People have been asking me how I made the strips I used in earlier posts to illustrate the effects the proposed elimination of two Premo primaries (cobalt blue and zinc yellow) would have on color mixing. Actually, my students had made them in a cooperative group effort a couple of months earlier and I just borrowed them for the illustration (left).
The students and I had been exploring the same principles addressed in the exercise “Mixing Color Scales” in Maggie and Lindly’s book “Polymer Clay Color Inspirations”. (I did this exercise in my very first polymer clay class, taught by Maggie and Lindly.) In this case, however, we used a different method to measure out the clay.
Each student picked a different pair of Premo primaries. They rolled the clay into sheets of a uniform thickness, keeping the colors separated. Next, they used rubber stamps I had made for this activity to stamp out an equal number of squares of each color. The 2″ x 2″ stamps were marked with a grid of 64 squares. The last section of the grid was subdivided into even smaller sections.
I had the students line the stamped squares in rows: one color above and the other below. After doing this a few times I realized it was helpful to leave a space between the two rows as shown in the diagram below. This made it easier to keep track of 1/2 and 1/2 point.
After the series was complete, the combinations were mixed to produce a gradient of colors from one primary to the other. I had the students cut uniform strips of gray clay and lay them out side-by-side on a tile. The number of strips was equal to the number of participating students.
Starting at one end of the gradient, the students punched out dots of each color and pressed them onto the strips starting with one pure primary and ending with the other.
The colored dot representing the 1/2 and 1/2 mixture was marked with an x (where the black dot is on the image to the right) to identify it. (In Maggie’s version of the exercise the 1/2 and 1/2 circle is larger than the others.) The tiles with strips on them were fired and the students traded strips until everyone had a strip representing each color combination. The back sides of the strips were labeled with the names of the two primaries used in the mixtures.
The strips were punched at the top end, allowing them to be threaded onto a key chain. I called the results “color keys” because they were similar to keys on a key chain and could be carried in one’s pocket. Also, they were “keys” to mixing different colors.
The color “recipes” can be read starting from the 1/2 and 1/2 mixture, just by remembering the pattern used to mix them (Figure A). (The “minor” color decreases by half with each step towards the ends.) Get together with a group of friends and do this – you’ll wind up with more than 100 color recipes you can carry in your pocket!