Monday, July 27, 2009

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

So, here we go, for Round Two of the Great Pearl-Ex + Mediums Experiment of '09. This time, I'm trying out my more unusual acrylic mediums, of the gel and paste variety. For Part One, please see this post. If you'd like to know more about Pearl-Ex, please visit Jacquard's website.

The Products:

For my Pearl-Ex mica powder, I again 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:
  • Golden's Clear Tar Gel
  • Liquitex Glass Bead Gel
  • Golden's Garnet Gel
  • Golden's Acrylic Ground for Pastels
  • Liquitex Blended Fibers Gel
  • Golden Light Molding Paste
  • Golden Crackle Paste
The Process:

Here, because of the nature of the mediums I was using, I chose a slightly different process than the first experiment. I took the same mini-scooper of Pearl-Ex powder, but used a full scoop of the powder (instead of only the 1/2 scoop in the 1st experiment), and added it to a little Dixie cup. Then, I added about a tablespoon of each medium, one per Dixie cup. It's too hard to pull out these mediums in 1/2 teaspoon quantities, so I opted to increase the amounts, while keeping the ratio of medium/Pearl-Ex about the same.

I then mixed each medium with its Pearl-Ex with a popsicle stick. Then, I painted all of the Pearl-Ex mixtures onto pre-labeled 3 inch x 4 inch black cardstock, so we could see how vibrant the Pearl-Ex would turn out. Each piece of cardstock only got one layer, although some of the layers are thicker than others, due to the nature of the medium (Light Molding Paste, Blended Fibers and the Crackle Paste). The only medium I didn't paint right away was the Clear Tar Gel - I waited about a half an hour before painting with it. Clear Tar Gel gets air bubbles in it very easily when it's stirred up, so I had to wait for some of the air bubbles to come to the surface.

After all of the mediums had dried, I taped them all together onto a larger piece of black cardstock, and photographed the results. I took two sets of pictures - one with flash, and one without. Because of the metallic nature of Pearl-Ex powders, it's easier to see their properties when you can view them in two different sets of lighting. It's kind of a virtual way of being able to "tilt the card", like you would in real life.

The Results:

Here are the mediums I used, labeled 1-7, as they correspond to the pictures:
  1. Golden's Clear Tar Gel
  2. Liquitex Glass Bead Gel
  3. Golden's Garnet Gel
  4. Golden's Acrylic Ground for Pastels
  5. Liquitex Blended Fibers Gel
  6. Golden Light Molding Paste
  7. Golden Crackle Paste
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)

Conclusions:

Again, the Pearl-Ex Aztec Gold mixes beautifully with every medium I've thrown at it (no clumping or non-mixing, which has happened with some Pearl-Ex powders on me - namely "Flamingo Pink", "Brilliant Yellow" and "Turquoise").

Now I have another keyword to add to my "These Don't Do Well with Pearl-Ex" list - Opaque. So, "Matte" and "Opaque" - got it. The Crackle Paste and the Light Molding Paste are both opaque (I assume they have some Titanium or Zinc White added to them), and the vibrant metallic color of the Aztec Gold Pearl-Ex just disappeared in them. The same thing happened with the Acrylic Ground for Pastels, although, I can see what looks like a glittery-shimmer mixed into the medium (not obvious in the photo, but I can see it in real life). I think a wash of Pearl-Ex over these mediums will show up beautifully, just not mixed in them.

It's hard to tell in these photos (and I'm not sure why), but the Clear Tar Gel and Glass Bead Gel are just as vibrant as the results I got with Liquitex's Gloss Medium and Varnish (now my favorite Pearl-Ex medium paint-maker, besides Gum Arabic). I'm not really sure what to do with the Glass Bead Gel, and haven't been since I first got it, but I love the effect of the Aztec Gold in it. The Garnet Gel showed a more muted effect, but there's just enough shimmer with the Pearl-Ex to make it interesting. I can see adding one of the darker, more bronze colors of Pearl-Ex, to make this look like authentic rust.

The Blended Fibers is interesting - it looks a bit like paper on the page, and with the Pearl-Ex, it looks old and slightly shiny at the same time. There is some opacity to the Blended Fibers, so I believe a wash of Pearl-Ex would do much better than it being mixed in. I'm glad I did this experiment, as prior to this, I had no idea what to do with Blended Fibers, but now, I think I can add it to molds, and it will look like a tissue paper cast.

Next up will be the last part of this experiment, where I show you how Pearl-Ex and things like Linseed Oil, Minwax's Polycrylic, Dorland's Wax Medium and Isopropyl Alcohol look.

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 alcohol...how 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)

Conclusions:

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.