Managing Color Contrast With Skinner/Teardrop Blends

Color Contrast And Skinner Blends - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #722: Some easy color management tips that will help you to create better polymer cane designs, with more definition.

In today’s video I will show you how to add more contrast to your polymer clay Skinner blends or Teardrop Blends.

If you are not familiar with Skinner Blends, it’s when you take more than one color of polymer clay and use a blending technique to create a gradient sheet of clay that blends from one color into the next, in an Ombre effect.

There are lots of cool things you can do with a Skinner / Teardrop Blend.

In fact, in this video I had planned to show you a polymer clay cane using a Skinner Blend, called a Zipper Cane. But when I went to make some samples, it occurred to me that you may not know how to make sure that the colors you chose for this cane had enough contrast in them, to make a cane the works. So I decided to show you the blends this time, and I will show you how to make the cane in the next video.

I show some examples of Zipper canes. When you look at all the samples, the canes that have the most contrast in their colors, are the ones that show the zipper pattern best.

The colors that are too close in value (i.e. the colors that are not that darker or lighter than than the other), will not have enough contrast to show off the zipper effect. Patterns get “visually” lost, because they blend with your eyes. This is especially accentuated when the cane is reduced.

The easiest way to get great contrast, is to blend a dark color with White… like I did with the Ultramarine Blue and White. Most instructors do this with their Skinner Blend instructions… which is good.

But… there are other options you may want to pursue as well. For example, what if you wanted to combine a couple of colors that did not have a lot of contrast between them? What you can do is amp up your blends by either adding a darker shade at one end, or a lighter shade at the other… or maybe even do both!

In the video I do a Teardrop Blend using Periwinkle (Premo) and Wisteria (Premo), which are both of the same color value. So the blend ends up with not enough contrast. To fix this, I add White to the Wisteria side of the blend. This is way too hard to explain in writing… but it will make sense when you watch the video… :)

Do you have any suggestions for videos on tips, techniques or products you would like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section below!

My goal is to help you to learn quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Dixie Ann, 29 February, 2016

    Great tip Cindy on manipulating colors when making a blend. This will definitely go on “My Hot Tip List”. Really looking forward to next week when you show us how to make a zipper cane. Have always wanted to make one. I noticed a black round container behind you with several sections that looks like metal and moves like a turntable? Can I ask where you got it?

  2. Cindy Lietz, 29 February, 2016

    Yeah that is a revolving storage bin I got at Harbor Freight online. It was really reasonable in price and holds an amazing amount of stuff. Will do a video on it sometime, but thought I’d give everyone a break from the product videos for a few weeks. It took awhile to put it together… it had a million nuts and bolts, but I love it! Looks all industrial too! :)

  3. elaine faulks, 03 March, 2016

    Hi Cindy,
    Loved your descriptions of the teardrop blend. Amp it up, Stick it on top (chuckle), out of control, force it to do your bidding etc. I had to watch and listen again to hear your chuckles. How different to how I learned, cutting with much precision, measuring, angles, etc. All quite daunting for a newbie,( many years ago). Love your practicality, hands-on, take control attitude, just love it. Also makes me LOL.

    The industrial multi layered storage looks interesting. I had a similar “giant one” when I ran my shop. About 6ft bottom diameter, with increasing smaller shelves. It was so practical but sold it for a song as was too big to store! Wish we had Harbor Freight here in UK. Will have to look at some shop-fitting sites, they might just do something similar. Off to get some shopping for my trip now the storm has past.

    Question, do you use a spring loaded centre punch? I have just ordered one as it looks a very useful tool as working with sheet copper at the moment till I get my stash of PC out of storage….cheers xx..

  4. Cindy Lietz, 04 March, 2016

    LOL Thanks Elaine! Glad you liked the relaxed style of my teaching. This is a hobby after all, it is supposed to be fun! You can get seriously good at something without having to be super serious about the way it is taught. It is a hunk of plastic we are working with here… not diamonds. I challenge every one of the ‘Masters” to a Blend Off! There is no need for mathematical formulas and geometric angles to get exactly the blend you want.

    In regards to the industrial revolving storage bins, I believe my Grandpa had one of those giant floor models in his gastation – auto repair shop when I was a kid. Not sure if one that size would fit in my studio neither but this one isperfect! It is only 1 foot in diameter and has 4 tiers. Holds a ton of stuff and takes up little space. It is perfect for those unused corners of your space.

    To answer your question, I don’t have a spring loaded center punch in my Studio yet. Doug has one in the shop and I have been tempted to steal it. The are great if you are drilling a lot of holes. They keep you bit from skittering all over the surface before it gets a chance to bite into the material you’re drilling. I don’t think they are very expensive either. I think they would be a worthwhile tool to have.

  5. Fran Vainas, 05 March, 2016

    “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” – John Steinbeck

  6. Cindy Lietz, 07 March, 2016

    What a beautiful quote Fran! Thank you!

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