How to Salvage and Re-use Leftover Color Blend Pieces

Saving Your Color Blends - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #278: Plus a handy tip that lets you see all of beautiful color blends at a glance. ~Cindy Lietz

Here’s the situation… you’ve just made a beautiful pair of Sweet Pea Earrings or a few lovely pendants that have been cut out from a Teardrop Color Blend sheet… only to leave behind a long strip of blend with big gaping holes in it!

Well instead of balling up all that holey clay and adding it to your growing scrap pile, why not salvage the blend to save for another day?

In this quick little video, I’ll show you how to save and re-blend those cut up color gradient sheets… plus how to store them in a handy presentation binder for future use.

Like I mentioned in the video, the binder storage idea was one I learned from fellow polymer clay artist Carolyn Good of 2GoodClayMates. I don’t know if she was the first to come up with the idea, but it’s a good one!

Hopefully you found these tips handy for saving your blends from the scrap pile heap. Do you have any other cool scrap saving ideas? Please do share them (or any other polymer clay tips), in the comment section below!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Sue F, 23 August, 2012

    Hi Cindy,

    I just wanted to say that the sweet pea earrings you’re wearing in this video look absolutely fantastic!

    I have to admit that when the sweet pea earring tutorial was released my first thought was “Sheesh, not flowers *again*!” — with a roll of the eyes too, even… I’m totally NOT a flower person, as you can tell! ;D — but the dimensional effect, the splash of colour and brightness against your black clothing, and the dangle movement are all great. (And of course, the principles in the tutorial can be applied to plenty of non-flowery thing too anyway.)

    I also wanted to compliment you and Doug on the new format. I really like how it enables you to present more complex material while still keeping things accessible to all levels, and I think this will broaden the appeal. The higher video resolution is a significant improvement, and the extras each week are a nice bonus. Overall, excellent! :D

    And since I’m here, I’ll add a last little note about storing saved blends, colour mixes, etc… Different polymer clays are “safe” with different plastics. I have some lovely crystal-clear containers that I use for storing canes which are 100% safe with my preferred Kato, but Fimo eats straight through them, while Premo slightly shadows the surface but then doesn’t get any worse. I’ve found similar brand-specific differences in how clay-safe various plastic sheet protectors and clear plastic folders are (I use them more than I use sheet protectors), so I just wanted to reinforce your comment about testing for clay compatibility ahead of time, and not to assume that if a particular plastic is safe with one clay brand it’ll be safe with them all.

    All the best,

    Sue F

  2. Cindy Lietz, 23 August, 2012

    Sue, how wonderful to hear from you! Missed you around here. You know every time I do another flower tutorial I think of you. I know you have a hard time with flowery things. So hearing your words about the Sweet Peas really warms my heart. Thank you as well for your compliments on the new video format. I appreciate your input and am pleased to hear that you are finding it even better than it was before.

    Thanks too for the tips on compatibility differences between the different brands. I forget about that since I pretty much use Premo exclusively, but it is of course a problem for people who use several brands. That is an excellent reminder for everyone to test the compatibility of their clay no matter the brands when it comes to storing it in or against other plastics.

  3. Jocelyn, 23 August, 2012

    Sue, thanks so much for sharing the plastic compatibility differences between the clays, I never knew there was a difference.

    Cindy another great tute on saving scraps. The blend rework is amazing. The storage binder is another excellent suggestion to see amounts in advance so you know if you have enough to complete a project.

    Anything that saves us money in our crafting investment is a plus, particularly for those of us that are on fixed income.

    I salute you for these suggestions, the bead rack improvement, etc., because they help us maximize our products, and (tee-hee) allow us to spend money on new stuff.

  4. pollyanna, 23 August, 2012

    Love how the sweet pea earrings look. This a great idea and will use for sure. Hate just balling up a great blend and having it turn to mud.

  5. Lindy K, 23 August, 2012

    What a timesaver, Cindy — you don’t have to make a whole new blend after using up the first sheet! Also love the storage idea.

  6. Sandra, 23 August, 2012

    My goodness, you must be a mind reader! I had this exact problem yesterday after playing with the Sweet Pea tutorial. Thanks Cindy, for the neat tips!
    I tried to make the Sweet pea ear-rings with the a medium size circle cutter, and although it looked fine, i wasn’t happy cause i wanted it to look like the yours! So off i went to the cyber craft store and ordered a set of sweet pea cutters. Not the wilton ones, as i couldn’t find them here, but another brand that looked exactly the same. Waiting for them to arrive and will have another go.

  7. Linda Kropp, 23 August, 2012

    This is such a timesaver! Sometimes you don’t get enough cuts out of a sheet of blended clay because the cutter doesn’t fit into the leftover sections. So then you have to create a whole new sheet of blended clay. This way, you just reclaim the leftover clay, roll it out, and continue with your project. I love this!

  8. Elaine Faulks, 23 August, 2012

    Timely tips CINDY

    As I have sworn off take- away meals. (going on a healthy diet) so no more great food-safe plastic boxes which my favourite restaurants deliver to my door. They make great PC safe storage BUT when I saw them all stacked up on my bookcase I realized just how many take- away meals we had eaten in the last couple of years. (Scarey)

    So CINDY the binder and plastic sheet is a great idea. Now I don’t have to order a take-away when I run out of storage boxes!!! Might even lose some weight by swapping boxes for binders. They will look better on my bookcases and probably save space as well. Thanks also to SUE F for advice on different clays and plastic sheets. Where else would we get such valuable information?

    CINDY I noticed your sugru hacked pasta handle I have to dismantle mine and put it away when I’ve finished claying so will keep using bluetack or might get a strong magnet to fit inside the hole. (Anyone done this?)

    Lastly CINDY you look great in black, it sets those beautiful sweet pea earrings off a treat………cheers xx…..

  9. Jamie Hibbs, 24 August, 2012

    Wow I guess great minds think alike! I have been doing this almost since I started using the clay. I hated throwing away my blends and patterned sheets, no matter how small. And you can only use so many layered scrap canes (I have been using the Stroppel scrap cane method for quite a few years before it was called that lol) And I especially didnt like using up my skinner blend sheets (pre teardrop blend) because of the time involved to make them! But I used the large heavy duty ziploc freezer bags instead of the binder sleeves. I had been using the bags and then just laying them in a bin one on top the other. But I had a zillion of them in my early experimenting days! That meant having to lift them all out and go through them one by one which took a lot of time and tended to be distracting me from the project at hand as new ideas just bubbled up. So I needed an easier way to store them and look through them quicker. Then I saw one of those pencil bags that went in the then new, Trapper Keeper notebooks while I was buying my kids school supplies(does that tell you how long ago this was? LOL) and the light bulb went off! I bought a binder and I raced home to try out my idea. I just popped three holes to the outside of the zipper at the top of the bag to fit the rings in my binder and tada! Easy to flip through storage for all my flat sheets. This also works for single slices of canes I liked and want to reproduce, experiments with inclusions and dyes etc, and even for sheets I made but didnt know what to do with at the time, like mokume gane leftover sheets. This has worked so well for me over the years that I had/have several binders absolutely full! They are some of the “old” clay I am working my way through now, over 10 years later for some of them! And they are all still usable! I cant love this clay enough! :} And I love all your helpful tips as well. Now I just need to buckle down and use up all these past experiments so I can begin some new ones Muahahaha! Have any tutorials in the works for using up leftovers? Like maybe a polymer clay casserole? LOL :}

  10. Emma R, 24 August, 2012

    That’s a great idea! Well, two great ideas! :D
    Thank you so much!

  11. Kathy Bloom, 24 August, 2012

    Utterly brilliant!!!

  12. Dixie Ann, 24 August, 2012

    Thanks so much Cindy for the great tip on saving scraps. I really liked the idea of the sheet protectors in a notebook as I have about 500 of them from when I switched my embroidery library designs from paper to computer. You looked very lovely in your Sweet Pea Earrings, black outfit and a nice job on the make-up. Women have a tendancy to notice these things and it certainly makes for nice eye candy for the camera! You go girl!

  13. Star D, 24 August, 2012

    Just today I was trying to come up with a way to better organize scrap clay sheets and pieces. This is going to be really helpful, I’m finding the scraps are always cluttering my desk because I haven’t figured out a proper system to store them properly. Great idea, thanks for passing it along!

  14. Peggy Barnes, 25 August, 2012

    Love the idea for saving my blends and veneers. This is going to make it so great and easy to access. Can’t wait to start saving these pieces I can still use. What a time saver and clay saver. Your a genius Cindy. Thank you so much.

  15. Stephanie B, 25 August, 2012

    LOVE this tip Cindy!!!

  16. Melinda Herron, 29 August, 2012

    So I stopped by to see what is new this week and I noticed no new postings… I’m guessing it because its a 5th Friday kinda thing…. which kinda bummed me out at first because I was having a rough week and was looking for a pick me up. But then I thought, “That’s not really fair is it?” … I just come and read and take and leave…. never contributing or even cheer leading anymore….
    Well, Miss Cindy, I want you to know: I still love you and Doug and this site and your tutorials. I’m still here every week. I don’t miss a tut. I haven’t had the time I wish I had to play with clay like I used to but I’m still here! Love you guys and love the new format and can’t wait to hear about your trip!!!

  17. Maria, 29 August, 2012

    5th Friday? Of course! I was a little worried when I didn’t see anything new from Cindy yesterday. Reading her blog really has become an ingrained part of my life so when there’s a change , I feel that something is missing from my Monday : )

  18. Cindy Lietz, 29 August, 2012

    You guys are so sweet! Glad to hear you miss things when they are gone. Sorry there was no new post this Monday… it was just a little too hectic to do this week, so we thought we would skip it this time. There will still be a post on Friday, so you don’t have to go through too much withdrawal!

    Sorry to hear you had a bad week Melinda. Some weeks just end up that way, don’t they. Hearing your love and kindness in your voice has made my day a lot brighter. You are a great person! Cheer up sweetie!

  19. Elaine Faulks, 31 August, 2012

    Well really glad that August is over(, that sounds terrible I know)
    Been a terrible month, emotional roller coaster, lots of sad news, and other issues and thought I would read some old posts
    . Cried again at Cindy’s childhood memories and other clay family childhood put-downs. Watched Sir Ken and thought about all that has been written by some pretty special people here
    . I expect by now CINDY DOUG and kids are off on their road trip and meeting and greeting some of them.

    Really looking forward to being part of it although only virtually. With my only grandson starting UNI in Canada and my daughter welcoming her half brother to Australia to do a road trip to Burma to trace their history it should be an interesting month.
    My youngest sister who has lived with health problems for years is now teaching people with learnng problems and loves the money saving tips I glean from members on this site. So a BIG thank you to everyone here I even love your moans and groans!! Keep it up AND TO QUOTE FROM CLINT EASTWOOD (YOU MAKE MY DAY)……………..cheers xx…………………………………….

  20. Constance Vogt, 09 September, 2012

    I keep seeing grey streaks on my clay after running it through the pasta machine. I clean the machine by rubbing the rollers with a paper towel with alchol after each day’s use. What can I do to avoid this problem?

  21. Cindy Lietz, 11 September, 2012

    Hi Constance, that problem is really common. In fact it has been answered several times on the blog. It can be from a variety of different causes. To get the best answers for problems like this, always try and type the question into the search box at the top of the page. For example, if you put the words ‘streaks in clay’ into the search box, a long list of articles and comments will come up that will have your answer. Hope that helps!

  22. Kristi L, 12 September, 2012


    Could you please tell me where one could purchase an ‘industrial type storage bin'(like your 500 drawer unit)?
    I’ve been looking for one for a long time.
    help?thanks, KLL

  23. Jocelyn C, 12 September, 2012

    Hi Kristi. Not sure if exactly the same model but I got some similar storage units from Harbor Freight.

    Hope this helps.

  24. Dixie Ann, 28 November, 2012

    I think it’s been awhile since I worked with Mokume Gane but this is such a beautiful and fascinating technique of which you cannot make mistakes (well mostly not) it is so forgiving and you really can work with a lot of colors and materials. I don’t buy books often but when I saw Julie Picarello’s new book called Patterns in Polymer: Imprint and Bead Techniques it just blew me away and I knew I had to have it. She works soley with the Mokume Gane technique creating “Stacks” of color and then imprinting them with the most interesting tools and materials and creates just gorgeous beads with them. Not only do you get easy to read directions but a picture for every step and a list of everything she uses. This book just opened up a whole new world for me as I had struggled through this technique trying to slice the clay and usually ending up with beads but nothing close to what I had started out with.
    She also has her tricks and tips in the back along with all the websites and materials where you can order them from. It is an amazing book that even this dummy understood and I wanted to share it with you all. I got mine on Amazon
    where they let you preview the book.

  25. Elaine Faulks, 29 November, 2012

    Hi Dixie,
    Hope you are feeling better. I got Julie Picarello’s book a few months ago and agree with you, her techniques are brilliant as too her Jecru recipes, just love ’em. It’s great to know we can use most anything to imprint a pattern and slice away to get unique mokume gane patterns. I love working with the pearl and metallic premo clays such unexpected results happen and I find that a lot of the mistakes are the ones people find most appealing………….cheers xx……………

  26. Dixie Ann, 29 November, 2012

    Hi Elaine,
    finally got out of the house today and went looking for tools and things for Julies designs.
    I was pretty lucky. Goodwill is a great place to shop! Have you tried any of them yet? I can’t wait to start and am getting things lined up. Am really excited to see what Cindy is going to surprise us with this month.

  27. stepahnie jordan, 30 December, 2012

    I just watched your video with the tips on reusing the blends with holes. That was great. I also appreciated the tips on the plastic sleeves. I have the frosted kind. I will change that and use your tip. thanks

  28. Kimberly G, 02 January, 2013

    Awesome solution thank you!!!

  29. Natalie Herbin, 30 October, 2013

    Hi Cindy
    I am constantly reviewing thou tips and videos- although I have. To gotten a nance to make everything… I used to put my scrape sheets on parchment paper and layer them in a clear plastic shoe no. But this idea is so much superior… I have hundreds of textured page protectors( used them for recipes pages) but I now have to by the glossy ones… Do you have Costco. In Canada.. That’s were I will by mine… Has anyone else used the ones from them… Hate to by the big package and find out its the wrong ones….

    On another note
    Have you seen Iris Mishly’s new PolyPediaOnline promotion .. She put together N entire tutorial set with her friend who is a cake decorator of flowers made from polymer clay…it’s seems like a good deal but I wanted to get you imput first and anyone else who has seen it.. I have not bought any of her tut yet .. I love your Cindy .. You and Doug make them so easy to follow … Any comments about iris Mishly ‘a would be appreicsged

  30. Cindy Lietz, 30 October, 2013

    Hi Nathalie thanks for your comments! We do have a Costco here in Canada, but I haven’t used the protector sheets from there for polymer so I have no idea whether they are compatible or not. Besides companies are always changing products so the only way to truly know, is to test them yourself.

    I’ve also not had the opportunity to review the tutorials that Iris Mishly just published… so I can’t really provide any feedback about them. However, I can tell you that several of the projects she included in her package are already available to you in my back issue Volumes…

    >> Mistletoe
    >> Sweet Pea
    >> Ranunculus Flower
    >> Calla Lily
    >> Daisies
    >> Clover Flowers
    >> Dogwood Flowers
    >> Poinsettia
    >> Parrot Tulip
    >> Iris Beads

    Making authentic looking polymer clay flowers has always been a passion of mine so you can definitely expect to see more from me in future episodes of your current PcT subscription.

    Btw… if anyone wants to vote up your favorite flower for me to possibly work into an upcoming PcT tutorial, now would be a good time to do that :-). That’s actually how the Clover Flower project came to be… thanks to a request that came in from Karonkay Cowger.

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