1. Mix the colors and cut the pieces. Since you are working with small amounts of subtly variegated clay in this project, it is most practical to hand-blend the tints and shades, cut out the shapes you need, then use the leftover color to mix the next batch of red. In photo 1, tints are identified with black tags and shades with white tags.
The tints (lighter colors): Condition your white clay. Add a pinch of conditioned white clay to the remainder of the conditioned red clay. Run the clay through the pasta machine at a #4 setting until the clay colors are thoroughly mixed—no streaks allowed. This is color #11 on your template, slightly lighter than color #12, your base color. Using the 7⁄16-inch (1.1cm) cutter, cut out two circles. Place them on the wax paper to the right of the darker circles.
Add another pinch of white clay to the remainder of the previous color. Blend it well, running it through the pasta machine on a #4 setting. This color, #10, should be a bit lighter than color #11. Cut two 5⁄8-inch (1.6cm) circles. Place the two circles to the right of the previously cut circles.
Continue this process as you make color blends #9 through #4, all of which are made by using the previous color as a foundation and adding increments of white. Use the 5⁄16-, 7⁄16-, and 5⁄8-inch plunge cutters in that order.
Since you only need one circle of each color for the center stack, you can blend smaller amounts for colors #3, #2, and #1.
As you work, step back and examine your colors. Do they seem to be gradating nicely? You may need to remix a color if the transition appears to be too severe. Since a “pinch” is not an exact measurement, let your eyes be your guide.
The shades (darker colors): Pull off a chunk of the red clay (color #12) and condition it as before. Condition a chunk of black clay in the same way. Blend colors #13 through #18 as you did for the lighter colors, adding a smaller pinch of black to create the red shades than you did of white clay to make the tints. Set each color progressively to the left of color #12.