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How does Coliro Pearlcolors work for modern calligraphy? | How do you use Coliro Pearlcolors in Modern Calligraphy?

by Judith Joosten 27 Mar 2019

As soon as I take out that one palette with shiny colors during calligraphy demos, I see the spectators' eyes immediately jump to the colors. Like cheerful magpies, they like to ask me anything. "What kind of nice stuff is THAT?" You can almost see the hearts in their eyes...

And don't blame them. Finetec is without a doubt my favorite ink and today I am going to tell you all about this fantastic product. What it is, how it works and what you can ultimately make with it yourself. Be prepared for a few oohs and aahs, because I'm pretty sure you'll love the stuff.

What is Finetec? (or Coliro Pearlcolors)

Coliro is handmade, highly pigmented paint that you can mix with water to form an ink. In terms of effect, Coliro is most comparable to a regular watercolor palette, but there is a significant difference in terms of results. The large amount of pigment in each color ensures that the paint dries perfectly opaque on both white and black paper. Yes, you heard that right! Also on black! If you work in the right substance, you can even feel the result after the paint has dried - it dries so beautifully thick.

As you may have heard, this paint is PERFECT for luxurious modern calligraphy texts such as envelope addresses. I will quickly explain to you what you need to get started.

What do you need to work with Coliro?

First of all, of course, a color. I mainly like the copper and gold tones, but there are many different color options to choose from. To start, you can choose a color to try out. I do recommend that you buy an empty box, so that your color, which will soon have a lot of water on it, does not slide and/or drip on the table. If you are completely in love with Coliro (which is almost impossible to avoid...) then you can expand your collection with additional individual colors. You can also buy a complete palette.

In addition to Coliro itself, you need a calligraphy pen (which one doesn't matter much), a not-too-small brush, an eyedropper and of course good calligraphy paper. Then just place a glass of water and some paper towels next to it just to be safe and you're good to go.

And now? How do you mix Coliro paint into an ink?

For convenience, we will simply do this step by step, so that you can quickly switch to the moment where you may get stuck, if you have already tried Coliro. There are a total of 10 steps that are important for successfully working with Coliro.

  1. Take up a large amount of water with your pipette
  2. Cover the entire color with water (yes, completely!)
  3. Let this soak in for a few minutes.
  4. In the meantime, gently stir the water with your brush.
  5. Once you see that the water no longer reacts as 'sloshing' to stirring with your brush, the ink is almost mixed well enough to work with.
  6. Stir with your brush a few more times to be sure.
  7. Apply the ink to your calligraphy pen by running your brush along the back of the nib.
  8. Repeat this with the front of your nib.
  9. Tap your pen briefly above your Coliro color to allow some excess ink to fall back into the color
  10. And you can start calligraphy!

Is this 'hassle' really necessary?

The short answer is yes. This is the easiest way to work with Coliro. I have once tried to grind the Coliro colors into powder and then mix it with water, but the water/powder ratio is so sensitive that you quickly add too much water, which means you have to buy a whole new color (and they are because they are handmade (not the cheapest stuff) to replenish this mixture. In addition, Coliro dries hard, so a jar of this ink is very difficult to keep for a long time.

Even though Coliro requires some extra steps, I used this ink almost exclusively for all my calligraphed envelope addresses for bridal couples and major brands. More than once I have calligraphed 80 to 150 envelopes with this stuff and I can tell you from experience: you get used to it. Real. Working with the brush to transfer the ink to your calligraphy pen becomes second nature and has always been worth it to me when you look at the result. There's simply nothing that can beat it.

A few frequently asked questions

Is Coliro waterproof?

No. Unfortunately not. Because it is diluted on a water basis, Coliro is not waterproof. One advantage: because Coliro dries very hard, Coliro has a better shelf life with a few drops of water than regular ink.

Does it dry again on its own?

Yep. So remember that if you are going to use this at an outdoor location, it will be difficult to take it with you because the ink is still wet. Just give it time, it will dry hard again and you can simply dilute it in the same way the next time you want to use it.

After a while there is a big gap in my Coliro round; as if the color was never properly filled. Is this correct?

Yes, this is correct. I've had this with almost all my colors and it's very normal. Your color has been filled, but because you pick up most of the color from the center of the container and not from the edges, the pigment from under the remaining ink drains away, leaving air behind. You can prevent this by being careful to also absorb ink from the edges.

Is Coliro lightfast?

The brand itself says so. To be honest, I've never tried this myself, so you should test that out.

Can I use it on anything?

As far as I know, yes! I've used it on paper, wood, stone, glass, textiles… It's very multifunctional!

What are your favorite colors that you use the most?

My favorite colors are 1200-110 Bronze, M005 Golden Orange, M610 Inca Gold (which is a bit more towards a soft yellow gold) and M012 Rose Gold.

Will it last long?

Oh, absolutely! Especially if you only use it for calligraphy, which only requires small amounts of ink because the lines are thinner than when you paint extensively with it, you can write about 50 envelopes with one color without using up the ink!

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