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Polymer Clay Cane Making for Pen Blanks

Welcome to my Clay Corner of My name is Tina Wissen and I like to "play with clay." I am happy to share what I have learned with other novice clay artists. Please feel free to use my tutorials about cane making and pen making to learn for yourself how to make a polymer clay pen. If you are not ready to start from scratch but want to make a polymer clay blank, just pick out one of my ready-to-use blanks.

Color Basics Applied to Polymer Clay

Mixing clay is like mixing paint. Choosing the right color scheme or combination is one of the key elements in designing great polymer clay pen blanks. I recommend using a color wheel and other color theory to better understand important details about your color choices.

The first color wheel developed by Sir Isaac Newton (1666). It currently has twelve standard colors (yellow, green, blue, violet, red, orange, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, yellow-orange, and yellow-green).

color wheel


  • red
  • yellow
  • blue

SECONDARY COLORS (primary color combinations):

  • orange = red + yellow
  • green = blue + yellow
  • violet = red + blue

TERTIARY COLORS (primary + secondary color combinations):

  • blue-green
  • blue-violet
  • red-violet
  • red-orange
  • yellow-orange
  • yellow-green

Polymer Clay Variations

Neutralize colors with (complements) which are opposites on the color wheel.


Other ways to adjust polymer clay colors include adding value (add white), decreasing value (add black), making rustic tones (add brown) or dusty colors (add gray). Here are more specific formulas to alter the original polymer clay colors.

Pearl: 1 part color + 1 or more parts pearl
Pastel: 1 part color + 1 or more parts white
Muted pastels: 1 part color + 1 or more parts beige
Translucent: 1 part color + 1 more parts translucent
Metallic: 1 part color + 1 part gold or 1 part silver or 1/4 part copper
Deeper colors: 1 part color + 1/16 part black

Contrast and Context

Contrast refers to the lightness or darkness of the background definition of a clay design. Context relates to how color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes. Depending on how you plan to design your clay patterns will determine which colors you want to use to border your cane designs. Here are some examples:

contrasting clay colors


Return to the canemaking tutorial.

SEE ALSO: How to Make Polymer Clay Pens

DISCLAIMER: information is subject to change and clay color may vary according to finish type and picture quality.

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