The Chromatic Dialogue Part One

The Chromatic Dialogue Part One

The Chromatic Dialogue: Part One - an exhibition and collaboration about colour with painter Amanda Bee

Amanda Bee is an abstract landscape artist, a fellow lover of colours and a good friend.  We met at the Silk Mill Studios where we both had a studio (I'm still there but Amanda has moved to a new studio) and we became life long friends over a love of colour, cats, plants and vintage stuff.  The Chromatic Dialogue: Part One is our second collaboration and the first in a series of pigment collaborations we're planning.  Taking place in West Barn at Bradford-on-Avon on 23rd and 24th September 2023, Amanda and I have created a little collection of work using the same six pigments and we have taken inspiration from each others shapes and forms to create a range of paintings and jewellery.  This post will explain a little about my processes and the beads I have created and I'll write another post after the exhibition to show more of the work we both created and how we displayed it - that bit is important too! 

Polymer clay beads sanded ready to be made into earrings

Jewellery and paintings created using the same six pigments

Amanda and I can easily spend hours talking about colours and pigments so choosing just six to use for our next adventure took some time (and cocktails) to decide upon.  After considerable deliberation we settled on the following powdered artist pigments to use:

  1. Natural indigo (deep blue)
  2. Gris Ochre (deep neutral grey)
  3. Yellow Ochre (mustardy yellow)
  4. Ardoise Naturelle (natural light stone)
  5. Terre Verte de Nicosie (pale aqua green)
  6. Rouge Ercolano (deep burnt orange)


All of the pigments except for the natural indigo and yellow ochre (which are artists' powdered pigments from Cornellissen in London) were all natural ochre pigments from Provence in France.  We chose colours that neither of us use very much in our work so we could challenge ourselves and work out of our colour comfort zone. 

Amanda used the pigments to create her own acrylic paints and I mixed the pigments with Fimo professional porcelain white clay. Seeing how the different pigments behaved in both mediums is so interesting to both of us and as much a part of the exhibition as the resulting paintings and jewellery we created. 

Colour Mixing - creating colour swatches

The first step for both Amanda and I was to mix the pigments into our chosen medium to see how the pigments behaved and also to create colour samples and swatches to see what colours we could create.  All pigments are different and these were no exception.  I was expecting the Indigo to be my favourite but it was really difficult to work with; it was gritty and lumpy and even when thoroughly mixed into the polymer clay it still looked quite speckly with little dots of pigment.  If you're looking for something that resembles quartz then indigo pigment really does look a bit like quartz but it wasn't really what I wanted.  It does give you some lovely shades of blue - a sort of denim blue from light through to much deeper and darker hues.  

The Rouge Ercolano was a joy to mix as was the ochre gris - both mixed into the polymer clay easily and evenly.  I didn't need to use very much pigment and the clay took on a lot of colour.  With the Rouge Ercolano I created a range of tones from a soft pale peachy coral tone through to a much deeper and intense terracotta burnt orange colour.  I rarely use these colours in my work but I really liked them. The grey gave me some lovely neutral grey tones from a soft mid grey through to a much darker grey.  I also used the grey to mix with the indigo to give me a darker blue/grey colour which I really liked although the speckly indigo pigment flecks were still visible.

The Terre Verte and the Ardoise Naturelle were the most unpredictable pigments as they were both very pale.  The pigments mixed well with the clay but I needed to add quite a lot of both to get any colour into the clay.  Both looked so pale before firing but the green in particular really intensified after baking.  The natural stone colour was very subtle but surprisingly lovely.  I really liked both of these pigments.

I even managed to get an unexpected mauve by mixing indigo and rouge ercolano together - only after baking did the colour really come out!  I'm used to using the yellow ochre pigment in my work but I usually mix it with cadmium yellow to get that lovely golden olive colour that I like so much but when used on its own, it gives me a pale warm soft yellow through to a light french mustard tone; I quite like it! 

The photos above show my colour swatches before firing in the left and after firing in the middle.  Amanda's paint swatches are on the right and I'm always surprised when the colours turn out quite similar.  If you want to read more about mixing powdered artists' pigments into polymer clay you might find this blog post interesting. 


A selection of polymer clay beads made with artists powdered pigments by Clare Lloyd

Let's have a look at the beads then!

So, after hours and hours (and I really do mean hours and hours) of mixing pigments into the clay and then shaping the clay into beads, I turned about 1.5 lb blocks of Professional Fimo porcelain polymer clay into beads.  I mixed a total of 27 different colours and turned them into beads in various shapes and sizes for necklaces and earrings. I tried to pick out shapes used in Amanda's painting to create beads to turn into jewellery.  

Some of the beads have been sanded to create a textured, scratched appearance - this process lightens the colour of the clay quite a lot - and some of the beads have been left untouched.  Here's a look at the beads I made.

Visit our Exhibtion to see what we've created

You can see what Amanda and I created for our exhibition on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September at West Barn, Pound Lane, Bradford-on-Avon, BA15 1LF.

I'll also write another blog post to show you what we made for the exhibition. 

Colourist and jewellery designer maker living and working in Frome




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