It first appeared in the decorating of glassware in the mid 1800's. Today, the millefiori technique is used in polymer clay creations as much or even more often. It has been said, "Because polymer clay is quite pliable and does not need to be heated and reheated to fuse it, it is a much easier medium in which to produce millefiori patterns than glass."
Now I grant you, a polymer clay artist does not have to work over an open flame, and there is little danger of the polymer bursting and crumbling as with glass rods, however, I would offer that the technique is no less easy in polymer clay than glass.
First intricate canes have to be produced, one detail at a time, combined, reduced and then carefully cut to form the designs. Then the base bead or object needs to be crafted so that the slices can be attached, and combined in a way that no edges or ridges show. Afterwards, it needs to be baked, sanded, buffed and possibly glazed to produce the finished creation (or put in the "let's try this again pile").
Witness these examples of that precision, from the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild:
|Flower Earrings by Christina Kosinski Designs|
|Purple Petunia Pendant by Tonya's Treasures|
|Doodle Art Cabachon by Gem's PC Creations|
|Mosaic by Second Sister at MoArk Jewelry|
|Butterfly Bead by Blue Morning Expressions|
None of the above creations could be considered "easy" to make, but they are so "easy" on the eye!