Polymer Clay Lesson Plan 3: Analagous Colors
Note: The polymer clay lessons I've written will make the most sense if they are completed in order. If you have not tried Lesson 1, please at least read over the polymer clay saftey information it contains before starting this one.
In this lesson we will learn how to mix analagous colors and use them in cane patterns.
1. Materials Needed:
Sculpey III assortment
Waxed paper: for work surface and for storage
Pieces of cardboard: To be covered with waxed paper for work surface
Tape: To fasten waxed paper to cardboard
Paper towels and hand lotion: For cleaning hands when finished
Blades and knives for slicing clay: Old paring knives and Nu-blade for the finished canes
Plastic trays and old cookie sheet
Wooden skewers (can be found in grocery stores) for making holes in clay
Portable oven for baking the beads
Extension cord, tray and folded paper for oven
Disposable rubber gloves
(Note: All tools that have been used for polymer clay are forever unsuitable to use for food purposes.)
Step 1: Analagous colors are colors that are similar to each other in hue. Select two colors that are next to each other (one or two steps apart) on the color wheel. Examples include red and orange, green and yellow-green, blue and purple, etc. Here is a diagram of a color wheel in PDF format.
Step 2: For the illustrations I have chosen blue and a tint of blue-green (blue green with white added) for my two analagous colors. Keeping the two colors you have chosen separate for now, condition the clay by kneading the pieces for a couple of minutes. Roll each color into a ball and form it into a long cone shape, like this:
Step 3: Lay the two clay pieces end to end, with the large end of one next to the small end of the other. Press them together slightly, and cut the mass into six pieces.
Blend each of the six pieces together until the colors are completely mixed. You should end up with six different color balls of clay.
You can exploit subtle gradations in color very effectively in your cane designs. Here are a few patterns you can try with your six colors that you mixed in step 4:
Step 6: Reduce the canes to the desired diameter of the beads you want.
Step 7: Cool the cane in the refrigerator if necessary. If the clay is too warm, the designs will smear when the cane is sliced.
Step 8: Slice the canes into beads.
Step 9: Poke holes in the beads with wooden skewers.
Step 10: Bake the beads.
Analagous colors tend to make bright, highly saturated colors when mixed together. However, when you mix complementary colors together, that is colors opposite each other on the color wheel, you get a low saturation color such as brown or gray.
If you want, now try the above exercise with two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel instead of analagous. Here is a PDF document that simulates the above exercise using orange and blue instead of light blue-green and blue. See how much less pure and bright the mixed colors are? If you have a bright color that you want to make less saturated, or duller, you can add a little bit of its opposite color, or complement, to tone it down. You can tone down a color by adding black or gray as well, but you may often find that using the complementary color to achieve this rather than black will produce a warmer and more pleasing color. As always, it pays to experiment to learn how to mix the color you're looking for.
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