Stepped Graduated Color Blend – Old School Gradients

Stepped Graduated Color BlendVideo #355: How color gradients were done before the Skinner Blend was invented by Judith.

Wait a second … Cindy’s hair is long again! How did that happen? And the video is #355 … wasn’t the last one #450?

No, you haven’t just entered the Twilight Zone. This clip, as well as the next one coming up on Thursday, were filmed while back. We were planning to use them for another project that got a bit derailed. So there was no point in letting them sit any longer.

Geez, it didn’t seem like that long ago when we shot this, but it was almost 100 videos ago. No wonder it seems a little awkward to me when I watch this now… I have had a bit more practice since then!

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Color blends are used in polymer clay projects for all sorts of neat things, including canes and other projects like my Sweet Pea Earrings.
  • You may have heard of a Skinner Blend, which is basically a blend of polymer clay that gradually shifts from one color to another.
  • Well originally, the way color blends were made was by manually measuring and mixing colors in graduated amounts so that individual colors were created in varying shades from one color to another, but it was very labor intensive.
  • I show in the video how this was originally done by cutting out squares of both Black and White polymer clay and mixing them by hand to create a stepped graduated color blend.
  • I also show how the strength or color saturation of each color used in the stepped blend can effect the over all result of the blend… you’ll have to watch the video to understand what I mean.
  • So that was the old way of making graduated color blends. I will show you in future videos, other faster ways of making them. But for today, I thought it would be fun to share with you some history of how things used to be done in polymer clay.

Question of the Day:

Have you ever made one of these graduated step blends? And can you see yourself using them in any way?

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Doreen G, 04 November, 2013

    Thanks I will keep watching for the new way. I am just learning how to do this.

  2. Jocelyn C, 04 November, 2013

    Simply fabulous tute, Cindy, I learn more from you about color than I have anywhere else. Thank you so much!

  3. Natalie Herbin, 04 November, 2013

    Hi Cindy I love how you explained the saturation level of colors. I use your teardrop technique . Much easier!

  4. Petrina B, 04 November, 2013

    Cindy — I love your tutorials; thanks for taking the time to share your expertise.

  5. CJ Eureka, 04 November, 2013

    great history lesson…thanks

  6. elaine faulks, 04 November, 2013

    Wow! thank goodness for Judith and even more so for Cindy’s method of color blending, although this method helps peeps understand how color blending works and the little tiles look kinda cute all set out in neat rows Makes me appreciate all the effort Cindy puts in making her color recipes. A BIG thank you Cindy.
    Not long now, 9 days to wait till my trip across the pond, can’t wait to go shopping in all the stores you guys use. Whopee……..cheers xx

  7. Lela Lee Ann Armstrong, 05 November, 2013

    I think Marie Segal introduced the pasta machine (?) which made all those skinner blends easy.

  8. Pattw, 05 November, 2013

    Yes – I have used this method to get a certain color. I will use whatever to get the right color. I love playing with color -you learn to much. Some lovely -some mud!!
    Maggie Maggio uses something similar even now. Thanks for broadening our horizons!!!

  9. Deanna M, 05 November, 2013

    I just did this last week. It was labor intensive but I do like the outcome for certain things. Skinner blends are awesome, but there are some situations (canes) where this type of blend makes a nicer design.

  10. Denise B, 05 November, 2013

    I just might try this method! My Skinner blends leave much to be desired!

  11. Alessio G, 05 November, 2013

    Hi Cindy! Very interesting video about Color Saturation. I Think knowing better CS can help us to gain more precise result in color blending. I imagine CS depends on colors and type of polymer clay (brand) chosen, so results may vary using kato or Fimo, Cernit, Premo! or Lucy Clay (have you ever heard about? Recently discovered it’s a czech brand of polymer clay available in europe) in particular it’s so exciting to hear about old techniques, old but I think useful today! <3 thanks for sharing!

  12. Dixie Ann, 05 November, 2013

    Cindy, I am so grateful I don’t have to mix colors like this. I use your teardrop method whenever I want a nice blend. I entered the PC world after you introduce this method and have never looked back. I honestly can tell you I never have done a skinner blend and probably should do one just so I have the experience but I get too excited over the project I currently am planning and just don’t want to take the time. However, I do realize the importance that Judith brought to the PC world by sharing her methods. I also think your teardrop blend is equally important because you took it up a notch. Your tutorials, video tips and new techniques that you share have enhanced the lives of all of us in the PC world.

  13. Elizabeth D, 08 November, 2013

    I haven’t used this older technique… I’m new to the craft. BUT, I can see myself doing this in the near future… for the experience, if nothing else. I can see myself playing with three and four color blends and using the stepped graduated technique. Thanks for showing us this video!

  14. Andrea Paradiso, 08 November, 2013

    Hi, All!
    I have used the Skinner Blend ever since the beginning of my working with PC. And then, of course, I started experimenting with it myself as I went along. I have never done one of these stepped blends yet but am working on Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s fabulous book “Polymer Clay Color Inspirations” and use Julie Picarello’s book “Patterns in Polymer” all the time for blends and then customize them as I see fit.

    I can see an immediate use for this stepped blending method in that you have
    7 instant blends you can use from just 2 colors. I’m going to try this and make some color chips. I am always grateful for Judith Skinner’s method as it is so easy for me to use and manipulate. It is very clear now to see how she arrived at it. And the pasta machine makes it “oh!-so-easy”

  15. Nicola B, 09 November, 2013


    I wanted to thank you for your speedy email response to my iPad question… and thank you for making such great tutorials, I’ve learnt so much from them.

    Kindest regards


  16. Dawna M, 09 November, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this…it shows how the skinner blend came about as I could see the triangles of color very clearly in the stepped graduated method

  17. Natalie Herbin, 10 November, 2013

    Hi Cindy
    Like Dixie I have never used the skinner blend technique. It is easier to use your teardrop technique… Even my two granddaughters, Age 7 and 10, use it and have loads of fun. With me using this with their polymer clay…I never regret the day I found your site…. I love doing the lentil beads. Making them wonky gives them a different look… I let them cool in the frig and then cut them in half and have tow matching ones that I flatten slightly and place them on a diamond cut of a complementary color and make a pin … I also take the swirled lentil and make it into different shapes eg pyramid and make it into a pendant … So many great ways to use a simple lentil Beads we all love your imagination with your tuts ..keep them coming .. We all love you and Doug

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