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Mixing Colors, 08-30-2010: This is a post sent to CITY-o-Clay because we had an influx of new members coming from a metalclay group. Polymer clay has color, or more color than metalclay, so we need to address the color topic at length.

Addendum to Mixing Colors Review

New ClayMates who came from the metalclay group:

Color, the new frontier for all y'all with polymer clay. 

Here's a link that might help:

Check out this page in particular if you're new to polymer clay

This is a color card for the color red. 

Let's look at this from the left going to the right. 

The size of this color card is smaller than a playing card. A half dozen of 
these will fit into an Altoid Tin. 

The card is made of black clay that had been cured (heat set) but without a 
finish on it. 

Take a small amount of red clay, condition it (I'll post a separate post about 
conditioning later), roll out a thin ribbon and put it on the left side of the 

Take a snake of red and a snake of white and twist them like a candy cane and 
lay that under the pure red ribbon.

Mix equal amounts of red and white for a pink hue. To get an equal amount roll out the clay and use a standard cutting tool. A plastic soda straw will do in a pinch. If you don't have a pasta machine to roll out the clay, stack playing 
cards in two towers - 5-10 cards depending on how thick you want the sheet, and roll over your clay with a clean recycled glass jar from your kitchen. That's what I did for the first couple of years before I bought a pasta machine. 

Ok so we have this half white and half red hue. The half/half mix is what I 
refer to as the "base" secondary color. 

Yellow, Red, Blue are the primary colors.

When they are mixed they make secondary colors.

When white is added to anything it make a pastel.

When translucent is added to anything it dilutes the hue, that's how we get gem stone and lemonade, more on that later. 

Ok, so the half red and half white mix got us the base pink. 

See the circles with the little white hearts on them, they are on top of the 
ribbon of the base pink?

Those circles are - base pink + rations of white. The first is base pink with 
two rations of white. The second is base pink with three rations of white. 

Now we make a candy cane of red and yellow straight out of the package. 

We mix them to get a base orange. 

The circles are 

base orange with one ration of white
base orange with two rations of white
base orange with a ration of base pink and that will give you peach... a most 
lovely color. 

The next row is a ribbon made of base pink with two rations of white, one ration of yellow to get the ribbon of Barbie Flesh Caucasian. The last circle on that Barbie Flesh Caucasian ribbon is BFC with one ration of red and another ration of white and it looks like 50/50 popcicle orange. Not all mixes are happy ones. 

The next candy cane is red and blue straight out of the pack.

The base purple is the ribbon. The circles are
base purple with one ration of white
base purple with two rations of white
base purple with three rations of white. 

You see where I'm going with this don't you? Now that we have red mixed with 
yellow and blue, adding white to see what the pastel ratios are, we cure this 
card and splash it with some acrylic floor polish. 

Now we do the same thing to blue

and to yellow

But note ... the yellow card looks different. Since we already mixed red with 
yellow and blue with yellow, to do that again for the yellow color card would be 
totally boring. 

I mixed yellow with pearl, silver, gold. Now we're getting some interesting 

You metalclay folks would love the mica polymer clay colors:


which you can use straight out of the pack or you can mix with other primary or secondary colors to get some unique hues. 

Now why would I be suggesting that you do the color card exercise? Because I 
don't want you to waste clay. 

Let me digress with a little tale of melted cheddar cheese.

Long time ago I made these mini cheese burgers and accidentally stumbled across the mix for melted cheddar cheese. It was just magically delicious. I made a double fist full before I got the mix right. It took a couple of years of using this melted cheddar cheese mix and giving chunks of it away when I was on tour to use it up. 

In the mean time I found that melted cheddar cheese mix was great as "Toasty 
Top" on miniature baked goods.

Time came to make it again and I was stumped. I didn't leave a crumb trail for 
myself to follow to make it again without using up a ton of clay, which I didn't 
want to do again. I was sweating bullets. I wanted more melted cheddar cheese mix but I didn't want to waste clay...then I flashed... Color Cards!

That section is my exploration of Toasty Top mix, aka melted cheddar cheese, and this time I'm leaving a crumb trail for me to follow. In the process I 
discovered pumpkin pie hue, a base for spaghetti sauce, and other hues.
When I found the hue I wanted I put a big white star on it. 

You see that with the Toasty Top mix I did a "smear" of the mixes. That's 
because to make miniature baked goods with the toasty top I smear the mix down the side of the baked item to get that toasty look.

Now you're probably saying "I have no plans on making miniature food." Not now maybe but you might not be thinking how fun sushi earrings may be.

or watermelon earrings

miniature food can be put on covered pens, covered tins, pins, earrings, 
cufflinks. They are not limited to dolls houses. 

But the challenge with doing miniature food is getting the color correct and 

translucent clay = water

like with peeled oranges

if some mini food has water in it in real life then you best be looking at 
translucent clay.

Now what about liquid translucent clay? Oh we now can do whipped cream and chocolate sauce. TLS is Translucent Liquid Sculpey, but there are other brands.

With liquid translucent polymer clay you can make marmalade and jam

Ah but I digress, as is my wont to do...

I encourage all new clayers to make color cards, exhaust the possibilities of 
mixing colors and have your ratios on hand to replicate a color you needed. 
Don't even make me tell you about the mound of martini olive I ended up with 
when I only need a booger's worth of that color mix. Jeese Louise! ;-) 

Lastly, in order to have your polymer clay creations be uniquely yours please 
find the color hues that brighten up your heart. I happen to like green with a 
touch of gold. That's my preference because I'm a Leo and I pause for shiny and 
glittery things. Someone else, a Scorpio perhaps, might want their green to have 
more blue in it, to be more mysterious. 

Anyone can use clay straight out of the pack and when they do it looks like it. 
But when you mix your own colors you limit the amount of colors you need to buy 
to a dozen:


zinc yellow
cobalt blue
cadmium red

burnt umber
raw sienna


You never need to buy secondary colors or pastels because you can mix them. When 
you limit the colors you buy because you're a mixing maven then you can buy 
polymer clay by the pound and get the discount from buying in bulk.

Now you know we don't advertise in this group, there is one exception:

Karen Rhodes and her partner Donna have been serving this group for over 10 
years. We started out together. In fact she started buying clay for us wholesale and sharing the savings before she started her business of ClayAlley. She has been more than generous over the years with donations to clayers in need and donating products for our Newbie Boxes (in hiatus due to computer problems with a volunteer). 

Karen has sent clay to South Africa, no jive, and South America, as well as all 
around the Europe and the United Kingdom. She has a great assortment of tools as well as clay.

I prefer Premo. That's my preference because Fimo is too hard on my hands.
I like that Premo uses standard colors like zinc yellow and cobalt blue. Some 
other clay manufacturers have their "brown" but it's not burnt umber or raw 
sienna and I come from a classically trained art background and generic brown ain't going to make good miniature chocolate, not like Premo burnt umber will... Yummy

I think I'll save this post as a Ramble because I've been wanting to write a color mixing ramble for a while. 

Ok, my brain is emptied at the present time so I'll send this off. 


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