Translucent polymer clay is similar to regular, colored polymer clay except that it is made with a base that turns more clear when it’s baked. Most (but not all) brands of polymer clay have a translucent clay in their line. You can see a comparison of major brands here, demonstrating their relative clarity. But translucent polymer clay doesn’t have to be neutral-colored. Several brands of polymer clay have a full range of colored translucent polymer clay.
Before I get into the specifics of specifically colored translucent polymer clay brands, let me mention that you can color regular translucent clay any color that you’d like by adding various colorants (such as regular clay, paint, ink, pigment, glitter, and more). You can learn more about that here, and see a comparison of several different materials in translucent Premo polymer clay.
By the way, to learn more about polymer clay in general, head over to the Translucent Polymer Clay FAQ.
Since translucent polymer clays generally use a different base than the corresponding opaque clay lines, they often behave slightly differently. For example, Cernit Translucent is known for being particularly taffy-like and gooey, especially when fresh. Since colored translucent polymer clay does use a translucent base, these colored clays will behave more like the uncolored translucents than the colored opaque clays in the brand.
The White Tint Effect
Translucent polymer clay, in the block, appears white or buff colored. After baking, the “whiteness” disappears and the clay becomes more translucent. While this white color is not due to white pigment, it can still make the unbaked clay appear like the tint of a color. In other words, unbaked colored translucent polymer clay appears pastel colored, but after baking the color darkens and intensifies. Sometimes very dramatically!
Color Reduces Translucency
The color that’s been added to colored translucent polymer clay will slightly reduce the translucency of that color. Light colors won’t show much impact on their translucency, but intense and dark colors will. Very dark colors, like Cernit Translucent Blue, will be very difficult to see through, even when quite thin. But they will never have the flat, dull opacity of regular opaque colors.
Air Bubbles and Plaques
Air bubbles are pockets of air that have been trapped in the clay by improper conditioning or handling. Plaques are circular flaws visible in baked clay that formed from trapped gases as the clay cured. While air bubbles and plaques are different things (and have different causes), they are both equally annoying. They’re present in regular clay as well, but since colored translucent polymer clay is often dark in color, they’re even more visible (and annoying).
Fimo’s line of special effects clay, called Fimo Effect, includes a range of translucent colors. Fimo Effect isn’t the clearest of translucent clays, so that means its colored translucents aren’t terribly clear, either. But they are good, standard, useful colors in the classic primary and secondary colors. Oddly enough, they don’t include orange in their range.
Pardo Translucent Clay
With UNCOLORED Pardo translucent, there are two versions of the clay, Translucent and Agate. Read here about the massive confusion about these two clays and how the packaging might be different in different countries.
Pardo Colored Translucent Polymer clay is NOT part of the Professional Art Clay line, no matter what the packaging says. (Oh boy, yes, confusion abounds. And no, I have no idea why this decision was made by Viva Decor.) The colored translucents, like the uncolored Agate color, are part of the “Jewellery Clay” line (that’s sometimes labeled as plain “Pardo Polymer Clay”.) Yes, this clay body is NOT the very clear and quite crumbly Pardo Professional Art Clay (even though it says that on the label). These colored translucent are made from the softer, easier to use, and more opaque regular polymer clay line.
In addition to this confusion, this range of clay is labelled as Pardo Transparent Clay outside of North America. Hey, don’t kill the messenger. Also, it took many emails with Viva Decor to get this figured out. But no worries, whatever it’s called or labelled, it’s the same stuff. It’s an easy-to-handle and moderately translucent colored polymer clay that comes in a nice range of colors. (Note: old versions of this clay were much more translucent and I suspect were actually made from the professional art clay base.)
Many people love Cernit Translucent (in white) for its clarity and lack of color. But there are 13 colors to use and enjoy. As you can see below, there are nice Cernit translucent primary colors of magenta (ruby red), cyan (sapphire), and yellow (amber). These primary colors don’t look like primaries when used full strength, but they work fairly well when mixed with uncolored translucent to mix new translucent colors.
Unlike the other polymer brands, Cernit Translucent also includes three glitter colors. There is a glitter white, silver, and gold. The glitter in these colors is not polyester glitter. It’s a large flake synthetic mica, which means that it has a tremendous shimmer and behaves a bit more like metallic clays than the glitter clays you see in the Sculpey Premo line. You can see below how the particles align in “waves” much as they do with mica shift. The glitter white is tremendously shimmery and unique across all brands for its lushness. It’s even more shimmery (but less sparkly) than the Cernit Pearl Line. There is also a glow-in-the-dark color that has an excellent glow.
You’ll notice that Cernit Translucent Colors are VERY intensely colored. This means that the colors will bake much darker and richer than you might think, especially when you consider how light the unbaked colors are. In many cases, you will want to dilute these rich colors with Cernit White Translucent. This will make the color lighter, but not whiter.
Working with Cernit Colored Translucent Clay
Because Cernit Translucent clays are quite soft and flowing (especially when fresh), this entire line of clay can be challenging to work with. The clay will need little conditioning (possibly none) and may behave much better if you can leach it. This ease of conditioning means you may experience fewer air bubbles. I’ve also found this line of clay tends to have fewer plaques than other brands. Note how the photos above of Fimo and Pardo both have plaques, but the baked Cernit samples do not.
Even with leaching, Cernit colors with a translucent base (this includes Cernit Pearl and Cernit Metallic) will tend to flow a bit like silly putty or the cornstarch and water slurry you played with as a kid. You will, to an extent, just have to learn how to handle it.
My favorite use for the Cernit Translucent colors is to use them as a tinting concentrate for coloring plain, uncolored Cernit White Translucent (or any brand of translucent, for that matter). No more alcohol inks or messy paints. The range of colors in this line makes this brand extremely useful! You can even use them to tint white clay. (Keep in mind that you’ll never overcome the white pigment, though.)
Comparing Specific Colors
The Cernit amber translucent is so deeply colored that it bakes nearly orange. Here is a comparison of the amber and the Cernit orange translucent before and after baking. They are similar, but the amber looks more like a farm fresh egg yolk and the orange looks more like orange candy. (Note that the amber will behave like a warm yellow in color mixing but the orange will behave like orange because it contains more red.)
You’ll also notice there are two colors of Cernit green translucent polymer clay. The Emerald is a jewel-toned green and the lime green is far more warm and juicy.
The Red Has Changed
I have been working with the Cernit colored translucent polymer clay range since it came out and I still have most of the colors on hand. The red has changed. It used to be sort of a weird pinky red. Not really red, not really pink. It was a bit frustrating for color mixing, so I am thrilled that it has changed. Below you can see the previous color, compared to the current color, still in the package.
As you can see, it’s a pretty substantial color change, so I wanted to make sure I mentioned it. I think the new version is more useful because it will act as a good magenta, unlike the previous version. Below are how these two colored translucents look before and after baking.
Using Colored Translucent Polymer Clay
So, these are pretty samples and all, but how can these colored translucents be used? Well, the uses are endless. You can use these as color concentrates to tint uncolored (aka white) translucent clays of any brand. Just a tiny bit of the deeply colored Cernit translucent colors will be sufficient to tint a lot of white translucent.
You can use colored translucent clay (either full-strength or diluted) to make faux lampwork like these beads.
You can also use these colored translucent polymer clays to make faux Czech glass that is perfect for making drop earrings. Here are some examples of these beads.
Where to Buy Colored Translucent Polymer Clay
You can buy these colored translucent polymer clays wherever you buy Fimo, Pardo, and Cernit polymer clays. Below are some excellent small businesses around the world that offer fresh polymer clay and premium service. I recommend these sellers highly!
And for more suppliers, check my Vendors and Suppliers page in my resources section here.