More About Mixing Polymer Clay Colors with a Summer Sunflower Theme

Polymer Clay Summer Palette

Understanding how to mix Primo / Fimo / Sculpey colors so they flow together, is a big part of creating great polymer clay beads and jewelry!

In today’s post I’m going to talk about choosing clay colors for creating palettes, as well as how to get them to ‘play nice’ together and not clash or fight with each other.

The other day I posted a picture of a Sunflower as inspiration for creating a series of polymer clay color recipes. By looking at the photo I determined that yellow green and blue were the basic colors of the palette.

I then looked at the packages of Premo clay to decide on which colors were the basis of my palette. For example, there are two yellows that Premo makes: Cadmium Yellow and Zinc Yellow, Cad Yellow being a warm rich yellow and Zinc Yellow being bright and sunny. I decided on the Zinc because it looks closer to the color in the photo, and then added some translucent clay to it for transparency to create a color I called Sunflower Petal (Bright). Easy.

Next decision was choosing the right blue. Ultra Marine Blue looked like the right tone but was too dark. So I added equal parts of White and then some translucent to make it look more like the sky. I was still feeling the color was missing something so a tiny amount (1/8th part) of Cobalt Blue was added and it started to head in the right direction. I kept adding 1/8th parts until it looked right, ending up at 1/2 part.

To get the greens was more difficult. Starting with the green that most represented the leaves, I chose Sea Green as the base. To brighten it up and tie it in with the yellow, Zinc Yellow was added to the green. If you notice in the recipe, there is double the amount of yellow to green. Yellow is a much weaker pigment than the green is and therefore you will need a lot more of it.

It is a good idea to start with yellow and add the other color to it so you don’t end up with way too much clay for your project.

After looking at the yellow, blue and green together, there needed to be a little more depth to the palette. Some darker shades were in order.

To mimic the darker inside petals I decided to darken up the Sunflower Petal (Bright), with a little Alizarin Crimson. Alizarin Crimson is a highly pigmented color so only a little was added at a time.

To darken the Sunflower Leaf color, some Ultra Marine from the Sky color was added. As well as, a touch of Alizarin Crimson from the Dark Petal color. Having a touch of all the colors in the palette ties all the colors together, making them flow.

If you notice I didn’t just add White to make the colors lighter and Black to make them darker. That would have left the color palette looking flat and boring.

Adding touches of the other colors in the palette instead, brings life to the colors and a cohesiveness similar to what you see in nature. Ever noticed how all the colors in the garden seem to go together, though technically they shouldn’t? For example, you often see purples, oranges, reds, pinks, yellows, greens and blues all co-mixed in a flower bed. And they all look great without any clashing.

So I’m hoping by taking you step-by-step through these color series, that mixing polymer clay colors will become more instinctual for you. That you will begin to see the base colors, and what other colors could be added to get the color you want. Go now and look carefully at those polymer clay color recipes again and learn from them. See if you can start mixing your own Summer color palette!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 28 June, 2008

    Tell me, what is the hardest thing for you to figure out when it comes to mixing colors?

    Cindy’s last blog post..How to Scent Polymer Clay for a Jewelry Necklace Project

  2. Brenda Estes, 18 July, 2008

    I am new at polymer clay bead making. The other day I sat and looked at all the different color of clays I have (which is the primary colors) and thought now what! So I took the yellow clay and kneaded it in my hand as I listened to a video on making marbled beads. It sounded easy so I tried it. The first ones I burnt in the toaster oven! Think heaven I did it outside on the patio! I didn’t give up I started again. Made the same marbled beads again and some solid color yellow ones. The only thing I have made so far is some funny shaped beads. Hey, but they were MARBLED! But the other day I picked those beads to make a little bracelet and low and behold I sold the bracelet. So even my little lumpy first time beads were a hit!

  3. Cindy Lietz, 21 July, 2008

    Brenda it is so good to hear you are putting the free videos to use and that you are starting to make beads that others are liking too! Whoo Hoo!

    There are so many tricks that would be good for you to learn, so that things like burning your beads can be avoided.

    At the risk of sounding self-promoting, what you really need to do is buy the
    Polymer Clay Bead Making Course for Beginners.

    In this Bead Making Primer you will learn:

    – What brands to buy to avoid problems down the road
    – What colors to get first and how to mix them
    – How to properly condition your clay to avoid bubbles
    – How to shape your beads using a variety of techniques
    – How to properly bake your beads, so they don’t burn
    – Sanding techniques and tools
    – What finishes to use
    – A few beginner canes to make
    -And lots more!

    You will learn lots from my free materials and video newsletter but to really get the full value of what I can teach you, you will eventually need to purchase the courses.

    I am proud of you for selling you first piece of polymer clay jewelry! That rocks! So let’s get to making some more!

  4. Kimberlee, 15 August, 2008

    I loved reading this entry. It is helpful to see how you walked through your thought process in replicating the colors. It gives me an idea of where my instincts might be on the right track (using Cadmium Yellow and Transparent) and where I need to be more sophisticated (just black or white is not enough to keep from dulling colors) in my color mixing. I have not done a lot of mixing yet, but I’m getting more confident with the concepts and trial and error.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 15 August, 2008

    Kimberlee, I’m glad you liked it! Color is something that makes a big difference in making beads. If you continue to experiment and ‘layer’ on the knowledge from reading posts like these, you will have a good handle on color in no time!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Fimo Clay, Premo, Sculpey – Which is Best for Cane Making + Sculpting

  6. Lori C, 02 June, 2011

    I have been searching the internet on how to make the color: crimson alizar or purchase it. I have been doing this for days. Can you recommend where to purchase. Tried ebay, amazon and stores.
    thank you. lori

  7. Phaedrakat, 04 June, 2011

    @Lori C: Polyform makes Premo! Sculpey polymer clay, and they carry it in the color Alizarin Crimson. Depending on where you live, there are many online AND craft stores that carry this product. In the US & Canada, you can find Premo clay at Michael’s, although their stock might be a bit low right now as they’re adding new colors. JoAnn and Hobby Lobby also carry Premo clay (US stores.)

  8. TrudyM, 04 June, 2011

    Check polymer clay express online. You can buy a little or a lot at a time.

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