Stirring Metallic Ink

Soap Overhead

If you address envelopes with metallic ink, you know that when you first start working, it takes a lot of shaking to get the metallic color evenly mixed in the ink. And while you are working, you have to regularly stir the bottle to keep the pigment evenly dispersed. All metallic inks have a settling problem. Check out a small magnetic stirrer; this ingenious device provides a fine solution. You place a Teflon-coated, magnetic stirring bar in a wide-mouthed jar, pour in your metallic ink, and then set the jar on the platform of the magnetic stirrer. Turn the dial on the magnetic stirrer, and, as if by magic, your ink is constantly stirred. Start with the lowest speed setting and increase speed to the desired stirring action. (You might want to try water in the jar first before trying with ink.) You can leave your ink in the wide-mouth jar with the stirring bar overnight, and the next day the machine will effortlessly and fairly quickly remix your metallic ink and keep it stirred.

Soap Stirrer

Soap works great with 1oz glass jars, but when using a plastic jar, you need to add a paper spacer as shown. There are several short videos on the Internet that demonstrate Soap in action, including on the John Neal Books website:

   There are two popular magnetic stirrers for inks: the Soap ink stirrer and the Topolino magnetic stirrer. Soap is compact and battery-powered, making it great for travel and on-site scribing. You are not tethered to a power outlet. It has a smaller platform, so you are limited generally to 1oz (and smaller) jars. You can choose from two cool colors, a soft pink and a rose-gold chrome finish. It comes with a wide-mouth glass jar and with two different sizes of stirring bars (ink will not stick to the bars’ Teflon-like coating). John Neal Books ships Soap with the two AAA batteries needed. Topolino is somewhat larger than Soap, with a bigger platform that allows for larger ink containers. It plugs in, so it is more powerful than Soap, and there are no batteries to replace. The Topolino stirrer is sold alone; jars and stirring bars are purchased separately.

Topolino Stirrer

The Topolino magnetic stirrer. It has a larger platform than Soap.

   Glass jars work best with Soap – generally jars not taller than wide, and no larger than the circular platform. Glass and plastic jars work equally well with the Topolino. Whichever kind of jar you use, glass or plastic, you will want to do some trials with water in your jar to get used to the speed settings. This is critical with smaller plastic jars.

Badger Demo

The Badger Paint Mixer is ideal for mixing inks where the metallic pigment has settled to the bottom.

   When a metallic ink, like Dr. Martin’s Spectralite and Iridescent inks, sits for a long time on your shelf, its heavy pigment forms a thick sludge at the bottom of the jar. If your ink is already in the appropriate wide-mouth container, you will likely first need to do some manual stirring with a chopstick or similar tool to loosen the pigment at the bottom of the jar, before using a magnetic ink stirrer to finish the mixing. If the ink is in its original bottle, the small, battery-powered Badger Paint Mixer is excellent for the initial mixing before pouring the ink into your wide-mouth container. The mixer’s narrow wand works well with both wide- and narrow-mouth jars.