Jacquard Pearl Ex pigment powders are extremely versatile supplies for any artist or crafter. They now come in over 30 colors. I’ll be testing some of the brand new Chromatic Colors: Citrine, Emerald, Magenta, Sapphire Blue, Scarlet and Dark Brown. This collection is a really gorgeous intense set of jewel tones with a deep lovely brown.
Here’s a description from Jacquard’s website: “Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments are our most versatile product! Jacquard Pearl Ex is a safe, pearlescent, non-toxic, inert powdered pigment that exhibits extreme colorfastness and stability, ideal for interior and archival applications. It has a use for every artist, from watercolorist to auto painter, faux finisher to rubber stamper. Try it mixed with Jacquard Gum Arabic or Pearl Ex Varnish for applying to most surfaces. It can also be mixed with other artist mediums, oils, acrylics, encaustic, Dorland’s Wax, polymer clay, or spread dry on porous surfaces. Pearl Ex creates a metallic look without being a metal – it will not tarnish or fade. The different particle sizes produce different looks, from a smooth pearly luster, to a highly metallic sheen. Fabric/Fiber/Surfaces: fabric, paper, shrink plastic, polymer clay, leather, glass, wood and encaustics. ”
Here are some swatches of the powders applied to white polymer clay, then baked according to manufacturer’s instructions. The powders adhered pretty well but not well enough to use as a finished product. I tried two other processes to solve the adherence issue. One is to mix the pigment with Sculpy Glaze and paint it on before baking. (Not all water based sealers can be baked so do a test first if you decide to try another product.) The second option is to apply a sealer after your piece is baked. The sealer can be painted on or sprayed. Once your piece is sealed the beautiful shimmering color will be permanent. Because there are a large variety of sealers available, you can decide if you prefer a high gloss or a matte finish.
I mixed the powders into the clay and blend together (with a little help from my polymer clay pasta machine) to create unique colors. The transparent polymer clay allowed the powders to really shine and glow. In this example I used Primo and Citrine Pearl-Ex. I used a brush to add a layer of the powder to raw conditioned clay, folded, ran through the pasta machine and repeated until the color was consistent. It did get a bit messy with the pigment escaping from the folded clay onto the table but I feel it was well worth the mess.
I also blended the same amount Citrine Pearl-Ex into white polymer clay. I chose Sculpy because is has a softer texture than Primo, which makes blending easier. As you can see it’s a much more subtle color, but still very pretty. In photo below translucent clay is on left, white clay is on right. Both are mixed with the same amount of Citrine Pearl Ex. In my opinion both are beautiful. I always custom blend my Polymer Clay colors because the packaged options look too much like a Crayola box to me. Using Pearl Ex gives me even more options in terms of color and sheen. The colors were exactly the same before and after baking. It was also completely bonded to the clay so no sealer was required.
I used a texture sheet for polymer clay and dusted it with some of the Citrine Pearl-Ex to bring out the detail. I used the Dark Brown Pearl-Ex on the Citrine colored transparent clay for contrast and Citrine Pearl-Ex on the Citrine colored white clay. I found a make up sponge applicator makes an excellent tool for applying the product to the surface of the clay. A brush works well to apply the Pearl Ex to a mold or a texture sheet and prevents the clay from sticking at the same time.
I do tend to be a bit messy when I am working so I have to admit I had Pearl Ex all over my hands and work surface. I’m really glad this product is non-toxic because I probably inhaled a bit of it too. I kept a box of baby wipes nearby to clean up my hands and work surface. This product is so fine that it will jump right out of the container if you sneeze on it. I advise keeping the containers closed at all times when not in use, and if you are concerned about inhaling colorful pigments (maybe I should be too) you might want to wear a mask. (I think I might have gotten so carried away that some Pearl Ex got into my tea).
I mixed the Pearl Ex powders into translucent Primo to create a Mokume Gane effect. The shimmering effect of the Pearl Ex is so beautiful, it reminds me of an abalone shell. (I used some pearly white Pearl Ex to blend custom colors.)
I have lots of experience with polymer clay but Creative Paperclay is a new medium for me. I tried using some polymer clay techniques without much success because it is much softer than I expected. I decided to use it like ceramic clay and made this little bowl using a crocheted doily for the texture. I brushed on some Citrine Pearl-Ex to enhance the texture. (Can you tell it’s my favorite color?) The adherence was the same as with the Polymer Clay. There was some rub off after drying but it remained bright and shiny after sealing. In this case I chose a spray acrylic sealer so I didn’t smudge the loose powder. You do have to be a bit careful and let the spray mist your piece so the force of the spray doesn’t move the powder around.
I started with one Pearl Ex experiment and that just led to another and another. I don’t feel like I even touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of using these products! (I’m so enthusiastic I’m resorting to the cheesiest of clichés!) I highly recommend them to any artist or crafter as a studio “essential”. They can be mixed with fabric medium, mixed with embossing powder to custom colors, or used withiches acrylic, oil or watercolor paint. You can even add them to your nail polish! Depending on how you mix them, you can create a high-density metallic shine or a subtle sheen. I was inspired to make some mixed media necklaces and posted them on my blog because I simply couldn’t stop using this product.
Jacquard Pearl-Ex Powders are usually available at DickBlick.com and range in price from $25 – $49. Individual jars (.10 oz) are priced as low as $2.09. They are also available from many other online retailers and often sold at craft stores like Michaels or A. C. Moore. I feel that they are an excellent value because a little goes a long way and the versatility can’t be beat.
Disclosure: product provided for review purposes; all opinions are based on my first-hand experience with the product and are my own. No compensation was provided for this review.