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Skinner Blend

Three Colour Offset Skinner Blend Tutorial

The Skinner Blend is named after Judith Skinner who developed  the technique in 1996 which opened up a whole host of possibilities for polymer clay work using blends and shading. The basic concept is to make a sheet of clay with a smooth colour graduation from one colour to the next, with 2 or more colours.

You can find a great tutorial for a 2 coloured Skinner Blend on Desiree’s How to Website. I am going to share how I make a three colour offset blend which is used in my Kaleidoscope Cane Technique in Making Jewellery Magazine Issue 126 (polymer clay special) January 2019 and Autumn Leaves Necklace Project in the Beads and Beyond  October 2014 issue.

For a 3 coloured Skinner Blend you lay out the 3 colours in triangles but  I wanted to have areas of pure colour for each colour as well as the blended areas (the blend has been offset to give the areas of pure colour) so instead of using triangles I used the shapes shown in the diagram.

3 colour offset Skinner Blend colour layout diagram by Cara Jane

I used 2 thickness of clay for each section on the thickest setting; this makes a nice big blend to give you plenty of clay to work with. If you want less clay you can use one layer of clay and follow the same steps.

Cut your clay to the shapes shown in the diagram above and push the different coloured pieces together so they form one sheet.  Ideally the rectangle should be the same width as your pasta machine – if it is smaller the clay will spread out as you pass it through the pasta machine which means uneven edges and more waste.

Run the sheet through the pasta machine on the thickest setting as shown, with the red on the left and the green on the right (it doesn’t really matter which colour is on which side as long as you make sure the sheet is orientated in the correct direction i.e the edge with the three colours must be fed into the pasta machine first).

Cara Jane Skinner Blend tutorial showing how to put the sheet into the pasta machine
Three colour offset Skinner blend Tutorial

Catch the sheet as it comes out of the pasta machine and fold it in half  top to bottom as shown so that red is still on the left and green on the right and all three colours will touch the roller when you put it back into the pasta machine.

Cara Jane three colour offset Skinner Blend Tutorial
3 colour Skinner bend tutorial

The most important thing is to keep passing the sheet of clay the same way through the pasta machine to keep the colours aligned or you will just mix all the colours and make a sheet of one colour instead of a beautiful blend.

Again keeping all the red on the left, put the sheet back into the pasta machine making sure the fold  at the bottom goes into the rollers first. This stops air getting trapped between the layers which may cause cracking when the polymer clay is cured in oven, as the air expands.

Cara Jane 3 colour offset Skinner Blend Tutorial how to put folded clay into pasta machine

Try and make sure you put the sheet square in to the rollers so that it comes out a rectangle rather than a squiffy shape.

You will need to keep repeating this process until you get a smooth blend of colours. This usually takes about 15-20 passes through the pasta machine.

Don’t worry about what the pattern looks to start with, it is likely you will get a few streaky bits. I do tend to look at the sheet and try to fold the messiest looking side inside rather than on the outside as the blend looks better more quickly that way. As long as you have put the sheet through in the right direction each time it will blend evenly eventually even if you don’t ‘hide’ the messy bits.

The picture shows the first fold going into the machine, and what the final sheet should look like when blended.

Cara Jane how to make a 3 colour offset Skinner Blend tutorial

I hope that has clearly explained how to make this blended sheet. You are welcome to contact me if you are still uncertain about anything. Have fun claying!