Posted by: doras_explorations | March 24, 2009

Plaid Cane, Week of March 22, 2009

 


I’ve always loved plaids.    I suspect the intersecting bands of color have a ‘logic’ that appeals to my pattern obsessed mind.  The Scottish tartans, in particular, are fascinating not only because of their colors, but because of their association with particular clans.  I had been thinking about featuring a plaid ‘cane of the week’ for a while, but I wanted to experiment with color combinations and refine my technique first.   Recently, I made a couple of plaid canes which I posted on Flickr:    

dsc_22212

dsc_2229

 
     These are ‘two-color plaids’.  They are made with two colors, and one ‘blended square’ which is a combination of the two colors, for example the blue, green and blue/green shown in the top photo.  Note that the colors of the blended squares are not solid but very fine diagonal lines which are intended to resemble the weave of plaid fabric.  In a plaid or tartan fabric, visible diagonal lines  are formed where different colours cross, which give the appearance of new colours blended from the original ones.  The intersecting stripes in both plaids were made with the two base colors, although I did add orange stripes to the green and white plaid on the bottom for extra contrast.

      The most challenging step for me was to keep the squares and lines perfectly straight and even.  As you can see, I was not totally successful!  One of my Flickr contacts suggested the use of a flat acrylic sheet or square rod to keep the corners sharp, and it does indeed help.  Of course, using an extruder with square dies would assure ‘perfect’ squares, but, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I do not use an extruder to build canes.

      I’ve decided to go a more complex route and show the steps I use to make a ‘three color plaid’, which consists of the 3 solid  ‘base colors’ ;  A, B, and C, and 3 blends ;  AB, AC, and BC.  The resulting cane consists of nine squares.   This is a diagram of the base cane, minus the intersecting stripes.  I’ll deal with those later.  Note that each square ‘shares’ a color with the square/s next to it and the squares above and below it. 

plaidgraph12

      Here is my plaid cane, step-by-step:

   
For my plaid cane I will use blue (color A), green (color B), and red orange (color C).  I am using approximately 4 oz of each color, for a total of 12 oz.

For my plaid cane I will use blue (color A), green (color B), and red orange (color C). I am using approximately 4 oz of each color, for a total of 12 oz.

  

I use my square cutter to measure equal amounts of each clay color (9 squares per color)

I use my square cutter to measure equal amounts of each clay color (9 squares per color). The leftover clay will be used later to make the lines.

 

Here are my 'combined color combinations', using 3 squares of each color; blue/green (AB), red-orange/green (CB), and red-orange/blue (CA)

Here are my 'combined color combinations', using 3 squares of each color; blue/green (AB), red-orange/green (CB), and red-orange/blue (CA)

 
I chop up colors AB into small pieces using my clay blade

I chop up colors AB into small pieces using my clay blade

 
 
After the pieces have been chopped, I reshape them to form a rectangle, slightly thicker than the thickest setting of my pasta machine.

After the pieces have been chopped, I reshape them to form a rectangle, slightly thicker than the thickest setting of my pasta machine.

This rectangle is run through the pasta machine at the thickest setting (#1 on my Atlas machine)

This rectangle is run through the pasta machine at the thickest setting (#1 on my Atlas machine)

After going through the pasta machine, I fold the sheet in half, and, with the folded side down, run it through the pasta machine again.

After going through the pasta machine, I fold the sheet in half, and, with the folded side down, run it through the pasta machine again.

Here is the blended sheet after 2 passes.

Here is the blended sheet after 2 passes.

I trim the ragged ends, then divide the sheet into 6 equal pieces.

I trim the ragged ends, then divide the sheet into 6 equal pieces.

I then stack the 6 pieces, square it up, and turn it so the side with the short irregular stripes is facing up.

I then stack the 6 pieces, square it up, and turn it so the side with the short irregular stripes is facing up.

I cut this square on the diagonal (corner to corner) to make 2 right triangles.

I cut this square on the diagonal (corner to corner) to make 2 right triangles.

The 2 triangles are put together so the stripes are going in the same direction.

The 2 triangles are put together so the stripes are going in the same direction.

I stand this piece up so it looks like a roof, then slice it in half like this

I stand this piece up so it looks like a roof, then slice it in half like this

I then put the 2 halves together to make a square with diagonal striping.

I then put the 2 halves together to make a square with diagonal striping.

I then reduce this to form a 1/2" square 2" in length.

I then reduce this to form a 1/2" square 2" in length.

I trim the distorted ends, and now I have my "AB" combination square completed.  Time to move on to the BC and AC combinations.

I trim the distorted ends, and now I have my "AB" combination square completed. Time to move on to the BC and AC combinations.

I use the same procedure to make my BC and AC squares, and make square blocks with the solid colors.  These are also 1/2", but are half the length of the combination colored squares (1" instead of 2" long)

I use the same procedure to make my BC and AC squares. I then make square blocks with the solid colors. The solid colored blocks are also 1/2", but are half the length of the combination colored squares (1" instead of 2" long)

 

I then cut the combination colored squares in half.  As you can see, I now have a total of 9 blocks that are 1/2" square and 1" in length

I then cut the combination colored squares in half. As you can see, I now have a total of 9 blocks that are 1/2" square and 1" in length

I now arrange the blocks to make a '9 patch square'.  Make sure the diagonal stripes on the combination colored block are all going in the same direction!  This is not as easy as you might think, the striping is subtle.

I now arrange the blocks to make a '9 patch square'. Make sure the diagonal stripes on the combination colored blocks are all going in the same direction! This is not as easy as you might think, the striping is subtle.

 

Here's a closeup of the cane.  Time to add the lines !

Here's a closeup of the cane. Time to add the lines !

I use the side of my ruler to lightly score where I will be cutting the cane to insert the lines

I use the side of my ruler to lightly score where I will be cutting the cane to insert the lines

I also score lines along the sides of the cane to act as a guide so my cuts will (hopefully !) be straight all the way through.

I also score lines along the sides of the cane to act as a guide so my cuts will (hopefully !) be straight all the way through.

This is what it looks like after lines have been scored on all sides, including the bottom; it looks a bit like a Rubic's cube, doesn't it?

This is what it looks like after lines have been scored on all sides, including the bottom; it looks a bit like a Rubic's cube, doesn't it?

I roll out thin sheets of the solid clay colors (#6 setting on my Atlas).  These will be used to make the lines.

I roll out thin sheets of the solid clay colors (#6 setting on my Atlas). These will be used to make the lines.

 
Note the position of the colors.  I slice through the squares on sides of the cane, using the scored lines as a guide, and keeping my cut as straight as possible.

Note the position of the colors. I slice through the squares on sides of the cane, using the scored lines as a guide, and keeping my cut as straight as possible.

 

I  insert thin sheets of the green clay, making sure my squares match up when I bring the pieces back together.

I insert thin sheets of the green clay, making sure my squares match up when I bring the pieces back together.

I then use the same procedure to insert the red and blue lines.  Here is the completed cane before reduction.

I then use the same procedure to insert the red and blue lines. Here is the completed cane before reduction.

The diagram on the left shows the position of the color blocks and lines.

The diagram on the left shows the position of the color blocks and lines.

This is what the cane looks like reduced.  Note that keeping the outside lines straight is rather challenging ! Wrapping the cane with a sheet of clay would probably reduce distortion, but then it wouldn't be possible to combine the base cane to make a continuous patterned sheet.

This is what the cane looks like reduced. Note that keeping the outside lines straight is rather challenging ! Wrapping the cane with a sheet of clay would probably reduce distortion, but then it wouldn't be possible to combine the base cane to make a continuous patterned sheet.

Here's the completed cane....the lines could be straighter, but, all in all, not bad !

Here's the completed cane....the lines could be straighter, but, all in all, not bad !

Here's another 3-color cane using the same diagram and procedure as the one described above....The possibilities are endless !

Here's another 3-color cane using the same diagram and steps as the one described above....The possibilities are endless !

 

  

 

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Responses

  1. awesome step by step Dora! I really like how they turned out!

    Kathi

  2. Dora, thank you so much for the tute!! What a wonderful job you did…. I HAVE to try this one out!!! I can just invision my beads with matching plaid beads! Just wanted to say THANKS!!

    HUGS!

  3. Dora.. you blow me a way with your patience and accuracy of making canes. Those are just amazing.. what a great and thorough step by step process..

    • Thanks everyone ! I’m glad I finally got this post done….I’d like to post more often, but it’s a lot of work, and I’m not as energetic as I’d like to be…..Having a faster computer would probably help, because sitting around waiting for stuff to load is extremely tedious !

  4. Thanks Dora for all of the time you put into this tutorial…it is “Top Notch”….a “Keeper” for sure!!…it reminds me of kilts that were handed down to me by my sisters..wool…they were pleated and had a kilt pin on the front of them…*I think that is what they were called… :)

  5. This is a fantastic cane AND tutorial! Thank you for such clear instructions, steps and other details. I have to try making some plaid canes! Although I think I’ll start with two-color plaid… ;)

  6. Wow Dora, amazing work with your plaid cane tutorial! So colorful! Thanks so much for sharing, you are a GREAT teacher.

  7. I really like the way you get the look of fabric Dora! Very effective technique! The multi-colored plaid that you actually did the tute on, is my favorite color combination. Great job!

  8. Hi Dora – Just found your blog with amazing plaid canes and the lovely eggs. I too cover eggs (I keep hens, ducks and geese so have lots of shapes and sizes to choose from) and I’ve made a load for this weekend (Easter weekend) they’re my version of Pisanki which I remember growing up with.

    Hope now that spring is here you’re full of the joys of it – I am!

    • Thanks Polyanya ! Yes, I am very happy to celebrate spring ! How nice that you have a variety of eggs to choose from. I have a goose egg shell someone gave me years ago, and I love it, but I’m afraid to cover it, LOL !!

  9. I’d send you some if we lived closer! But I don’t think they’d survive the journey lol! I live in Shetland – do you have Scottish roots or just like plaid?

    • I don’t have any Scottish blood (at least none I know of !), but I love plaid, and have always thought that Scotland is a beautiful place.

  10. Briljant tutorial!!! Thanks for sharing!!!
    Keep up your good work! :-)

    • Thanks so much, SaSSy, I’m glad you liked it…hope to post another one soon !

  11. Someone asked me to make some St. Piran’s (Cornish Tartan) pendants and it took me weeks to work out how to do it. You must have posted this item just as I was finishing as I never found it when I was desperately googling ‘plaid/polymer clay’! I came up with a totally different way of doing it. I do like your method though.

    My tartan had three stripes cutting across each square. Getting them to all line up was a nightmare….

    Well done

    • Thanks, Marian ! I’d love to see your tartan cane…Do you have a photo of it ? I know what you mean about the stripes………..They are difficult to line up evenly and to keep straight when reducing. I still haven’t figured out how to make ‘perfect’ stripes, but I am getting better with each cane ! I wonder if using a firmer clay (Fimo Classic or Kato Clay) would help…….I use Fimo Soft because it more easily available than Kato Clay, and not as difficlt to condition as Fimo Classic…..

      • I’ll take a photo and post. I use Kato, which is firmer. I started on Fimo Soft. In my method, I built up the individual colour squares by stacking different thicknesses/colours of clay that I’d cut with a cutter. That meant I only had to cut to insert the vertical thin colour slices, so half the lining up.

        The cutter width was the same as the final height of stacked slices, so I ended up with a square cane.

        I’ve never created so much waste clay in my life though!

      • Marian, that is so clever ! I never thought of using cutters that way… I tried a sample pack of Kato 2 years ago, and did like it for caning, although I wasn’t crazy about its ‘vinyl shower curtain’ smell…Unfortunately, Kato clay is only available on line, and I can purchase Fimo Soft in my local craft stores much more cheaply, so that’s why I use it…

  12. Very nice. I love the plaids! I especially like the red, blue and green.

  13. WOW! What an amazing site! I’m VERY new to polymer clay and am intrigued by canes! Thank you so much for sharing your talent!!! And GO REDSOX!!! (I grew up in Maine and LOVE the SOX!)

    • Thanks, Linda, I’m so glad you like my site ! Isn’t polymer clay fun? It should come with a warning: “Caution: highly addictive substance”, LOL !!! Canework is by far my favorite technique.
      Yes, I’m a die hard Red Sox fan…….Hope Big Papi gets out of his slump soon…..and the starting pitching straightens out….

  14. Hi there, Just wanted to let you know I gave your plaid cane a try. I have to say I love how you worked this one out! I posted about it on our blog. You can see it here:

    http://2goodclaymates.blogspot.com/2009/09/making-plaid-cane.html

    • Thanks so much for featuring my plaid cane in your blog. It’s always satisfying to know that someone has used your technique. The plaid cane was one of my more ‘ambitious’ tutorials. It involved quite a bit of advance planning, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

  15. I love this tutorial. I tried one in lavender and moss green. Not too bad for a first try but I’ve got to make more- and usually I don’t like making canes!

    • Thanks, Susan, I’m glad you liked it !!

  16. That is so awesome! I just started playing with polymer clay. I think I have a project for this weekend.

    • Maybe some plaid buttons for one of your wonderful crochet creations ? Enjoy!

  17. I can’t thank you enough for this tutorial and all the other generous cane of the week postings! (the black and white flower cane is adorable especially as you used it…reminds me of a dress I had a looooooooong time ago :-) ). Even if I never get around to actually making anything (not often does inspiration (like your pieces and tutorials) and free time get together and by the time free time comes around…well, inspiration is buried somewhere in the back of my mind), seeing your work has been most enjoyable. Thanks again for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, they are much appreciated ! I know what you mean about inspiration and free time, my best ideas always seem to come when I don’t have the time to implement them !

  18. I love this tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like it !!!

  19. You are so good! How clever! I love it and as a beginner I found out my jaw had dropped when I finished reading your tutorial. Good for you!!!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Adriana, I’m so glad you liked the tutorial ! Plaid patterns are fun to make and there are so many design possibilities!

  20. […] I found a very good tutorial for tartan canes (called plaid in the States, I believe) on the blog Dora’s Explorations and followed the principles set out in that to create the right effect. Lastly, I wanted to […]

    • I’m glad you found my tutorial useful! Teddy is so cute, the tartan scarf is a very nice touch.


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