Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On slicing fimo canes

When I first posted about my receiving a big lot of fimo canes on eBay from a Hong Kong seller, quite a few of you responded with questions on how the heck these things were used. So I thought I'd attempt a little tutorial on how I slice fimo canes since my method is a bit different than a lot of the ones I've found on YouTube and on other blogs.

The first question on slice thickness I've already answered but I'll repeat it: you can slice them as thick as you want and, if you have the right blade and reasonably steady hand, you can slice them practically paper thin. You might not want them paper thin because when they are very thin, they are translucent and have a tendency to curl up when glued on the nail and covered with a topcoat.

Here are a couple of slices of fimo leaves as compared to the thickness of a dime. The thickest one is a bit more than a third of the thickness of the dime. The thinnest is probably no thicker than a sheet of paper. As you can see, it's a bit more of a challenge to keep a uniform thickness slice to slice and even within slice. (I have a shaky hand and am lazy; a determined perfectionist could probably get them perfectly thin and even.)

Most fimo canes are about 2-2.5 inches long. I can cut about 80 slices per inch.

The second question is what to use to slice fimo canes. I originally started with an exacto knife but that tended to warp and smudge the designs. I then turned to a tissue razor I had bought off of eBay awhile back for other artsy-craftsy activities. (Individually, on eBay, they go for a couple of dollars the last time I checked but I managed to get ahold of a pack of ten that came with another 50-fimo-cane lot.)

Tissue blades are very thin and pretty sharp. And had the unfortunate tendency of nicking the sides of my nails while I sliced. They cut through these canes beautifully and I think they're worth the investment for how easy they'll make cutting through the fimo.

As I already mentioned, I feel like I slice fimo slightly differently than other people who have blogged (or vlogged... is that term even really used?) on it. The method I've seen most commonly was slicing the fimo cane as if it were, say, a cucumber... but smaller. That is, use one hand to steady the cane and the other hand to slice. Having questionable vision and often shaky hands, this was a miserable method: I got a lot of half-hearts and quarter-flowers and uneven shards of My Melody's face. So I switched around my technique to increase the stability of the blade while cutting. It's not fool-proof (as you shall see) but it works much better for me.

Excuse the bad photo but this was the best photo I got to show you how my fingers are placed:

1. Make the cane face you so you can keep an eye on the progression of the slice.

2. Decide how thickly cut you want the slice and position the blade.

3. Use both hands to hold the blade on either end of it (using your thumb and pointer finger). Optionally, use your middle finger to hold the cane steady behind the blade.

4. Push down slowly and evenly. Pay attention to try to insure uniform thickness and don't be afraid to slightly adjust the course of your blade if it starts to look like you're not going to get a complete slice... which I did not do for this next picture:

Oops! This is a mistake I made far more in the beginning than now but I was unsuccessful in my half hour endeavor to get a good photo of my slicing off a good piece of fimo cane. But you guys get the point, right? :)

5. Finally, remember to rotate the fimo cane so that one side doesn't get too flat. For instance, if I were to continue slicing this kitty face, I'd flip it onto its ears and cut a few slices like that before rotating it to the side of its face again.

Understanding that this is not the most clear or helpful tutorial ever, I made a short video just showing you the action of slicing the fimo:

I love slicing fimo! It's my new nervous activity: when I'm super stressed, I start slicing away. I even bought some organizers to accommodate this new quirky, compulsive sub-hobby. (Woohoo, dollar stores...)

Isn't it so cute? I have these grouped according to some logical system that makes sense to me (but may be weird to everyone else): "designs that come in circles", "flowers", "smileys", "fruits", "hearts", "teardrop/almond-shaped things that can be leaves", "things with faces", "cute and rectangular-like objects", "bugs and butterflies", "non-fruit food", "vaguely pentagonal shapes that can be stars or flowers".

Some of these look like they were sliced quite thickly but almost none of them exceeded the thickness of half a dime.


"Things with faces"

Anyway, I hope this post helped somebody out. :)