Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Perfect Pearls–Preparing for Use

Now that I have got my lovely big selection of Perfect Pearls (still missing some colours but I’ve certainly got enough to be going on with for now), I needed to prepare them so I could use them with maximum versatility.

The first thing to do was to remove the barcode label from each pot, which acted as a seal. Why, oh why can’t they use peelable labels??!! What a nightmare peeling them off! They were very hard to remove and left a nasty sticky residue, which had to be wiped off with some Crafter’s Companion Stick Away sprayed onto a piece of kitchen paper. The whole thing took an inordinate amount of time… (There are some things I have endless patience for, but not this.)

That done, I took some scraps of black card and cut them to approximately 1.5 x 2 inches, and wrote the name of the individual colours on each one with my embossing pen, and then applied the respective Perfect Pearl with the soft brush designed for the purpose. When they were all done, I spritzed them with water to fix the powder (which activates the binding agent, which I am reliably informed is Gum Arabic).

03 Perfect Pearls Colour Samples 6-7-12

The black card shows off the colours to their best advantage, applied in this way. Unfortunately the picture doesn’t do them justice – they are gorgeous and really glow with that metallic sheen that Perfect Pearls possess. Some of the colours, notably Plum, Kiwi and Berry Twist, are dichroic, and change colour as you turn them in the light – I think the powder is acting as a diffraction grating in the same way as butterfly wings and peacock feathers, whose colours are not due to pigment, but to the surface breaking up the light waves and diffracting them into rainbow colours. Beautiful!

Next step was to punch a small hole in the corner of each one and bind them as a little swatch book for future reference. I can move the “pages” around and bring out different ones to compare how they go together.

04 Perfect Pearls Colour Swatch Book 6-7-12

Next problem – where am I going to store all my new Perfect Pearls? Too many now, to go in the small drawer I used to use for them. For now, they’ve gone in a redundant cardboard box that became too small for what was in it before!

02 Perfect Pearls in Box 10-7-12

Now I was ready to create my Perfect Pearls Palette, following Christie’s excellent instructions on her blog.

10 The Filled Palette 10-7-12

This is going to make using my Perfect Pearls as watercolours so much easier! I decided on a layout, spreading out the pots of Perfect Pearls in order and making a plan. I deliberately left gaps for the colours not yet in my collection, should I want to add them later. I arranged them in groups of type and colour.

Next I designed a label to go inside the lid. For this, I used Serif PagePlus, my desktop publishing software. The circles are 1 inch in diameter, exactly the same size as the depressions in the palette.

05 Perfect Pearls Palette Labels 9-7-12

The straight lines are cutting guides. The sheet had to be cut into four as the palette has four ridges across the inside of the lid and a single sheet would not lie flat. Christie used her Dymo label maker to create small transparent labels for each colour, but I do not have one of these, so I this was my solution. After cutting the sheet into the four sections, I rounded the corners and glued each one into its respective space, lining up the printed circles with the circular depressions in the palette, using a small dab of Pinflair gel glue in each corner. I have created labels for all the available colours of Perfect Pearls, although I do not yet have them all; if I want to add to my collection, the spaces are available for them. I have uploaded this template to my Skydrive, and this can be freely downloaded if anyone wants to follow this tutorial.

Printed on inkjet acetate which has a coating, they were glued inside the lid of the box with the coated (printed) side against the plastic of the lid, so that the printing is protected, and shows through the lid the right way round.

Here is the palette with the labels attached.

07 Perfect Pearls Palette with Labels 10-7-12

08 Perfect Pearls Palette with Labels Detail 10-7-12

Here is the dry powder being mixed with water in the palette.

09 Filling the Palette 10-7-12

You can see that I’ve made a bit of a mess of this. Christie recommends putting quite a lot of powder in, and then adding the water, but after doing this for the first one, I found it much easier to put in a smaller amount, add some water, then some more powder, some more water, etc. until there was enough – mixing it was then a lot less messy. Also, I didn’t have a water dropper bottle like hers, so I thought I’d spritz it with water – biiiig mistake – DON’T do this!! The spray squirted the Perfect Pearls powder all over the place! (Hence the mess being even worse.) Eventually I found an eye dropper which worked perfectly. I also used my little plastic glue spatula which was ideal because it was flexible, and square at the end so it got right into the corners of the depressions in the palette. I used a plastic teaspoon to ladle the powder into the palette.

The completed palette being left to dry. (You can see that my technique improved as I progressed through the palette! Definitely less messy.)

10 The Filled Palette 10-7-12

Christie recommends leaving it to dry before attempting to clean up any mess, and then gently blowing or brushing away any powder. If any of the mess was wet, and stuck on, it can be cleaned away with a damp cotton bud (Q-tip).

When they are dry, these Perfect Pearls in the palette can be used as one would use a watercolour box, with a wet brush to pick up the colour. I intend using my water brushes (that I use to colour my zentangles with Derwent Inktense pencils) because it will be a lot more convenient than normal brushes, and I will be able to do it away from my ARTHaven.

The third way that I use Perfect Pearls is in the form of DIY Glimmer Mists – I did a tutorial about this way back when I first started, before I even had my ARTHaven, following a tutorial of Tim Holtz, mixing Perfect Pearls, Distress Re-Inkers and water in spritzing bottles – you can vary the combinations ad infinitum, very cheaply!

Perfect Pearls are an incredibly versatile medium. You can get an intense metallic or iridescent pearlised finish when they are applied in concentrated form with water, a softer look when applied dry with a soft brush onto stamped or hand-drawn images in Versamark and fixed by spritzing with water, or a subtle, pearlised effect by applying in spray form. They are something I would not be without in my arsenal, and I am delighted that I now have a much more comprehensive collection. I am particularly thrilled with those with dichroic properties.

I bought two of these palettes, and eventually I am going to make a similar palette of my alcohol inks – another idea I got from Christie. When creating the labels for the Perfect Pearls palette, I also saved a blank version of the template, so that I can insert the names of the different colours of alcohol ink. Watch this space!


P.S. Remember the other day that I posted about how I lost my Tim Holtz Design Ruler, and bought another (longer) ruler to replace it? Well, as per my prediction, my original one has turned up today! Typical… I found it lurking in my for-sale box of mixed media mirrors. Duh. Oh well, s’pose you can never have enough rulers…


  1. Wow, Shoshi!This is a pretty detailed description on the use of the Perfect Pearls medium. I must get some,.They look quite "delicious".
    I'm off to a Tim Holtz w/shop media at my local scrap shop tomorrow so should learn a few things! I am STARVED of some creative input, after being laid up for a few weeks.

  2. Love the idea of colouring something or other with whatever medium one uses in order to have an 'at-a-glance' reference. I'm no where near needing anything like that yet, I can clearly see my two distress inks without problem, haha ;)
    I'm so glad your rule turned up (hehe), it is typical isn't it.
    I ended up with a metal one because I keep slicing into plastic ones, so I do have a few, but I wouldn't trust them to give a straight line anymore, haha. I also have a Doodly bird one (my favourite) which is only used for actual marking :D
    Hope your day is going well :0)

  3. Shoshi, you are one amazing lady. Sadly I don't have any perfect pearls, but I may just try them now. I love your posts as you keep them so interesting. Hugs Rita xx

  4. Great tips there Shoshi. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a fun project, Shoshi! So organized are you:) I'm glad your ruler turned up, too.

  6. I'm so glad you posted this today. I just picked up my palette box today and now I don't have to search for the tutorial! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Nelda! Glad I could help. I tried to access your blog to leave a comment, but the link doesn't seem to work. Hope you find this!



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