Friday, July 3, 2009

The Great Pearl-Ex + Mediums Experiment of Ought-Nine - Part One

We're going to take a little break from image transfers, and focus on Pearl-Ex mica powders, made by Jacquard. Pearl-ex mica powders are finely-ground metallic powders that can be used on just about any surface, in just about any medium.

If you're anything like me, the first thing you think, when you see one of the sets of 12 small pots of these metallic powders, is "What do I do with them?" Well, Jacquard's website, and Google, can answer that question better than I can, but one of the properties that drew me to them is that you can make them into a paint, using just about any paint medium out there. Well, I wanted to put that theory to the test, and try out Pearl-Ex with every paint medium I have.

Yes, you read that right; EVERY paint medium I have. And I have a ton, because I'm an art supply junkie. 95% of the mediums are for acrylics, but I'll be throwing in a watercolor and oil based medium in there, too.

This experiment is being run in 3 parts. This first part focuses on one watercolor medium (Gum Arabic) and 8 liquid and gel acrylic mediums. Part two will focus on unusual gel mediums (like Garnet Gel by Golden, and Blended Fibers by Liquitex). Part three will focus on things like Linseed Oil and Isopropyl Alcohol (I just have to see if they will blend with cool if these could be added to alcohol inks!), and anything else I may have left out by then.

Just as an FYI, Ranger makes a product that is similar to Pearl-Ex called "Perfect Pearls". The difference is that Perfect Pearls are mica powders with a binder already in them. All you have to do is add water to make the Perfect Pearls into a paint. But, if you Google "Perfect Pearls Techniques", you'll find a whole slew of additional techniques that you can also try with Pearl-Ex powders. Just know that you may need to add some kind of painting medium for some of those techniques to work.

The Products:

For my Pearl-Ex mica powder, I chose Aztec Gold (Product # 658), to use throughout these experiments. It's a rich, warm yellow gold that reminds me of gold leaf.

Here are the mediums that I mixed with the Aztec Gold for this round of experiments:
  • Liquitex Matte Medium
  • Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish
  • Liquitex Glazing Medium (Gloss)
  • Golden GAC 100
  • Golden Soft Gel - Matte
  • Golden Regular Gel - Matte
  • Liquitex Gloss Gel
  • Liquitex Iridescent Medium
  • USArtQuest Gum Arabic (Powdered)
  • Winsor & Newton Gum Arabic (Liquid)
The Process:

I took out a 10-well plastic mixing palette, and labelled each well with a Sharpie, with what medium I'd be putting in it. I took a half-scoop of the Aztec Gold Pearl-Ex, using a tiny scooper I have (see middle of palette in picture below), and placed it in each well. I then filled the rest of the well with the chosen medium (1/2 teaspoon of medium per well). I wanted the concentration of Pearl-Ex to Medium to be the same throughout, so that I truly see what difference the medium itself made, in how the Pearl-Ex then looked.

For the USArtQuest Powdered Gum Arabic, I added 1/2 scoop of Gum Arabic to the 1/2 scoop of Pearl-Ex Aztec Gold, then filled the rest of the well with tap water. This is a higher concentration of Gum Arabic than the Jacquard website calls for - they call for a 4:1 Pearl-Ex: Gum Arabic mix. I wasn't about to try to measure out 1/16 of a scoop of Gum Arabic, and I've mixed higher concentrations of Gum Arabic to Pearl-Ex before, with no ill results (in fact, it seems to bind better to the paper).

I then cut out 10 - 3" x 4" squares of black cardstock, and labelled each piece of cardstock with the medium/Pearl-Ex mixture I'd be painting on it. Metallics such as Pearl-Ex are their most vibrant over dark colors. After I'd mixed up all of the mediums, I painted on one layer of Pearl-Ex "paint" per piece of cardstock, one for each medium.

Once dry, I scanned in each piece of cardstock, and then realized I had a problem: metallics don't scan well, at all. This is something I hadn't considered when I set out to blog this experiment: metallics are very hard to capture with digital technology. So, what I'm going to show you isn't quite as vibrant as they are in real life. Here, I can tilt the metallics into the light, to see all of their properties, and I can't quite show you that. So, after the scans turned out so poorly, I took pictures of the results, both with flash and without flash, to try to approximate, as close as I can, what they look like to me. They're pretty close, I think.

The Results:

Here are the mediums I used, labeled 1-10, as they correspond to the pictures:
  1. Liquitex Matte Medium
  2. Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish
  3. Liquitex Glazing Medium (Gloss)
  4. Golden GAC 100
  5. Golden Soft Gel - Matte
  6. Golden Regular Gel - Matte
  7. Liquitex Gloss Gel
  8. Liquitex Iridescent Medium
  9. USArtQuest Gum Arabic (Powdered)
  10. Winsor & Newton Gum Arabic (Liquid)
Here are the results, from a picture taken with my Sony DSC-F828, without flash:

(click to enlarge)

Here are the results, from a picture taken with my Sony DSC-F828, with a low flash (higher levels of flash, on my camera, tend to wash everything out):

(click to enlarge)


All of these mediums blended well with the Pearl-Ex Aztec Gold. Just an FYI, I've found that some Pearl-Ex powders don't mix well with acrylic mediums, which is an experiment to show you, down the road. But this particular one, Aztec Gold, mixed in beautifully with all these mediums. Prior to painting, I just had to re-stir up the liquid mediums, to ensure the pigment was evenly distributed.

I learned that using anything with "Matte" in its name is just not going to work with Pearl-Ex. Manufacturers add mattifying agents to their products, which is basically particles of "white stuff", to help tone down gloss. That white stuff and Pearl-Ex apparently cancel each other out. You can see how the color of the Pearl-Ex is imparted, but the metallic sheen is almost gone.

It looks like if the medium is glossy, then it and Pearl-Ex are going to get along the best. I love how vibrant and shiny the Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish, and the Liquitex Gloss Gel, came out. Those two are truest to what this Aztec Gold looks like in its jar.

The Golden GAC 100 and the Liquitex Glazing Medium (Gloss) toned down the metallic sheen just slightly. They're not supposed to have any matting agents, but something in these mediums is "hiding" some of the metallic shimmer.

Liquitex Iridescent Medium is a pearl medium, meaning, it's a white pearl color. That white almost took away the metallic of the Pearl-Ex, but because the medium itself has a metallic sheen to it, what resulted was still shiny and metallic, only much lighter. I can see using this as a way to lighten any Pearl-Ex powder, without taking away the shimmer.

And I have to say, I'm in love with Gum Arabic and this Pearl-Ex Aztec Gold. Both the powdered and the liquid versions turned out so rich and deep. I'm not sure what chemical property Gum Arabic has, that it causes Pearl-Ex to show off its darker undertones (while still retaining the metallic shimmer), but I love the effect.

That's it for this round. Stay tuned for Part Two, where I try out all kinds of unusual gel and paste mediums, and Pearl-Ex Aztec Gold.


squarepegperson said...

ohmyWORD! this is just the kind of thing i would never have thought of...and it makes it so you aren't reinventing the wheel next time you paint! i love pearl ex..i use them on ultra suede to make stuff like covers for journals..and well..whatever i feel like making with ultra suede..i love love love them..but's always experiment phase with me..i never rmember what they did the last time..i'm going to (i hope) make myself a cool bunch of pages like you did..and keep track of what does what with them..thanks for this!!

DellaLuna said...

Oh, it's so good to "see" you! I love your new spa site! I'm going to hang out there this afternoon, and get my calm on. :D

That's exactly why I do these experiments, lol...I can't remember what worked and what didn't when I try stuff. How do you apply it to ultra-suede? Do you rub it in and then seal it with something? I'd love to see how that turns out...I bet it's gorgeous!

Zura said...

So in person, which one of the mediums did you like? In terms of the prettiest gold color? If you said that I missed it, so humor me, ok? :)

DellaLuna said...

LOL, all of them that didn't have the word "Matte" in the name. Those samples were just like using yellow paint...almost no shimmer to them.

Ok, no really, I do have my favorites. The Liquitex Gloss Gel and the Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish were the closest to the true color of the Aztec Gold...warm and yellow. GORGEOUS, seriously. So if I need a liquidy medium, I'd probably use the Gloss Medium & Varnish, and if I need a thick, gel coat, I'd use the Gloss Gel.

BUT, I also really love how the Gum Arabic affected the Aztec Gold. I don't know why, but those samples were a little darker, and an almost reddish undertone was brought out in them. They're gorgeous, too, so if I want that more reddish (not really red, just not quite yellow any more), deep deep gold color, I'll use Gum Arabic.

Cheryl said...

Your blog is awesome - I'll definitely be back!!

DellaLuna said...

Thank you so much Cheryl! Your blog is pretty fabulous, too, and I have it bookmarked, so I can come read it more closely after the huge blog-hop.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Jeanette said...

Thank you for bringing the link error to my attention. It has been corrected thanks to you.

You have a very interesting site. I've just bookmarked it so I can
come back when I've a bit more time.

Thanks again.

Zom said...

That was great.
I wonder what the Pearl-Ex is made of. I know that pigments can be dangerous to work with - the possibility of breathing in the dust and such, which is why I haven't bought any of the metallic powders. But perhaps it is different from pigment.
I am wondering because I want some! You are right, it looks like gold leaf.
Thanks so much for the test information. I wish you would write a book!

DellaLuna said...

Zom, that is such a kind compliment. :D But, lol, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? :D

Here's what Jacquard has to say about Pearl-Ex:

"It is a safe, non-toxic, inert powdered pigment with a neutral pH. It is extremely color fast and stable—it will not tarnish or fade and is therefore ideal for archival applications."

I think, as always, it's good to use caution when working with any powdered chemical, even an inert one. Wearing a mask is always a good idea, since, of course, your lungs don't really want to deal with the particles, no matter how shimmery they'd make them. ;) But, being a chemically inert powder (it's chemically stable, and isn't going to chemically react with anything), I think this is as safe as you're going to get with a powdered substance.

Kelley said...

Just checked out your blog..omg I so love it! I am so looking forward to learning from your cool experiments too..btw..I didn't know you dealt with chronic pain? So do I..yet another thing we can share and relate too..hope you have a wonderful painfree weekend full of art fun..Kelley
now i gotta make some time to update my poor blog it's been so neglected since my mom's passing.

glaucia said...

Thank you soooooo much for putting all this information out there. You saved me so much time and money as I am doing a special project for my church, and I needed to find a good way to do metallic paints. It worked. I went with your gloss gel medium findings and soon, I had a cup full of "gold pudding" which worked perfectly!
Your blog is awesome!!

DellaLuna said...

Oh, glaucia, I'm so, SO happy that this information helped you!!! That's why I put it up here. I'm so happy you found the right combination for what you needed, and didn't have to spend the money/time testing out a bunch of products. Gold pudding, indeed. :D Do you have any pictures of the finished project?

LB said...

I used the 4:1 with true blue and water , the results were disappointing . I realized while some jaquards pigments blended well while the true blue just clumped up. I added more gum to see if it needed that and nothing happened. So needless to say your experiment is great for the gold but I think all the individual pigments blend differently maybe because of the molecular structure which allows it to bind with water?

Kristina W said...

Yeah, LB, I hinted at it here, and then mentioned in the second post that I've had the exact same problem with the Flamingo Pink, Brilliant Yellow and Turquoise. It's really frustrating! I think you're totally right about it being something in the molecular structure of those pigments. It seems that it's the non-shimmery colors, too, that clump up and don't want to mix.

Today (I can't believe this was from 8 years ago!), with the clumpy ones, I mix them with clear embossing powder to make custom embossing powders. Actually, I do that with all of them, but I'm just glad I found something where I can use the clumpy ones without feeling like I wasted money on them.

Thank you for leaving a comment!

anonimous said...

i was shock and heart broken few months back when i found out my husband cheating was on me with with some from hiswork We’ve been married going on 4 years. 2kids. lots of amazing moments together. i want to leave, but i love him so much.he has to see her everyday because they work together. we are both still young and very attractive. but i want my husband, my only friend, and the father of my beautiful children. how do i get past the thought of another woman having taking my husband from me? Not my fiancĂ©, not my boyfriend, but my husband! i still love him even though he thinks i want to leave i really want him to do better and stop me before i walk out! my husband told me that he doesn’t feel loved anymore, just because of lady he is seeing at work... and he wants a divorce, i was devastated, heart broken i begged him to listen to me that we can work it out like we always do, but he didn’t listen, he told me that he met someone that loves and understands him, i begged him to consider our kids but he’s did listen. he left and i was frustrated, i began searching for help and answers, then i good testimony about a man that can Cast a spell to remind him of all the things we have been through together and make him fall 100% in love with me again, at first I was scared but i decided to give it a try, and like magic my husband is back to me, apology and begging for forgiveness,my marriage is save and my husband is showing me love more then ever before, happiness is back in my home all thanks to this Genuine man prophet ogidi of MIRACLECENTER110@GMAIL.COM.