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Making Your Own Color Chips: Article or Project

Assorted 2" tiles or color chips greenware
Assorted paints
Suitable brushes

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Paper color charts are the pits! No other way to say it. When trying to match up or choose what colors to use from companies??? paper charts, it is almost always a disappointment. It???s not really their fault, but the printer inks just don???t carry over to paper like the actual paint colors are on ceramic/clay.

Many hobbyists, as well as shop owners, elect to make their own color chips for various reasons.

*Too many companies with their own color line
*Company ceramic color chips are expensive
*Color chips for discontinued paints are no longer available.
*Chips will reflect your own hand and thickness level of application.

There are several ways to make your own. Here are some hints and tips that might help you.

There are molds on the market (first or secondary) that are designed just for making your own chips. Duncan and Mayco, among others made chip/tile molds. If these are not available, you might want to pick up a couple molds for some simple small tile molds or magnets about 2?? in diameter. Choose something with details. You can also pick up some ceramic clay or use mold pour gate spare/trim, roll it out 1/8 inch thick and cut it into squares. Be sure to imprint some kind of detail on each square.

Next determine if you want a wall chart, which is a lot of work and becomes out-dated rather quickly. To make this, you would need some kind of base board. There are light weight vinyl/foam boards about 18?? x 24?? that can be obtained at craft stores or in the glass department of places like Lowes or Home Depot. They are white, opaque sturdy sheeting that you can glue your chips on. These hang nicely on a wall.

My recommendation, however, is to drill holes in one corner of the greenware ???chips??? large enough to run a string or ball chain through when fired and then hang them on a nail, or place them in a box. These can then be sorted by type: glazes, underglazes, special effects, number order, discontinued, company, etc. Whatever works for your needs. That way, (if you are prone to keep things in order) you don???t have a lot of blank spaces on your wall chart for numbers you haven???t gotten yet.

For fired colors, apply your underglaze or glaze to the greenware or bisque as is suitable. I suggest you apply one coat to the entire top of the chip, then cover 2/3 of the chip with a second coat and finally add a third coat to 1/3 of the chip. DO NOT glaze the bottoms of the chips. By applying coverage this way, you can see the difference and determine how heavy you want to apply it to your finished item. This is a good way to see transparency of underglazes and glazes, depth of color, etc and is beneficial when attempting special effects. Using an underglaze brush or pencil, write the manufacturer and color number on the back/bottom of the chip. Fire appropriately. Apply top coat of clear where needed and fire again.

If you don???t want to punch holes, you could opt to inserting a nicrome ornament wire hook in the wetware and use this for threading the chips.

For specialty glazes, over glazes and special effects, apply as instructed on the bottles. Remember to paint the maker and color number on backs.

Making non-fired chips is quick n easy and can be fun. Of course you work on bisque. Besides having chips of all the colors, make some that have been antiqued or washed with different combinations. You can even do some with various dry-brushing combinations. Again, indicate colors on backs. You can even mask off half of each chip and spray one side with high gloss fixative and the other side with a matte or semi-matte to compare depth of color and sheen.

If you work with selling to other stores, florists, interior designers etc., you might want to make several of the color chips in order to be able to leave a relevant set with customers as they work up their orders. You can select specific colors for a particular client. This will help them see at a glance what is available. This is especially helpful when you have a repeat customer who places custom orders.


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Making Your Own Color Chips

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