My preferred way to make some really interesting looking beads is to custom color the liquid polymer clay myself. This allows me to save some money because I can buy larger bottles of clear liquid Kato PolyClay and color it as needed.
There are multiple ways that you can add color to clear liquid polymer clay. Three of my favorites are simply adding in some drops of colored liquid clay to the clear, dying it with alcohol inks, or adding a tiny dab of linseed-based oil paint. You can also use dry pigments, like chalk and mica powder, to color clear clay.
Faux Glass Hollow Beads (No Armature)
This is an example of a hollow polymer clay bead that I made without any type of armature support – I used alcohol ink to color the liquid clay. Check out my tutorial to learn how I did it!
Mixing Liquid Clay Colors
Liquid Kato Polyclay comes in several premixed colors, both opaque and transparent. It doesn’t take a lot of the colored liquid to change the appearance of clear. Always start with less and work your way up if your goal is transparency! The transparent blue has a tendency to make a color mix super dark very fast.
I try to keep a bottle of transparent yellow, transparent red, and transparent blue on hand all the time for mixing purposes. I don’t usually buy the transparent green or purple – you can easily make your own. I do recommend keeping some of the opaque white also if you’re going to make a lot of faux glass beads.
I primarily use the various colors to help me create custom mixes of red, yellow, and brown. You’re able to make some really lovely transparent glass-like colors by mixing uncolored, clear liquid with transparent liquid colors.
Coloring Liquid Clay with Alcohol Inks
Alcohol inks are the most frequent way that I color my clear liquid clay when I want a transparent blue or green color. You could also use them on opaque liquid clay, as well (I just rarely work with anything other than transparent). The two brands that I use are Ranger and Jacquard.
Avoid using alcohol inks to make red, pink, yellow, and orange color mixes. The color turns out really funky looking after applying heat – kind of washed out and with an odd haze to it. Brown alcohol inks seem to work just fine, though.
Make sure you remember to allow the alcohol to evaporate off the surface of the liquid clay before mixing it in. after you add a few drops, just let it sit on the surface for a few minutes while you do something else. Once the color starts looking a lot darker and less watery, you’re good to go.
Coloring Liquid Clay with Oil Paint
You can usually use linseed-based oil paints to color liquid polymer clay. Just make sure that you test your chosen paint brand to see if it affects how your clay cures. I like using oil paint to create highly saturated colors, especially turquoise – it only takes a tiny dot or two!
Coloring Liquid Clay with Chalk + Mica Powder
You can also add dry pigments, like chalk and mica powder, to your liquid clay to create interesting colors. Keep in mind that these mixes will be on the opaque side. To use chalk pastel sticks, just shave a small pile of dust off the stick with a craft knife.
Will adding things to the liquid clay affect how it cures?
It potentially can. I haven’t had any problems with alcohol ink as long as I allow the alcohol to evaporate before stirring in the color to the liquid clay, and powdered chalk dust and mica pigments don’t seem to do anything either. However, adding too much oil paint does seem to prevent the liquid clay from baking as expected so you may need to experiment with how much you add – if you aren’t able to get a saturated enough color, considering trying out the equivalent PanPastel color instead.
Can you mix and match different methods of coloring liquid clay?
Absolutely! You don’t have to stick with one coloring agent for your mixes. I routinely use a combination of premixed Kato PolyClay colors plus alcohol inks. You can make some really mesmerizingly shimmery colors by adding mica powder to a mix.
How do you mix the colors into liquid clay?
I usually use tiny 1 OZ measuring cups to pour out small amounts of clear liquid clay. Mine are marked in ML, so when I’m making a custom mix, I usually start with approximately 10ML of clear and go from there. I store these mixes in small squeeze bottles that I label with the “recipe”. If you need super small amounts colored liquid clay consider using a paint palette tray.
How do you keep track of your custom color mixes?
Whenever I’m making custom liquid polymer clay colors, I always write down how much of each component I’m adding to my mixing cup. For example, 10ML clear, 5ML transparent blue, 4 drops of green. Most of the mixes I make are one-off, but you never know what colors you want to be able to make again and again! It’s really easy to forget what you did when you’re trying to mix multiple components together, such as using a combination of premixed colors, alcohol ink, and a dot of oil paint.
Final Thoughts About Coloring Liquid Clay
Since I really like to make faux glass beads, my preferred ways to color liquid polymer clay are based on how saturated I can get the color while still keeping the mix transparent. I usually use alcohol ink to do this, or colored liquid clay highly diluted with clear. Really tiny amounts of oil paint is a close third – as long as you don’t go overboard with the amount, the liquid clay will still cure just fine and it will still have transparency. Chalks and mica powders are better used when you need an opaquer color for your application.