The 'Skinner Blend' is one of the basic building blocks of polymer clay techniques. Named after the polymer clay artist Judith Skinner, it uses a pasta machine to create a smoothly gradiated blend of two or more colours. The steps below demonstrate how to create a basic Skinner blend.
You will need:
Half a block (i.e. approx 1oz or 28g) of a light-coloured clay - e.g. white.
Half a block of a darker clay - e.g. purple.
Step 1 Create a sheet of purple clay on the thickest setting of your pasta machine and then trim it into a triangle shape. Do the same with the white clay. Join the two triangles together to create a rectangle or square. The width of the rectangular sheet should measure approximately the same as the width of the rollers of your pasta machine (e.g. if the rollers are 16cm wide, the sheet should be 14cm to 16cm wide).
Note - It is important that the rectangle should be roughly as wide as your pasta machine's rollers because the clay will naturally spread sideways as it is rolled out. Starting with a much smaller width means that the result will be very unpredictable.
Step 2 Send the clay sheet through your pasta machine on the thickest setting.
Step 3 When the clay sheet comes out of the bottom of the pasta machine, fold the sheet so that the bottom edge meets the top edge. Then with the folded end going into the pasta machine first, send this sheet back through the pasta machine.
Each time the sheet comes out of the pasta machine, fold the bottom edge up so it meets the top edge and then send it back through the pasta machine. Note: The sheet should always be folded bottom to top (not side to side), and should always be sent through the pasta machine with the folded end going through first. The photos below show the folded clay sheet going through the pasta machine, and the colours being gradually mixed.
Tip: To speed up the process, after the fourth pass through the pasta machine try changing the machine's settings so that the sheet is rolled through on a thinner setting, and carry on folding and rolling as before.
Just keep folding and rolling the sheet until you are happy that the colours have been properly mixed. This usually takes between twenty and thirty passes through the pasta machine.
The end result is a beautiful blended sheet of clay ready for use with your project.
Kay Vincent - December 2011