Definitions of the blends (& history)
Why use blends?
Continuous gradations (Skinner, etc.)
...Basic Info
...Two-color sheets
...Multi-color sheets
...... Adding another color to whole blend
...Size & shape amount
...... limiting width & making longer

...Things to do with blend sheets
......Bullseye logs
(jellyroll canes --look like bullseyes)
......Other techniques (flat)
Making without a pasta machine
Misc. for both gradations
Discrete (step-wise) gradations (CZC,etc.)
...Making discrete gradations
.......almost-Skinner from discrete blend
Favorite color recipes for all blends

(see also Canes page for examples of using these ideas in cane design)

Many of the categories and links on this page overlap.... so take a look all over for techniques using stacks, for example.


The blends (or gradations) discussed on this page are broken down into two types: continuous and discrete (separate).

When "blends" of polymer color were first introduced, stepped layers of increasingly-lighter color (or increasingly other-color) were used to create stacks or canes where the resulting edge was an optical illusion of a smooth gradation
......each layer was made by blending white clay (or any color clay) with one base clay color to yield various degrees of lightness or darkness (or color change) of that base color
......each new clay color was flattened, then stacked in order from darkest to lightest (or one color to another)
..City Zen Cane pioneered this method

Later, Judith Skinner introduced her method of creating a smooth and continuous gradation of color as a sheet (which can be changed into logs, etc.),
....her folding and rolling method resulted in a sheet of one or more colors which graduated evenly into each other
....the resulting blend sheet is usually:
........rolled into a cane or elements of a cane ("bullseyes")
........or "plugs" can be created by cutting the blend strip into "separate" colors (rectangles) which can be stacked together (as with the stepped layers above --but this cane will appear more continuous than the CityZenCane discrete stack especially if many layers are used)...or by accordion-folding the blend strip
...Skinner blends are also used a lot as backgrounds for onlays, and many other ways

Why use blends?

Blends will generally add depth, complexity, sophistication, a painterly quality, etc., anywhere they're used.

Using a blend rather than a solid color results in a lot more bang for your buck!
...whether it's used in a sheet or a cane, as background or a featured element, or even when used with techniques and materials like mokume gane, fauxs, inclusions, leaf-foils, powders, inlay or onlay, stamping-texturing, transfers
( ...see even more uses for blends below in "Misc. for Both Blends")

CONTINUOUS gradations (" Skinner" blends, and other blends)

Basic Information

(for what a continuous blend is, see above in Basic Info )
(for lessons, see Two-Color or Multiple-Color categories)

Because the sheet of clay must be run through the pasta machine numerous times, the resulting blend sheet of clay will most probably have uneven or lopsided edges
...when you see Skinner blends demoed on TV, etc., anything rectangular or triangular has likely been pre-cut for clarity!
...also, most pasta machine rollers are the tiniest bit uneven or closer together on one side than the other. This may be inherent in a particular machine, or it may be caused by pushing too much clay through at once causing the rollers to push apart.

to help with the uneveness when doing a Skinner blend:
......I always make the blend the width of the rollers (or I put a block of wood or something on the rollers to keep the blend the same size as when I started --see below in "Narrow blends") ...otherwise it will widen and you end up with a short, fat strip of blend.
......secondly, I turn the piece around with every pass through the machine (so that the edge that last went through on the right is now feeding on the left); then the 'horns' kind of fix themselves. Carla control (eliminate) "horns" at the end of Skinner Blends.... when you see horns starting to develop, instead of folding your blend in half, try only folding it over to only half-way up this for several passes through the pasta machine until your blend evens out, then return to folding it in half again. Helps me every time. Helen
...Having wavey-edged flats makes it very difficult to fold color-to-color and still come out with an even edge... Wendy
......It shouldn't cause too much problem in the resulting blend any way you fold it as long as the side edges are parallel, but if I get a really uneven edge, I either trim that part off once in the beginning, or I fold the sheet only to somewhere near the lowest part... then trim the sheet any way that works best when finished.
....see more on sheet uneveness, and on making sheets in a pasta machine in general (...problems, variables....) in Pasta Machines

cutting triangles, or squaring up sheets
.. I use a small, 12x18, self-healing (gridded) cutting board ...flexible, nice texture and easy to flip to the measurement side when I need to square-up a piece of clay! Margaret CA
...or keep a piece of graph paper under a clear work surface

using white to create extra tints in the blend
...Marie Segal said that if you want to have an extra tint gradation in the middle of any color, cut a trianglar hole (out of that color) and replace it with a white triangle of the same size
. . .. If, for example, you have a red triangle butted up against a yellow one, and then put a white triangle in the red, your blend could end up graded red-pink-red-orange-yellow ( ..the white triangle will be smaller than the other 2 triangles, so you don't end up with a white stripe in your blend (unless that's what you want). Randi

sometimes there is a too much white in the center of the blend and those blends sometimes look too flat (after I've used Skinner blends from one color to white)
... to prevent this and get "more depth", I either mix custom colors and don't use as much white, or go from one color to another color (rather than to plain white). Lori G
(or could go to a tint of the color rather than stark white)

Aslo, to prevent a strong or dark color from predominating over a lighter color in the final blend, make any light-colored triangles (which are easily overwhelmed by other colors) about 4 times bigger than any darker colors of red or blue, e.g.. Becky
....If the color is very saturated (then looks darker when baked like many of the reds and the darker blues), add white to the color first. . Becky
....Ziggybeth thinks using the more translucent colors, like many of the Fimo Softs (their "Transparents" only?) yield "truer" colors than the resulting from densely opaque colors.
....Leigh suggests using half or more times as much translucent to desaturate a color and keep it from overwhelming the one next to it.
....Judith suggests: if using a strong (dark or very saturated) with a weaker color, instead of cutting them into same-size triangles, cut the weaker one as an arc-sided triangle (along the diagonal) to increase its amount rather than cutting a straight line.

colors next to each other will blend, so think about what colors will result from that mixing!!
....for example, you don't want to mix red with green, or use other complementary color combinations, or you'll end up with brown... or with colors which are too toned down for what you want ...another unexpected color mix might be yellow and black, which will yield olive green

........can also add a small strip of white or another color between colors you don't want to mix directly..
...for example, adding a strip of white between fuchsia and yellow for pastels
.........use a third color that will blend nicely with each of its neighbors
....You can do 2-color or multi-color Skinner blends just to see what happens when your intended colors mix ...and as one begins to predominate.
...... when I’ve done this though, I’ve found it a little difficult to isolate one color in the resulting blend without viewing it through a stencil (paper with a hole in it)
......sometimes I’ve separated the colors by cutting the blended strip into 5 or more pieces, then placing them onto a strip of white (separated a bit). DB add photo

Skinner blend sheets can use triangles or other shapes of various heights & widths... using different sizes and shapes will result in differnt looks to the final blend
.... the original method (non-truncated triangles) will show more of the mixed color in the middle than they will show the colors on each end, or where they're just beginning to mix
...using truncated triangles or curved triangles, or adding strips of matching color to ends, can result in having more pure color left in various areas
...using taller triangles or the more strip-like methods can result in more pure color, but may also get a more striped effect
...dark colors are stronger than light colors, and will tend to darken most of the entire blended area

For further variety, try adding powders (metallic, chalk, or embossing), glitters, to the blends. Columbus OH guild
... or using clay with diff. visual textures or effects, like faux stone, mica clays, translucents, glitter clays, etc.) ... or color translucents with inks/paints.
Do the glow-in-the-dark clays work "properly" for a Skinner blend? -- if I made a blend with blue and yellow clays, would I get a blue glowing end and a yellow glowing end with a "green" glow in the middle in the dark? Niki
......may work better with adding inks or using actual GITD clays (if any of inclusions are somewhat opaque, the whole blend would be affected) Diane B. (see more on gitd clays and coloring them in Translucents > Glow-in-the-Dark)

Did you know you have a "skinner blend previewer" right within Windows on your computer already?
Right-click on an empty space on your desktop, and go to display properties. Next, go the appearance tab, then to the part that allows you to set colors for your various windows elements (I'm on an XP machine at the moment, and you have to click on advanced to get to this.) Select "Active Title Bar" (or inactive title bar). To the right, you'll see a drop-down box for "color 1" and "color 2". Set each to approximate the two colors you're thinking of using in your skinner blend, then on ok, then on apply. Look at the current window--your title bar will now show your skinner blend approximation. . . . By "adding custom" colors to your palette, you can really get a wide range of colors from which to form your virtual blends. My active window has a beautiful light blue to lavender to pink blend, while my inactive title bar goes from dark blue to light. Laurel Nevans

The Clay Station sells pre-made raw Skinner Blend canes for however you want to use them

(basic) TWO-COLOR blend

(for basic info for all Skinner blends, see above in Basic Info)

Skinner blends usually use two triangles (90° triangles) placed together to form one rectangle (before pasta machining)
(... two curved triangles --hypotenuses curved, one convex one, concave-- can also be used)

But other shapes may also be used instead of triangles:
you can also use two rectangles to get a very tight blend them side by side with the sides slightly overlapping, and then run through the pasta machine with the seam perpendicular to the rollers to weld the seam.... follow with the standard fold and roll technique with the two rectangles of color always perpendicular to the rollers turn this into a more graded Skinner blend by turning the tightly-graded sheet 90 degrees, and running through the machine unfolded (which will widen the stripes) I call this a modified Heaser Blend, as Sue uses a similar technique (with two rods of clay as opposed to rectangles) to create the tight blends for some of her immitative stone mosaics (see below in Narrow). Katherine Dewey
(...two ropes and two cones methods are discussed in Making Blends Without a Pasta Machine below)

Before being joined in a rectangle, each triangle of color can be varied to create different effects:
....left intact (narrow points left on)
....truncated a bit (one narrow point cut off) ...this results in a blend sheet with more of the two original colors remaining pure (unblended) at each end (otherwise the sheet is mostly taken up with the blend of the two colors)
........this is the more common way of making them now because of the increased contrast in the blend, though not necessary
......truncated a lot
...or have extra strip of same-color added
...(cut so hypotenueses are curved, then traingles nested, as above)
...the height and width of the triangles can be varied quite a bit, depending on the final effect desired

Various videos and DVD's have info on making Skinner blends... for example:
...Tips Tricks and Techniques in Polymer Clay (double DVD) by Donna Kato, at
...several videos by Mike Buesseler
... and others .....(see Books-Videos > Videos, DVDs)

Desiree's lessons
1. how to make a Skinner blend by putting the two triangles next to each other two ways:
.....truncated ("offset") --creating a blend which retains the full strength of the original two colors, and is more eye-popping
.....non-truncated ("aligned") --original colors are lost, creating a less distinct blend)
2. diagrams showing a "ramped" gradient (Skinner blend) vs. a "stepped" gradient (Discrete blends below)
3. how to lengthen a Skinner blend so it's lo-o-ong and skinny

Another way to get one color to remain strong at the end of a blend is by adding an extra strip of that color to its triangle before blending...shown on the first part of Elizabeth's page (pink & white clay)

Elizabeth's diagram showing how using different proportions of colors and different heights of triangles affects the resulting blend (then makes Bargello from them)
( top of page)

Valerie H's lesson on showing the different looks in the final blends of 2 colors when using different shapes of triangles next to each other
her very-truncated tall triangles she calls "graduated" because they result in 3 main graduations of color/shade, each blending mostly at its edges into the ones beside
....she calls the non-truncated triangles "continuous"
...also she shows effects of 4 diff. truncations and combinations (same page.... but at bottom)

non-truncated triangles :
Leigh's lesson (page 1)
Valerie H's lesson

truncated triangles:
Judith Skinner -- basic, two-color blend lesson
(gone... to be added sometime to
Joanie's lesson on making a 2-color blend (trimming, etc)....she also makes it into a bullseye cane)
Donna Kato showing how to truncate triangles by offsetting the two colored triangles at bit when joining, then trimming the points sticking off,,HGTV_3239_1388163,00.html
(through fig. C)
Valerie H's lesson on making a 2-color blend with very truncated tall triangles (she does not turn it and stretch it the other direction like Joanie's lesson does)

Elizabeth's lesson on using a Skinner blend sheet to create 4 discrete colors (middle of page... pink)
(. . to create a Bargello effect, she then flattens and stacks the 4 colors, cuts and offsets each slice)

....see more in the Size category and in Multi-Blends category below ... lot of overlap
see more color combos for 2-color or multi-color blends near bottom in "Favorite Color Recipes"
see many more examples of 2-color blends on this page, in various places

MULTI-Color blends

Judith Skinner holding sample of multi-color blend before pasta machining
Ziggybeth's lesson on making multi-color blend using triangles of color (as well as other lessons and blend examples)
Elizabeth's helpful diagram for seeing how multi-colors will blend ...and one layout for a multi-color blend --printable

Desiree's lesson on making three diff. 3-analogous-color Skinner blends (for use as logs, then braids)'s lesson on making one
3 analogous colors blend (using a parallelogram in center)... + various possibilities for using blends
Valerie's lesson on making a long 3-color blend (light in the middle)
Dora's various lessons on making 3-or-more color Skinner blend canes to use in various ways (3 different blog posts in last 1/3 of page)
Sarah Shriver's various multi-color blends (which will be stacked for her caning technique)
various multi-color blends ...
Donna Kato's lesson on 3-color blends using folded-over technique for determining size for triangles,,HGTV_3352_1382722,00.html (thru' Fig E) (confusing...which shape triangles ends up with?)
Donna's lesson on a 5-color blend (placed on another sheet, and rolled up into a jellyroll blend, then used in various ways)
Leigh & Sunni's lesson on a 4-color blend in rainbow colors using *exact* measurements for (truncated) triangles (+ more) (3 pgs.)
(see many more examples on this page, in various places)

Various shapes (of color) can be used to make the multi-color blend sheets
... most people probably use tall-ish narrow triangles (either isosceles or right angle) -- the top tip of the triangle is often cut off a bit
... but others use right triangles with the hypotenuese side concave
....or they use rectangles
... or they add ropes of color between the triangles, etc.

For my multi-color sheets, I use 2 triangles (one on each end), then add parallelogram strips (rhomboids) of other colors between them. Judi Maddigan (gone)
(but see lesson just above for an example using one parallelogram)
.....for my multi-color Skinner blends, I cut 2 right angle triangles of yellow, and 1 rhomboid of blue, and 1 rhomboid of red, for example,.
........a rhomboidis a 4-sided shape, with both opposite sides parallel. ..each set of opposite sides is the same length, but the sets are diff. lengths
............this creates the same shape as if a right triangle were added to 2 opposing sides of a square cut out a rhomboid (as one piece), create a strip whose height the same your triangle's side...then cut the sides of the strip off at a 45 degree angle and parallel to each other)

....working from left to right, place one yellow triangle on the left with the 90º angle at the bottom left.... then place the red rhomboid next to it with the long sides touching... then the blue rhomboid touching the red... and end with the second yellow with the long side touching and the 90º angle in the upper right corner ... you should now have a rectangle. I usually make this sheet the width of my machine and about 4" high.
TIP: if you measure your pasta machine's roller width, then sketch the shapes needed on a piece of paper first, you will be able to cut your clay shapes to fit
..."moosh" all clay edges together to form one sheet... then make your blend. Patty B.

Actually, I use plain rectangles ..for less blended area? (I find it easier than using triangles)
.... I use about 6-7 colors in my blends. .....Try it first with white or pearl plus a color or black.
..Roll out clay colors on thickest setting of pasta machine ... cut into 3/8" wide x 3" long strips.
..Place the strips next to each other, slightly overlapping them... burnish top with acrylic rod or brayer.
..Run through one time in pasta machine on thickest setting (don't fold it first).
..Run through one time on medium setting (#3 on my Atlas....don't fold)
..Run through one time on thin setting (#5)
..Fold...and run though fold first (allowing the colors to slightly overlap
..Fold ...and repeat this step about 15-20 times. Dorothy G.

Elizabeth shows a multiple blend made with Pinata Inks applied on translucent or pearl clay in stripes of color ...let inks dry, and dab if necessary... then run through the pasta machine to blend just like a regular Skinner blend)
.....Pinata and other inks? or paints? can also be used for making canes and for other things

I can make a 4 different variations of rainbow-colored Skinner blends by using these combinations of Premo "primaries":
(1) Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue
(2) Zinc yellow, Fuchsia, Turquoise
(3) Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium yellow, Ultramarine Blue
(4) Medium Red Brilliant, Cadmium Red, Cobalt Blue (MRB is available only online in lb. bricks but is closest to Christmas or Crayola Red.) Patty B.

try making a rainbow Skinner blend with pearls or metallics too (... e.g., gold, red pearl, and blue pearl also make a great rainbow blend). Patty B.

for multi-color blend jellyrolls of all types, see below in Spirals

adding another color sheet ......(to completed blend sheet)

new-color blend sheets can be created from original blend sheets by adding a strip of clay color along the bottom of any blend sheet, then passing the sheet through the pasta machine till the colors mix
....some possibilities for the added clay color.... white, black, gray, a flourescent, a complementary color, translucent, Pearl/gold/other mica color, glow-in-the-dark, etc.
... this will create a new sheet composed of all tints, shades, tones, or more translucent or metallic verisons, etc., of the original blend colors, depending on which "color" is added
... this can be done with a strip of plain color across the the whole blend sheet for a large amount of new sheet... or to get a smaller amount of new blend, cut a crosswise strip off the blend sheet and
pass it through pasta machine till mixed on a same-size or larger color sheet
SO, FOR EXAMPLE: make a blend of tints, use a strip of white make a blend of shades from your blend, repeat but use a tiny strip of black across the length.
...some surprising tones can be achieved in the middle by cutting 2 strips of equal width ...and flipping one on top of the other (with colors are reversed)
.......and, of course you can add white or black to the resulting strip to lighten or darken it. Patty B.

....or regular tones can be made by adding a strip of grey or a little of the complementary color if using a single-color blend
...Marie Segal's lesson on using thin snakes or ribbons of colored clay in between tall isosceles triangles she's cut in a base sheet (of translucent, Pearl or gold) .... she then rejoins the triangles and pasta machines to blend . . . . results in fairly distinct stripes ......can be use in a sheet, or cut colors apart

Elizabeth put a sheet of Premo bleached translucent or Pearl under her whole blend sheet (....or just a strip of it at one end, across the colors), then ran it through the pasta machine; this creates a uniform lightening or pearliness to the whole blend sheet, as well as rendering more clay.

...I cut just a small (thin) strip of the (rainbow) blend (Fimo Soft) and laid it across a sheet of (a whole package of) Premo bleached translucent; cut another strip and added it (under) a sheet of Premo Pearl... oy! ....This could be so cool for caning... especially for things that you want to do a "watercolor-glass" look! Easter eggs? These "springy" colors are at the bottom of the page. Ziggybeth

Donna's lesson making a 5-color blend, then placing it on another sheet ("magenta"), then rolling up into a jellyroll blend

Donna Kato's lesson on adding a sheet of white to a blend strip, then cutting random strip shapes from it ...then cutting and restacking several times and rolling up,,HGTV_3352_1382722,00.html


Leigh's lesson on how to create a stack of many discrete colors from a multi-blend rainbow Skinner sheet
... she also creates Pearl layers between each of the colored layers in the stack, by laying the whole (long, skinny) Skinner sheet on top of a sheet of Pearl before cutting the sections... she rolls slices of the stack on a translucent sheet into a spiral cane)

Nora Jean's method for staggering lightly blended (still streaky) multi-color blends, then twist? to form half-circle (which she then doubles for a disk of radiating lines like an eye iris)
... not blends (simple stacks formed into wedges, placed around an iris and

You can also do 2-color or multi-color Skinner blends just to see what happens when colors mix, and as one begins to predominate.
..... when I’ve done this though, I’ve found it a little difficult to isolate one color in the resulting blend without viewing it through a stencil (paper with a hole in it)
..... sometimes I’ve separated the colors by cutting the blended strip into 5 or more pieces, then placing them onto a strip of white (separated a bit). DB add photo

see more color combos for 2-color or multi-color blends near bottom in "Favorite Color Recipes"

see more info below on "Skinner type" blends in Discrete Blends > "almost-Skinner", etc.


volume amount of clay used

Using two layers of clay (a la Mike Buesseler)

...lay crossed triangles over each other…doing that also makes for a better blended piece IMHO (I do them the way Mike Buessler demos in his video tape and on his website). Carolyn
....(DB lesson: this method creates two layers of triangles in a crossed-X orientation; with this version, it's very important to get the orientation correct and the feed-through direction correct or you'll end up with an sheet of all-one-color blended clay . . . I'm not sure I have this whole thing totally straight, but here goes my guess: (at least be aware that doing it Mike's way requires a little forethought)
1. if laying the first triangle of the top layer leaves a long-base triangle of the bottom layer showing, the resulting slab must be put through the pasta machine with the different-colored layers --the short end-- FIRST (this is the way Mike is doing it at website).
2. if laying the first triangle of the top layer leaves a short-base triangle of the bottom layer showing, the resulting slab must be put through the pasta machine with the same-colored layers (still the short end) first.

A better way is two layers in the same orientation (as opposed to Mike's crossed-X orientation of the layers)
Kathy's picture showed TWO layers of clay, not one. For some reason this has never been explained (and I had kept trying to get more by making my triangles longer...very unwieldy ).
At the demo I saw.....she folded each clay sheet color from corner to corner, to make a triangle two layers thick. iamlisa

(less clay) . . . if you want only a little amount of clay in your blend sheet, you can create the blend on a thin setting of the pasta machine (still using the full width).
(.... see also Limiting the Width, just below)

(more clay) . . . .Elizabeth put a whole sheet (of Premo bleached translucent or Pearl) underneath her whole blend sheet (...or just a strip of it across the colors), then ran it through the pasta machine (this will also create a uniform lightening or pearliness to the whole blend sheet)

You can always cut the blend in half when you're done, so that you can roll one from dark to light and the other from light to dark. iamlisa


limiting the width (narrower)... and-or making blend longer

Because there are so many passes when doing Skinner blends, the widening of the clay sheet with each pass will be quite noticeable.

ome Skinner blends (for bullseyes and plugs, e.g.) should be really long (and thin) so that when they're rolled up or stacked, there will be the most gradual change in color possible)

If you want to end up with a blend that's narrower than the full-width of the pasta machine:

...start out the clay filling the full width of the pasta machine (if you don't mind making a lot of the blend)
.......(the sheet will also become less and
less rectangular, and more oval-- i.e., longer in the center and shorter at the edges)

...pull on the clay strip as it passes through the rollers

(...roll blend through on increasingly thinner settings --will make it thinner and longer, but not narrower)

...use a spacer or stop in the rollers to keep the clay from widening
(see Spacers-Stops just below)

...fold the blend sheet in the normal way, but run it through the pasta machine with the fold lying against one wall (rather than against the rollers)... repeat if nec.

... accordion-fold the sheet, so that like colors fall on like-colors, then pass through the pasta machine starting at one narrow end of the strip.

...cut the sheet across the blend/stripes, then stack them on each other so that like colors fall on like-colors, then pass through the pasta machine starting at one narrow end of the strip

...create a Skinner blend "plug" first (see Plugs below), then shape and run through pasta machine in any way you want

...add more clay to one or both ends of the triangles before blending (same color as each end, or a color to be removed later) ... ie., enough clay to fill up the entire roller width

...begin with long narrow clay so that fewer passes are necessary (but creates a more discrete blend)... or just accept a streakier blend
(see Other Ways just below)


Kathleen Dustin showed us that if you just hold your index finger (of the non-cranking hand) next to the clay as it feeds into the pasta machine, it keeps the clay the width you want . . . works like a dream, and you always have it with you..;-) Judy in MA

Mike Buesseler holds the end of a palette knife handle (or flat paint brush handle?) in the rollers to get a narrow blend in the pasta machine (like he uses for his leaf blends, etc.)
... he holds the tapered handle against the free clay sheet side, between the rollers, to act as a stop for the clay widthwise.
...see him holding it here where he's making a narrow (concentrated) blend

freestanding: take a piece of wood such as a paint-stirring stick that comes when you purchase a gallon of paint.
...cut it its length to the amount you wish to "narrow" your PM.
...staple a piece of cardstock (such as file folder weight) the same width to the bottom edge of the wood
.....the cardstock will slide down between the PM rollers and keep the wood strip in place, and the wood strip will create a new PM width.
.....I find it handy to have a whole set of these in different widths.... this is a trick I learned from Dan Cormier. Carol in PA

Use a scrap wedge of baked clay to make a moveable edge (to make Skinner blends of less than the full width of the roller) ... a trick someone posted a while ago:
.....lesson: push a blob of raw clay (dusted with powder) down onto the rollers
....... make one side vertical and flat like the side wall of the pasta machine, and then make the top flat
....pop it out and bake.
.......put it back on the rollers, and tape it into place (by running a piece of tape across the top of the machine). Works like a charm. Flint
...I have made several spacers out of PC to fill the rollers of my pasta machine in a different widths.
....... I just made a log out of scrap clay, pushed it into the rollers (cornstarch first), removed the clay and baked. They work especially well for narrow skinner blends. Jan N
Before I bought my large magnets (see below), I had made a clay insert from scrap clay that was able to fit the rollers and provide an edge for the clay to butt up against.... I just took the well worked clay and shaped it to fit between the rollers and about 1" high and wide at the top. ... then took it off and baked it.... (it worked fairly well, but I still prefer the magnets). Patty B.

I put 2 raw blocks of clay still in plastic wrappers at both ends of the roller, on their sides (...this also keeps the clay from reaching the area where it picks up the black streaks). Brenda R.

Sarah Shriver mentioned in a class I took from her that she had seen strong curved magnets that could stick to your pasta machine and "block" the clay so that one could make Skinner blends narrower than the pasta machine.
...those are ceramic magnets that are slightly curved along their length so they fit nicely over the pasta machine rollers
.......they do need to be covered with clay though to prevent scratching the rollers..... they came in 2 sizes. ... Dotty
..........the larger one works best. I love mine. Trina
...Depending upon the size of sheet I'm making, I'll use: or both magnets (horizonatally) --meaning the long side is parallel to the rollers
....... or I'll use one horizontal, and the other (vertical) with the short side against the rollers .Patty B.
...Sue Kelsey, a member of MDPAG, sells the magnets (still available?) ...$5 each. Sue at about them (and yes, she is the one who was selling them at Ravensdale.)
...the similar magnets that I have came from an electric motor (part of the inner workings ...something to do with the wiring and the magneto?) husband said they can be bought from shops which repair electric motors.

I bought some (strong?) flat magnets --1" long x 1/2" wide x 1/2" high-- at the craft store.
...I then covered them with clay and pressed them against the rollers of my pasta machine to create a curve in the clay (there's no curve in the magnets) ...baked them and they work fine. luv2clay

Another thing you can do is get some flat flexible magnets, like the kind you can get at the big office supply stores for putting business cards on... you can stack them up and then put them on the pasta machine leaving the width of the skinner blend that you want!!! Leigh

other ways

Other ways of ending up with a slimmer blend are to fold the wrong way at least once, add more clay at one or both ends, or shorten the number of passes by starting with thinner clay:

fold the blend in the normal way, but run it through the pasta machine with the fold lying against one wall (rather than against the rollers)... repeat if nec.

after any pass that's getting too wide to handle easily, you can fold the blend in half normally but .then put it through the rollers with the fold lying against one wall (rather than against the rollers)... may take a few passes to completely mix the colors at the edges again though?
......... repeat any time it's needed. Diane B.
.... this may take some practice - try using scrap clay in 2 different colours to get the hang of it. Emma
....if you dont want it too long, just start with smaller amount of clay . Emma

make strip into a SB plug or bullseye (by rolling or accordion-folding it --light at one end, dark at the other)
...then press on it to create a shorter length, or whatever you shape you want.... put through pasta machine

Syndee Holt gets a long, skinny blend in her book by:
...creating long triangles
...folding them lengthwise to put in the pasta machine (rather than widthwise) so that she first creates a wide, but very short blend sheet
...then she turns the blend the opposite direction and runs through that way, on progressively thinner settings, till the blend is long.

very narrow blend (about 3/4") good for use in small areas like tiles or small jewelery, etc. (Sue uses for pietra dure tech.)
(this technique results in a large proportion of the two original colors, which barely? blend in-between):
.... My (very narrow) blending method can be used with or without a pasta machine (you do not need to keep the clay confined in any way):
.... Form 2 logs (a light colour and a dark), each about 1/4 inch thick.
....Lay them together side by side. ....flatten them by rolling over longitudinally with a roller (or pass them through the pasta machine, longitudinally).
....Fold in half (lining up the join between the two colours as you press the halves together)
....Flatten again in the same way
repeat folding in half and rolling longitudinally ....eventually the two colours in the centre will merge into a graded area of colour between light and dark, and the strip will still be only about 3/4 inch wide.
.... when you use a pasta machine to do this, it is quite quick and the strip remains the same width - it does not spread.. Sue H.

extra scrap clay
....have you considered adding additional clay at one or both sides of the strip (to be removed later) to make it wide enough for the full width of the rollers temporarily?
........for instance, I needed a fairly narrow blend, about 1" wide so I cut the first triangle ou normally... but then I added enough of the second color clay to make it the full width of the rollers...did the rollie and foldie thing to blend thoroughly... afterwards, I just cut the extra off. Diane V.
...guess you could always just scrap clay for that extension?... maybe adding a small strip of the second color first to make sure the scrap didn't discolor the part you want.

I've made two blends (completely different, narrow) at the same time by adding extra clay between the two... then I cut them apart after blending. Diane V.
..could always use this method to create an extra commonly-used blend color for later use ( black-white, or any color and white... or gold or Pearl plus another color) ...that way you could also then build up a library of blends without much extra work. Diane B.

....for uneven edges problems, see above in Misc. Info


BULLSEYE logs.....faux bullseye

(actually these are jellyroll-spiral canes that look like bullseye canes)

These are canes created by rolling up a long thin blend strip from one short end to the other short end
... so that one color ends up as an inside color, gradually becoming the other color toward the outside
....... (the color that ends up in the center will be the color that you began rolling with)
it's good to taper the end of the blend sheet which will be rolled up first, so that the center rows of the spiral cane will be thinner than the outer rows)
.........resulting in a
sort of a faux bullseye cane (which is really a spiral or jellyroll cane)
(referred to here as a Skinner blend bullseye though because that's what it looks like more than a spiral ...iow, the transition of one color to the other isn't easy to see)

These faux bullseye canes can be used in any way one would normally use a bullseye cane

(... can shape them into different shaped-canes ... e.g., square, triangle, half-round, crescent, long skinny bar, or anything else). DB
(...see also many leaves and flower petals made this way in Canes-Instr > Flowers & Leaves)
(...see also Lacey canes sub-category on the Canes page)

Valerie H's lesson on making 2 versions of a Skinner blend bullseye (from the same blend strip)... one with the light color on the inside and the other with the dark color on the inside depending on which end the rolling is started from (she calls them bullseye "plugs")
Desiree's lesson on making Skinner blend logs (rolled-up blends --one color on outside, other colors inside)... actually makes three 3-color blends, then braids them
Donna Kato's lesson on making Skinner blend rolled-up logs (shows a number of logs, many wrapped with black),1158,CRHO_project_27202,FF.html (find new address at hgtv)
Joanie's lesson on making a very long and narrow blend, to create a faux bullseye cane
Leigh's lesson on 2-color blend, making it narrower, and rolling up around a small bullseye log for a larger center

Judith Skinner shows how to make a patterned sheet by cutting slices from Sk.Blend bullseye canes (plus a tiny blend cutout?) then laying them on a regular Sk.blend sheet (...then flatten with pasta machine) (gone... look eventually at
Kim Cavender uses several colors/widths of blends for "bullseye" canes to use as onlays
various uses for diff. kinds of Skinner blends
(or ClayPen photos)
Kat's large overlapping slices on a tin (extra bits rolled up to the side)*&group=2&page=*&id=1058506393-004590 (can't access?)
Linda B's scorpion cane, with all body segments Skinner blend logs, filled around with background color
(ignore scorpion graphic, colorwise)
Keith B's various uses of Skinner blend canes (bullsyes--squared or made into triangles, etc.)

Continuous blends are usually created with the lighter area in the center, but they can also be rolled from the opposite end (yielding a log with the darker area in the center)

As Judith Skinner says... if you want a smoother transition, then roll the clay thinner (so the contrasts are more gradual)
. . .Judith rolls hers as thin as she can without tearing it. Because the piece you roll up is so thin and the graduation of color so gradual, you can't really see the layers (and it looks almost like a bullseye cane). (Judith may cut it into several lengths before rolling since it gets pretty long . . ).

to make the center color show up more or be bigger in the final cane, you can place a small log of the "center" color on the clay blend strip (same end as "center" color) before rolling it up

to help roll up your sheet, cut off a bit of the end of your blend (the one which you want to be the center color)... and roll it into a long skinny log... then can lay that log on the same end and use it as a helper. Jean and Marie:

wrap your Skinner blend strip around the outside of a different cane (lesson):
.....make your Skinner blend the width you need, like 2" for a 2" piece of cane (allowing for some waste at the edges, etc)
....cut and stack so that you have a block that is 2" wide and all light at one end and all dark at the other
...flatten this with a roller so that you have a 2" by say 6" strip that goes from light to dark along its length (so that it is light all along the edge that is 2")
....then start with the light edge and roll it through progressively thinnner settings till you have a very long & narrow strip, only about 2" wide, that has several inches of very light and then medium and then dark.
...Now, starting with the light end of the strip (if you want), wrap the long strip around and around the other cane. Becky

another thing I do (esp. for rose canes) is to roll the blend and then cut the bullseye cane in half (lengthwise?) and use those wedges around a center cane
.... there are many ways these can be cut apart and reassembled, or assembled with other canes, to create simple but intricate patterns!

off-center logs ...start out as normal, rolling the blend for a bullseye cane
...but when you get it to the point where you want it to be off-center, accordion pleat back & forth on the cane (do this by folding first in one direction for a third or so of the perimeter of the cane... reverse & fold back the other way for a third)
...repeat, going back & forth, until you either run out of clay or until you have enough to make one final wrap around the entire cane
...then reduce as normal. Barb

many leaf canes are made with Skinner blend bullseye canes, some with insertions, etc.
(for all those, see Canes-Instr > Leaves)
Jeanne's peacock feather cane uses a Skinner blend bullseye cane (see Canes-Instr > Feathers)

Valerie H's lesson on cutting one 2-color bullseye cane into 8 wedges, then using 5 of them o create a 5-pt star (around a flower cane)...(then using pieces from the opposite 2-color bullseye cane to fill in the background around the star)

These can also be stacked into a grid (often wrapped with contrasting color, 4x4 or more), either in a checkerboard or diagonal-stripes patterns to create all kinds of things:

Mia's lesson used many different colored Skinner blend bullseye canes (each wrapped in white), stacked into a grid... then new cane cut in 4 pieces and reassembled to create her rainbow quilt cane

...Trip Around the World quilt pattern (see
Canes-Instr > Quilt)

...Crushed Ikat (see
Canes-Instr > Ikat)
...increased complexity in a mokume gane stack (see
Mokume Gane > Clay .... hidden magic)

Lori G's onlay slices of bullseye canes for sort-of kaleidoscope pins


This section refers mostly to spirals made with a second sheet of a diff. color (usually not a blend, but could be) rolled up with a blend,
...or a blend sheet which is rolled up with other things (blends/canes/etc.)
... blend sheet may be doubled on itself to make it thicker, etc

It's good to taper the end of the blend sheet which will be rolled up first, so that the center rows of the spiral cane will be thinner than the outer rows.

thicker strips-sheets of multiple-color Skinner blends can be also rolled up into a "fat" jellyroll so that each of the colors shows well in slices taken from the jellyroll

simple spiral cane made with rainbow-colors blend, which is rolled up into spiral on top of an added sheet (thin, dark)
Valerie's lesson uses lays her blend on a solid-color strip of clay before rolling up
maribel's lesson (more complex) on making a multi-colored spiral cane with a multi-color Skinner blend sheet rolled up with a white sheet (more in Blends > Skinner)

Donna Kato's lesson on making a 3 analogous color blend sheet, folding in half lengthwise, attaching a second thinner sheet of darker clay (same color family, will act as "outliner").... then rolling into a spiral (slices used on pendant),,HGTV_3238_1388650,00.html
Donna's lesson on a 5-color blend strip, folded over vertically (making it 1/4" thick) placed on another-color strip, then rolled up into a jellyroll (less strip thickness would be needed for smaller amount of clay)... she then cuts slices and places them on a white sheet along with slices from other canes

Elissa suggests a Skinner blend as one layers of a chrysanthemum cane (so that the lighter end is always closest to the middle, for example)... (see details in Canes--Instr > Translucent Canes)
Mia'a lesson on a series of flattened, Skinner blend canes (each a diff. color wrapped in black) placed next to each other like a row of boards) rolled up into a spiral .. slices look like little rectangles of diff. colors

Leigh & Sunni's lesson is a little different .... she cuts the strip crosswise then layers the resulting rectangles in a stack (each layer separated each by a thin sheets of white) ...then cuts fat slices off the side of the stack and lays them on a long strip of white before rolling it all up into a jellyroll (slices from this cane look like little squares of diff. colors)

(see more things to put in spiral canes before rolling them up, and ways to cut and use spiral canes, in Canes-Instr > Spiral Canes)

You can also do this with two totally different color blends sheets
....... put the dark end of one sheet on on the light end of the other sheet, and see what a neat pattern you get!!
........this looks especially cool when done with metallics

flip one half of your blend sheet back on top of the other half (e.g., so the white end lies on the black end, and vice versa) for a more complex look ..... then roll THAT up into a spiral, using the two layers at once

Keith B's dramatic (square) Skinner blend spiral cane using a multiple blend in various cane shapes but monochrome (yellow & brown), outlined in black... used as various elements for a frame
(click on Details)

You can lay piece(s?) of metal leafing on a thin blend sheet after putting through the pasta machine
... then roll the piece up into a spiral, and slice for a beautiful effect.


(these are round canes created by rolling a Skinner blend sheet up widthwise so that all the light color ends up at one end of the resulting log, and all the dark color ends up at the other end
... these are usually then shortened-squeezed in length to create a short fat log which can be more easily used in other canes
...this plug can also be turned into other shapes but the gradation won't be as even as a Skinner blend "stack" would be (see just below)
(....... see just below for Stacks to make gradient canes that are rectangular)

Elissa's lesson on making Skinner blend plug by rolling up a rectangular S.blend so that one end of the log is light and the other end dark... she then presses the log into a rectangular shape
(steps 1-4 only )

Dianne C's many flattened plugs (from multi-color blends, and from 2-color blends ) ...(kept in a soft-plastic embroidery box for easy storage --can shapes later) (picture 5, near bottom of page)
long plug --plug rolled long and thin from a multiple-color blend sheet ...rolled into spiral (this has a thin dark sheet added first)
... also beads cut from lengths of the long plug

off-center plug:
I chose which end of the strip I want as the base (dark / light) and begin to roll it up a little,but then I fold the skinner backwards over it's self - just watch for air pockets to form when you fold it
... then I fan fold the other way, going a little shorter or maybe even a little longer depending on the look... try to keep the very last part (the darkest or lightest part of the skinner blend) long enough to go all the way from the edge of the off-center circle to the other side of the cane to meet the oposite edge of the off center/color circle. rainbowrave


These will be rectangular canes of graduated color (with all of one color at the top or bottom, and all the other color on the opposite side)
...can be done in two ways with a very long Skinner blend sheet: cutting-and-stacking or accordion folding
...colors will probably be more discrete in a cut-and-stacked loaf than in an accordian-folded loaf (...but either will be more discrete than doing the plug method above)


Mike Buesseler first showed this technique, I believe.
.......after making a regular two-color Skinner blend, he runs the blend through the pasta machine in the opposite direction than usual, and creates a long Skinner blend strip
.......then he cuts the strip into crosswise sections ... and stacks them together (in the same order)
Cindy's lesson on making a stack this way (then she does insertion and other things to the stack) (first half of page)

PCC's lesson on how to create a stack of many discrete colors from a multi-blend Skinner sheet
(...she also puts a layer of Pearl clay between each of color stack by laying the whole long, skinny Skinner blend strip on top of a long skinny sheet of Pearl before cutting the sections) (middle of the page)

Elizabeth lesson on a variation of the cut and stack method... which gives a very discrete effect
....she doesn't lengthen the Skinner blend into a long strip ...instead she cuts 4 "colors" apart the from blend, then rolls each color into a ball to mix the color thoroughly... then squashes the balls into sheets and stacks those to create 4 discrete colors from a two-color Skinner Blend sheet

Elizabeth's lesson on applying black powder to the top of a Skinner blend sheet, then cutting it into 8ths (not just across the strip), to create faux abalone

Cindy P's lesson on making a Skinner blend plug by cutting a long strip of blend into many sections, then stacking them (Mike B's way)
....she then creates a "dotted" stack from the plug:
.......cuts the stack into slices crosswise (from the striped side)... lays several small contrasting-color logs across each slice (short way)
....... recombines the slices into a stack, but staggers each slice up or down from the one next to it (like a zigzag) which keeps the white dots created by the inserted logs from laying in straight lines
.......this stack is then forced back into a log, and shaped as a leaf or petal or as needed


Elaine's lesson on making Skinner blend plug by accordion-folding a very thin long strip of Skinner blend (created by passing through ever-smaller openings of pasta machine)... this ends up fairly rectangular (from a 2-color blend)

Jenny P's lesson:
.......after I have made my Skinner blend sheet, I turn it and run it thru the pasta machine (putting the light color thru first)... can pull on sheet to keep narrow
.......I stop at # 4,5, or 6 ... this creates a sheet that's almost as long as my arm.
......then I accordion fold the strip (back and forth) into a stack with the light on the bottom (as neatly as possible)
......After I have my stack built, I reduce it down to the thickness I want with my brayer. Jenny P.

Linda's lesson on flattening an accordion-folded stack into a square cane
(...then she makes crosswise cuts in the light half of the cane to insert small strips of color ... tapers the cane... spiral-rolls it into a shell cane)

Claudine's lesson on accordion folding a very long Skinner Blend
...she turns this stack into the body cane for a tropical fish ...she saves a section of the stack for the tail... then she cuts the stack into 6 thick slices (so she has one color for each "slice"), then inserts sheet of black and white betweeneach slice before rejoining...(later adds a blend-cane tail, plus fins, head, etc.)
(middle of pg) (English) ...or

...Naama's lesson on making flower petal cane with 3 narrow stacks cut from an accordion-folded Skinner blend (the middle "vein" of the petal is a long pointed oval which is surrounded on each side by the other two stacks, but with the color order reversed for contrast)...the petal cane is then rolled to round, wrapped with a contrasting color, then reshaped to a pointed oval shape... final petal cane cut into 5 lengths and rejoined, with translucent spacer clay between outer portion of petals and wrapped around for wider background

another way to get a dark-to-light cane/block: I'm not sure I really did it right, but it worked for me (like Mike B's way).... so from the blended sheet:
--I cut three strips (each running from light to dark) (& a little thinner than the width of the finished block I wanted?), stacked them, then rolled them together through the pasta machine to about the fourth or fifth setting.
--Then I cut short (crosswise) pieces from the long strip, starting from the light end and working up to the dark end, and stacked them as I cut (for how wide to cut this second time, I went with how deep I wanted the finished block to be).
-- All I had to do was a little trimming on the edges and I had a great shaded block.

if you needed a trianglular stack, you could do a progressive fold with each fold being a bit larger. Adrienne

Valerie H's lesson on accordion-folding a long Skinner blend just over the top (and down both sides) of a solid-color log to make a "petal" cane where the top part is a gradient

(this section refers to stacks made with other blends or other sheets)

Marie Segal's lesson on creating translucent blend stacks
Leigh & Sunni's lesson on cutting and stacking the sheet to create a striped loaf, and also using these as part of a a spiral cane (also multi-color sheets)
Cheryl's lesson on making a sort-of faux bargello effect with blends sheets (separated by leaf) alternated and offset slightly (don't know if she took the slices from that side though)

Naamaza's lesson on making a long Skinner blend, then using pieces from it to create bargello (Hebrew, with photos)

Naamaza's lesson on cutting a Skinner blend plug or stack into multiple slices (each with all colors or shades)
....then adding tiny logs (same color) between each layer (used as dot-streaked leaf cane)

I cut the skinner sheet so that each 1" section had two colors, meeting in the middle
...then when I stacked them up it, was like an ikat pattern...similar to the one Citizen Cane showed in Ornament but with more colors...

lesson on cutting a long Skinner blend crosswise into rectangles (each piece should contain an entire blend)... then stacking them alternately but switching orientation with each layer ... ends up like a stack of stripes with a dark area running down its center
... used to make basket weave, flower petal, etc.

Kathy shows how to do a gorgeous ikat by stacking partially blended Skinner sheets (or discrete blends?). I liked the intricate striped look of the partially blended colors, so instead of making the ikat, I just used the sheet in very narrow slices in the "Bargello" technique that was discussed here this week. It is so pretty!
(for more on ikat, see Canes-Instr > Ikat)

The cutter rollers (of the pasta machine) are good for cutting even strips from your sheets of skinner blends... the way you stack your strips into a cane can make a neat zigzag or rippled pattern.


Marie Segal doing all kinds of things wtih her multi-color Skinner blends (kaleidoscope cane, wavy blade, etc.) ...

Christy S' bowl (flame vessel) with hand-shaped flame shapes made from strips of Skinner blend sheet using black & mica clays (black>gold>copper>black) (on broken out bulb)

sheet made with slices from a twisted, snail-shaped, Skinner Blend log made with mica clays --though the blend is not necessary)
(Donna Kato's Nautilus on Carol Duvall, at the HIA show):
...start with a skinner blend of 2 metallic colors . . . (see
Mica > Invisible Canes for details, and lesson)


for continuous blend sheets & canes

CUT OUTS ... (shapes can cut out of Skinner Blend sheets with various cookie or canape cutters, or just freehand)
...Nora Jean's lesson on creating many individual shaded flower petals (their bottoms are then pressed togther radially for a sculpted flower)
...leaves are fun, especially the autumn to coral, yellow to brown, green to gold and coral to brown make some great autumn leaf canes
... holly leaves ...try a green pearl to dark blue, and use a mix of silver and pearl to outline and vein your holly leaf... Havenmaven
....nightshade's rainbow blends and leaves (website gone)
...Margaret R's coyotes, etc., cut out from Skinner blend sheets and added to a votive
....Margi L's magnet-backed figures or simple pictures... done coloring book style with each Skinner blend sheet component surrounded by black (created on backing sheet as onlay, then trimmed?)

blend sheets look smashing as backgrounds (in other canes), for onlay as backgrounds (or as cutouts applied to backgrounds), etc., (see examples at Annie's website below, in Other)
*Annie's many examples of using blends (some as backgrounds) (website gone)

Mia's floating squashed Skinner blend cane slices applied to white-to-black Skinner background (website gone)
.....If I am doing a floral cane, I will make a pearl to deep green blend and form it into a bullseye cane and use slices and wedges of it to fill around the flowers. Havenmaven

Texture a Skinner blend sheet, then highlight it with metallic powder ( get multi-colors in the crevices)

Mike's beautiful masked off Skinner blend leaves .....with powdered backgrounds ...... (--see Powders for more info)
…you might want to put your powder on fairly thickly (but pounce in well) so that the background clay doesn't show through except in the unpowdered (masked) areas. The powder colors will be more intense that way.
.....also, I found that Mike's advice to texture the clay with rough sandpaper before powdering makes a significant difference. The powder sticks much better, so the color is stronger. You could still do a decorative texturing on top of the sandpaper texturing. Thalassa

more of Mike's work, mostly using mica clays for the Skinner blends

Krista's (very cool, MikeB-inspired) snake... base-clay in shape of snake, covered with a Skinner cane sheet --it looks as if she used two colors, created Skinner canes with the light in the center, formed them into square logs, cut each down the center, then recombined the half-logs --with their light sides next to each other (?)

(for Mike's snake and a lesson, see Sculpting > Misc >Covering sculpts)

Syndee's version of a fringed necklace made from a Skinner blend (whole) sheet, with loop & ball closure

for using a Skinner Blend (or streaky clay, etc.) sheet as the top layer of a paper-thin stack of colors, which is torn into bits to be applied to a base bead to make watercolor beads & variations, see Sheets > Flattened Shreds & Bits

I sliced up my blue-black-turquoise-silver hunk of scrap, ran a slice through the pasta machine, and thought, "Hey, I wonder if this would make a good blend." So I ran it through, folding repeatedly the same direction as you do for a Skinner blend -- and it did! It made a beautiful blend of unique tones I never would have thought of had I planned it. I've never made switchplates but I imagine this would be a good use for them.( or covering boxes, etc.)

nightshade's different way to make Balinese Filigree; she applied long slices from a flattened SB cane? The stacked curved section looks really dimensional! (the dots are done as above, regular cross-sections of Skinner blend logs); guess is that she flattened the Skinner Blend cane (a few different sizes to begin with so she could have longer and shorter bits), then cut slices which she rolled up or laid in stripes, etc., and placed on the tin (or on a background sheet)
........Each spiral, straight line, and dot is a separate cane slice. I took a bulls-eye cane of different diameters and rolled them flat in the pasta machine. I then rolled the longer ones into spirals and left the shorter ones to fill in the gaps.... I would really like to see how other people interpret this! nightshade51
(website gone)

Claire's twisted square rope, Balinese Filigree using a Skinner Blend sheet to cut the thin strips from
I made a rainbow skinner blend using Premo fuschia, zinc yellow, and cobalt blue, and then combined a strip of the rainbow with a pearl/silver blend (Mike Buesseler "platinum")...Claire (gone)

(use Mike Buesseler's narrow blend above, then…) Try cutting wedge-shaped slices from the strip--across the width--round the edges off a bit, and roll them into snails. You might want to stack two sheets together to get more thickness before you roll up your snail. One my wife's favorite necklaces was made just like that. Mike B.

Desiree's lesson on making her "Rainbow altoid Tin pattern by braiding, flattening, and accordion-folding skinner blend logs, then using a wavy blade to cut

I made some canes with blends, but then began to turn the slices (or cane segments) this way and that and came up with all kinds of variations...that's the fun...unpredictable and no mistakes

I made the cane (for the scales) by making several skinner blends-light to dark- and rolling them up, then slicing lengthwise in quarters to form long wedges. I shaped the wedges into diamonds and stacked the diamonds together to make a loaf. I was careful to put the darkest points up and the lightest points down to imply dimension. I put slices of this loaf onto the baked dragons and smoothed the edges together. That caused more distortion than I wanted, but someone said it looked like snakeskin. . . Karen
(same Karen?) using wedges into diamonds
(gone... look now at /ktenny1.jpg
Byrd's triangular canes made from Skinner Blend logs

nightshade's (green to yellow) plugs cut into right triangles lengthwise, and combined 4x4 to create the illusion of squares (?)
(website gone)

Elizabeth's "lava lamp" technique using one layer of partially blended Skinner Blend . . .
I've used it on beads and stuff, too... it looks painted! I've done it with lots of other colors, too. Elizabeth (eventually)

Karen's demo (of Marie Segal's?) Nine-Patch --rolled out, accordion-folded, Skinnered logs--more info in Mica) (website gone)

My pastry chef son-in-law made a "Skinner blend" fondant . . . you should have seen that cake was so cool. Joy

making continuous blends
Without a Pasta Machine

Skinner blends can also be made without a pasta machine.

The more traditional method (basically duplicating what's done with a pasta machine) will take longer than using a pasta machine, but will use the same basic technique -- it just substitutes a hand roller (preferably along with guiderails) for the pasta machine.
...Blends produced with most of the following methods should look the same as blends made with a pasta machine.

quick and dirty method

Nora Jean's lesson using a quick twisting technique (gives a little gradation between colors ---not a totally continuous blend though)
...she lays out her colors in 3 triangles (in this case she uses a yellow and a blue, then mixes some of each together to create her middle color triangle)... then rolls up the sheet of triangles to make a log with a solid color at each end... she then twists the log to somewhat mix the colors at their joined areas, and rolls out to lengthen

simulating the traditional method

Start with 2 skinny cones of clay in the colors you want
... if you're using a rolling pin, line up 2 ("guiderails") square rods of acrylic or wood in the thickness you want the blend to be (1/4"- 1/8" is fine ---the thickest setting on a pasta machine is 1/8")
...about 5 1/2" apart would mimic the width of a typical pasta machine, but you could make narrow blends or very wide ones, instead.
...tape the guiderails down firmly to your counter, and keep your blend within those confines so the colors don't stretch and distort and spread out
...after rolling over the colors, square up both of the ends that aren't confined
...pick up the clay without turning it, and fold clay in half (top of clay folded down over bottom half) ...and stretch the clay out a little lengthwise
...put it back in between your might want to place a piece of waxed paper between roller and clay.
... then starting at the TOP (folded) edge again, slowly roll the pin over the clay, pressing down hard (you have to do this in one pass)
... repeat about 19 more times for a full blend (....less if you want it streaky)
(doing it this way makes it possible to make narrower blends than the 5-6" wide ones you make with the pasta machine. Elizabeth

(see also Sue's similar technique (above in Width) for making very narrow blends with 1/4" ropes of clay --with or without pasta machine-- for small areas like mosaic tiles, etc.,
... this method results in the two colors predominating not as continuous as a regular Sk.blend)

a quicker way??
... begin with the thinnest sheet of 2 colors
... then cut them into multiple rectangles.... then cut each of those rectangles diagonally
... using 1 set of 2 colors, place one triangle of each color next to another triangle of color, forming a rectangle
....then lay the next set of 2 colors together on top of the first layer, in an X pattern
.......(this is Mike Buesseler's method: but in this case, continue making layers laying each two colors atop the next, alternating the colors)
....(try really hard not to create
air pockets... roll the triangles down)
.... this should blend the colors more quickly because they're closer together and thinner, so less mixing to do?????

Sunni's lesson uses a slightly different method....repetitive rolling and stretching (....seems really time-consuming tho')
.....from two long thin pads, cut each on the diagonal ...lay them next to each other to form a rectangle;
.... fold this long rectangle lengthwise... lengthen a bit
... .then roll into a lengthwise snake (diff. color each end)... press the long snake into a very short fat snake
....then do the following repeatedly: into a rectangle (corners as squared as possible), so that the 2 colors fall on the shorter edges
........then roll into a snake so colors are on ends ...repeat until the blend is continuous (about 20 times) (gone?--at Sunnis site now?)

"discrete" blends (especially for stacks and canes) can be made by hand using the technique common before the Skinner blend came along
....they're not so good for
sheet blends though? ...see "Discrete" below

for more ways and tips on making sheets or blends without a pasta well as much more on guide rails ...see Pasta Machines > No Pasta Machine?..Other Ways

MISCELLANEOUS ( for both ALL blends)

Blend canes can be cut apart (as often as possible, only vertically, or vert. then horiz, etc.)
... then have thin sheets of diff. colored clay inserted between the layers (see Canes-Inst. >Plaid also),
....or they can have have metal leaf, powders, paint, etc. inserted (don't reduce cane for non-clay insertions or they will spread and be almost inivisible)
Cindy's insertion of thin clay sheets (gray vert., then black horiz.) between cut layers of blend cane (for dress fabric) (gone)

I use Skinner blends for my molds, starting with two colors like pink and yellow. After blending, I roll up the sheet into a cane, slice off a cross section, and press it into a large flower mold. That's how the roses in my large wreath were made. . . Judi Maddigan

The cutter (pasta machine?) rollers are good for cutting even strips from your sheets of skinner blends... the way you stack your strips into a cane can make a neat zigzag or rippled pattern. The narrow cutter makes "hair" or "fur" or "string" - either will make "ribbons."

Side by side cuts with a wavy blade on a Skinner Blend sheet or slice makes a wavy Skinner Blend line. Donna?
(website gone)

Using blends as color blending guides or chips (add photos):
You can simulate the effect of a color wheel for two colors by stopping the blend before it's mixed --while it's still showing steps of color. I bake these strips and write on one side which two colors I began with. I've also cut the steps apart and mounted them on a white strip with a slight gap between each color for an even more discrete appearance. (using a wide short . . or cutting across the colors to see Syndee's book.). . . . add a thin sheet of white, gray (or the complementary color), or black under it, and blend again --for versions of tints, tones, and shades. I made holes in the tops of all the versions and attached them together with a safety pin for my color chip collection. DB
The same basic trick also works when trying out tints, tones and shades: either make a Skinner blend from gray to one of the primaries, for example, or take a piece of the Skinner blend you made from blue to yellow, and rework it with a thin stripe of grey, white or black along the bottom. Becky Preston

Skinner blends make great backgrounds (for onlays, cane slices, transfers, etc., etc.!) Diane B.
...(see more uses for blends above in Why Use Blends?)

James Lehman creates a feather pattern by watching the clay stick to the razor blade. Instead of scraping it off, he carries one color through another and then another, a subtle blend emerging in the process....if you let the character of the clay guide your efforts, James said, you end up with a more naturally achievable form.

Storage: I put my sheets of blends between wax paper and stacked them up to use another day. So another day came. I pulled a sheet out to wrap around a squarish box and all my edges cracked. Any suggestions for how to warm up the clay gently so I can manipulate it without cracking?
....I keep some slabs of clay rolled on the thickest setting of the pasta machine between plastic wrap and when I'm ready to use it, send it through a few times on a smaller setting to get it conditioned fully again. . . (or simply) fold it the way you originally blended it until it's soft again, being careful to make sure you run it through the SAME way the blend goes. Lori
....Try making Skinner plugs instead of sheets when you're going to store the clay before using it. Here's how: After you make your long sheet of Skinner blend, roll it into a snake with the light color one one end and the dark color on the other (the opposite of the way you usually roll a skinner log). Then compress the snake (like reverse-reduction) by mashing the 2 ends toward the middle. When you have a nice short, fat plug--light on one end, dark on the other--you can store it in a Ziploc bag for as long as you like. When you want to use a Skinner blend sheet, cut a slice off your plug and re-condition it by putting it through your pasta machine just as you would a regular Skinner sheet. Hope this makes sense! It should solve your problem. -- Suzanne
(see more on storage and the waxed paper problem in

Its so easy to just say only Judith Skinner created skinner blends. I was doing them before I knew she had published it and the technique was named after her. the good part is when I say I did the skinner blend for a project most folks on this list know what the process is. Having a common vocabulary for techniques is important . . . Faun
As far as the techniques that people develop, I have to agree with you. Many of us did our own form of a Skinner blend, or Tory Hughes turquoise technique, or Nan's braiding technique, or Gwen Gibson's Tear Off technique, etc. a long time before they published their versions. What we didn't do (at least I didn't) was to experiment and perfect those techniques and then publish them for every one to use. However, it takes all of us together working, learning, developing, stretching and growing, to make this medium the best that it can be. Dotty

want to get your socks knocked off??? (fractals) ... many inspirational ideas for blends
also Cheryl's transferred fractal images in polymer frames

(see below for Favorite Color Recipes for blends)

DISCRETE gradations
(these are separate, stepped blends)

Making Discrete Blends (by hand & by pasta machine)

The color gradation of a discrete blend is NOT a seamless blend from one to the other as with the Skinner Blend... rather it is a stack of separate colors (actually tints, shades or tones on one color usually) graduating from darkest to lightest in progressive order... the resulting stack looks like stripes of a graduating color. These can be simple gradients of one color, or they can be combined in various ways with other gradients.

City Zen Cane introduced discrete gradient blends (before the Skinner Blend was introduced) long ago ...
....To create the blend stack, CZC blended a colored clay with white clay to create 5-10 layers (stacked sheets) of one color which graduated from a dark layer to a very light layer; they also sometimes used two analogous colors for the gradation as in a green-to-blue or yellow to orange stripe
To try your hand at CZC's original technique, take a color you want to graduate and pull off a bit of it to use as the last layer--but leave it in a ball for now. Now mix a tiny amount of your color with a large amt. of white --this will be your first layer. Depending on how many layers you want, begin mixing larger and larger proportions of your color with white to create the in-between colors. Work on each color gradation until it steps as evenly as possible from dark to light.
When you are satisfied, roll each ball into a sheet and stack them from dark to light. Cutting square logs from this stack will give you something to create a larger complex cane with...Diane B

Melody's lesson on making a discrete blend gradient of colors by cutting (two) whole blocks of color diagonally (or slightly offset diagonally), then placing half from each color together as for a Skinner Blend... she then cuts the assembled block a number of times (8) so that each slab is a different proportion of one color and the other... each slab is then mixed to create one of the colors
( ....she also creates 2 quilt blocks, Card Trick & Woven) with the resulting colors, and describes the McCaw cane (see Canes-Instr > Geometric)
Maribel's similar lesson on making a block of discrete blend from two colors by cutting both sheets diagonally... the then puts the sections back together in reverse and atop each other (like Mike B.does for his regular Skinner blends above) (just to use up all 4 pieces at once?) .. then cuts 12 strips, and mixes strip to create each shade for later stacking... after stacking and trimming to a tall slender block, she also wraps the block with a darker shade of the color

Before I got my pasta machine, I made balls of clay in graduating set of white balls, and one set of the other color. Then I would line them up backwards. ...So, I'd mix the largest blue with the smallest white, and so on, till I had about seven balls in graduating color.
....beadunique's lesson on making range of 8 discrete tints by adding an equal amt. of white to half of each resulting tint.
. . .in other words, begin with a log of white 8" x 1" (?) (cut it into 8 1" sections) and a log of color (at least?) 6" x 1"...cut the color log in half, then mix a one inch length of white with it. Then cut that log in half, and mix another of your 1" white lengths with that . . . continue mixing until you have 8 shades

Sometimes to get a dark enough version of the color, you may also have to add black to it to give the best illusion

CZC's technique may give a slightly crisper and more even steps of color change though because you'll consciously mix each step to create the most even changes.

the Skinner Blend-based shortcut methods

However, there is an easier way nowadays to create those same discrete colors using a very long Skinner Blend sheet which is then cut-and-stacked or accordion folded into fairly discrete colors in a stack

Elizabeth lesson on how to create 4 discrete colors from a two-color Skinner Blend sheet
(a variation of the cut and stack method... but gives a more discrete effect)
....she doesn't lengthen the Skinner blend into a long strip as in Mike's method
...instead she cuts the shorter blend into 4 separate "colors" , then rolls each color into a ball to mix the color thoroughly
...then squashes the balls into sheets and stacks those

see most details on these methods above in Continuous Blends > Stacks


using whole blocks of clay… this way will condition the clay and blend the colors at the same time
....(a student) at a class I took at Torpedo Factory showed me this (lesson)..cut two blocks of clay the same way you would the two colors in the Skinner method.... ie. with the blocks laying on largest side, cut each of the two colors diagonally with the cut starting down a tad from one corner and up a tad from the other (don't cut exactly from corner to corner). ...separate the four pieces... put color A back together with Color B (forming new blocks with two colors butting on the diagonal)....then start slice down into the block, and blend the slices to form the graduated colors

In Monica's lesson on creating individual shades before actually creating the Skinner Blend, she uses the two (joined) triangle shaped colors (placed together as they would be to create a Skinner Blend)... but rather than blending in the pasta machine, she cuts 4 strips across the colors...each strip is then mixed until completely blended

(For pure colors, e.g. black and white, you would either have to use more unmixed clay (the easy way) or offset your triangles when making the rectangle by an inch or so, so there is a strip that remains ALL black at one end and ALL white at the other end.)

Marie Segal has a lesson on creating a sheet of different colored clays (blended with translucent, Pearl or gold) which results in fairly distinct stripes ...can be use in a sheet, or cut colors apart...she cuts a rectangle of base clay (translucent, Pearl or gold) clay into tall isosceles triangles, separates them slightly, and lays in a rod or ribbon of colored clay before rejoining the triangles and pasta machining to blend

what to do with discrete blends

curved rod illusion --canes (...made famous by City Zen Cane)
...Bob W's lesson on making "curved-illusion rods" by placing the light layers in the middle of the stack, and darker layers on each side
....... he shows an open weaving of them too (also lesson on making a discrete stack with a Skinner blend)
...Byrd's optical illusion discrete-blend, curved rod rectangles in her beautiful switchplate
early earrings made by CityZenCane (curved rod)

Keith B's African patterned canes with curved rod illusion

another CZC pin in Ginny's gallery (curved rod weaving) (gone)
early pin made by CityZenCane, where rods are used as cutouts (gone?)

alternating strips of blends --canes
...Dotty Calabrese showed our guild a cane similar to CZC's idea of alternating the colors and orientations of segments cut from discrete blend stacks
.....lesson: (she used two blend stacks of diff. color blends, but could do basic idea with one or any number)
.......after creating the blend stack(s), she cut (long) thick slices from each (though all the shades)
...... then she wrapped each thick slice very thinly with black (to create more visual separation, but not necessary)
.......placed the wrapped slices side-by-side in a row to make a square cane, alternating the slices by orientation (so one slice had lightest shade up, and the next had the darkest shade up) (...she also alternated by color, in this case) in my final cane, the slices from the orange blend slices are all dark-side up, while the blue slices are dark-side down) --sort of a flame effect if not reduced well <g>
Keith's strips outlined, joined and sliced, placed alternating directions, and cut into other shapes
....Misha's lesson on creating the same result, using Skinner blend plugs (she calls hers a "zipper" cane --not same as CZC's zipper cane)

Karen T's discrete or continuous blend (from plug?) strips outlined, joined, and sliced; placed alternatingly (orange and green)

Annie's discrete stack cut into stripes, with every other stripe upside down to create an optical illusion somewhat woven-like (blue and yelllow)

All kinds of things can be done with the resulting canes...
...I placed 4 of mine around the 4 flat sides of another cane ---the warm color cane had it's dark ends pointing away from center which created the look of "flames" , (..then added 4 plain canes as background to fill in the 9-square),

Sharon Ohlhorst's various patterns of discrete blends on an egg.... including alternating strips (2nd blue & purple egg)

alternating strips (2 colors) made into flower petals (and onlaid center)... final cane partly wrapped at each end with purple or green
(click on Muriel)

Rebecca N's diagram for a shaded Trip Around the World quilt cane (4x4 units, each with 6 shades in 6 diagonal rows: 1 ea lightest and darkest on opposing corners, 2 each 2, 3 each 2, 1 row of 4... 4 units joined with dark or light in center to create Trip pattern)

Debbie A's zigzag/woven effect with discrete stack (or ikat?) (cane made with lt-ctr stack or ikat or diagonal, smaller dk-ctr diagonal triangle on either side to form square; squares laid next to each other) (website gone)


Sandra McCaw canes... wonderful technique, examples of her very precise, complex geometric caning
(could be done with continuous blend?) (see
Canes--Instr. for a bit more)

Sharon's McCaw? egg
Kay P's several McCaw canes (blue)
The McCaw Cane (video)

*Mike Buesseler's to-die-for monochromatic landscapes
*Kathy G's landscape canes (after a Michelle Fanner class)
(website gone)

Dorothy G's very discrete discrete blends (b & w earrings) (website gone)
& Dorothy's beads with 2-3 color stack strips together (cut from one large sheet?) (website gone)

(website gone)

Barbara's lesson on using discrete blend sheets one at a time around a center to make a leaf petal (rather than using a Skinner blend)... this allows the bottom to remain free of blend layers... she then cuts and inserts veins into the petal

Barbara Sperling"'s fabulous caned "rick rack" (not created by folding); same as quilting pattern...sort-of lesson:
7 layers of discrete blend stacks (very dark to very light), separated by thin (or one set is thicker) black layers; stacks cut into triangles (similar to pyramid, isosceles?, with stripes going horizontally); the two block colors are joined into diamond shape with stripes oriented more or less perpendicularly (one block's darkest stripe is at tip, the other at one side of join); recombine in long strip

The eye can be tricked into seeing things that aren't really there when a cane is reduced. In other words, in the specific case you're referencing, you can easily get by with 2-4 colors only , grossly graduating from yellow to orange to red..... In full size, the eye can distinguish between those colors, but once the cane is reduced, it can't and your brain ends up "seeing" a blend.
. . The other thing to keep in mind is the severe reduction in an image's quality when it's reprocessed and uploaded to a web page. Characteristics that are easily seen in the real thing can become blurred once it's displayed on a web page. Desiree

Some Favorite COLOR RECIPES for ALL blends

> Want to get an idea for a Skinner Blend? Want to see what (a particular blend) will likely look like? First download the Hampster Dance Screen Saver …Susan<
Sue - Thanks so much for that tip. I've had dancing hamsters all over my screen for a week! And you're right. The skinner blends you can make-up really give you a great preview of what they'll look like once you get them blended. I change the blend every day or's irresistible! … download at the following url and follow the simple directions (lesson) for installation. I did it all by myself, which in itself is a miracle! Carolyn

You can add a sheet of translucent, pearl, glow?, white, or a metallic color under your blend sheet and rerun that through the pasta machine until blended (or only in places). . .

Premo pearl does not have any white pigment in it (hold it up to a block of another brand of white pearl). That is why it color blends so well. The 'white' shimmer is from the mica. Every other 'white' pearl I have used (Promat, Cernit, Fimo) had white pigment in it.

I really love the Premo pearls and use them all the time. They are very beautiful in Skinner blends! I like to have part of a piece made from the regular clay and part made from pearl. Sometimes for a softer look on the pearl,I'll just leave it matte from sanding with 400 wet/dry sand paper. The down side to the pearls is that joining pieces has to be done very carefully so as not to misalign the mica flakes,which gives you the dark lines and swirls. If I'm trying to make something with pearl and keep the shimmer as pure as possible,I try to construct the piece so any seams will be hidden by the design. I'm working on joining seams with a slanted cut in hopes of getting a seamless look. It still aint easy.That's about the best I can offer. Jody Bishel

I'm in love with the three color blend of black to silver to Pearl. Roll that up and you get things that look like steel rivets. Just yummy. NoraJean
I like Premo Sliver to Black... Silver to Ultramarine Blue ...and Fushia to Blue Pearl.... (But Black to Ultramarine Blue just gives you black mostly!) Heather

I do almost any color with white, then wrap the whole thing with black . . . . And for leaves, the ever-popular green to yellow. Boor-ring (after a while). I do like Gold to Alizarin Crimson.
All of the above is in premo, but I have a confession to make. If it were just colors to concider, I'd use Sculpy III. …I love the lemon yellow and coral mix (in a skinner blend it's awesome)..... Add a turquoise blue next to the yellow and the coral on the other side of the blue and you have the prettiest rainbow I have ever seen. revbyrd

I use a lot of purples and blues and white.... I also love gold and black… I like multiple colors too like green,blue,yellow and purple a rainbow. janruh

With the Fimo translucents, they blend oh so beautifully.
A yellow to a pink will give a wonderful sunset blush - and the green to blue is great too...oh, and I can't forget the blue to pink for a pale lavender perfect for a translucent rose petal. Havenmaven
I love the Skinner blend for sunsets. You can blend from pale peach, coral, burgundy to black for a tropical type sunset. The one I like best though is on my kaleidoscope called "Dark Summer." It's a blend from white to blues to black and looks like the sky after the sun has gone down but there is still a whitish/blue color to the top of the sky and a blue/black near the earth. Dotty

sunni's blend using some Southwest colors (maroon, purple, blue, terra cotta, tan)

I'm hooked on the Judith Skinner blends and love these combos using that technique:
Premos: red to black, ochre to white, colbalt to white

In canes, muted colors look nice when used in Skinner blends with purer colors
.......kind of like shadows on leaves, flowers, fruit, etc.
.......almost nothing in nature is a pure, vibrant hue. Suzanne I
....I second this. Ford and Forlano spoke of how they had trouble making their colors muted enough. That they would mute them and then realize that they needed to be even more muted. I've made an effort to do this lately and have had great results. Ginger


Byrd's Skinner blend logs used in complex geometric canes
Margaret R's blends and multi-blends wedges use for bowl and cut outs on votive
Lorraine's slightly marked leaves in necklace

Adria's dragonfly cane with blue and green Skinner blend canes, packed together as background (pink blend cane for body)
Jeanne’s blended cane earrings
Shelley’s woven and twisted Skinner blends
Jan's Skinnered striped cane (lessons) (gone)
Syndee's blended leaves (gone)
Mia's roses (petals of rainbow blend colors) (website gone)
translucent, Skinnered? bead shapes (website gone)

Marcia's onlaid Skinner blend strips
(website gone)
Annie's Skinner logs with checkerboards (heart) (website gone)
*Annie's many examples of using blends (some as backgrounds)
(website gone)

Claire's Skinner pen with stand
(website gone)
Sue's Skinner blended (dark to light!) egg
(website gone)
*Emma's many-colors pastel leaf necklace
(website gone)
Annie's mostly-Skinnered flower canes
(website gone)
*Byrd's Skinner kaleidoscope cane egg (2)
(website gone, but somewhere else)
Byrd's blends in stripes, etc., & leaves
(website gone)
Karen's (caned) Indian corn, using Skinner Blend logs, and sculpted leaves
Karen T's discrete or continuous blend (from plug?) strips outlined, joined, and sliced; placed alternatingly
(gone... look now at /ktenny1.jpg
Kim Korringa's different uses of blends (click on fish, flowers, cheeks/eyes, etc.)
Heather's lesson on making a butterfly and moth? using blend logs for cane, & filling in background
*Desiree's Butterfly Wing beads (cane is bullseye canes rolled up on Skinner blend sheet)--lesson
Julie’s texturing over blends (weren’t actually blends, but a good concept)
Skinner Blend Swap
lips (2) & butterfly, using blends --bordello swap (website gone)
Nancy's strong blends for pants and covering salt-pepper
(website gone)
Patti's interesting blend pattern (as "tiles")
(website gone)
Jon Anderson's many canes using blends

CZC: frame, shadings, "eggs" (gone?)
CZC: gradation cane pin (gone?)

(see Color > Marbling Effects)