The ‘Skinner’ Blend was developed by artist Judith Skinner. It is a simple way of creating sheets of graded colour. The Skinner Blend is an essential part of claying and has numerous uses. It is also a great way to incorporate fantastic shading and contrasts into your work. It is a ‘must learn’ technique but don’t worry – it’s not hard at all!
Supplies List :
2 x blocks Polymer Clay
(I have used Gold & Burnt Umber Premo 56gram)
Smooth Work Surface (glass, perspex etc)
Start by preparing the 2 blocks of clay.
Before using your clay you need to ‘condition’ it.
‘Conditioning’ polymer clay is a vital part of working with clay.
Conditioning essentially means making the clay softer, pliable and easy to work with, by working the clay until the plasticisers are even distributed. You need to condition clay in order to make it workable and to also increase the strength and durability of the finished clay piece.
How to condition your polymer clay:
There is no set way you ‘must’ condition your clay – you can use your hands and a roller or a pasta machine.
Hand conditioning: The warmth from your hands will start to soften the clay up and make it pliable. Roll the clay between your palms to form a log/snake and then roll back into a ball.
The friction of this technique combined with the warmth of your hands will speed up the conditioning process.
Conditioning large amounts of clay can be hard on the hands. You can break/cut your clay into smaller sections as these will be easier to work with rather than large blocks.
You can also use an acrylic roller to continue the conditioning process.
Pasta Machine Conditioning:
Note: Always condition your clay on the thickest setting of your pasta machine so you do not put too much pressure on the rollers.
Cut your 56g pack of clay into four slices (with each slice being around twice the thickness of the thickest setting on the pasta machine. Feed each piece through the rollers, then place two thicknesses together and roll through till you have one sheet. Fold this sheet in half and fold first roll through. Repeat this about 10 times.
This method sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite easy.
The important thing to remember is never force clay through the pasta machine. It needs to be flat enough to go through easily – you do not want to put too much pressure on the rollers or your machine will break.
Continue conditioning each block of clay (separately) using whichever method you choose, until clay can be readily worked without crumbling.
Try to keep the clay as rectangular as possible.
Now you can start to create the ‘Skinner Blend’. If your sheets are not of a similar size, trim them slightly.
Note: You do not want to trim too much it is better to try and make them of a similar size using your pasta machine.
As shown in the photo, cut each sheet of clay diagonally, approximately 1 cm from each corner – bottom and top, as shown in photo.
Note: If you want your two colours to blend completely, cut them directly corner to corner (still on a diagonal). By cutting them diagonally approx. 1cm from each corner you are ensuring that your original colours remain in your Skinner Blend.
Take one triangle from each colour and arrange them so they form a rectangle. Layer the other two triangles on their respective partners so the colours are matching. You should now have one sheet of clay again with two colours within it.
Run through the pasta machine on #1.
Fold the bottom edge to the top and feed through the pasta machine (again on #1) folded edge first.
Continue to fold the bottom edge to the top and feed through, fold first through the pasta machine – you will need to do this about 20 or so times.
You will see a nice blend start to appear after about a dozen or so runs.
Continue until you have a nice blend of colour that you are happy with.