Shimmerfy your own inks. Because you can.

(As I note below – these mixes work best with dip pens and in eyedroppers with non-finned feeds. If this isn’t your first rodeo, go ahead and use the mixes in whichever pen you like, as long as you can disassemble and clean and reassemble afterward. Play with care. 🙂 )

J. Herbin, now look what you’ve done. Rouge Hematite stained our hands, sinks, and demonstrators – but that sheen! That indescribable gold-green shimmer! That showstopper red that soaked through many a ream of Tomoe River paper!

Blue Ocean was a wash until reissued with twinkles. Stormy Grey was so popular, many online retailers limited it to two a customer, like LV Neverfulls at the flagship store. The recent frenzy over Emerald of Chivor approached One Direction levels. (Thank you, Vanness Pens, for making sure I got my two bottles in time.)  And now social networks are frothing with anticipation over Diamine’s Shimmertastic inks (not just one, not two, but ten ink colors with rainbow unicorn payloads).

Pilot Iroshizuku yama-budo + Pearl Luster in Magic Pacific Lagoon

Pilot Iroshizuku yama-budo + Pearl Luster in Magic Pacific Lagoon, TWSBI 1.5 mm nib

Only 0.01% of my inks have shining shimmering splendor in them, so I figured I’d up the ratio and have a little mad scientist fun along the way. Kremer Pigments has everything mad scientists need.

Fountain pen inks are usually dyes. Pigment inks (like Platinum Carbon Black) have particulates that tend to hang out in feeds long after you’ve rinsed your pens. Put a dye-based ink and shiny pigment together and you have your own shimmery ink to play with. Pigments are everywhere:  cosmetic grade pigments are in shimmer eyeshadow, highlighting powder, blush, and more. Pearlescent pigments, synthetic mica, color shifting powders – change the carrier and you have paint, or a moisturizer that makes your skin glow.

Kremer is where I get half-pans to refill watercolor boxes. This visit, I added three bottles of pearl luster pigments, to mix with the inks I already have.

Pilot Blue Black + Pearl Luster in Magic Pacific Lagoon, Desiderata pen with Zebra G nib

Pilot Blue Black + Pearl Luster in Magic Pacific Lagoon, Desiderata pen with Zebra G nib

These mixes don’t play well in regular cartridge/converter pens. I love using them in eyedroppers – particularly in the Desiderata, which has an ebonite feed with no fins for particles to get stuck in.

I’ve been obsessing over mixes the past couple of days. It has gotten to the point where I see glitter when I close my eyes.

My two favorite inks are Pilot Blue Black and Platinum Carbon Black. PBB’s flow and sheen make pearl pigment almost “float,” which makes for even distribution. Platinum Carbon Black does not play well with others. It eats all the visible light in the universe, including pearl powder.

Pilot Iroshizuku yama-budo’s intense magenta with Pearl Luster in Pacific Lagoon is fireworks on paper.

Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake spiked with Diamine Yellow, plus Pearl Luster in Magic Purple, reminds me of Indian saris.

The mixes look damn good in demonstrators. I don’t intend to keep them in the pens for long, though.

A word of caution: although they look similar, crushed eyeshadow or pigments sold as makeup don’t work. The pigment load is there, but also binding and moisturizing agents that simply won’t work with ink or pens. There are many sources of pearl luster pigments online, although many deal in bulk orders. Kremer’s sizes start at 10g bottles – more than enough for playtime. You don’t need a lot. It does look like I’ll be needing more 15ml Nalgene bottles to hold the results of my experiments.

Sailor Tokiwa Matsu with Pearl Luster in Magic Indian Summer

Sailor Tokiwa Matsu with Pearl Luster in Magic Indian Summer

If you give this a shot, let me know. It’s way too much fun not to share.

Go forth and shimmerfy!

Pilot Iroshizuku chiku-rin with Pearl Luster in Magic Pacific Lagoon

Pilot Iroshizuku chiku-rin with Pearl Luster in Magic Pacific Lagoon


  • Dan Smith

    Oh, dear, what have you done?! I can see myself getting lost in experimentation for days! Pigment group buy, anyone?

  • Dav

    So, what are your suggested starting ratios?

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  • Elle Ibanez

    I know what I’m doing this weekend!!

  • Deirdre Saoirse Moen

    For those in the US, TBK Trading carries a lot of cosmetic grade micas (200 colors).

  • Gini Cooper

    I wonder if PearlEx would work? I may try that worth a Preppy outfitted as an eyedropper.

  • Kevin Joric Apolonio

    As if mixing inks weren’t fun enough as is, now I’m tempted to load up on pigments! Yikes.

  • Thomas Xavier

    Awesome work Leigh, not sure if I would have the guts to load up my pens with such mixtures but with dip pens? Sign me up!

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  • ashokdad

    Can you comment on the *approximate* pigment to ink ratio that worked for you to give all a starting point? I imagine a minimum pigment threshold before the glimmer sheen is noticeable…

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  • Margana

    Great ideas! I love your color combinations. Might have to track down my jars of Pearl Luster, but I’ll stick to dip nibs. Some of the widest ones would be perfect.

  • sanjay

    amazing article and pics, love it, time to get some experiment gloves on

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  • Miss Thundercat

    I can’t wait to try this Leigh! I have a fair amount of Pearl Ex shimmers and they look the same as Pearl Luster. I might just experiment a little with that fist 🙂

  • leighpod

    Yes! Many Pearl Ex powders seem to fall within the right micron range. Play! 😀

  • T E Coke

    I went to Kremer on Friday. While buying the pigments I had to wait because some of the colors I wanted were not in the 10g size. So the lovely people of Kremer were kind enough to take the larger bottles and split them into 10g bottles for me. Another customer asked me what I was going to do with the pigments I chose and when I told him about mixing them with fountain pen ink. The employee who was the making me smaller bottles said that he had seen your post and thought it looked great.

  • Cassia Neelley

    *swoon* Your color choices and lettering are lovely & inspiring.

  • Fabian Devandri

    Hi Leigh is it possible to use embossing powder for this? I live Singapore so I’m not sure where to get these

  • leighpod

    Hi Fabian! Overjoyed SG carries Pearl Ex. You can use those! (Don’t use embossing powder!)