How Are Silly Millies Made?

The Making of Silly Millies
Layl McDill works ten to forty hours on building a millefiori cane. Most canes are around 8 pounds, 7 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter but she has made some as large as the size of a paint can. She has been building canes since 1993 but it was after about 5 years of trial and error that she really started to get the hang of it. Since then she has created hundreds of animal, face, and organic design canes, most of which are created while at arts festivals. She creates at least one large cane a week.

Layl's Process of Making Millefiori Canes from Polymer Clay


Step One

My first step is usually to draw a picture the same size the cane will be built. I then spend a day or two mixing colors and getting all the colors soft. Then I start to build the character. Usually I start with the eyes and work my way out. I use my drawing to build each shape. It's like thinking two dimensionally and three dimensionally at the same time. Lines are created with flat slabs and wrapped around the other shapes.

Step2 2

Step Two

When the character is complete I work in the background until the whole piece is round, square or oval. At this point the cane looks like a big can with the same picture all the way through.

Now it's time to reduce!


Step Three

I begin by squeezing the center until it becomes hourglass shaped. Sometimes this goes really quick (10 minutes) but other times it can be up to an hour to soften the clay enough to get it to start moving. I try to stretch the center out as evenly and as long as possible before I slice the cane.



Step Four

At last I get to make the first slice! It's like opening a present - you never know exactly what you will get.

Be a Part of the Creation Process

Layl keeps a list of all requested canes she plans to make. To add an idea to the list, e-mail:

The Art and History of Millefiori

The art of Millefiori (sometimes spelled Millefiore) dates back to the Egyptians who made canes with glass. In recent years artists have been using polymer clay to build canes. Layl discovered the secret of making a cane large and shrinking it down when she saw a picture in a kid's polymer clay book. From there she learned by trial and a lot of error and the process is still evolving as she learns something new with each cane she makes.
First Slice of Frog Cane

First Slice of Frog Cane