Learning About Polymer Clay Color Mixing – Maggie Maggio Style

Maggie Maggio Color Scales

Having trouble figuring out how to mix polymer clay to get the colors you want? You’re not alone!

One of the most difficult skills to master when it comes to making polymer clay beads, is learning how to mix colors. In fact, my readers are quite often asking me about color theory. Here’s a recent question / comment that arrived via email from Andrea (aka Andy)…

Hi Cindy, just found your website – WOW! Excellent information, not just the same stuff in a prettier format. Great suggestions and ideas too!

The main reason I’m writing, though, is because I responded to your poll question and chose “mixing colors” as the most challenging aspect of claying for me.

Really, its not the technique of mixing colors. It’s choosing color combinations that look good together that I have a hard time with!

It’s not just “brown, blue, off-white”, its a particular shade of brown, a certain shade of blue, and ecru. Current color palettes seem to be close to some of the ’70s colors … and that’s as specific as I know how to be.

Help with THIS aspect of color mixing would be AMAZING! I’d love to see you blog on it. Thank you for your time and energy!

Andrea (aka Andy)

Andy is not the only one who has difficulty with color mixing polymer clay, so I thought I would share with you all a video from the Master of Masters… the Guru of Polymer Clay Color Theory… Maggie Maggio of Smashing Color!

If it were possible to get a PhD in polymer clay color mixing, Maggie Maggio would have one! Her detailed and scientific approach to creating colored samples that she calls ‘color scales’, is like no one else I have seen in the industry. She takes Premo color theory to a whole new level, with her color workshops being at the level that would be taught in reputable art schools.

I love to watch her videos, although I have not ventured to complete her tutorials from start to finish. I would not be able to bear using the vast quantities of clay she uses to make up her color scales. I also don’t have the patience to spend the time it would take to make the samples in all the different colors. But I do like looking at all her samples!

Even if you don’t go through each step in the video, watching it will give you a better sense in how color works in polymer clay and the methods you may take in developing your own color palette.

I also think it is an excellent way to start learning how different colors behave when mixed and the reasons why you so often end up with unexpected ‘muddy’ colors when mixing them.

So watch this video and let me know what you think…

Did you find that the information in the video made things clearer for you? Or was it too detailed? I’d be very curious to hear your opinion.

In tomorrow’s article, I’m going to talk more about the sunflower color recipes that I posted a couple of days ago. I’ll share with you some of the reasons why I chose the colors I did for mixing them.

Go back to that June 24 post and see if you can figure out why the colors flow together like they do. Then come back tomorrow and read part 2 of my summer series to see if you were right! Here’s the link: Sunflower Polymer Clay Color Mixing

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  1. Cindy Lietz, 27 June, 2008

    Maggie Maggio has a couple more videos in this series that I will post for you when I get the time, so keep your eyes peeled!

    @Andy: Although I didn’t quite answer your question on how to pick the right brown, blue and off white, the more exposure you get to color mixing the more it will become instinct for you. So when you do find a dress from this season that has the perfect brown, blue and off white that you are looking for, you can take that fabric and copy the colors exactly. That way you’ll know it’s a 2008 version of the colors and not the 70’s version!

    Cindy’s last blog post..More About Mixing Polymer Clay Colors with a Sunflower Theme

  2. Jose, 28 June, 2008

    Very interesting video.. thank you

  3. Cindy Lietz, 29 June, 2008

    Hi Jose. Thanks for dropping by and spending some time at my site. What did you like most about Maggie Maggio’s polymer clay color mixing video? Was there something in particular that helped you to learn a new color technique? Was there something that got you thinking about starting a new polymer clay project… or maybe even something non-polymer clay related? Tell me, tell me. I’d love to know :-)

    Cindy’s last blog post is about..How to Scent Polymer Clay

  4. Carol Cooper, 18 July, 2008

    Maggie’s video is an excellent tool for those of use who are growing from “playing” with clay, to turning it into a more serious and mature artform. I have long had difficulty with blending colours and now I have a logical approach to providing my own solution. Thanks for showing us Maggie’s video.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 19 July, 2008

    I very much agree with you Carol! Maggie Maggio takes polymer clay color mixing to the professional level!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Polymer Clay Leaf Beads for Making Handmade Jewelry

  6. rachel warren, 24 July, 2009

    Oh to have the time to do all that mixing – it would be an invaluable investment though:) you’d get so used to mixing clay and you’d learn what mixes and what doesn’t – I might just give it a go… thank you Cindy

  7. Cindy Lietz, 24 July, 2009

    If you do give it a go Rachel, please do come back here and share with the group how things went and what you learned in the process. I’m sure there are many readers that would love to hear more from you.

    GENERAL INTEREST NOTE: I’ve recently been communicating with Maggie Maggio and discovered something interesting. It turns out that way back in 1998, it was Maggie who first came up with the idea for making torn clay watercolor beads… a technique that now over a decade later, is still going strong and being used by polymer clay artists all around the world. Click the link by my name above for more info.

  8. Jocelyn, 27 July, 2009

    Wow, this video is intensive and tough to concentrate on all the way through, even though it contains excellent information.

    Maybe Cindy, you could break it up into smaller segments, and in each video segment include both the finished certain number of tablets, and then a project that utilizes them?

    Maggie is an amazing artist. Love those torn beads.

  9. Natalie H, 20 December, 2011

    Hi Cindy

    In the section of your beginners course about mixing colors, to blend properly… can you mix any color with all the others that you show… you did it by adding gold… would it work with silver, white etc and are there any colors that you should definitely NOT mix

    On a another note… I sold two more snowmen ornaments and 2 Christmas spiders. The spiders came out great. The only thing I changed was that I used 20 gauge wire for the body… it made it a little stronger. My neighbor who bought them, just loves them. I gave her three different spider stories that I found on the web… she greatly appreciated that special little touch. She wants me to make dinosaur ornaments and other animals for next Christmas. Things to work on during the year. Thanks for all these great ideas.

    I did buy the Wiltons stuff with 50% coupons. Brought my grand daughters with me. Thanks again. Got to get back to the videos.


  10. Cindy Lietz, 16 January, 2012

    Yes Natalie, that trick I showed using the Gold would work with any color. You would have to experiment with amounts to get the look you are wanting though, because each color has different strengths and mixing properties.

    Congrats on your sales! That is excellent news. The switch to 20g is a great choice if you are using beads in the body with large enough holes. And you’re right about it being stronger than the 24g.

    Glad to see you are having fun with the tutorials. Thanks for your comment!

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