Pearl Ex Q&A
I posted on instagram a bit ago asking for your assistance in putting this together, apologies for the delay...January has been crazy busy, but super shimmery!
Being the Pearl Ex Ambassador, I get asked a lot of questions...so here is your go to resource for all things Pearl Ex. If you don't find an answer here, please feel free to reach out and I can add it to this post.
What is the ratio to mix Pearl Ex into ink?
Your starting ratio should be: 4 parts pigment, 1 part gum arabic, 4 parts water (distilled preferred). Depending on how you want to use the ink (practice, envelopes, or a commissioned piece) and your local climate, your nib, and your style, you may need to adjust this. I usually end up adding more water (drop by drop) for envelope work, as it will lie flatter on the paper and be more resistant to postal processing (the more raised an ink is off the paper, the more prone it is to chipping, smearing, and general debauchery of your beautiful calligraphy). For envelope work, I will also add a touch more gum arabic, for extra insurance that the dried ink will not go awry.
Why do you use distilled water?
I use distilled water because the water in my area is very hard, full of minerals. I don't want that to affect the performance of any ink I mix, whether its Pearl Ex, FineTec, gouache, or BPW. Tap water is just fine to use as well.
Why do you add gum arabic?
Gum arabic acts as a binder, binding ink to the paper. It can also improve flow and sheen and prevent cracking when added to gouache and BPW. Without adding gum arabic, the pigment would wipe off your paper like pixie dust. You can use either powder or liquid gum arabic. I prefer powder when mixing Pearl Ex. Always test your ink before starting any commissioned work. What until the ink is fully dry, then try to wipe it off with your finger. If you get any transfer or smearing, add more gum arabic.
Why does the pigment settle to the bottom of the jar? I have to mix it constantly!
Yup, this is what happens when you use a metallic mica based ink. The pigment particles are heavier than water, and will settle out of solution quickly. Some colors will settle faster because their pigment particles are bigger (and therefore heavier). You can manually stir (with a spoon, a chopstick, the end of your holder, etc), use a magnetic stirrer, or even the Badger paint mixer. Be careful with that one, *splatter like cake batter*.
I haven't used my Pearl Ex in a few days and it's all hard at the bottom of the jar, how do I stir it again?
After a few days it will heavily settle to the bottom. You just need break it up with your stirring tool (I love the end of a plastic straight holder), and mix as normal.
My Pearl Ex mix is getting thick as I work, can I add more water?
YES! As you work and your ink is exposed to air, water will slowly evaporate out (just like gouache) and it will thicken. Add water by the drop until you get back to the consistency that works for your nib.
I added too much water, what do I do?
If you have tested your ink and it's too sheer, you have added to much water. Don't fret or toss it! The water will evaporate out, so leave the container opened for a bit. I have also waited until the pigment settles a bit, when I get a good layer of water at the top, and then used a pipette to suck some of the water out. Be sure to add a bit more gum arabic as you have probably sucked some binder out as well.
Why do some colors clump? How can I fix this?
Pearl Ex is a product used by many types of crafters and industries. Some of the colors are just not good for calligraphy because they do not mix well with water. The pigments in those colors are coated with oils for a specific purpose. Oil and water don't mix, hence why when you try to mix it for ink, the pigment just clumps. You can try to stir it vigorously, or add a dispersant agent to get it to mix. Sometimes it will work, and other times you will just be frustrated. I avoid the colors below:
Pumpkin Orange, Bright Yellow, Flamingo Pink, Spring Green, Turquoise, Spring Green, Misty Lavender, Magenta, Emerald, MacroPearl, Sparkle Gold.
What nibs do you recommend to use with Pearl Ex?
Your choice of nib is so personal, and so many variables here. I find that most nibs work, but you might to experiment with the consistency of the ink to get it to flow. Generally (this is not a hard and fast rule), I find that the more flexible the nib, the thicker I like my ink, and the reverse, the stiffer the nib the thinner I like my ink.
Is Rose Gold different than Pink Gold?
Yes! Rose Gold is heavy on the pink pigments, and was created to be adjustable. It is also a monotone color. Pink Gold is a duo tone color, meaning that it changes color depending on the angle you look at it. At an angle it is gold, and straight on it is pink. Pink Gold is soooo pretty! I think of it more of a bubble gum gold pink. Rose Gold is a deep shade of rose.
Can you add Pearl Ex to other inks?
YES! I add Brilliant Gold Pearl Ex to Dr. Ph Martin's Copperplate Gold to boost the shimmer, and I combine metallic gouache with Pearl Ex to really bling it out!
How is Pearl Ex different than Lumiere?
Lumiere is another Jacquard product, it is an acrylic based flexible fabric paint. Decant some Lumiere into a smaller jar, dilute with water, and you have a shimmery acrylic based ink. Lumiere is made with Pearl Ex pigments, so the level of shimmer is just as sparkly. Lumiere's new shade is...Rose Gold! Made with Rose Gold Pearl Ex, it is the same color in an acrylic base.
Is Pearl Ex waterproof?
Nope, on it's on it is not waterproof, because it is water based. If you have added enough gum arabic, it will perform as well as other water based inks (gouache, Fine Tec). If you need absolute bullet proof performance, try the Lumiere.