How to make a Braided Rainbow Cane (and use a Ripple blade)
This is a somewhat challenging project but is well worth the effort. It involves doing skinner blends, using a ripple blade and braiding (of all things). When done, you'll have very magical and colorful cane slices, perfect for decorating tins, boxes, ornaments, etc.

Supply List

  • Mercato Atlas pasta machine
  • hand roller or rolling pin
  • ripple blade
  • pearlescent Premo colors: purple, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pearl
    • Note: Pearlescent Premo only comes in pearl, gold, silver, blue, green, and red. Getting pearlescent orange will require mixing pearl gold, pearl red and maybe a little bright yellow to perk it up. Pearlescent purple could be made from mixing pearl blue and pearl red.



Create three multiple colored sheets, each sheet approximately 5" wide X 6" - 7" long and the thickest setting on your pasta machine (#1 on modern Atlases).

  • sheet #1: purple, red and orange pieces
  • sheet #2: orange, yellow, and green pieces
  • sheet #3: green, blue and purple pieces
  An almost required step, at least one that I like doing before beginning blending is make a full sheet of pearl clay to back each of the three sheets. It's a very easy way to both brighten all the colors and double the size of your canes.

2) Use your pasta machine to "Skinner blend" the colors of sheet #1, then sheet #2, then sheet #3.

Making a Tri-Color Skinner Blend

Do you wanna know how to do these tri-color skinner blends? You need your handy dandy pasta machine, that's for sure. The key thing to remember is to make sure not to change the orientation of your sheet when passing it through the machine. You'll see what I mean when you do one correctly. ;-)

Let's start with sheet #1.

  • Skinner blend step 1: Insert the sheet into the pasta machine, with the purple on the left and the orange along the right side. Roll it through.
  • Skinner blend step 2: Fold the sheet in half so that the purple meets the purple and the orange meets the orange.
  • Skinner blend step 3: Starting with the folded edge, pass the sheet through the pasta machine, making sure to keep the purple on the left side and orange along the right side.
  • Repeat steps 2 & 3 until well blended; usually about 10 passes through the pasta machine.
  • Do the same technique with the two remaining pre-blended sheets.

If your pasta machine rollers aren't perfectly parallel to each other, one side of your sheet may grow longer than the other side. You could alternate sides during every other pass through the pasta machine. In other words, you may start with the purple on the left side, then switch so the purple goes along the right side on every other pass.

3) Fold each sheet in half so that each color band on one side matches on the other side.

Pass each sheet through the pasta machine, gradually elongating each one until each sheet is approximately 2.5" - 3" wide and as long as you can make it given a thickness setting of 4 or 5 on an Atlas pasta machine.




Starting with the orange end of sheet #1, roll the strip into a log (cane). Starting with the green end of sheet #2, roll the strip into a cane. Starting with the purple end of sheet #3, roll the strip into a cane. You should now have three skinner blend canes


5) Elongate (reduce) one cane until it's each approximately 20" - 24" long.
  Elongate (reduce) the remaining two canes until they're each approximately 20" - 24" long.

6) Lay the three canes along side each other. Overlap and press one set of ends together.

Braid the three canes together. Once the braid is completed, press the other ends together.


Begin flattening the braid with a hand roller or rolling pin until it is flat enough to feed into the pasta machine.

With the pasta machine on its thickest setting, feed the flattened braid into the machine. You will end up with an exceptionally long sheet.


Accordion or zigzag fold the entire sheet every two to two and one half inches. Looks like kind of a mess, don't it? Fear not!



Pound, smash and shape the block until all sides are regular and even. Let the block cane rest at least an hour or two.

Cut slices from the cane using the ripple blade. Cut along the dashed lines.

Cutting with a ripple blade can be a little more difficult than cutting with a straight blade. It can also be a little harder to see the cutting edge. So be extra careful when picking it up in preparation to cutting your cane.

Sit up, situate yourself so you can look directly down on the block cane. Firmly grab the blade, press straight down in one steady move. If your cane distorts too much, it's probably too soft. Let your cane rest longer, maybe even for a day or two. If it's still too soft to slice, try chilling the cane in the fridge before slicing.

Slicing tip. Gently rock the ripple blade from side to side while pushing down.


With each ripply cane slice:

  • Pass the ripply slice through the pasta machine at #1 (thickest) setting
  • Rotate the slice 90 degrees (1/4 turn), pass it through the pasta machine at #2.
  • Again, rotate the slice 90 degrees and pass it through the pasta machine at #3 setting.
  • One last time, rotate the slice 90 degree and pass it through the pasta machine at #4.


Now, you're ready to apply these decorative rainbow slices to any polymer clay safe surface (like a nice clean Altoid tin). Until you're ready to apply the slices, place between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper.

See view the How-To project on covering an Altoid tin with polymer clay, click here.

Enjoy all those colorful little covered boxes you're going to make. ;-)


Last update to this page: 16 Dec 01. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.