Pearls 101: History, Tips & Tricks
Pearls mostly come in a dry form today and are made of synthetic materials know as Micas. Today’s Pearls come in a wide array of shapes, colors and sizes. Even though there is a much greater offering today than the old school Pearls. IMO you can’t beat the old Murano and Metal flake brands
In the 50s, 60 and well into the 70s the great pearls came in a paste form the most popular brand being Murano made by the Metal flake and Mearl Corporations. These brand of Pearls contained ground glass and ground Abalone shells that had a high content of lead as the shells environment was in lead salts. With the EPA ban and restrictions of lead content in the 70s and 80s the Mearl company went under as did the Metal flake company some years later. Seems the Government deemed inhaling shells laced with lead and ground glass was not good for you… go figure! I still have a few jars of the Murano in various shades and they are as fresh as the day I bought them many years ago. If you ever see a jar of these at a garage sale or flea market….. BUY them! Custom Painters die for this stuff.
A Southern California Painter by the name of Dean Jefferies was the Godfather of the Pearl Paint Job, Jefferies teamed up with the Metal Flake Company and they produced what was deemed the INDY Pearl.
Dean lived across the street from Indy Car (Big Car) Driver Troy Ruttman and loved the scene so much he joined the circus and crewed on many Champ Cars in the 50s and 60s. The term Indy Pearl came from Deans paint work on the Watson Roadsters of A J Foyt’s Sheraton Thomson Special and A J Agajanians Ole Calhoun driven by Rufus Parnelli Jones. Even though there were Kandy graphics on these cars what stood out was the glowing Indy White Pearl. In the early 60s Dean painted 21 of the 33 Indianapolis 500 starters.
When the Watsons were restored Dean painted Foyt’s and supplied his Indy White Pearl for Agajanians car. If you have ever seen these cars in their restored form they are absolutely gorgeous cloaked in their Indy Pearl.
There are many paints that have the pearl in the color now! I’m not going to cover that.. I’m going Old School application and techniques here!
Pearl powders or paste are mixed with clear and sprayed directly over the final color coat. Pearl over a solid color, Pearl over a Kandy color, Pearl over Pearl……..
Just like Kandies pearl tones look best over certain colors although there are no hard fast rules. Good combinations would be: Base coat Red - Pearl top coat, Gold, Orange, Violet and Burgundy. Base coat Blue - Pearl top coat, Gold, Violet, Green. Base coat Yellow - Pearl top coat, Gold, Green, Red, Orange. Base coat Purple – Pearl top coat, Silver, Green, Red. Base coat Black – Pearl top coat, any color. Base coat White – Pearl top coat, any color. Lets paint…….
A) Slightly over Reduce your clear as recommended by about 10%
B) Pearls are easier and more forgiving to apply than Kandies, however you still have to have a keen eye and walk the dog……. maintain a 50% overlap just like Kandies.
C) Add Pearl to taste….. Typically, one teaspoon per quart…. You can do the math…. A little gooooos a long way. Tip spray some test panels…. You can kill a great base coat with too much Pearl! Less is more!
D) Apply Medium Wet Wet, Meaning: Slightly wetter than kandies, the reason for this is to get the micas to flow and orient themselves in differect directions to achieve maximum reflectivity.
E) Even though the Pearl particles seem light as a feather, when mixed with clear they settle fast; they need to stay in suspension. TRICK add a couple of BBs to your jar or cup and swirl or lightly shake often.
F) I personally like a hint of Pearl, I spray one full medium wet wet coat. With recommended flash time. I then cut that mixture another 10% with reducer and spray another medium wet wet coat and let that flash. After two rounds of pearl I’m typically done with the pearl application. If you want a bit more Pearl bling add more coats adhering to flash times. Caution here as stated above too much Pearl can ruin a great base coat!
G) Apply two full wet coats of clear over the Pearl for protection of the finish.
Again have fun with the Pearls and Kandies. Create your own special colors. Experiment! These types of finishes can be very fun and fulfilling…. I have a blast with these elixirs each day…. I am one blessed man!
Peace…… Jimmy “RASS”