SKINNER BLENDS/SECONDARY COLORS

Secondary colors are the colors that result from mixing your primary clays bodies together. By learning to create these blends you can dramatically expand your color palette.

chart

From my basic colors of blue, pink, yellow I can create purples, greens and peach tones simply by using the Skinner Blend technique

In 1996 Judith Skinner invented the ‘Skinner Blend’ method for creating secondary colors. She used a pasta machine to blend colors and potters who only need a small amount of colored clay can to use it too if they place fabric on both sides of the clay to avoid sticking.

 I use a two roller, slab roller to make my color blends. One roller moving clay over a board works, but you need to flip it often so both sides get pressure from the roller. You can even use a rolling pin as long as you remember to work from the same side and flip often.

y b


Below are images of the most simple blend of two colors with white clay as a base.

basic-combo med-2





STEP ONE: Use as much or as little clay as you need. You don’t have to have even amounts…you could add a thick layer of white underneath for paler hues.

STEP TWO: Roll to about 1/2 the original width then flip over so either  end is always facing the roller. Do not roll from the sides or you will just get one solid color.

If you are using a rolling pin, roll then flip sides with each roll to keep the pressure even.

 It all looks awful until it starts to look great ... usually after about 15-20 times through the slab roller. You can stop anytime you like the colors … you don’t have to count, just go with your eye.

This wet piece is very dark green. The fired piece will be even darker. You can lighten it by putting a sheet of white clay across the whole slab, then rolling   it exactly as you did the original. You could also adjust it by adding more yellow and working it the same way. You are not stuck with what you get at first.

You can also get many colors at one time, but PLAN your blend BEFORE you begin. It only takes a minute to make sure that every color will fold over a different color in order to blend them. 

Here is the color progression for a multi colored blend.

first

Picture that the colors blend together down the front of your design as shown below. 

first lined






3rd to last


This will give the colors shown on the right




Take this blend and add another pink and yellow and you would get the colors shown on the right.

Big 3 patternBIG 3 Skinner







This lovely pattern was created using a Skinner Blend made from only these three colors.


2nd to last


Now, if you like, add another yellow and some green.



Finally, add a bit of blue to the Bermuda and a bit of white on the end.

final layout


final blend

I always take a small sample strip to fire to make sure my colors are correct. I add a mark to identify it and since t is usually quite long, I cut and add arrows to show where the center is.

zig zag tray for web








Here is another multi color blend


Pay close attention to process as you do this since you will get muddy brown if you mistakenly feed the clay at right angles to the blend.

YBG 2

 If you fold the same colors over each other they will of course stay that color. 

You can also do a single color progression.

p w resultsp w layout








EVOLUTION of the Basic Skinner Process over the years

As you might expect people have taken this even further to get the bright blends they want. I encourage you to Google “Skinner Blends” and be amazed at the wide variety of techniques for both blending and creating canes. 

ex 2
ex 1


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* Photo credit Chris Campbell, Erika Sanger

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