There are many things that can be done with leftover polymer clay. It’s very useful.

I had a plastic baggie full of various colored scraps that I’d collected over time. I roughly grouped them into piles and mixed each pile together. The result was these beautifully colored grays. I can add a bit of black or white to make them darker or lighter, or add a bit of their complementary color to make them neutral.

Various shades of gray made from scrap clay

To make more colorful clay, please continue reading.

If your collection of scrap clay includes red, you can often end up with a pinkish putty color. You can change it into a neutral gray by adding some blue clay, as shown in the following two photos. Neutral gray goes with anything and can be mixed with pure color to tone it down.

Add some blue clay to change pinkish-gray scrap into neutral gray
The resulting neutral gray

If your scrap is greenish, add a teeny tiny bit of its complement (red) to neutralize it. If your scrap is violet, add a bit of yellow. If your scrap is bluish, add a bit of orange. (Complementary colors are directly opposite from one other on the color wheel.)

If you mix pure color with the neutral gray scrap, you can get some lovely muted colors. They automatically go together because they have the same gray base. Here I’ve mixed four different pure colors with neutral gray.

Pure colors ready to mix with the neutral gray scrap
The resulting muted colors go well together

You can skip the step of making the clay neutral and simply mix pure red with scrap that has a reddish hue, or mix pure green with scrap that’s somewhat green.

I had a cane tutorial I wanted to try, and scrap clay is a good way to test it out without using new clay. The first three canes aren’t quite right, but the fourth one I like. In the learning process, I used quite a bit of my scrap clay.

Some canes I made from the scrap clay

Here’s a pair of earrings I made using one of the canes and adding a layer of translucent clay stenciled with a white pattern and a tiny dot of gray-blue scrap. These subtly-colored canes can either stand on their own or make a nice backdrop for another design element with more color or value contrast.

Earrings made from one of the canes, a gray-blue dot and some new translucent clay