Tag Archives: Skinner Blend

Tutorial: Pearlescent Rainbow Blend

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The other day I was playing around with ideas for mokume gane, and I realized I hadn’t done a rainbow pearl blend in awhile. This is a useful way to make up a sheet of clay that can be used for several different techniques at a time, or just use it all at once for a technique that you really love. The advantage of using a blend in mokume gane is that, of course, you have that lovely shading. So here are the steps I followed in making my rainbow pearl blend.

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The set-up.

I started out with 5 colors of Premo! clay – gold, peacock pearl, green pearl, navy blue, and purple pearl. I needed to make my navy clay pearlescent, so I added silver pearl. I find the newer Premo! pearlescent colors need a bit more pearliness for this kind of technique, so I added plain pearl to the peacock, green and purple pearl. I ran each color combination through the pasta machine 50 bazillion times, until the colors were completely mixed.

Next, I took each sheet, laid it out on my work surface, and squared up the edges – I actually had rectangles, which worked fine for my needs. Now here’s a trick: I needed to make right triangles in order to make my blend, and I didn’t want to waste any of the clay I had just mixed. After all, the idea is to have a nice large sheet of clay that I can use for several techniques. What I did was cut each sheet of clay on an angle, from a top corner across to a bottom corner (left to right or right to left, your choice). Then I laid these 2 triangles on top of each other so that I had a double layer of clay. You’ll see what I mean in the next section.

I set up each doubled triangle color section like this:

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Feeling a bit out of balance.

If you look at the edges, you can see how I doubled the triangles of color. Now, I set up my triangles different from some other clayers. You have heard me say here before that I am not a stickler for accuracy. It is not my style to be perfect. I just like to get the job done. Other folks might have a diagram of how to cut and set out the clay in triangles that will give you a perfect blend. But doing it my way gave me a beautiful blend that I’m really happy with, as you can see with the first photo. At any rate, the photo above shows how I set up the triangles, but as you can see, there is something missing. I got everything set up and realized that I could probably use another color, plus it would balance out my sheet. So I mixed some alizaron crimson with some gold clay, followed the triangle making steps, and here’s my set-up:

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Now isn’t that pretty.

Don’t worry about those little dots of peacock that are on the gold, because they are going to get mixed into the blend anyway.

Next step: It is very important to run your sheet through the pasta machine thusly:

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Please ignore the junk in the background.

Think of your triangles as stripes, which is what they will become. You always want your stripes to run top to bottom, never side to side. It will really mess up your blend and make you cry if you do not heed this advice. Here’s the sheet after the first pass through the machine:

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That red clay really spreads out.

It’s a bit wopple-joggled (never heard that one before?), but I’ll just trim it up and all will be well. Now, fold this sheet in half across the triangles, so that the colors match up (stripes run top to bottom, remember?).

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Match colors to colors, please?

Here is the sheet folded:

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Scary to make that fold, isn’t it?

At this point it’s so hard to know if you’re folding the sheet correctly, but here’s another hint: you always want your fold to be across all of the colors. If the red had touched the blue in this picture, I would be doing it wrong.

Now run the blend through the pasta machine again, fold first. Remove it from your machine, fold as before, roll it through the machine. Repeat approximately 15 times.  Here is my blend after 6 runs through the machine:

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Getting there.

As you can see, the colors aren’t really mixed together yet, they’re just laying on top of each other. Here’s the sheet after 15 runs through the machine:

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All blended up!

And there you have it. This sheet is about 5.5 inches wide by 12 inches long. I’ll be able to cut it into at least 3 sections and experiment with techniques. I’ll be sure to share when I do!

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Tutorial: Polymer Clay Blend With Inclusions

17. some beadsI was playing around with my clay last night and remembered that there was something I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve seen beads on sites around the net that use a simple blend with inclusions. At first I thought that it was done by mixing the inclusions into each color of clay in the blend, but it occurred to me that there might be an easier way. I decided to take photos of each step so I could share the process with you. So here is my impromptu tutorial, with the occasional mistake!

Ingredients: 1 block of transclucent clay, and 2 opaque colors of your choice. I used Premo! Spanish Olive and Rhino Gray. You will only need small amounts of the 2 opaque colors.

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Oh yeah! This is a blend with inclusions, so you will need the inclusions. I decided to use spices – black pepper, paprika, and oregano. Other inclusions you might try are different colors of embossing powders, mica powders, glitter, or even dried flowers like lavender or rose petals. You would probably want to grind those up fairly fine.

3. Spices

You will also need a blade, a pasta machine, and a work surface that’s okay to get messy. I often find a sheet of paper works for the messy phase.

Step One: Roll out your translucent clay on the thickest setting until it is well conditioned. Kick the level up two notches on the pasta machine (level 3 on an Atlas or most craft machines), and roll the clay into a nice sheet. Lay the sheet on your work surface – there is no need to square up the clay, since you are not done rolling it through the machine yet.

Step Two: Spread some of the inclusions in a thin smear onto the translucent clay sheet. Keep the inclusions towards the center of the clay sheet. Leave the edges plain.

4. spices spread out

Now fold the sheet over, making a sandwich with the inclusions inside:

5. Spice sandwich

I had just a little bit of spice on my finger, so I rubbed it on top. Probably not a good idea usually. Now run this sandwich thru the machine, just as you would if you were conditioning it. Once the spices appear fully included in the sheet, lay it out on your work surface and repeat the process. This will give you a nice ratio of inclusions to clay. If you are satisfied with doing it once, that’s fine, or you may want to repeat the process more than once. Roll the clay out to the 3rd level of thickness again.

Step Three: Condition small amounts of the other two colors of clay. Roll these out to one level thinner than that of the translucent sheet. Lay your translucent sheet out on your work surface, square it up with your blade, and then cut rectangles from your other two sheets that are half the depth of the translucent sheet. Lay them out on top of the translucent sheet like this:

6. The layout

Notice that I have a much larger section of the gray than I do of the green. I wanted my blend to look like it had a thin green middle, and I wanted the gray section to be smaller than the translucent. I have my own reasons for doing it this way, which I’ll show you in a different post. You only want the opaque sheets to be half the depth of the translucent because making the colors more translucent makes the inclusions more noticeable.

Step Four: Fold the sheet in half so that the green and gray sheets are on top. It should look like this:

7. first fold

Note that the fold in this photo is toward the bottom of the screen. The clay cracked at the fold and that is why it looks wonky. Put the folded edge down into your pasta machine, set at the thickest setting. Make sure the folded edge is at the bottom. This is similar to the process followed in a Skinner blend, but you are just doing a simple blend. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo at this point, but do a search for Skinner Blend if you have never done one before. It’s very important to get this right!

WHOOPS! This is where I made a mistake. I forgot that adding the opaque clays to the sheet would make that area thicker, affecting the blend. Here is how I fixed it, after having run it through the machine a couple of times:

8. whoops I forgot something

Step Five: Fold and run the blend through the machine 6 or so times, with the stripes perpendicular to the rollers each time, until the inclusions are nicely mixed into all three colors of the clay, and there is a nice delineation of the colors but they are fuzzy at the edges. It should look like this:

1. full blend with inclusions

Isn’t it nice how the spices got nicely mixed throughout all the colors? I’m pretty happy with it. I look forward to trying it with other colors and inclusions. Next time I’ll show you how I reduced it to a size that I could make beads with.

Ann