Product Review – Mica Powders
By: Kim Parkinson, Product Guru
March’s Stamper's Quest theme is “All Wrapped Up.” With a theme like that, it’s easy to find the many different items to embellish your wrapping paper with! You could easily take store bought wrapping paper and color it with Tombow, Marvy or Copic Markers. Or you could add some sparkle with a Stardust pen or some glitter. But I know that we are stampers. We like to use our large stashes of stamps and we love to make stuff our own!
Don’t go purchasing store-bought wrapping paper, instead grab a large roll of white or brown butcher paper and make a personalized wrapping paper! You can even purchase small brown or white paper bags for those awkward sized gifts, too. Your recipient will love what you’ve made them and they will be so happy that you put a little extra effort into their gift.
Stamping on butcher paper is fine but adding a little extra shine makes it even better! The easiest and fastest way to add a shimmer to your stamped image might just be to use a mica powder.
No mica powder seems to be created the same. A quick trip to my closest craft store reveals that there are about 3 or 4 major brands of mica powders on the market. I currently have 4 different types. Pearl-Ex by Jacquard Products, Perfect Pearls by Ranger, a brand new one called Metallic F/X by DreamWeaver Stencils and a discontinued one called Powdered Pearls from a now defunct company called Lemon Tree…Etcetera. Today, I’m just going to test out the three that are still available. I know that several other companies out there make beautifully colorful mica powders, but at my local craft shop these are the ones I can get my hands on. And I’m a firm believer in purchasing from your small Mom and Pop Craft Stores. Keep them going and the craft world will be a better place!
If you haven’t used a mica powder before, here’s a basic generalized tutorial.
Stamp your image with Perfect Medium, VersaMark or any other clear pigment ink. The ink should be pigment as you need it to stay wet long enough for the tiny mica particles to stick to the ink. You will need a fluffy bristled paint brush, something soft for the powders to stick to. (If you purchase a package of Perfect Pearls from Ranger, it comes with its own set of brushes.) Dip your brush into the open jar of powder and tap the brush onto your stamped image. I like to use a tapping motion so that I don’t ruin the stamped image. After the image is completely covered, I wipe back and forth with the same brush and brush off any excess onto a plain piece of paper. Put the excess back into the jar. There is little to no waste with mica powders! Depending on what color you use and whether your background paper is light or dark will determine how well you can see the image. Choose a dark purple on a white and you’ll find an image like this one.
Choose gold on a black and you’ll see the striking color differences like this.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when you are talking about mica powders. These powders are so versatile; you can use them with numerous other mediums as well. Here are some suggestions, what are yours?
- Mix a tiny amount in with your embossing powder to add a little glimmer and shine to the melted embossing powder. While the mica powders won’t melt, they will bind to the embossing powders, giving your stamped image a unique look.
- Add some to your paints for collage cards or art. Add a little and the shine will be subtle, add a lot and you’ll get a glow of color everyone will want to know how you did it!
- Layer on top of stenciling paste. A thin layer will stick right to the paste and your finished piece will be brilliant!
- Fold some mica powder into your polymer clay as you are working it. It will add that sparkle to your finished piece that you may be looking for.
- Brush some over your beeswax creations for a dazzling result!
- Mix one drop of re-inker and one small scoop of a mica powder in a small spray bottle, add water. Shake it up and you’ve created your very own shimmery spray.
Mica powders come in many different colors with each company having their own colorful names, hues and flake sizes.
A finer flake will work best for stampers, getting into all of those detailed lines we’ve stamped. But larger flakes will show a bigger punch of color when mixed or added to other mediums.
So what did I find when I used these powders? Let’s go over some of the individual features of each first.
Perfect Pearls by Ranger Industries comes in 28 different colors, 4 of which are Interference colors. Their little pots of powdered color come individually or in select packs of coordinating colors. Ranger’s powders have been specially created with a built in resin so that you do not have to use a sealant. Spritz with a little water and those resins are activated and the powders are permanent! I stamped my image using the Perfect Medium that comes with the package of Perfect Pearls. The little pots are a little difficult to grasp and open. I image that people with arthritis would have a devil of a time getting these open.
The flakes from the Perfect Pearls are tiny. There are no chunks of glitter or large flakes of mica in these pots! They are perfectly made for stampers, getting into the tiniest of details! Even after tapping on the color and brushing it off, it left a little bit of the powder around the image. I grabbed my art cloth (this is just a cotton cloth I use specifically for my art) and lightly buffed the image. The first thing I noticed is that the image looked more pink than Turquoise. I even double checked the container to make sure the color was not an Interference one. That little task, by the way, almost led me to dumping out the contents on the floor! Ranger has placed the color name and logo on the BOTTOM of the container. If you open the container with the logo facing you, you will end up with a huge mess! Perhaps that design could’ve been re-thought. Anyway, back to my piece. I tried to grasp the color difference with my camera. First, notice how it looks pink with barely any blue. No shine looking straight at it either…
Next, I turned the piece to the side so that you could see the beautiful shimmer of the turquoise color.
Interesting. I specifically chose the blue so that you could see the color straight on. Guess that wasn’t what I was getting with this mica powder. Since I used the Perfect Medium, which was created specifically with the Perfect Pearls in mind, I didn’t have to spritz this with water. I rubbed my finger over the design and barely anything (if anything did) come off on my finger at all.
My next choice of mica powders is Pearl-Ex. Pearl-Ex by Jacquard Products has 40 different color choices. 16 Traditional colors, 16 pearlescent colors, 5 Interference Colors and 3 Duo-Colors. They come in several jar sizes. Pearl Ex has many different sizes of flakes in each jar, allowing maximum shine on all sorts of different projects. Jacquard Products has stated that their powders are safe and ph neutral, making them perfect for scrap bookers, card makers and all other artists alike.
I’ve actually owned a bottle of Pearl Ex for a while (who hasn’t, right?) and I’ve used it mostly in my beeswax collage art. This time, I wanted to specifically use it for stamping. I used VersaMark to ink up my stamp. Then I stamped onto a white piece of cardstock. I tapped the powder on top of the image and then brushed off any excess I could. The first thing I noticed was that a lot of the powders stuck to the outside of the stamped design, even after trying to brush off the excess.
So I grabbed my art cloth gently buffed the image. I knew what was going to happen. Pearl-Ex needs something to bind to for it to ‘stick’ to the image. The VersaMark isn’t strong enough to hold it forever. So, if you are just going to use Pearl-Ex on top of a stamped image, you’ll need to spray it with some type of a Sealant. Some people use hair spray, others purchase sprays specifically for that. Krylon makes a great one for crafters. The light buffing I did with my art cloth removed some of the color from inside the flowers giving the image a slightly distressed look. If I rubbed the design with my finger, more of the powders came off. This is disappointing. In one last effort before using the sealant, I used the Ranger trick and spritzed it with water. I know this trick works with perfect pearls but I didn’t know about the Pearl-Ex. WOW! It worked! It also made my paper slightly curled but when I wiped the image with my hand, nothing came off! The color remained pink, too! Regardless of the angle I was holding the paper.
The last one I tried is brand new. DreamWeaver Stencils has created its own mica powder to use specifically with their pastes. Choosing to use it with stamps was not its intended purpose but I had to try. DreamWeaver Stencils makes 18 different colors of mica powders. All of the colors work great on white and black paste.
I chose to use the VersaMark ink pad with my stamp. After stamping the image onto white cardstock, I decided to use the Gold Dust color. WOW! This color was so beautiful, so shimmery, glittery I thought I was going to need to get my sunglasses out! After inspecting a few of the other colors I purchased, I noticed that they didn’t all have such large flakes of mica and glitter in them. After brushing off the excess, I could visibly see glitter flying through the air. Those tiny particles of gold dust will be with me the rest of the day!!
The mica powder really stuck to the paper very well, not just the image. I buffed the image with my art cloth and while it did slightly distress the flowers in one area, it got rid of all the other powder completely from the rest of the paper. Neither of the others did that so completely on the first swipe! The color was gold regardless of how I held the paper with the obvious shine held at an angle, just like the other two.
When I wiped my fingers over the image, some of the powders did smear a little. Again, I tried the water spritzing. Again, it worked like a charm. The powders were set into the paper and didn’t rub off when I swiped my hand over it.
So, what did I find in this month’s product review?
Well, this was definitely an itchy experiment! By the end of testing all these powders, I was sneezing, itchy and I was very sparkly. Even 10 minutes after having stopped using the powders, putting them away and cleaning up my area, I still could see flakes of powder/glitter/mica flying through the air. It was enough to make my kids think a fairy had dusted my entire studio!
Each of these pigmented mica powders have their own strengths and weaknesses. What did I think was the easiest to use? Ranger’s Perfect Pearls. The versatility of not having to spritz with water for the powder to set is unlike the other two I tried. Of course, this experiment was completely just based on stamping the image and dusting on the powders dry. There are so many other uses for these types of powders, the reason for each of them is much more far reaching than my tiny stamping experiment.
So, next time you have a friend who needs a little more illumination in her life, grab those stamps, a piece of butcher paper and start sprinkling on those mica powders! Not only will your gift be gorgeous, but you’ll be glowing too!