Making Polymer Clay Canes with the Checkerboard Cane Pattern

Checkerboard Cane Slab Method

Vid #034: Making Checkerboard Pattern, Polymer Clay Canes:

There’s a quick way to increase the number of checkers in any checkerboard cane. Simply cut your original cane into 4 shorter pieces that are roughly the same length. Then combine these four shorter lengths together so that the cross section of the new cane has 4 times the number of checkers showing. Finally, reduce and lengthen the new cane as required.

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The full version of the “Checkerboard Cane” preview video shown above, is included in my Polymer Clay Bead Making Fundamentals Course [SEE Video #34 of 39]. I walk through the steps of transforming a simple beginners striped cane into a funky looking checkboard pattern. This technique is often referred to as the slab method for making polymer clay canes using the checkerboard pattern.

  1. Cindy Lietz, 10 April, 2008

    If you haven’t yet seen the video on making a striped cane, you will need to watch it first: Striped Cane – An Easy Polymer Clay Cane Project For Beginners

    Also note that the slices from the striped cane should be about the same thickness as the width of the stripes if you want the squares to line up geometrically on your checkerboard pattern. But then again if you want a more random look, cut the slices into whatever thicknesses you desire.

    As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility in working with polymer clay. You can make a lot of your own rules based on what you like.

    Cindy’s last post..Lentil Beads From Scrap Polymer Clay will Suprise You Everytime

  2. Lindy, 02 August, 2008

    The checkerboard cane has to be the prettiest simple cane that cane be made – so distintive!

  3. Cindy Lietz, 04 August, 2008

    Thank you for the comment Lindy! The checkerboard is a classic which has many uses and yes it is pretty too!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Faux Turquoise Jewelry Bracelet – Polymer Clay Bead Making Projects

  4. Carolyn, 28 January, 2010

    Cindy – I have already recommended your ‘Beginners Course’ to others! It is a great foundation on which to build. I like the way you have it set up so one video flows right into the next – very user friendly. I just sat and watched the videos, until you got to the cane making. Then I took the time to make the canes right along with you. Thank you for sharing your own learning experiences with us. It has cut my learning curve way down! With your videos I feel I can tackle just about anything you present. Your course, and the weekly videos, are worth every penny I have spent for them.

    One question that was not answered: Does polymer clay stay conditioned. What I mean is, after it is once conditioned and then is allowed to sit around, does it just need ‘warming up’ in order to be fully usable again? Or do we have to go through the whole conditioning process again?

    I did have trouble with the checkerboard cane. Now that I have a sharper, thinner blade maybe the sections will slice better. Or I might chill them first. Mine got all squished and I just couldn’t seen to get them to form a checkerboard. I ended up using that ‘failed’ attempt to make some very pretty and unusual beads. This is one art form where there truly is no waste.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 28 January, 2010

    Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion about the course Carolyn. I really appreciate it!

    In regards to your question about re-conditioning clay… it depends on how long your conditioned piece has been sitting around. If it’s only been a day or two, then ‘warming’ it up is fine. If it’s been a year, then start over and re-condition it from the beginning. The second video in the course (How To Condition Clay Properly) provides you with tips on how to tell for yourself if your clay is conditioned well enough.

    As you found out with your checkerboard cane, there are always ways to transform projects that don’t go quite as planned, into something useful and pretty. How you responded in this situation is perfect! With your sharper, thinner blade and your growing knowledge of this wonderful medium, I’m sure your second checkerboard cane will turn out looking like… well… a checkerboard :-)

    Keep up the great work Carolyn. It’s great to have you as part of the community.

  6. Nancy Toma, 20 October, 2020

    How can I stop my red clay from leaching its color into the white next to it ? (As in a checkerboard)

  7. Cindy Lietz, 20 October, 2020

    Hi Nancy, what clay are you using?

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