Here at Anything But Cute we love to see all the seasoned and expert mixed media artists, but we also want to encourage those who are just getting their feet wet. Our design team will always be on the lookout for these exceptional artists, and you just never know when we might be giving out something special to a talented mixed media newcomer.
Make sure to put 'newbie' after your name in the linky so we know who you are.
(new refers to 'new to mixed media' NOT 'new to our challenge')

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Spotlight Artist - Sara Emily - Playing with Perfect Pearls

Hello!  It's Sara Emily here, and I'm delighted to be presenting this month's Spotlight Post which is Playing With Perfect Pearls Powders!

There are lots of mica powders and sprays on the market, but for this post I'm going to focus on Perfect Pearls Mica Powders. I'm not claiming to be an expert on Perfect Pearls (hereby referred to in this post as "powders"), but I did want to share with you a few of the results of my playing and combining them with different products I had on hand. This is by no means conclusive, as I did have to limit the length of my post. And some of these ideas have  already been used: I've just changed them up a bit.  I will try to give credit where credit is due. See that "open here" warning on the one pot?  Despite that warning, I still opened one from the wrong "end" while making my samples, and my Closet and I are "Forever Violet"!  It is a long post, so please cancel the morning chores, grab yourself a snack and a beverage, and sit back and relax.

Since we're coming up on my favorite season--Halloween and fall, I concentrated on making some samples that would lend themselves to this time of the year and beyond into Christmas.

I'll start with a variation of a technique I saw on  Annette's Creative Journey, which she learned in Tim's Creative Chemistry 1 class. Thank you for the inspiration, Annette!  I started with some leaves cut with Tim Holtz' Movers and Shapers die and white card.  First I spritzed them with Distress spray in Rusty Hinge.

While the spray was still wet, I sprinkled the surface with powders in Forever Green and Lemon Sparkle. Next I lightly spritzed with water, allowing the colors to blend a little.  I love how the powders leech out when wet and blend into the Distress spray. Finally I dried with my heat gun.

I used Walnut Stain Distress ink on the edges of one of the leaves to show how you can finish these off for a project.  Wouldn't these look great in a fall arrangement or on a Thanksgiving card?

I took that same technique and extended it to a masterboard.  I started with a Manila file folder and spritzed with Rusty Hinge, and sprinkled with Forever Green, Perfect Bronze, and Perfect Copper powders, spritzing with water and drying as above. Then I blended Vintage Photo Distress ink over the surface, spritzed it with water and dried once more with the heat gun to get that Vintage distressed look I so love.  This can be embossed, stamped, die cut or  some stenciling added as desired.  The color combinations are endless.

Here's a a masterboard using the same technique, but this time I used Hickory Smoke and Evergreen Bough Distress sprays and Heirloom Gold and Pewter Powders. The colors remind me of mercury glass, which I collect.

I decided to make a faux mercury glass ornament for my Christmas tree, and pulled a paper mache' star from my stash. I gave it a coat of gesso, sprayed it with Hickory Smoke Distress spray, sprinkled with Heirloom Gold and Pewter powders, spritzed with water and dried as above. Isn't it crazy how Hickory Smoke looks almost eggplant in color when it's wet, but dries to a smokey grey?

Well, it's not exactly mercury glass--more like pewter. Perhaps good for a Thanksgiving project, when I bring out my pewter serving pieces.  The true test will be when it hangs from my tree with all those lights glinting off these shimmery surfaces. The shimmer is lost with my photography!

Here's a fun little Halloween background using a ghosting technique. This is an old technique, and I've seen and used it plenty of times, but I just thought it would be fun to make something for Halloween.  This just involves dusting a little powder on black card and inking a stamp with Versamark. When you make your impression on the powdered card, the ink lifts off the powder.  Give it a little spritz of water, and the powders blend ever so slightly over the negative space created by the stamp and seals the powders, so they won't wipe off. Ghastly!

I love this next discovery--I call it Warts and All (pardon me if you've seen it before; I haven't). I smeared Gel Medium over black card and also a card I coated with black gesso (to see if there would be a difference), sprinkled with powders  ( Forever Green, Perfect Bronze and Perfect Copper) while the gel is still wet.  I blasted it with my heat gun until bubbly.  Perfectly creepy!

Here is a recent project I did using this same technique along the top and bottom of the tag. You can visit my blog here if you would like to see close ups.


I also used the powders on the background, by spritzing Hickory Smoke distress spray through Tim Holtz' Shattered stencil, sprinkling on Pewter, Forever Green and Forever Violet powders, spritzing with water to blend and seal and then blending on Vintage Photo and Cracked Pistachio Distress inks. For the faucet handle, after coating with gesso,  I used Ranger's Vintage Photo Distress Crackle paint and Heirloom Gold, Pewter, and Perfect Copper powders sprinkled on while while the paint was wet.

The spiders and toadstool also were painted with powders mixed with Perfect Paper Adhesive in Gloss. The drops were made by slathering some texture paste through a Prima stencil, and while wet, adding a mixture of black UTEE and Pewter powder.  I blasted with my heat gun to melt the UTEE.

Not one to waste one drop of my effort or product, after removing the stencil from the background, I made a second card. I laid a piece of card over the "dirty" side of the stencil and ran my brayer over it to achieve this result.  The shimmer did not photograph well, but it looks great in real life.

I tried the "warts and all" technique on a chippy bird that happened to be flying by. I used Forever Violet, Pewter and Heirloom Gold powders, and once dried and warty, I blended on some Black Soot Distress ink. This feels so creepy in real life.  Imagine this on a witch die cut!

Next, I experimented with UTEE and embossing powders mixed with the powders. Using Tim's Movers and Shapers die, I cut a lantern from a scrap and a second from copy paper to use as a mask. (oops, the globe portion of the mask didn't make it into the photo) I masked my lantern so I could just ink the globe with Versamark.  I mixed Lemon Sparkle powder and clear embossing powder and applied this over the Versamark, and heated until melted. Next, I masked off the globe, and mixed black UTEE with Pewter. I inked the unmasked portion with Versamark and added the powder mixture and heated until melted.  I repeated two more times to build the layers of the top and base of the lantern. When cooled, I cracked the UTEE and wiped on some Caramel alcohol ink.

Here's a few more embellishments I made using black UTEE mixed with Heirloom Gold powder. I've seen this done in a similar manner on Eileen's Crafty Zone; I just mixed my UTEE and powders for some of mine.

I started by cutting a key using Tim's Hardware die, punched a couple circles  to make coins and pulled a random chippy from my stash. I inked my key with Versamark, added UTEE and heated.  I repeated with the UTEE two more times.  While the last layer was still molten, I added Heirloom Gold powder.  I inked my stamp (Stampers Anonymous) with Brilliance Black Lightning, heated the key and pressed the stamp in the hot enamel. When cooled, I removed the stamp. I decided to mix the UTEE and the powder to use on the coins and chippy. The results are almost identical and it's a little less fussy. If you are not going to stamp, you might want to choose the sprinkle method, because the shimmer seems to "float" in the enamel, as you can see in the third photo below.

With the UTEE/powder already mixed up, I decided to see what else I could do with it. I embossed black card with a Tim Holtz Texture Fade and swiped my Versamark pad over the raised areas. I covered the card with the powder mixture and tapped off the excess.  I heated with my heat gun, then repeated with more of the mixture a few more times in random areas to get variation in texture.  I can see many different uses for this using various embossing folders and color combinations for the upcoming holidays.

Here's a recent project I made using my powders in some of the techniques I've shared above. For the larger frame (Ornate Frame die), I used Brushed Pewter Distress Crackle paint, sprinkled it with Forever Violet powder while wet, and allowed it to dry.  For the smaller frame (heat embossed Hampton Art image), I painted the leaves with a mixture of Perfect Paper Adhesive and Forever Violet powder. Inside the card I used the ghosting technique and a Stampin' Up image for the sentiment. Click on the link if you would like a closer view.

Are you still with me? I would like to share one more technique with you using Perfect Paper adhesive and powders.  I mixed the adhesive and Forever Violet powder on my craft mat, and swiped it through Tim's Halloween stencil. I removed the stencil and washed it immediately.  This stuff dries fast!  I allowed the tag to air dry and this is my end result.  It's really pretty in real life.  Lesson learned from this experiment is to be careful not to be too frugal with the powder.  The more you add, the stiffer your paste will be, and you'll get a "cleaner" result. If you use a stencil where you can reverse the image, it's fun to take a second sheet of card, place it over your gluey side, and roll a brayer over it to transfer the color. Pick the stencil up, and you will be rewarded with a fantastic texture.  I didn't work fast enough with this particular trial, so I couldn't get a photo. Below is a quick sample I made to give you an idea.

I hope this post has inspired you to dig out your Perfect Pearls Mica Powders and give them a new life on your next project!

There's still time to join in the fun of Niki's recycle/restyle challenge--Mixed Media Makeover! You have until the 4th of October to play.  You'll find all the challenge details and lots of inspiration from myself and my brilliant Teamies by clicking on the challenge link.  

Thank you for sticking by me through this gruesomely long post! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Hugs and Blessings!
Sara Emily


  1. Amazing post my dear! So many techniques and ideas in one place! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Samra! It was fun trying different things! Hugs to you!

  2. One question I have is-do the PP need something sticky to "hold" onto before you spray with water? I love this tutorial and all this information is genius! Now to get some time to try these techniques out! You have inspired me to make a go with these PP! Hugz to you muffin!

  3. Well, I have an answer! You can put the powders on anything and they will "stick" because they have a built in binder, unlike Pearl Ex. See the example of Mr. Skelly above. BUT you do want to give them a mist of water to seal them. Even then, I've had them wipe off ever so slightly, but mostly it does the trick. (Perhaps I didn't give an adequate spritz) And as you can see from my examples where I do use something sticky like Versamark or Distress ink, the color is deeper and richer. Play with them and have fun! But remember to open them from the right side! Happy I inspired you! Hugs to you, Punkin!

  4. Sara, this is the best spotlight post about PP I've seen! So many fantastic techniques and examples! Thank you so much for a great inspiration! I really enjoyed reading this! Amazing job! Big hugs! Branka xxx

  5. Absolutely amazing effects Sarah, wow, the variety is mind blowing and brilliant colour combos!! You have just really inspired me to take out my pps!!!

  6. What a fabulously shimmery creation - amazing tips and techniques with the Perfect Pearls. I have them all sitting there and use them so rarely, so thank you for a brilliant nudge to play!
    Alison x

  7. Another awesome tutorial, thank you for sharing your experiments with us Sara - I've learnt new techniques to try with my mediums and Perfect Pearls by reading this. Funnily enough some of my PPs are on my desk right now because I've been trying to use them with and over acrylic paint - I've not gone thick enough with that layer. So I will try the shimmery bubbled warts and all technique - not gone that far yet. Thank you ladies Karen x

  8. I have so many of these and now I have lots of reasons to play with them! I love the metallic look keys and 'coins'. I knew about the binder in the PPs but did not realize I could heat them with UTEE. SOOO many ways to play! Thanks! Great post!

  9. Thank you, ladies! Your comments really made my day, and I'm so pleased you are inspired to get our your mica powders and play! I can't wait to see how you will use them!

  10. Sara, I have had some of these for years and never touched them! Thanks to your brilliant tutorial I now have lots of brilliant ideas for using them. Love what you did with the skeleton and the spider web! Excellent tutorial! Hugs, Anne xx

  11. Thank you so much, Anne! Hugs right back at you!

  12. Sara!
    Wow- your samples and examples had me reading over a few times- now this is bookmarked!! Thanks o much for sharing
    these techniques- my powders have been sitting on my studio table forever- just begging to be used- thanks for the inspiration to pull them out and play again!!
    Have to say- warts & all is my fav!! eweeeeeee!! xo

  13. oh there are great ideas here for PP! I would love to get more use out of mine. I'm definitely going to try the "warty" technique. =)