PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ask Krissi's Art Studio: Painting with Micas


Dear Krissi's Art Studio:

I have a collection of mineral makeup pigments that are not safe to use as intended (don't ask). What acrylic medium would I use if I wanted to paint with them?  
 I've tried a few things as a carrier medium - even Elmer's Glue (like we used as kids).  My attempts never seem to turn out quite right: for example, the mixative either seem too opaque and kills the mica reflective properties, or it's not opaque enough and turns out to be a wash when I needed something more solid.  I can usually work with the latter if I gesso first, but that's not always practical on tiny pieces that have wee crevices I need to detail with little physical room for multiple layers of paint.


 What am I doing wrong?


Stuck on Acrylics



Dear Sticky Friend,

Elmer's Glue?  O_o  Great for kids crafts, not great for painting items you want to sell.  We don't judge here though, so let's get to the answers:


  1. Safety first: While you can use mineral makeup (MMU) pigments in art, please don't use your art micas on your face - they can cause irritation, infection and even scratch your corneas. 
  2. A little background: MMU pigments are basically mica powders with some cosmetic-safe ingredients added to help them adhere to your eyelids. Many also have other cosmetic-safe colorants, dyes and glitters in them. But this post isn't about making or using makeup, so...
  3. Micas as paint: There are mixing mediums on the market for various applications, just the fabric paints/mediums I discussed in my first post
    • Initially I was going to recommend LuminArte's Simple Solutions, which was made specifically for turning micas into acrylic paints, but that product has been discontinued.  You may ask, "But Krissi!  Why, oh why would they do that?"  Well, my friends, because most of the art/craft micas now have a binder incorporated into them so they can be mixed with anything, including water.  That means that those specific mediums aren't necessary (which is good for your wallet, unless you're trying to dump some unsafe eye makeup).
    • Since the makeup micas you are using don't contain acrylic binders (we hope!), don't despair.  Just head down to your local art supply shop and find yourself some acrylic medium.  I highly recommend using the gloss medium since the matte products contain light absorbing particles that can dull and cloud your colors. 
    • Another option is to add your micas into some transparent fluid acrylic paint (like select Golden Fluid Acrylics).  A high quality translucent paint will allow the reflective properties of the glitter and micas to show through while adding more coverage.  Craft paints will not work for this purpose as they are usually created to be opaque and will dull the micas when mixed.
    • Try to remember that you are repurposing makeup and that you are never going to get the same effect or coverage that you would with a properly mixed artist paint.  Of course, if the paints don't work the way you like, why not try something a little different?
  4. Other ideas: 
    • Instead of mixing your micas directly into your acrylic medium, why not try brushing a little on overtop of medium (called "sizing") applied to your surface?  This is called flash gilding.  A few very light coats of spray sealant over the top will keep everything in place on decorative pieces.
    • Suspend a little of your mica in a thicker product like resin and then pour it into a mold or brush it onto something. 
    • Mix it into transparent polymer clay or brush it over the top of colored polymer clay and varnish for a pretty awesome decorative piece!
    • There are more ways to use mica powders out there, including this cool little idea I came across - I'd like to try this with clear Contac paper or packing tape!  Why not do a Google search for "mica powder art" and see what YOU come up with?

Krissi Sandvik is a mixed-media artist and the owner of Krissi's Art Studio, home of Skelekitty and Friends.  She was recently named "best tutorialer on the web" by her friend Rachelle Rose.

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