Polymer Clay Color Recipes | Marsh Reeds Palette [Premo Sculpey]

Marsh Reeds Polymer Clay Color Palette 1A: Straw
3A: Horsetail
4A: Cattails

There is a reason why Mother Nature surrounds us with lots of lush Greens and rich Browns… they make us feel alive! Today’s color recipe palette celebrates the Earth’s most abundant colors Green and Brown in a versatile palette drawn from the Horsetail reeds found in a boggy marsh near Manning Park, British Columbia.

The following individual recipes will be added to the Polymer Clay Members Library during the month of Jul-2010 in Vol-026 [A-Series]:

  • Straw (Recipe 026-1A)
  • Marshes (Recipe 026-2A)
  • Horsetail (Recipe 026-3A)
  • Cattails (Recipe 026-4A)

Straw is the palest yellow green found in the sun bleached tips of the marshy reeds. Marshes is the bright color of the fresh green shoots of the Horsetail reed. Horsetail is the dusty yellow green that the reed matures into as it stands swaying in the breeze blowing across the swamp. And Cattails is the deep rich Brown of the cattails (not seen but vividly imagined) which grow along the edges of the boggy pond.

Just a beginner here. Since my color mixing hasn’t worked well, your recipe cards will be a boon. Thanks for the videos too, Cindy, because sometimes it really helps to see a thing done. ~Cariad

Cindy, I’m glad you can invision colors. Nature is a great source for inspiration and living in Arizona I enjoy the earth tones of the desert, the wonderful colors from our cactus and wildflowers, the color influence from Mexico and of course the sunsets. Trying to duplicate them is a tough one for me. Have you ever considered doing a southwest color palette? Wouldn’t it be fun to do a series on colors from around the world, tulips from Holland, the waters of Aruba, colors from the rainforest…! Wow one could stay a wake all night just dreaming up colors. As a very new clayer I find your website very informative, you’re a very gifted person. ~Jeanne-C

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

  1. Philip, 21 June, 2010

    Cindy – Thank you so much, for such helpful, info! I have made polished stone jewellery before, but polymer clay is so much easier and faster. Just in my 1st day I made 5 pieces, love the immediacy and possibilities. You have the best site on Polymer… I think. Best to you, Philip in Canada.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 21 June, 2010

    Ahhhh… thanks Philip. I’m so glad you are enjoying the site. Not too long ago, someone asked me how best to access and utilize all of the information available at my polymer clay web sites (there is a lot of stuff :-). If you are interested in reading my response, click on the link below. It will take you to another comment that outlines both the free resources available to everyone, as well as the (very reasonably priced :-) paid content. ~Cindy (also from Canada… west coast, Surrey, BC).

  3. carolyn, 21 June, 2010

    Fantastic colors, Cindy! Really looking forward to ‘getting’ them in July …

  4. Linda K., 21 June, 2010

    An interesting thing has gradually been happening to me over the past 6 months, since I joined Cindy’s group. I’m beginning to appreciate colors that I always disliked before. This is something that never happened to me in over 20 years of decorative painting!

    I think it’s because of the way that Cindy groups the four colors together in such a pleasing combination.

    This palette is a good example. I’ve always preferred greens with less yellow and more blue in them, and brown has never moved me. Yet here are four of the colors I would not have used in the past, yet I’m thinking about how I can use them in my jewelry. Wow.

  5. Claycass, 21 June, 2010

    Ouuu. I like these colors. The greens are hot.

  6. Anna Sabina, 21 June, 2010

    Anyone thinking about attending the 2011 international Polymer Clay retreat in Chicago in July 2011. I went last time, great event. Not much has been announced other than it will be in Bloomington, Illinois. I hope Cindy will attend. Just think, you can zip over to Fairfield Iowa to see Doug’s Sister, only 3 hours. So, lets all save our pennies for the event. It would be sooooo cool to meet people at this site.
    Anna Des Moines Iowa.

  7. Peggy Barnes, 22 June, 2010


  8. Elizabeth S., 22 June, 2010

    @Anna Sabina: I’m thinking seriously of going. I’m from Illinois originally and could combine the retreat with visiting my home town.

  9. Cindy Lietz, 22 June, 2010

    Thank you everyone for your comments! Nature is such a great color inspiration to me. There are no color mistakes in Nature. I have always loved this textural photo Doug took and wondered if it would be possible to get a great palette from a primarily green photo. But then after looking at the image for awhile, I saw many colors to draw from, with a good range of lights, medium and dark hues. I think this is will be a very useful palette indeed.

    I can see some obvious uses such as making leaf canes and leaf charms but it would also work wonderfully for techniques such as mokume gane, graffiti beads, and kaleidoscope beads. Sky’s the limit really!

    For those of you who didn’t realize you liked brown… that’s just because you hadn’t been seeing the right browns combined in the right way. In my opinion, Brown is the new Black!

    @Linda K.: Thank you so much for saying this. It means a great deal to me to have been able to inspire you to look at the world with different eyes. Glad that it was clay that helped to open your eyes to all the colors, including Yellow Greens and Browns. It’s funny, people often ask what my favorite colors are… and it is very difficult to answer. All colors are beautiful when combined the right way… so it would be impossible to choose a favorite!

    @Anna Sabina: OMG… July 2011. That’s sounds like forever away. I know it’s not, and that “next year” always arrives much quicker than we think it will. All I can say at this point is that I would soooooo… love to attend the July-2011 International Polymer Clay retreat in Chicago. The biggest challenge for Doug and I to commit to participating in big events, especially ones that require travel, is the weekly filming and publishing schedule we have committed to, for all of you guys. And unfortunately at this point, we still don’t have hired hands that can hold down the fort, so to speak, while we jet off to wherever. Not to worry though, it will come. Would be wonderful to meet you guys face to face… and meeting at a retreat like that would be very fun.

  10. Sue F, 21 June, 2010

    Nice palette, Cindy! :)

    I actually have a similar set of colours that I’ve used for “modern tribal” interior design (contemporary with African and Indonesian influences) and it’s very calming without being cold.

  11. Joyce M, 21 June, 2010

    Another wonderful color palette, Cindy, and I love the comment from Jeanne C. I’m thinking that if we searched in your wonderful recipe box we could find some colors that suggest Arizona and the Southwest as well as many places around the world BUT I would love to have your take on the Arizona desert and sunset and colors used/being used by our First Nations. Someday I hope to take the time to play around with mixing colors but for now I love what you do…the best.

  12. carolyn, 22 June, 2010

    @Joyce M: Use the search box, above left, and key in Tribal and Arizona and you’ll see some great southwest colors.

  13. Peggy Barnes, 22 June, 2010

    What a super idea. The fact that they will have a bonus reason for coming down our way is remarkable. I would love to do something like that. Can’t think of a better reason to save money and I have a year to get feeling better. I am definitely in for something like that. A chance even a small chance to met CINDY, DOUG AND KIDS!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!! Then ta boot even more all that time with POLYMER CLAY!!!!!!!!!!
    Uuuuuggggggs may be Huuuugggs by then!!!!
    for now Uuuuuugggggs to all, Peggy

    Cindy the colors are super rich, I love them! Doug the picture captures it all.
    Thanks again for all you bring to us. Job very well done!!!!

  14. Phaedrakat, 22 June, 2010

    Gorgeous palette! I agree with what Linda said above. The same thing’s happened to me. I’ve never been one for browns, but I’m appreciating them more and more. Thanks for all of these wonderful recipes, Cindy, and the beautiful, inspirational photos, Doug.

    A meet-up would be such fun. Attending a big event like that would be even better. Oh, if I could, I would. I have huge doubts that I’d be in shape for such a thing, but miracles have happened (not to me, well, not the bigs ones like I would need for this!) I guess first thing is, Cindy needs to see if she could make it. I hope that she can, and that lots of you members can go, too. What a great event for everyone! Best of luck that it happens for all of you…

  15. Mary, 22 June, 2010

    Cariad. Annwyl Cariad, sut mae? Your name leapt up at me when I read your comment to Cindy. Are you Welsh, do you speak or write Welsh and where do you live – Canada, USA, UK or somewhere else? Hwyl, Mair (Mary U-.)

  16. Lynn V, 23 June, 2010


    I can only guess at the number of hours you and Doug put into the videos and website – you’re providing a needed service to the PC community. It’s pretty safe to say that most of us cannot afford to travel to take special classes so it’s wonderful to be able to sit in my jammies at home and learn from you. The best part is being able to view the instructions anytime again to refresh my memory on the technique. Keep up the GREAT instruction work on such timely PC and wire techniques.

    Best Regards, Lynn Vinge

  17. Kimberly Tracy, 09 September, 2010

    I loved the tutorial on the quick aka teardrop skinner blends. I will use immediately! I may even find a way to apply Sarah Schriver’s techniques using this new Skinner Blend. I took her course and loved it, but the Skinner blending took soooo long. Perhaps I can find a way to use this method and shorten it.

  18. Phaedrakat, 11 September, 2010

    @Kimberly: Welcome! I’ll bet the quick blend does shorten your work, especially after lots of practice. Cindy’s teardrop blend is pretty ingenius…and really speeds things up…have fun!
    ~Kat Riverside, CA, USA *Where are you from?

  19. stephanie jordan, 09 February, 2011

    Hi, Cindy, I don’t know for sure, if you have told us about what the “parts” mean in the color recipes. How would I make parts verses the way the FiMo and the Premo is scored? thanks

  20. Sue F, 09 February, 2011

    @stephanie jordan: Hi Stephanie,

    A “part” can be any quantity as long as you use the same size part for all of the ingredient colours in a given colour recipe.

    Choose “part” sizes appropriately for how much of the finished colour you want. For instance, if you only want a little of the colour, use small parts; but if you want a lot of the colour, use large parts.

    Also, if the total number of parts in a recipe is large, you use a comparatively smaller size part to get a given quantity of the final colour than if the recipe only had a small number of total parts.

    Since you mentioned the scoring on blocks of Fimo or Premo, you could use one of the scored sections as a part, but you don’t have to.

    Most of the time I roll my ingredient colours on the thickest setting of my pasta machine, and then pick an appropriately-sized cutter to cut my parts out from those ingredient colour sheets.

    If the recipe you’re mixing up uses fractions of parts (1/2 a part, 1/4 of a part, etc.), it is easiest to use a square cutter: first use the cutter to get a part, then cut diagonally from corner to corner to divide it into two even half parts; you can then cut diagonally from the other corners to get evenly-divided quarter parts.

    If you don’t want to work with fractions of parts (and I don’t like to, because it’s less precise), just multiply all the quantities by a big enough number to change them all into whole parts. For instance, if a recipe calls for 2 parts of ColourA, and 1/4 part of ColourB, you could multiply it by 4: the resulting recipe of 8 parts of ColourA and 1 part of ColourB is the same thing.

    I hope that helps,


  21. Cindy Lietz, 09 February, 2011

    @stephanie jordan: Sue was very detailed in her answer to you Stephanie, so hope that helps. Since this has been such a common question (I’ve received a ton of emails on this as well as comments), I have decided to do a tutorial on it in the next couple of weeks. I will also show you how to use the recipe cards, as well as tips and tricks for storing the the mixed colors in their palettes. I am hoping this will simplify the process and be a good learning tool for everyone.

    @Sue F: As always Sue, your detailed answers on subjects such as this, has been an incredible resource for everyone and a great help to me. Thank you for all you do to make this such a wonderful learning environment for all clayers, new and experienced!

  22. stephanie jordan, 09 February, 2011

    @Sue F:Hello, Sue
    I think I did do it the way you described. I cut off three sections of the fimo becasue it has about eight sections, hen I laid that up against the Premo and cut off the same size section.I conditioned the clays, then i used the same size cutter to cut the number of parts and I was very happy with the color I got. thanks. I used a 1/4 ” cutter and know that I know Iam onthe right track can use bigger cutters. thank you.

  23. Jocelyn, 12 July, 2011

    @Sue F: Thanks Sue, love your comments!!

  24. Teresa D, 10 July, 2011

    Hi Cindy,
    I was looking at some of the color recipes and a few call for zinc yellow but Premo doesn’t make that anymore nor do they have a replacement recipe. Do ya have a suggestion on fixing this?

  25. Cindy Lietz, 11 July, 2011

    @Teresa D: Actually Teresa, after hearing our pleas (and others in the industry) to save Cobalt Blue, Zinc Yellow and Sea Green (see link by my name), Polyform did agree to continue the sale of Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow through three online distributors in the States. They are Polymer Clay Express, Munro Crafts and Creative Wholesale.

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