Tag: skinner blend

Week 9: Tulip Variations

If you make polymer clay canes and you’ve made rose canes and variants on the multi-petal canes like chrysanthemums or dahlias you’re familiar with the very cool effect that Skinner blend shading can give your canes. Those canes are made with two colours of clay, generally, and all detail is arrived at with careful placement of the shaded blocks, like you do with painting. It’s sort of an art form to make complex, effective designs with the simplest of combinations and materials.

Backing up in time a bit, I’ve made tulip canes a few times and they were clearly tulips. They weren’t great and they relied on “outline” or drawn elements to establish that yes, these were tulips. The shading was there but not used for definition.

I decided to tweak that a bit this week and, starting with the crocus, did a “drawn” or outlined flower to get the shape right. Then I, using roughly the same design, went with tulips using just the shaded blocks to get the definition and it worked! I got tulips out of it.

My mildly clay nerd week for you.

Process: Making Blends

Like a lot of the processes in my studio, making the colour blends for the polymer clay beads and canes happens in batches. And not always in my studio. I have a studio but it’s often not clear enough to do big batches of work so I hog the kitchen, as in this case.

Clay Party

We start by unwrapping and conditioning everything. The assistant often takes this to mean she should make domino type effects with the clay packages.

Laid Out

I usually get everything flattened out and cut into the required basic triangles. While a lot of these blends will get work done to them before they end up as whatever, I find it helps to start with a basic blend so that I have it ready to go.

Skinner Blend Strips

Some of the blends, before they become little plugs stored in my box for use.


And finally, most of the blends. A few went right into the production queue as they got finished but these will last me the next few weeks as I replace canes, make new beads and try out some fall designs I have in mind.

The Helper

My helper for a lot of this, rocking the new hair cut!

Batches Are My Friend

I volunteer at the local public art gallery. On Sunday afternoons with a ton of the first snow of the season out there… it was dead. I usually try to work on arts and crafts while there to promote my classes and general art love and this Sunday was no exception. I prepped and made 3 pounds of skinner blends in all sorts of colours.


I have all of these ambitious goals for production and sales but really the only way it will work is if I am efficient. This means, where possible, working in batches. Next up is making those blends into what the schedule says they need to be. Yes, I have a production schedule. Sometimes I even stick to it. So these are some of the “big” canes that will get backgrounds.

Blend to Cane

The backgroundless canes that turn into big and small slice beads are on another table waiting to get chopped up into beads. After I get that plate of canes finished you can be some of those canes are going on these vases in one of my studio windows.

Future Projects