My little extruder could never produce 5 meters of anything. What sort of extruder do you use to get such a long tube? I would love to do more extruder work but it is so hard on the hands.
    Thanks so much,
    Deborah Groom

  50. Bettina Welker 14. Juli 2012 at 16:11 -

    I use the green extruder from Makin’s

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