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Color Mixing
Creating Your Personal Color Palette

By Jeannie Havel

Note: Be sure to read all the way to the end for a fascinating color profile sample by
Jacci Howard Bear.
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There are nearly as many sources of color mixing information as there are colors. Well, that may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but there are a lot of color mixing books, videos, magazine articles, and websites. Polyform Products offers several good articles about color mixing including information from well known polymer clay artists, Barbara McGuire and Dr. Heather Roselli.

One of my favorite sources for color recipes is Sue Heaser's Polymer Clay Techniques book. She includes mixes for each of her projects and when I tried them myself, I discovered a variety of especially pleasing colors.

An aspect of working with polymer clay that sets many artists apart is their individual color palette. I can look at a piece of polyclay art and know almost without fail if it is the work of Irene Semanchuk Dean, Carol Zilliacus, Maggie Maggio, Barbara McGuire, Donna Kato, and many more. My perception of the art and artist is based almost entirely on the colors used in the piece. Many of the artists I mentioned, and many others, are recognized by their "signature" color palettes.

If you want to create your own color palette, it's not really so difficult. Here are a few tips:

1. Get your hands on a color wheel and learn some basic color principles. Start with the obvious -- primary colors, secondary colors, tints, shades.

2. Understand the concept of what a "part" means. In many color mixing guides you will see a reference to "parts" as in, "one part red plus three parts white." So what is a part? You decide, just be consistent. A "part" might be a 2 ounce package of clay or a one pound package of clay.  A "part" could also be a 3/4 inch square of clay cut from a sheet of clay rolled out at the #1 setting on your pasta machine.  Consistency is the key. All "parts" used to mix your colors must be the same. That means of your "part" is a 2 ounce pack of clay, then all parts must be 2 ounce packs of clay. So, you might mix a lovely pink color from one part red (one 2 ounce pack of clay) + four parts white (four 2 ounce packs of clay). Got it?

3. Write down your color recipes. Once you start mixing, it can get very confusing very quickly. Imagine the number of combinations you could create if you took one primary color, blue for instance, and made mixes of one part blue + one part yellow, then one part blue + two parts yellow, and so on. Do that with each color and the amount of mixes becomes astronomical.

4.  Limit your palette. (See number 3 for the reasoning behind this).

5. Work with colors that are pleasing to you. Look around your house and especially in your closet. What colors are you already using in your everyday life? Decide if you want your art to reflect who you already are, colorfully speaking, or should you try something entirely new? Seeing what you've got can help you decide.

6. Look for new sources of color mixing information. I recently found some new color  information (new to me, at least) at About.com. Author Jacci Howard Bear offers basic color theory along with fascinating insight to the meaning of colors and what they symbolize. The information is free and can be reprinted with permission.  (I've included an example at the end of this article).

7. Finally, spend some time getting to "know" colors. Learn what they mean to different people in different cultures. Think about what certain colors mean to you. Ask your friends about "their" colors. Go overboard in your color journey -- what can it hurt?

Exploring personal color can be one of the most enjoyable facets of self-discovery. Color breeds creativity for many people -- it is part of just about every part of our lives. Creating your personal color palette could be just the thing that will give your polymer clay art new and exciting creative wings.
Color Profile

By Jacci Howard Bear
(Reprinted with permission from About.com)

Calm and Cool : Blue is calming. It can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly. Almost everyone likes some shade of blue.

Nature of Blue: A natural color, from the blue of the sky, blue is a universal color. The cool, calming effect of blue makes time pass more quickly and it can help you sleep. Blue is a good color for bedrooms. However, too much blue could dampen spirits.

Culture of Blue: In many diverse cultures blue is significant in religious beliefs, brings peace, or is believed to keep the bad spirits away.

Blue conveys importance and confidence without being somber or sinister, hence the blue power suit of the corporate world and the blue uniforms of police officers. Long considered a corporate color, blue, especially darker blue, is associated with intelligence, stability, unity, and conservatism.

Just as seeing red alludes to the strong emotions invoked by the color red, feeling blue or getting the blues represents the extremes of the calm feelings associated with blue, i.e. sadness or depression, lack of strong (violent) emotion. Dark blue is sometimes seen as staid or stodgy — old-fashioned.

In Iran, blue is the color of mourning while in the West the something blue bridal tradition represents love.

Using Blue: A deep royal blue or azure conveys richness and perhaps even a touch of superiority. Navy blue is almost black and is a bit warmer than lighter blues. Combine a light and dark blue to convey trust and truthfulness — banker's colors. Although blue is a year-round color, pastel blues, especially along with pinks and pale yellows suggest Springtime while deep blue is a colder weather color. Create a conservative but sophisticated look with subtle contrast by combining light and dark shades of blue.

Using Blue with Other Colors: Mix blue with green for a natural, watery palette. Add gray for understated elegance.

Sky blue and robin's egg blue, especially when combined with neutral light brown, tans, or beige are environmentally friendly color combinations.

Throw in a dash of blue to cool down a hot red or orange scheme. Grab attention with the contrast of blue and yellow.

Dark blue with white is fresh, crisp, and nautical. Red, white, and blue is a patriotic color trio for many countries, including the United States.

Use dark blue with metallic silver accents for an elegantly rich appearance.

Blue Color Palettes: These color palettes feature shades of blue combined with gray, orange, peach, purple, and earthy browns as well as palettes with multiple blues.

Language of Blue: The use of blue in familiar phrases can help a designer see how their color of choice might be perceived by others, both the positive and negative aspects.

Good blue

    * True blue - someone loyal and faithful
    * Out of the blue - unexpected (could be positive or negative)
    * Blue ribbon - first rate, top prize
    * Blueblood - person of noble birth, royalty
    * Bluestocking - well-read or scholarly woman
    * Bluebook - register of socially prominent people
    * The Blues (capitalized) - popular style of music sometimes characterized by melancholy melodies and words
    * Baby blues - Blue eyes (also see Bad blue words)

Bad blue

    * Feeling blue - feeling sad or depressed
    * Blue devils - feelings of depression
    * The blues (not capitalized) - depression, state of sadness
    * Blue Monday - feeling sad
    * Baby blues - post-partum depression
    * Singing the blues - bemoaning one's circumstances
    * Blue laws - laws originally intended to enforce certain moral standards
    * Blue language - profanity
    * Bluenose - puritanical individual
    * Into the blue - entering the unknown or escape to parts unknown
    * Out of the blue - unexpected (could be positive or negative)

Blue Words: These words are synonymous with blue or represent various shades of the color blue.

Sapphire, azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy, royal, sky blue, baby blue, robin's egg blue, cyan, cornflower blue, midnight blue, slate, steel blue, Prussian blue.
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