How-To: Quick Drying Glimmer Mist Spray Recipe

Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist BottleWhile exploring the world of mixed media and art journaling, I came across some nifty ideas. One that caught my attention was that of “glimmer mist”—bottles of coloured sprays that seemed to glisten on the page.

With a bit more searching I saw many tips, techniques, and tutorials for making your own glimmer sprays. A lot of the tutorials used metallic liquid acrylic paint—the kind you can usually pick up for about $1-2 each at Wal-Mart or craft stores—and water. Some used the paint and alcohol. I knew I had to try them out.

First, I went to local Wal-Mart and picked up a bunch of 2oz. travel-sized spray bottles ($.97 each) and a large bottle of isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol) and a couple bottles of metallic liquid acrylic paint.

After much experimenting I came up with a recipe that I absolutely adore using a 3:1 ratio of alcohol to water. It’s quick drying (about 10 seconds/5 with a dryer) and doesn’t buckle the paper as badly as straight water. Plus, I’ve found something even better than liquid acrylic paint: acrylic ink. Specifically, FW Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Ink by Daler-Rowney (which I already had in my art trove).

The acrylic ink ($4-6 per bottle) is more expensive than the acrylic paint, however, you can get away with using a very small amount, so a single bottle of ink will let you create many many bottles of glimmer mist. And you get a beautiful diffuse mist that results in a lovely lightly coloured sheen.

A bad picture of the Silver Moss coloured glimmer spray
A bad picture of the Birdwing Copper coloured glimmer spray
(I used two colours: Silver Moss up top and Birdwing Copper below. Sorry my photos suck.)

Here’s the recipe:

  • 5-10 drops of pearlescent acrylic ink (adjust for colour saturation preference)
  • 0.25 oz of water (about 1/8th of the bottle)
  • 1.5 oz of isopropyl alcohol (a bit more than half the bottle)

Please note: You do NOT need to use any glue or adhesives if you use the pearlescent ink or metallic paint.

Combine all the above in the travel-sized spray bottle, put the spray nozzle back on, and gently swirl the mixture around. Your glimmer mist is ready to go. Test it and add more ink if the colour isn’t bold enough for you. In between uses, the ink may settle at the bottom—just give it a good swirl and it’s ready to use again.

(BTW, this recipe can also be used to make alcohol inks—just swap the acrylic ink for india ink and double the amount of ink used.)

Now a few cautions:

  • The alcohol can be quite strong, so if you’re using a lot of glimmer spray, make sure it’s in a well ventilated area;
  • The glitter (the stuff that gives the mist its glimmer) will readily rub off on your fingers, hands, clothing, hair, whatever, so when you’re finished make sure to seal the project (I use a clear acrylic sealer—you can even continue painting over it afterward);
  • This should go without saying, but I’ll say it just in case: Your glimmer spray is inflammable, so don’t use near open flames.

Even with my love of the acrylic ink recipe, there’s still a place for using the acrylic paint when you want a bolder colour. And this is a random tip if you do decide to make your glimmer spray using metallic paint instead of ink: Make sure you don’t use too much paint in the mixture. It’s the reason some mixtures will be more of a stream when sprayed rather than a light mist.

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