How to make "Chevron Style" beads

True chevron beads are also called star beads, for obvious reasons, as you will see. They are glass, usually have 12 point star patterns and 4 to 8 layers. But there are many variations. Making chevron beads from molten glass is a very complex process. Making chevron patterned beads from polymer clay is far easier. However, for this project, you will need to understand constructing and reducing canes. In "Chevron-ese", you'll be making a 12 point 8 layer chevron bead if you follow the steps below.

If you want to really learn more about chevron beads, may I recommend you go to the Picard African Trade Museum's web site at They have even produced a book devoted exclusively to chevron beads called Chevron and Nueva Cadiz Beads ( ).

One final note. This whole creative chevron mess is Sunni Bergeron's fault. ;-) She started it by dreaming up a marvelously easy way to make a faux chevron bead. If you'd like to check out her chevron bead version in her new tutorial, go to

I'd like to fuss at her about instigating this most recent interest in chevron beads, but they are really so much fun to make. I'll be hip deep in pattern variations quite soon! Thanks, Sunni!... I think. ;-)

  • four contrasting colors of polymer clay (e.g. red, blue, black, white)
  • pasta machine
  • ruler
  • a fresh sharp blade
  • needle tool
  • wet/dry sandpaper: grits 180, 240, 320, 400, 600, 1000
  • work surface

1. Condition, then roll out the red, blue, white clay into sheets using the pasta machine (#1 or the thickest setting).
Cut 3" x 2" rectangular sheets: 6 white, 4 red, 2 blue.
Condition, then roll out the black sheet using the pasta machine (#3 or a setting a half as thick as the other sheets).
Cut 2 3" x 2" black rectangular sheets. Set aside.
Stack the red, blue and white sheets in the following order: white, white, red, red, white, blue, blue, white, red, red, white, white, to create a block of stacked colors.



Read carefully now: stand the block upright so it is 3" tall. Set the tissue blade on the diagonal (upper left corner to lower right corner) across the top of the block, in preparation to cut straight down through the entire block. If the block is soft, let it rest or chill it to firm it before cutting. Cut straight down keeping the blade in the diagonal position.

3. Now you have two right angle triangle striped blocks. Flip one of those right triangle blocks upside down and match the stripes. Press the two halves together.

OK, time for those thin black sheets you set aside earlier. Line the flat white tops with the black sheets. Roll out a very thin blue snake and add a this along the base edge as a registration mark.


Form two blue triangular wedges to place on either side as shown. Now you have a complex cane. Shape the cane into more of a triangle as you reduce the cane until it is a good 48"-50" in length.


Since traditional chevron beads have 12 points, cut your long cane into 12 - 4" long segments.


Assemble and press all 12 segments to form one nice big circular cane with a 12 point star. Then reduce this cane until its diameter is approximately 1".


Square and triangular canes aren't too hard to reduce, once you know the tricks. While you can't roll them, like circular ones, there are other methods that can be used on all canes, regarless of shape.

The basic actions are pinching, flipping or turning to access another side and stroking/pulling. The trick is learning to apply even pressures when pinching so you keep the cane as even as possible.

You should start the pinching in the middle of the cane, pinching all the way around and flipping, giving the cane a kind of "waist", then pinch, working along towards each end.

The pinching process warms up the cane, making it easy to do the next step in the reduction process, stroking/pulling. Keeping the cane on the work surface, apply even gentle pressure along two sides and stroke. With enough pressure, the stroking actually pulls the cane, causing it to stretch. Again, you need to rotate the cane and apply the same actions.

When stroking/pulling, be very careful because if there are structural flaws in the cane, like air bubbles, the pulling could cause a tear or crack. If you see on trying to happen, kinda push the two areas on either side of the crack to close up the crack, then pinch to try joining the clay back togther.

So, basically, pinching, flipping and stroking/pulling are the basic actions that can be applied to any shape cane.



Cut a 1.5" segment from this cane. Stand the segment on end. Using the tissue blade, shave away the bottom edges, kinda like manually sharpening a pencil.


Flip the segment so it's resting on the other end and shave that end similarly. Continue shaving with the tissue blade to form the bead into an egg shape. Use the needle tool to hole the bead.

Gently roll the bead around on your work surface to begin smoothing the roughened bead surface made course by the shaving. This will make it easier to sand the bead after baking.


Bake at the polymer clay brand's recommended temperature and length time.

Sand the bead, making sure to start with the coursest grit (i.e 180). The course grits are for smoothing any remaining rough shaved surfaces and for completing the shaping of the bead. Sand with gradually increasing the grit values. Polish to create a high glossy glassy shine.


I've included a photo of a true traditional glass chevron (or star) bead for comparison

Have a great polymer clay day. ;-)


Last update to this page: 16 Aug 03. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.