Friday, October 19, 2007

The Amazing Skinner Blend

Polymer clay has been around since the 1940's, developed for doll makers and sculptors. Then it was discovered by elementary school art teachers, who liked the fact that it was non-toxic, easy to work and cured in a regular oven - great for kids!

But leave it to an artist to find other uses for polymer. By the late 80's, Pier Voulkus, Donna Kato, Kathleen Dustin, Ford/Forlano among others, were experimenting and developing new techniques in this fascinating medium. These artists were drawn to polymer primarily because of color. Polymer colors maintain their integrity and mix beautifully. Then, in the mid 90's, Judith Skinner came along, and her color blending technique revolutionized the polymer clay world. It's amazing how something so simple can have such an impact!

Here's an example of a two color Skinner Blend. Two triangles, one of zinc yellow and one of metallic silver are folded, matching like color to like color. Then run through a pasta machine, which is used to condition and sheet the clay (image 1) The colors begin to blend, forming stripes (image 2) As you continue to run the blend through the pasta machine, you'll eventually end up a graduated color blend (image 3 and 4)
A three color Skinner Blend of red, blue and yellow will result in a blend of the original primaries plus all secondary colors - green, orange and violet. It's like creating a rainbow with a pasta machine!

Here's one of my necklaces using a zinc yellow and silver Skinner Blend, then silk screened with iridescent acrylic paint.

Submitted by Betsy Baker – Stonehouse Studio


  1. Freaking cool! Thanks for, we should post more technique geek tips like this!


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