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What is Pearl Ex?

Answered by Marcia Ann Kuehl ©2008

Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments are from Jacquard and are their most versatile product. Pearl Ex is a very fine pigment which can be applied in thin layers to create smooth metallic coatings to most surfaces! The variety of finishes Pearl Ex can produce is nearly endless, from metallic sheens to pearlescent shimmers to all manner of faux finishes.

Pearl Ex creates a metallic look without being a metal. The particles are flat platelets with two surfaces, therefore it lays down beautifully like a thin coating of metal. The different particle sizes produce different looks from a fine, smooth, pearly luster to a highly metallic sheen.

Available in 40 colors which can be purchased individually in 3 gram pots or in conveniently packaged sets. Sets are available in 3 different series of 12-Color Sets or a 32 Color Set.

Can you mix Pearl Ex with other products?

Pearl Ex pigments are dry, with a neutral pH, so they last for years and only small amounts are needed for most products. Pearl Ex can be added with almost any color of craft, acrylic or watercolor paint to create a metallic sheen.

Mix Into:

  • Pearl Ex varhish
  • Oil
  • Acrylic
  • Gouache


  • Varnish
  • Clay
  • Melted wax
  • Almost any medium!
Pearl Ex Quick TipsPearl Ex Quick Tips

What type of surfaces can you apply Pearl Ex to?

Pearl Ex pigments are colorfast, temperature resistant, weather resistant and non-tarnishing, therefore ideal for archival applications.

NOTE: Be sure to mix thoroughly into whichever medium you want to use for consistent coverage. Keep in mind that this product is a fine powder, so mix it away from your workspace or risk transferring metallic color everywhere.

Apply to:

  • Clay
  • Glass
  • Metal


  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Fabric
  • Almost anything!



Instructions for Using Pearl Ex

Pearl Ex is extremely easy to use. Its incredible flexibility lends itself to a vast array of techniques. Your biggest problem may be deciding which technique to use. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Mix Pearl Ex with a clear embossing powder for rubber stamp embossing. Pearl Ex in itself is not an embossing powder. To do this, add Pearl Ex to clear embossing powder. Use more embossing powder for a more raised effect. It doesn't take much PearlEx to tint the powder. I used approximately 1 part Pearl Ex to 2 parts embossing powder. Stamp, dust and heat as usual. Wipe off any excess Pearl Ex with soft paper.

  • Mix 4 parts Pearl Ex to 1 part Gum Arabic and add water to desired consistency for a watercolor paint. If mixing in a plastic well palette, this mixture can dry out and become reconstituted with water.

  • Dust Pearl Ex Powders onto shrink plastic before shrinking. The powder will become embedded in the surface when the plastic shrinks. When cool wipe off excess for a soft glow of color. Coat with varnish for a glossy finish. To create a more intense color, sand the shrink plastic before dusting on Pearl Ex.

  • Mix Pearl Ex with the Jacquard Textile Colors Colorless Extender for use on fabrics. Use a plastic dropper to add Colorless Extender to Pearl Ex. Mix to desired consistency to paint on fabric (can be thinned with water up to 20%). Let dry. Heat set with a dry iron on the reverse side of the fabric for 30-60 seconds at a temperature suited to the fabric.

  • Mix Pearl Ex with any clear medium to use over any surface. Example: use a plastic dropper to add varhish to Pearl Ex. Mix to desired consistency and paint on wood, metal, plastic or baked polymer clay

  • Dust Pearl Ex onto any surface and then seal with a spray lacquer. Spray the lacquer out over the surface and let the mist fall onto the surface rather than spraying the lacquer at the surface. This will give you a more even coat of lacquer without spray marks as well as preventing the spray from blowing off the Pearl Ex.

  • Create your own unique colors by kneading Pearl Ex into polymer clay. Bake clay following manufacturer's instructions. Allow to cool before handling. Pearl Ex is embedded in the clay so there is no need to varhish unless you want a glossier surface. For large areas of color use your fingers,a Q-tip or a brush. For more control use a small brush. Work Pearl Ex into the surface and brush off excess. Bake according to manufacturer's instructions. Brush or spray varhish on surface when cool to seal.

  • Dust a polymer clay rubber mold with Pearl Ex before pressing in the clay. This is a great way to color the clay. It also makes the clay easier to release from the mold. Simply dust the mold with Pearl Ex using a soft bristle brush. Turn the mold over and gently tap out excess. Press conditioned clay in to the mold and get instant beautiful color! Bake polymer clay following manufacturer's instructions. Allow to cool then coat with varhish to seal.

  • To make a Painted Image Transfer, simply mix Pearl Ex with water, paint a design on paper and lay a sheet of polymer clay on top. Gently press down with a rolling pin, carefully pull away the paper, trim clay and bake. Seal with varhish when cool if desired.

  • Pearl Ex can be mixed into glycerin soaps in soap making and wax for candle making.

  • Pearl Ex can be mixed into a medium and airbrushed. Some testing will be necessary to ensure that the particle size will fit through the airbrush opening

  • You can do a lot with Pearl Ex and white glue. Brush glue designs on paper, thin glue with water if needed. Put glue in a gutta bottle with a #9 metal tip to draw finer lines or make dots. While glue is still wet sprinkle with Pearl Ex. When glue is completely dry, gently brush off excess Pearl Ex with a soft bristle brush.

  • Mix Pearl Ex into your nail polish and make your own fun colors of nail polish for accents or your whole nail! Add a little Pearl Ex for a hint of sparkle or more for a vivid color.

The number of ways you can use Pearl Ex is endless, so try some experimentation. Pearl Ex is a fine pigment, so it can be added to almost anything, with amazing results. Keep a journal to record what you did and what type of results it produced, so you can replicate your techniques.

NOTE: Both acrylic medium and gum arabic will keep the Pearl-Ex Powders in a suspension, so that they make a plowing paint, (use approximately 20% Pearl-Ex). Painting the Interference colors over black makes the Pearl-Ex change color. Experiment on scraps of paper to try different effects.

NOTE: Interference colors work best over dark surfaces.

Oranaments with Pearl Ex:

Ornaments with Pearl Ex


Ornament with Pearl Ex


  1. Choose your adhesive. Craft glue may take a little longer, but you can get some nice effects. If time is an issue, you'll love how fast these can be done with spray adhesive.

    1. If using craft glue: Mix one part water with two parts glue and pour mixture into ball. Cover opening with finger or paper towel and turn to coat inside completely. Pour out excess. Let dry until glue mixture is no longer runny.

    2. If using spray adhesive: Place nozzle of spray adhesive close to opening of ornament and, in two short sprays, coat inside.

  2. Try one of these techniques: Ornaments with Pearl Ex

    1. Iridescent finish: Put approximately 1/2 tsp. of Pearl Ex into ornament. Narrow craft sticks work nicely to get the Pearl Ex inside of the ornament. Hold fingertip or paper towel over opening. Turn and tap ball to coat inside. Pour out excess. Repeat with glue or adhesive and other colors if you like.

    2. Speckled Faux finish: Load a dry artist's brush with Pearl Ex. Place in ball, being careful not to touch sides and flick. Repeat with several colors.

    3. Antique Keepsakes: This technique works best on the larger ornaments and/or with smaller pictures. With artist's paint brush, white glue the fronts of magazine or Xerox pictures. Using tweezers, place these in the ornament. With a pencil eraser, firmly attach while removing creases and air bubbles, especially around the edges of the picture. Brush a coat of white glue to back of pictures. Let dry until glue is completely clear. Coat the inside of an ornament with one of the above finishes. As an alternative, try glueing the picture to the outside of the ornament.

  3. Optional: Make any of these finishes opaque by pouring Jacquard Textile Paints or Lumiere Metallics into the opening of the ornament. Pour slowly around the rim while turning the ornament to get the paint to run down the sides of the ornament. Cover opening and turn ball to coat inside. Use one or more colors. Pour out excess, set with dryer or air dry, turning occasionally to prevent puddles.
Caution: When setting glue mixture or paints with hair dryer, be very careful not to overheat the ornament causing it to break.

Rubber Stamping with Pearl Ex, making a decorative card

Example 1 using rubber stamps w/Pearl Ex


  1. Stamp bubble in gold over front of card.
  2. Stamp and emboss main design.
  3. Use Pearl Ex Interference Water Color Method to paint main design. See instructions below.
  4. Create backgrounds:
    1. Metallic: Brush leftover gold and russet Pearl Ex watercolor on gold card stock and comb.
    2. Wavy Blue: Mix acrylic medium with Pearl Ex power into paste. Spread on light shiny card stock and comb.
    3. Pearlized: Mix Pearl Ex powder with acrylic medium and paint on with brush.
  5. Spray webbing on card stock. Cut into wavy strips.
  6. Cut and assemble with white glue.

Fiber Artists can use Pearl Ex with fabric paints and experiment with their own projects on fabric. This is a wonderful way to add metallic sheen to your art quilt and fiber art projects.

Interference Pearl Ex Watercolor Method:

To get started:
  • Stamp an outline on cardstock, using pigmented embossing ink.
  • Emboss any metallic color or black.
  • Color in image with permanent markers.
  • Add some Pearl Ex to matte or gloss acrylic medium and add a drop of water.
  • Gum Arabic mixed with Pearl Ex will also work.
  • Use the Pearl Ex paint mixture to brush over the markers.
  • Stir the mixture frequently.

The Interference colors are very surprising. You will want to xxperiment with them!

Embossing with Pearl Ex:

Here is one way to emboss cards:

  • Spread clear embossing fluid on stamp pad, and stamp your design.
  • Mix 1/4 to 1/2 Pearl Ex with clear embossing powder, (more absorbent paper requires more embossing powder).
  • Sprinkle onto design, and raise with heat tool.
  • Let stand a minute or two, brush off excess.

An alternate way to emboss, is to spread the clear embossing fluid directly to your stamp. Be sure to clean your stamp thouroughly after you are finishing stamping so the embossing fluid does not harden and ruin your stamps.

Stencil Painting with Pearl Ex:

Materials Needed:

  • Card stock or gift bags (dark works best)
  • Permanent Spray adhesive
  • Stencil
  • Artist brushes
  • Clear acrylic
  • Scrap paper, tape and painters tape

First test your products. Lightly spray the adhesive, ALWAYS IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA AND WITH CHILDREN SUPERVISED, on paper the same color as your project. Wait a minute, and experiment by brushing the Pearl-Ex powders on with a dry brush. Try the colors alone and then in layers. They are very surprising. Especially try the Interference colors and watch what happens. Once you are satisfied with your results, it is time to stencil.

  1. Cover your workspace with a teflon pressing sheet. This will help you catch excess pigments so you can reuse them again. (Or, if working with children, use a teflon cookie sheet with a narrow ledge.)
  2. Select a piece of paper and lay it flat on your teflon pressing sheet.
  3. Place stencil flat and centered on your paper and secure with painters tape.
  4. Cover up exposed background with scrap paper and tape scrap paper to stencil to hold in place.
  5. Make sure that the stencil is laying flat, then spray lightly with spray adhesive, holding nozzle about 12" away.
  6. Let set two minutes. Carefully remove tape, excess scrap paper and stencil. Be careful when removing not to smudge your design.
  7. Load a dry dry brush with Pearl-Ex powder and fill in designs. Remove excess with a brush.

You can also mix a few drops of clear acrylic with some Pearl-Ex powder until you get a smooth paint. You can use this to stencil with, or to touch up and enhance your stenciled design.

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