Can You Color White Clay to Make New Colors?

It gets really annoying buying all the colors of clay.

It seems you’re always out of the color you want to use. Wouldn’t it be nice just to buy white clay and tint it with something to make new colors? Will that work?

Sure, it will work just fine.

Sort of. 

You can add any number of art materials and colorants to polymer clay to tint it. Alcohol ink (and here’s another article on coloring translucent clay with them) is a favorite because of its bright intensity (but beware, it fades over time). But you can also use powdered pigments, acrylic paints (yes!), mica powders, oil paints, or even shaved bits from Inktense blocks and PanPastels. These work great to change the color of polymer.

But the result won’t be the same as regular colored polymer clay. White polymer clay contains white pigment. And just like we learned as small children, red plus white is pink.

You can never add enough red to overcome the white. It will still be pink. This is true for other colors, too. You’ll get sky blue, mint green, and lovely lilac.

So, will it work better to use translucent polymer as a base? Yes, it will, and the color will be much deeper. (Article on this here.)

But it will still be translucent and will darken with baking. It won’t look like your favorite Premo or Fimo colors. It turns out, it takes a LOT of pigment to make colored polymer clay. Adding enough paint or pigment to make a deep color will change its working consistency, too. 

So while this strategy can help you in a pinch, and there are times you might prefer the results you get by doing this, it’s best to stick to using colored polymer for most of your work.

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