I think one of the greatest techniques developed is the Skinner Blend for polymer clay! It was invented by Judith Skinner. An artist and mathematician, she is a very smart lady. In 1996 she introduced the technique to polymer clay artists and a revolution began!
With the Skinner Blend you can create beautiful gradients from polymer clay to use in just about everything. This polymer clay technique for beginners is wonderful as it helps you learn color mixing. It takes a little practice, but once you get the concept down, you will be making all kinds of blends! Remember “yellow and blue makes green”? How about “red and yellow make orange”? If you have forgotten these concepts, you may want to pick up a color wheel. This will help with color mixing and choosing colors for your Skinner blend. You can also download an color wheel app. You may use any color you like, but keep in mind that some colors when mixed may turn muddy in color. If you start with basic combinations, you will have more success.
To create tints (any color with white added), just choose a color and white. The more contrast the other color has, the more dramatic the blend will be. To create shades (any color with black added), choose any color and black. Again, the more contrast in your chosen color, the more drama. Try each of these to get a feel for tints and shades.
Here are the steps for two kinds of blends. The full blend and the partial blend. The steps for both are exactly the same. The only difference is how you start the blend.
First, the Full Skinner Blend
You will need two colors of clay. I am using 1/2 ounce of each color or 1/4 of a 2oz. package of clay. I chose a yellow and a fuchsia color. They should make a pretty orange when mixed (fingers crossed).
You will want to condition the clay and roll it out on the thickest setting of your pasta machine.
You will then trim into squares. They don’t have to be perfect. Just try to get the same size. Cut each one diagonally, corner to corner, with your tissue blade.
Take one half and lay it on the other half of the same color, making a triangle. But the two triangles against each other.
Roll the clay a little with your roller so they stick together. Then use your blade to scrape them off of the tile.
Run this piece through the pasta machine. It should feel like one piece now.
Next, very important, you are going to fold the sheet with each side showing the same color. As in the photo, only yellow is on the right side, and only fuchsia is on the left side. Run it through fold first. Repeat this process, folding the same way each time. Don’t change direction of the fold, it will ruin the blend.
This is after about 5-6 passes.
Continue folding and running it through the machine. This is after about 20 passes. You can decide how much you want to blend it. Stop when you like the result.
Next, the partial Skinner Blend
Everything is the same except how I cut my squares. You can see here, instead of corner to corner, I cut them about 1/2 inch from the corner. Flip one half of the stack onto the other half to match the two and stick the two colors together.
It should look like this.
Roll it a little with your roller to stick the two colors together then fold, keeping the same color on each end and pass through the pasta machine fold first.
Repeat the process. Fold up, colors matching on the ends and roll through, fold first.
Keep doing the same thing. Magic is happening!
This is after 5-6 passes.
This is after about 20 passes. As you can see, it is different from the first blend. Because we cut it away from the corner, we kept some of the pure color on each end.
Here are the two blends together. The partial (or offset) blend is on top. The full blend in on the bottom.
I hope you enjoy learning this technique! Experiment with different colors and you will get better and better! I can’t tell you enough how awesome this technique is when beginning with polymer clay. You can use it in many unique ways! In future posts we will make all kinds of things using the Skinner Blend for polymer clay. Please subscribe at the top of the page and you will not miss any new tutorials. Happy Claying!