Watercolors are one of the most versatile mediums for artists. They allow you to easily mix, blend, and shade, and many artists enjoy the ability to create designs with deep shades of color or soft, almost translucent hues. Although watercolors come in many colors and shades, there’s nothing better than making your own watercolor choices. You may find that the process is just as fulfilling as the painting. If you are interested in designing your watercolor paints, read on as we discuss how to make watercolor paints using mica powder.
The Supplies You Need
Having supplies ready and on hand makes every process go more smoothly. Gather all the materials you need to create your watercolors with mica powder so that you can get started. Here’s a list of what you need:
- 1 cup of distilled water
- ¼ cup of honey
- ½ cup gum arabic
- Two drops of clove essential oil (a natural preservative)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- A stone counter surface or glass surface
- Glass bowl
- Watercolor half pans
- Palette knife
You may want to add gloves to the list if you don’t want to stain your hands, as well as a mask since mica powder is very fine and easy to inhale.
Making the Binder
Your mica powders need a binder to work properly for the watercolor paints. Without it, the powder just floats around and won’t stick to whatever you are putting it on.
For this part, you’ll need the glass bowl, distilled water, gum arabic, honey, and clove oil. Mix all those ingredients and refrigerate it for 24 hours.
You can also purchase ready-made binders at an arts and crafts store, but you will save some money if you make your own. Plus, the all-natural results are satisfying.
Combine the Mica Powder With the Binder
Once the binder has set, it’s time to mix the mica powder with the binder and see your glorious colors come to life. You will use a ratio of 1:3—one part mica powder to three parts of the binding agent. It’s okay to adjust as needed. As you get into the mixing process, you’ll know if you need a little more mica powder or more or less binder. Keep in mind that watercolor half pans are small, only about 2ml. Since a tablespoon is 15ml, that gives you an idea of how little you need of each.
Let’s look at the steps for mixing the binding agent with the mica powder.
- On your work surface, pour some of the mica pigment (remember the 1:3 ratio and that you don’t need much).
- Add about 1/3 of the binder.
- Use the muller to blend them.
- Add another 1/3 of the binder.
- Look at the color and decide if you need more pigment. If so, add a little more at a time until it reaches the desired shade.
- Add the rest of the binder.
- Using the palette knife, scrape up the paint and place in a half pan.
Repeat these steps for each color until complete. You can make a larger amount of the binder if you’re going to make a lot of colors at once.
Storing Your Watercolor Paints
Different types of paints require different storage techniques. Watercolors are unique because they can dry out and be brought back to life with water, unlike an oil paint or acrylic, which requires protection from prolonged air exposure.
Keep your watercolors in the half pans and place the pans in a container. Once dry, they can even stack on top of each other in the container; however, it’s best to put wax paper or something like that in between each one if you stack them. Store the containers in a cool, dry area in your home or art studio. Don’t let your watercolor paints get too warm, or they’ll crack and separate.
The Benefits of Homemade Watercolor Paints
There is often something fulfilling about making anything from scratch, and creating your own watercolor paints using mica powder is no different. There’s a sense of accomplishment you feel as you reach for a color that no one can buy in a store. On top of that, homemade paints are free of things you don’t need in your life. Here’s a list of things you won’t miss with homemade watercolors, but that are in most store-bought ones:
- Heavy metals
- Chemical preservatives
- Petroleum-based pigments
And here’s what you’ll have in your homemade paints:
- High-quality paint
- Archival excellence
- Incredible luminosity
- Unique shades
Why Mica Powder?
One of the reasons people choose to make their own products, such as homemade watercolor paints, is to avoid chemicals and other toxins. That’s what makes mica powder a great choice. It’s a naturally occurring mineral dust with no chemicals in it. Beyond the fact that mica is natural and not man-made, here are a few more reasons why it’s the best pigment choice for watercolor paints:
- Mica powder mixes easily with a binder.
- Mica powder adds a glimmer that regular colors don’t have.
- A little goes a long way.
- It’s easy to control how deep or light you want a shade to be.
Storing Mica Powder
After creating your watercolor paints with mica powder, you’ll likely have plenty of powder left since it takes just a small amount to get the job done. If you store your mica powders properly, you can easily use them over and over. The best way to keep them fresh is to keep your mica powders in the jars they come in with the lids sealed shut.
If you are like many hobbyists, you may end up with a lot of powders, resulting in a storage problem. We’ve got a few suggestions to help you keep your pigments and mica powder containers organized:
- Drawer organizers to keep colors in order
- A spice rack on the wall for easy access
- Shelving unit with baskets
- Pantry containers for stacking
Check out arts and craft stores and look in the scrapbooking and painting areas. Those places often have unique storage items.
Eye Candy Pigments is the place to find all-natural mica powder pigments for your homemade watercolor paints and more. We even offer wholesale mica pigment for those needing larger quantities. Check out our wide selection of beautiful colored pigments, and let us know if you have any questions.