For a simple checked pattern, start by creating a stack of equal slices of two contrasting colors.

Use slip between each layer. Don’t use too much slip, just enough to cover.

Cut the loaf into slices.

Re-assemble the slices by flipping alternate slices so the colors are now opposite each other. As you can see in this example, the slices can be different shades of the same color and the pattern still works fine.

When you are done, gently drop this on all sides to firm up the attachment. Wrap the loaf in a dampish cloth, seal it in a plastic bag and let the loaf rest overnight before using.

You can also make checked patterns from as many different colors as you like. The stripes can be equal sizes or different. Whatever you want.

Sometimes with multiple colors, you cannot simply alternate the slices because the center stays the same. The slices on the right all have the same two colors in the middle. This can ruin a random look.

The fix for this is simple. You cut apart the layers and move the center colors to the top or bottom.

If you want to create a check that stays in a  precise pattern, you have to let the slices set up a bit until they are firm enough to hold their shape otherwise they will slump.

 I would store this pattern on its face so as to keep the pattern as true as possible.

Saving these types of precise patterns over the years involves rotating it every so often because the side it is resting on will start to collapse under the weight above and thin out thus ruining your precise pattern.

A recommended way to store your patterns is to wrap them in a damp cloth ( I use torn up old T-shirts ) then wrap in plastic and store in a plastic bag or container. You can fire a small sample to keep with the cane for easy identification.

Thanks to Heidi McKenzie for the workshop demo images.

For more options and information on coloring clay, look at the  WORKSHOP pages of my site to find a class near you. If there isn't one, consider recommendingmy workshops to an Arts Center in your area.


© Chris Campbell 2019