Polymer Clay Color Recipes | The Magnificent Arbutus Tree Palette

Arbutus Tree Color Palette

1B – Coastal Skies
2B – Silver Trunk
3B – Arbutus Tree
4B – Shadow

As a kid growing up on Vancouver Island (West Coast of Canada), I had the wonderful pleasure of experiencing the Arbutus Tree. It’s silvery bark constantly shedding to expose a glistening coppery orange skin, underneath. Branches all gnarled and twisted from exposure to coastal storms, which it seems to relish. This magnificent tree captured my heart at a very young age.

Last summer we were able to get away for a few days to go camping out where the Arbutus’ grow. We had a wonderful time together as a family. And seeing my kids playing amongst the silvery orange trees, brought back some fond childhood memories. If you are interested, I wrote a bit about our summer camping fun in this article: Green Beads and Emerald Colored Mountains

The picture above is of one of the beautiful Arbutus trees my husband photographed on that trip. It is also the inspiration for my next polymer clay palette which will include the following colors:

  • Coastal Skies (Recipe 010-1B)
  • Silver Trunk (Recipe 010-2B)
  • Arbutus Tree (Recipe 010-3B)
  • Shadow (Recipe 010-4B)

“Coastal Skies” is a wind swept blue that just begs you to take a walk on the beach. “Silver Trunk” is the silvery stone gray of the outer bark and the saw’n off stump face. “Arbutus Tree” is the coppery orange of the exposed Arbutus skin. And “Shadow” is the deep brown-black of the shade caused be the leaves dancing in the wind.

These recipes for these colors will be part of the Volume 010-B series. You can receive them for free during the month of March (one a week), by subscribing to my Polymer Guest List newsletter.

If you would like more information about the Members Library, here are some direct links:


Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Illaya, 28 February, 2009

    Hi Cindy;

    I know this tree as the Mighty Madrone. It is a gorgeous tree, can be a messy one, very much like the peppercorn tree of California. I live south of you in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula.

    I love how you share these photos that give you your inspiration.

    I found this site that I use as inspiration for color combos in my jewelry designs.
    Once again it all leads back to Mother Nature, her wand is so full of color and majesty. http://www.flickr.com/groups/985079@N23/

  2. Shannon, 28 February, 2009

    What a glorious tree! I love seeing the point of inspiration for artists and this tree is certainly colorful enough to inspire!
    I’m off to sign up for the March newsletter.
    Thanks for the offer!

  3. Bonnie Jones, 01 March, 2009

    What a beautiful tree!! In a way it reminds me of the river birch tree in our back yard with its peeling bark. I love the way you incorporate your love of nature into your art work…..very inspiring..you are a true artist.

  4. Ken H., 01 March, 2009

    A question, have you or has anybody else created a conversion chart for colors between clay companies. I know you don’t like to use Sculpey III but I haven’t made anything yet but solid beads and breakage has yet to be a problem. Do you know of a conversion list Premo to SculpeyIII to Fimo to Etc.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 02 March, 2009

    @Illaya: I never knew that the Arbutus was called the Madrone in the states. I had to look it up to see if it was the same tree and indeed it is. Cool! Learned something new today! Thanks for your comment!

    @Shannon: Thanks! It is a glorious tree, isn’t it?! Happy to have you as a new newsletter subscriber. Hope you enjoy it!

    @Bonnie: Thank you for your kind comment! An artist always is inspired by their surroundings. Mine happens to be nature!

    @Ken: I haven’t created such a chart and I don’t think anyone else has. The problem is that although it is relatively easy to copy a color, it is not that easy to copy the way it behaves. For example, say I come up with a recipe using Fimo clay to make a copy of a Premo color like Alizarin Crimson. Well I may be able to get it to look the same, but it won’t necessarily have the same pigment load, transparency or opacity. Therefore if I tried to substitute my new Fimo formula into a recipe that called for Premo Alizarin Crimson, it wouldn’t necessarily work. Do you get what I mean? As far as the Sculpey III thing, that is your choice, but you may find it still will chip easier than the other clays. Just make sure you bake your beads extra long, and hopefully you won’t run into problems.

  6. Sue F, 02 March, 2010


    Hi Cindy,

    I’ve made up colour chips for all of your Premo colour recipes that I have, and thought I’d try making up this Fimo palette too since I think I’d really like it judging by the photo. Most of the Fimo colour names for the recipes in this palette seem to correspond to (or at least exist in) Fimo Soft, except for Red. Only Fimo Classic current has a colour called plain Red now, as far as I can tell. Is that what you used, or was it a Fimo Soft colour that’s been discontinued? The current Fimo Soft reds are Indian Red and Cherry Red, and the Fimo Effect reds are Metallic Ruby Red, Glitter Red and Transparent Red.

    Thanks! :)

  7. Cindy Lietz, 02 March, 2010

    That is so awesome Sue that you’ve recreated so many of the palettes!

    I made these quite some time ago, and I’ve used up most if not all my Fimo since then, but I do believe it was Fimo Classic that I used for the Red. Would have said the full color name if I had used something else.

    One of the reasons I ended up sticking doing only recipes with Premo is that I didn’t want beginners to have to purchase too many different colors and brands of clay just to make them.

    You have done a great service for those who prefer to work with Kato clay and don’t want to switch over to Premo. Thank you so much for being so giving and doing this for everyone. You really are an incredible girl!

  8. Sue F, 02 March, 2010

    @Cindy: Thanks for that!

    Just to clarify, I haven’t actually converted all of the Premo palettes yet — sorry for wording it more carefully — although I’ve made up all of the Premo colour chips I can so that I know what colours I need to match in Kato. I do have more conversions underway and will send them along when I’m happy with them. I’m doing the palettes I like best first, so I’ll probably end up converting this Fimo-based Arbutus Tree palette before I do some of the Premo palettes.

  9. Phaedrakat, 02 March, 2010

    @Cindy: This IS a gorgeous palette! Will there ever be another chance for B-palette recipes that came out before we knew about your website?

  10. Cindy Lietz, 02 March, 2010

    You’re in luck Phaedrakat. This Volume-010 B-Series, Arbutus Tree Color Palette will be sent out in the weekly Polymer Clay Newsletter during this month of March… along with the Vol-022 B-Series, Lakeside Color Palette.

    The link by my name will take you to where I posted some more info about how the B-Series recipe cards work.

  11. Phaedrakat, 03 March, 2010

    @Cindy L: Lucky, indeed! I’m intrigued by this cool tree & an even cooler palette! I’m so glad to get another chance at it. Plus, I have some Fimo to put to use… Well, I think I might just finally understand. We get two B-series recipes every week. One of them is an older recipe, and one is new-right? I’ve wondered why the numbering system was different for the B’s (not enough to actually look for the answer, though — lazy!) I checked the link by your name, but it just went to a response about saving emails. I read that recently — it’s right by the post where I was trying to tell Carolyn about my “filing system”. I can just try a search, but I think I’ve got it figured out now. It makes sense if one of the B’s are not always brand new. Why would you create 2 new palettes for non-members and just 1 for members? I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out sooner! Plus, it’s great for people (like me) who didn’t get to see the older B recipes the first time around. Back when you were choosing your way of doing things around here, and long before I heard about this great website & the Famous Polymer Clay Tutor! You’re so awesome, Cindy!

  12. Cindy Lietz, 03 March, 2010

    RE: “One of them is an older recipe, and one is new-right?”

    You got it Phaedrakat. That is exactly right.

    “… great for people (like me) who didn’t get to see the older B recipes the first time around.”

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