Glitter makes everything better. At least that’s what crafters, artists, and designers often say. The tiny reflective flecks of glitter add a magical sparkle and shine to any material they touch.
Acrylic paint is a popular medium for adding glittery effects. The fast-drying acrylics let you layer glitter and paint to create dazzling compositions. But acrylic and glitter each have their properties. Knowing how to mix the two properly results in stunning glitter acrylic art.
Mixing Glitter and Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paints are water-based and provide vibrant colors. They dry quickly which allows building up layers of paint. Acrylics stick to many surfaces including canvas, wood, glass, fabric, and more. This versatility makes them perfect for glitter craft projects.
Glitter consists of small pieces of plastic, metal, or glass in different shapes and sizes. The flecks reflect light to give a brilliant sparkly effect. Glitter comes in a wide color palette to match any acrylic paint.
Combining acrylics and glitter opens many creative possibilities. Here’s an overview of tips for successfully mixing the two media:
- Use fine craft-style glitter instead of large pieces which can sink in acrylics.
- Mix glitter with acrylic mediums first before adding to paint.
- Apply acrylics first, let dry, then add glitter on top.
- Stir paint frequently as glitter tends to settle on the bottom.
- Seal projects with a topcoat to encapsulate the glitter.
- Premixed glitter acrylics are also available for convenience.
With some care taken to combine the materials properly, glitter acrylics allow you to create all kinds of shimmering works of art.
Before jumping into working with glitter acrylics, it helps to understand the different types of glitter and how they interact with paint.
Glitter comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The most common glitter has a thin, transparent plastic base coated with a highly reflective metallic layer. But natural options like mica also add shimmer.
Glitter Shapes and Sizes
- Fine glitter – Tiny particles less than 1mm across. Provides even coverage and mixes well into acrylics.
- Medium glitter – Around 2-3mm in size. Adds chunky accents but may sink in paint.
- Large/chunky glitter – Up to 6mm across. Creates dramatic sparkle but harder to integrate into acrylics.
- Glitter flakes – Large flat pieces with a foil-like effect. Harder to coat fully with acrylic paint so best used on top.
Common Glitter Materials
- Plastic glitter – Made of PET plastic. Most common type with a bright reflective shine. Wide color range.
- Mica – Natural glitter mineral that comes as thin flakes. Provides a subtle pearlescent sheen.
- Holographic – Plastic coated with a holographic effect. Changes color depending on viewing angle.
- Metallic coated – Plastic, glass or mica coated with a metal like silver, gold, copper, etc.
Glitter Acrylic Paint Additives
Specialty acrylic paint additives contain suspended glitter to create premixed glitter paints. Popular options include:
- Martha Stewart Glitter – Ultra fine color coordinated glitter premixed in acrylic paint.
- DecoArt Extreme Sheen – Contains chunky iridescent glitter flakes up to 3mm.
- Liquitex Acrylic Ink! – Inks with max .5mm glitter particles optimized for mixing with paints.
Mixing Loose Glitter into Acrylic Paint
The most flexible way to make glitter acrylics is by mixing loose glitter with standard acrylic paints. This allows customizing the colors and glitter sizes. Here are some tips for best practices mixing loose glitter with acrylics:
Start with a Glitter Adhesive Mix
It’s best not to dump loose glitter directly into paint. The flecks tend to clump together and sink rather than dispersing.
First make a glue mixture to break up the glitter. Good options include:
- Acrylic medium – Helps suspend glitter and increases paint flow and transparency.
- Acrylic gel medium – Thicker but still transparent. Provides strong adhesion for glitter.
- Mod Podge – Classic glitter glue though not as flexible once dry as acrylics.
Mix a small amount of adhesive with the loose glitter first. Use enough to coat the glitter pieces fully.
Combine the Glitter Adhesive Mix with Paint
Next add small amounts of the glitter glue mix into the acrylic paint a bit at a time. Mix thoroughly with a brush, palette knife or craft stick to distribute evenly.
Too much glitter glue will make the paint too thin and transparent. Go slowly until the desired glitter concentration is reached.
The acrylic paint will tone down the glitter effect compared to glitter on its own. Use higher glitter to paint ratios for very sparkly mixes.
Maintain Mixing to Keep Glitter Suspended
Glitter tends to settle on the bottom as acrylic paint sits. Periodically stir the mixed glitter paint to re-disperse the glitter before using.
Pouring the paint into a sloshing container and shaking it can help mix settled glitter back up. Or use a mixing ball in the paint.
Paints can also be poured into a shallow tray and rolled with a brayer to re-mix settled glitter. Take care not to roll excessively which can damage the glitter pieces.
For long term storage of glitter acrylic mixes, a pouring medium can help keep the glitter suspended over time.
Seal Glitter Acrylics with a Topcoat
Once dried, glitter acrylic paintings should be sealed with a topcoat. This helps adhere any loose glitter pieces and provides protection.
Good topcoat options include:
- A layer of acrylic gel medium
- Spray acrylic sealers
- Polyurethane sprays
- Epoxy resin
Multiple thin coats allow the glitter to remain visible rather than getting buried under the topcoat.
Applying Glitter to Wet Acrylic Paint
For maximum sparkle, glitter can also be sprinkled directly onto wet acrylic paint:
Use Very Fine Glitter for Wet Application
Glitter sprinkled onto wet paint has less adhesive than mixing it into the acrylics. Fine glitter has more surface area for the paint to cling to.
Chunky glitter tends to sink and slide off wet paint unless mixed with a medium first. Reserve larger glitter for mixing into paint only.
Work Quickly Before Acrylics Dry
Wet acrylics dry fast, sometimes within minutes. Coat the surface with paint then immediately sprinkle on glitter.
Acrylics get less tacky as they dry. Glitter won’t stick as well to paint that has started drying and is losing its shine.
Mixing some acrylic medium into the paint can slow the drying time if working on a large surface.
Consider a Sealant Layer
For longevity, apply a thin sealant or topcoat layer over glitter applied to wet acrylics. This helps encapsulate any loose glitter pieces.
Spray sealants work well as brushing on a liquid layer can displace the glitter. Use light misting coats not to overload the glitter with topcoat.
Creating Glitter Acrylic Techniques and Effects
Once comfortable mixing glitter and acrylic paints, you can explore different techniques for creating dazzling works of art.
Glitter Gradient Backgrounds
For vibrant backgrounds, paint in acrylic color gradients. While wet, sprinkle glitter to adhere. The glitter will concentrate in the thicker paint areas
Glitter Acrylic Pour Painting
Create abstract fluid art by pouring puddles of glitter acrylics onto canvas. Tilt to swirl and mix the colors. The glitter trails beautifully through the swirling patterns
Faux Metal Glitter and Foil
Replicate metallic finishes like gold, silver or copper by mixing in fine glitter with acrylic paints. Layering over metal foil backgrounds boosts the metallic look.
Glitter Fade Paintings
Paint shapes with acrylic colors then brush on a glitter glue mix while wet. The glitter will fade out from the shapes for a unique ombré sparkle effect.
Mixed Media Glitter Collage
Incorporate glitter details into mixed media collages. Use gel medium to adhere glitter randomly or in patterns onto painted backgrounds along with paper scraps and other embellishments.
Glitter Acrylic Nail Art
Get creative with glitter embellishments on acrylic nails. Paint nails with glitter acrylic colors. Or adhere loose glitter on gel topcoats for dazzling nail art designs.
Glitter Resin Paintings
Pour clear epoxy resin over acrylic paintings with glitter details. This fully saturates and encapsulates the glitter for intense sparkle.
Glitter Paint Pour Crockery
Coat mugs, plates and other crockery with glue then quickly pour over glitter acrylics. Tilt to spread for dazzling dishware.
Best Surfaces for Glitter Acrylics
Glitter acrylics work well on porous surfaces where the paint can soak in providing maximum adhesion. Ideal surface options include:
- Canvas – Glitter acrylics work beautifully on canvas. The open weave helps grip the paint and glitter.
- Wood – Unfinished, untreated wood offers great adhesion for acrylics and glitter, especially softwoods.
- Paper and cardstock – For making glitter acrylic greeting cards or decorative papers.
- Plaster – Provides similar absorbency as canvas for bold acrylic and glitter wall art.
- Clay – Air dry clays take acrylics and glitter well for embellishing sculptures.
- Fabric and clothing – Adds sparkling details and designs to fabric projects. Best on natural materials versus synthetics.
- Ceramic bisqueware – Unfired clay absorbs acrylics and glitter then locks it in after kiln firing.
Glitter adheres best when it can grip into an absorbent substrate versus sitting on top of slick surfaces. Avoid glass, metals, plastics and laminated materials.
Common Problems When Using Glitter in Acrylics
Despite the benefits of combining glitter and acrylic paint, there are some potential pitfalls to be aware of:
Problem: Glitter clumping together and settling to the bottom.
Solution: Make sure to first disperse into a medium before mixing into paint. Frequently stir paint to re-suspend settled glitter.
Problem: Glitter not adhering well to the paint and falling off.
Solution: Use fine particle glitter rather than large pieces. Ensure paint is still wet when applying glitter on top.
Problem: Glitter gets buried under paint and loses brilliance.
Solution: Apply glitter in thin layers. Mist on sealants to encapsulate glitter without overwhelming it.
Problem: Glitter damaging the bristles of paintbrushes.
Solution: Use disposable foam brushes and soft silicone brush tips when working with glitter.
Problem: Loose glitter coming off finished piece and making a mess.
Solution: Always seal glitter projects with acrylic medium, spray sealer or other topcoat when complete.
Inspiring Examples of Glitter Acrylic Art
The versatility of glitter acrylics allows for limitless creative applications. Here are some stunning examples of glitter used in acrylic art mediums:
Artist Iris Scott pioneered a style of painting photorealistic animal portraits using her fingertips and acrylics coated with a thick layer of glitter. The sparkling glitter brings the creatures to life.
Mixed media artist Camilla D’Errico creates colorful galaxy paintings by swirling together acrylics and glitter, evoking celestial clouds full of stars.
Glam Nail Art
Nail artists like Fleury Rose incorporate fine glitter into complex acrylic nail designs to add striking pops of parkle.
Contemporary abstract artists like Loribelle Spirovski use glitter acrylic pouring techniques to create bold, fluid paintings with lots of shimmer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to mix glitter into acrylic paint or apply on top?
For optimal adhesion and sparkle, mixing fine glitter into acrylics is best. Topcoating wet paint with glitter works but may result in more fallout.
Does acrylic paint tone down glitter?
Yes, the acrylic paint does subdue and soften the brilliance of glitter versus glitter on its own. Use high concentrations of glitter for very sparkly effects.
Should you seal acrylic paintings with glitter?
Adding a topcoat sealant helps adhere any loose glitter and provides protection for longevity. Acrylic mediums, spray sealers and resin work well as topcoats.
Can you use glitter with acrylic pouring?
Yes, glitter acrylic pouring creates amazing fluid abstract paintings. Mix glitter with paints or sprinkle on top of poured acrylics. The glitter swirls beautifully.
Is glitter acrylic paint waterproof?
Once fully cured, acrylic paints are water resistant. Glitter adhered to or sealed under acrylics becomes waterproof as well.
Achieve Maximum Sparkle with Glitter Acrylics
The irresistible appeal of glitter meets the versatility of acrylic paints for dazzling artistic effects. With some care taken when combining the materials, glittery acrylic masterpieces are possible for artists of any skill level.
Remember these key tips for glitter acrylic success:
- Mix fine glitter into adhesives before adding to acrylic paint
- Apply loose glitter to wet paint for adhesion or seal with a topcoat
- Stir paints frequently to keep glitter suspended uniformly
- Seal completed projects with acrylic mediums or spray sealants
Don’t be shy about going bold with the glitter! The sparkling, shimmering options are endless. Let your creativity shine!