Vid #95: Get Smooth Polymer Clay Color Gradients 10 Times Faster:
If the normal Skinner Blend method of rolling, cutting and placing flat triangles of clay seems tedious to you (or difficult to understand)… then you are going to love my tear drop approach to making beautiful and smooth polymer clay color gradients.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Judith Skinner is a true Polymer Clay Hero. She came up with a clay color blending technique (The Skinner Blend) that vastly improved upon the original Stepped Method for mixing and blending polymer clay colors.
Before Judith came along, polymer clay artists used this Stepped Method to laboriously measure and mix clay colors more like a cooking recipe. For example, to make a blended color sheet that went from white to blue, you would mix separate color batches starting with 1 part blue + 5 parts white; Then 2 parts blue + 4 parts white; Then 3 parts blue + 3 parts white; And so on until you had six shades of blue from light to dark.
Then these shades were stacked to get a gradated blend. The more shades you made, the smoother the blend appeared. But it was always ‘stepped’ and never perfect. And as you can imagine, it was a ton of work!
Then Judith showed up and used her scientific brain to devise a much easier and faster method.
- She cut out 2 matching flat triangle pieces using 2 different colors…
- Flipped one of the triangles so that its diagonal could be butted up against the other one to form a rectangle…
- Did an end to end fold over of the rectangle and passed it through a pasta machine.
After more folding and multiple passes through the pasta machine, she ended up with a seamless color blended sheet…without all the hassle of individually measuring and mixing each shade variation. Much better!
A process of steps like that seems like it should have taken some time for Judith Skinner to think up. But I read something about her once where she said it actually just came to her quickly. The background she had with math and science gave her a logical approach to the problem, and she went with it.
Well that is kind of what happened to me… though in a far less scientific manner and in more of a winging it kind of way.
I hate to measure. Oh I’ll do it if I have to. But if I can get away with eyeballing something I will. So the process of… rolling sheets of clay… cutting them into triangles… flipping and repositioning to make multi-colored rectangles… folding… blending… well it all seems a bit fussy to me.
|And then it dawned on me one
day when I was making some teardrop shapes of clay. You
know the ball of clay that you
can shape into a point at one
end by rolling it in your palms
to form a V-shape? Yeah…
|Anyway, two colors of clay teardrops were laying side by side in opposite directions and it struck me that they were triangles! If I just squashed them together they would basically end up achieving the same effect as what happens with a Skinner Blend. Cool!|
|Then with some more fooling around, I figured out how to roll the blend instead of folding it so that it would blend almost ten times faster!
This meant instead of taking ten minutes to make a blend from start to finish, I could do one in under a minute! Very Cool!
Now I could even do tiny little test blends to see if I liked it before committing to a large batch, since this technique is very quick and easy to do, even with very tiny amounts of clay.
And… doing multi-colored blends with a whole rainbow of colors is a snap with this technique! No more figuring out exactly how to cut the right shapes so that they will fit together. No more measuring, cutting or fussing around. Easy and fast. Now that’s my kind of Skinner Blend!
For lack of a better name, I’ve coined this modified Skinner Blend technique as the Tear Drop Method. I made a full tutorial video that will be posted in Volume-009 at the Members Library later this week. But the sneak preview clip is available to watch right now… a bit further down on this page.
Here’s That “Link Below” Referred To at End of the Video
>> Polymer Clay Tutorials <<
The full version of the “Teardrop Blend” preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-009 Back Issue Package.
In the “Quick Skinner Blend” video I demonstrate an alternative method for creating color gradients very quickly and easily. The process is much faster than the traditional Skinner Blend technique. Specific topics covered in the video include:
- How to combine a whole rainbow of colors in your blends.
- Using teardrop shaped clay pieces instead of flat triangles.
- Making this technique work even if you don’t have a pasta machine.
- Doing quick test color blends without using up a bunch of clay.
- Perfect for anyone who doesn’t like to do a lot of measuring.