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Polished Pigment Baubles

How to Create Brilliant Christmas or Holiday Ornaments or Baubles
Using Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments by Jaquard or Polished Pigments by Luminarte

by Sharla Hicks © 2007 revised © 2010
Note: Pictures provided by LuminArte

 

 

Heart Examples Polished Pigment Baubles

 

Christmas Ornaments

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If you are looking for a WONDERFUL family project around the Christmas theme, consider Brillant Baubles! These ornatments are decorated on the INSIDE and are absolute magic to make.

I spent the month of September 2007 at the Los Angeles County Fair doing Make and Take Demo's A fun time was had by all and it was definitely more fun to do as a group. Families sat down to play or gathered around to watch their loved ones make an ornament.

  • The wees ones 2-4 participated by selecting the colors that the parents put inside the balls.
  • I found that the 5-7 year olds had shorter attention spans and required someone one at their elbow to help, plus they liked doing the small balls because they were faster.
  • The 8-9 years old needed close adult supervision to keep them on track to not waste pigments.
  • The teens (boys and girls) were super excited and came up with some very creative coloring.
  • The adult men were the most fun to watch as they would advise their wives about color choices and the wife would protest "This is my ball, do your own!" and then they would throw up their arms and say, "Oh just give me one," because they did not want to be left out.

I was a hit during the after Thanksgiving Dinner lull at our large family gathering (30+). As the table cleared I laid out the pigments and micas and everyone made 2-3 balls each. I had the grandparents in awe exclaiming, "I have never seen any activity that involved everyone in the room that was not food!" Even my 75 year old father and mother made 2 each!!

Polished Pigment Baubles
AKA
Brillant Baubles
Ornament Examples


Step 1

  1. To remove the metal top of the bauble, hold the metal ring and gently pull.

  2. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of Acrylic Medium into a clear ornament.
    NOTE: Soft Expressions carries Liquitex Fabric Acrylic Medium & Iridescent Medium that will both work nicely

    Liquitex Fabric Medium
    Liquitex Acrylic
    Fabric Medium
    Liquitex Glass Beads Medium
    Liquitex
    Iridescent Medium

  3. Rotate, twist and turn your ornament until the inside of your glass ornament is completely covered with the Acrylic Medium

  4. NOTE: It is important to drain out excess medium by placing the ornament on top of the bottle or container to catch the solution as it drips.
    • Excess solution causes the colors to bleed together and results in a grayer tone. This is a choice you want to make, not have happen to you because the ornament was too wet. If you see small puddles pooling inside the ornament, then you will get the bleeding effect. NOTE: If you love gray tones, keep the inside of the bauble slightly wetter by draining less time and using the bleeding of the colors to your advantage. You will learn a lot about how colors mix and interact.

Step 1 pour solution in bauble Tip on how to drain excess solutions

Time requirements to allow solution to drain back into the ornament:

  • Drips should slow to about 1 drop per every 3 seconds. This takes approximately 1 - 2 minutes.

  • If there are areas that look like they have an excess amount of solution, then concentrate on getting that puddle to drip out of the bauble.

  • For a more stable application of the pigments without excessive bleeding, let the ornament rest 2-3 minutes to create a semi-tacky surface.

  • You can allow the bauble to drain for 5-10 minutes and still have a viable amount of Acrylic Medium inside the bauble.

  • TIP: Hearts and other irregular surfaces will require more rotation and tipping to remove excess solution.

  • How to remove excess solution from ornament
    • Take a small piece of paper towel or Kleenex and twist into a pointed tip that will fit into the ornament.
    • Stick pointed tip inside the opening and wick out the excess solution.

Step 2

Make Pure Color Pigment and Mica Choices:

  • Optional: Add micro-cut glitter and opalites for a wonderful sparkle inside the ornament.
    • Tip about Opalites: The opalites are large chunks of opal flake mica and have a hard time fitting into smaller bauble openings. Often they want to clump. Easy with Mixing the opalites with the Acrylic Medium, remove the cap, and pour them into bauble. This technique seems to distribute them more evenly around the bauble.
    • Tips about Micro-Cut Glitter: Adding glitters before adding pigments allow some control of placement of the sparkles around the bauble. Adding glitter after pigments allows the glitter to fill in gaps between colors.

Choose 2 - 4 colors of Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments or Primary Elements Polished Pigments (no longer available at Soft Expressions)

Pearl Ex Products

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When choosing color keep in mind the MICA that will used as the final color filler in the bauble.

  • There are 8 Metallic Micas and 8 Iridescent Micas. The iridescent micas appear white with slight tinge of color. When activated with acrylic medium, the white takes on a beautiful opalescent glow of the dominate tone.
    • Iridescent Gold is magical when a lighter gold is desired.
    • Iridescent Green interacts against pigments like an opalescent bringing a beautiful pale green glow to the bauble

  • Warm and cool colors known as compliments create an exciting balance of color. Look for the light and dark variations of each color family. Examples:
    • Reds and Greens (red, cranberry, celery green) (pink and dark greens)
    • Blues and Yellow (navy, gold) (baby blue, yellow, touches of dark blue)
    • Oranges or Coppers and Blues & Blue Greens
    • Purples, Lavenders, Red Violets and Yellows, Yellow Oranges or Golds

  • Same color families work best when using a very light and strong dark together for contrast. For excitement add a Compliment (a color across the wheel) Examples:
    • Reds, Deep Cranberries, Pinks—compliment with Blue or Green pigments & Copper Mica or Gold Mica
    • Royal Blue, Baby Blue, Iridescent Blue compliment with Pearl Luster Mica
    • Green, Deep Dark Green, Chartreuse—compliment with a red violet or orange rust like Copper Mica
    • Yellow, Iridescent Gold Mica, Gold Metallic Mica—compliment with Pearl Luster Mica

  • Analogous color (side by side on the color wheel) Remember to look for the light and dark versions for contrast in the bauble. Examples:
    • Blue, Blue Green, Green (light and dark variations) use Gold or Copper for added excitement
    • Blue Green, Green and Yellow Orange (light and dark variations) Use Gold or Copper Mica for added excitement
    • Green, Yellow Orange and Orange (light and dark variations) Use Iridescent Green, Gold or Copper Mica for added excitement.
    • Red, Red Violet, and Purples (light and dark variations) Use a Iridescent Red, Red Metallic, Gold Metallic or Copper Mica for added excitement.
    • Yellow, Red Orange, Yellow Green. Use a Iridescent Red, Red Metallic, Gold Metallic or Copper Mica for added

Step 3

How to place Pigments and Micas inside the Ornament

  • Use a mini scoop or thin stick provided pick up a small amount of your 1st pigment or optional add glitter or opalites. (Tool choice will depend on opening size in bauble and the amount of color desired.)

  • NOTE: For better control of pigment placement, carefully place the stick or scoop through the ornament's opening and gently shake a few grains of pigment off the end of the stick or scoop. Repeat until you are satisfied with color coverage.

  • To spread the pigment and begin the blending process, gently swirl or tap the ornament.

  • TIP: Start with a light coverage. It is easier to add and impossible to remove.

  • TIP: A slightly heavier area of pigment dropped in one place will result in a dominate area of color. If the area is too extreme, the color field can be broken down a when adding mica.

  • TIP: Using the same directional swirling movement of the bauble when adding the pigment can result in very interesting striping effect around the ornament.

Add second color

    use scoop to add pigment swirl or gently tap ornatment
    Step 3
    Add pigment & then gently tap and swirl the bauble to begin color blending

How much pigment to add

  • Powdered Pigments colors are very concentrated and a little goes a long way.

TIP regarding strong pigments:

  • Watch out for the following Colors as they tend to dominate and bleed thorough other pigments and micas.
  • Any deep, strong, rich pigment like reds, red oranges, dark blues, deep greens and purples lightly but evenly scattered inside the ornament can take over lighter areas of colors as they begin to dry. This effects begins as soon as the ornament starts drying and does not matter how light the ornament coloration started out. The color will shift toward the darker pigments. CAREFULLY watch how much pigment is spread inside the bauble. You will be surprised at how even the tiny dots of pigment will bleed through the lighter colors.

Add additional color pigments

  • Repeat Step 2 for each additional color and remember to use GENTLE tapping and swirling to facilitate the blending of the colors. When adding each new color, remember that some darker and deeper tones will dominate so go lightly with those pigments.
  • ALSO, leave some open areas for the Mica.

TIP: If you find the colors are not moving to your liking, try adding a few drops of acrylic medium, note the operative work here is a FEW drops! Be careful not to add too much solution as this will cause the pigments to slump away from the sides of the bauble wasting the pigment. Once slumping starts it will continue and the bauble will dry with large areas of clear glass and clumps of pigment visible inside.

Swirl New Color Add third color

Swirl Color
Repeat Step 2 for each color.
Gently tap and swirl the bauble to facilitate color blending

Step 4

The Final Coloring Step is adding the Accent powder

Note about Mica:

  • Micas adds the magical sparkle, luster and opalescence to the finished bauble.

  • Mica is the most economical element used in the bauble. It is a good choice for the final application of color which takes several scoops to fill in the remaining open gaps.

  • Mica helps to dry the inside by soaking up the remaining Acrylic Medium.

  • There are two types of Micas, Metallic Micas and Iridescent Micas.

    • Metallic micas bring a glitter and luster to surface with their grainy flecks that catch and refract light.
      • Copper Mica is a great compliment to Purples, Greens, and Blues. Soften Copper by layering in Bronze.
      • Any one of the Gold Micas will be dramatic with any color and add a spark of warmth to the often cooler pastels.
      • The Pearl Luster Mica acts almost like a glitter as the mica is very grainy allowing it to sparkle insides the ornament.
      • Each Metallic Mica brings its own unique luster to a surface.
    • Iridescent Micas add a touch of lightness but do not be fooled into thinking they are white. When activated with Acrylic Medium the white takes on a beautiful opalescent glow of the underlying tone. Their beauty is unparalleled as they add luster and opalescence to the finished ornament. When a lightening of an ornament is needed behind a darker pigment or mica, the Iridescent Micas are the perfect choice.
      • It is amazing how gold the Iridescent Gold is while at the same time having an lighter airy quality. It can be used to enhance depth in the layering when adding other Gold Metallic Micas.
      • Iridescent Green brings a true opalescent effect that gleams out especially when used with grayer toned colors, it simply gleams through all the colors.
      • Try each Iridescent Mica and see how uniquely they interact with the Acrylic Medium and note the visual interaction with the pigments and glass surface.
  • NOTE: Remember to go lightly with the darker-deeper pigments because they can overwhelm the lighter micas as the ornament dries.

How to add the Mica:

  • Scoop 5-6 scoops of mica into the ornament. (Note: Larger ornaments can take 10-15 scoops)
  • Shake the ornament vigorously to fill in empty areas.
  • Continue to add additional scoops as needed and shake until there are no longer any clear glass areas. Sometimes dry mica will shake out but not always.
  • Peering inside the ornament allows you to see where you may need some additional mica coverage. The ornament does not have to light free, but an even coverage of the glass will enhance the ball.
  • NOTE: NO two ornaments will be the same, that is part of the FUN!

Add compliment color Vigoursly shake ornament

Step 5: To complete

Reinsert the ring on top of your ornament. Optional: Use silver and gold ribbon for additional elegance.

Step 6: Whoops this is Ugly!!

YUK, You find that you really hate a color combination. Don't worry, it happens to the best of us. You will get better and better at your color selections as you experiment and find out how your pigments and micas work together.

  • Alas you can salvage a ugly duckling occasionally by letting it dry overnight. As the ball dries the mixing and blending interaction can turn an okay ball into something spectacular often in grayed tones.

  • Another trick is to add a FEW droplet of Acrylic Medium to activate the pigments inside the ornament and see what happens. The areas where the solution lands will wet the drier pigments and they will blend and spread across the surface. The darker deeper pigments will play a stronger role when wetted with this method. REMEMBER: To much Acrylic Medium and the pigments will slump off the surface, so gingerly add only a few additional droplets of solution.

  • Okay, what about that no hope bauble that did NOT look better in the morning. The following method works for 2-3 days after completion. NOTE: One bauble I tried to clean out after 3 weeks had dried to the point that the pigments flaked off in chunks. I had a narrow opening and was unable to shake out the chunks.

    1. Add enough Acrylic Medium to activate the slumping pigment effect
    2. When the pigments begin to pull away from the inside continue to turn the bauble and shake till soggy. The pigmented solution will be drippy. Let sit for few minutes or let it percolate overnight.
    3. When all is drippy and slumping, take the bauble to sink and rinse out. The bauble is slippery when wet so be careful to not drop it. Don't you hate the sound of breaking glass.
    4. You may have a tiny residual of mica that sticks inside the bauble but it is minuscule and will blend away when you start over.
    5. Air dry overnight or until the water is gone from inside the bauble.
    6. Taa--Daa, your ornament is good as new and ready to start anew.



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