Mind Your Bees Wax With Encaustics

After taking the encaustic workshop at the Portland Art and Soul Retreat in October http://www.artandsoulretreat.com/ I fell in love with the technique of incorporating wax into my collage process.

I ordered a supply of wax, resin crystals and soya wax from Swans Candles http://www.swanscandles.com/ for a very good price considering how much the supplies would have cost at my local art store.  It was definitely more economical to order in bulk then to buy it by the package.  I also had the order delivered to Ship Happens so that the shipping costs were a fraction of what I would have had to pay if sent to Canada.  Fortunately I live very close to the USA border so it is not an issue to go and pick up my orders.

Since receiving my wax I have been practicing on smaller substrates of 5″ x 7″ so that I can try different things and see what results I get.  First I made up a large batch of clear wax using 4 parts bees-wax with 1 part Damar resin crystals, note the resin takes a very long time to melt and blend into the bee’s wax, so be patient – I used an old crock pot the first time I made it up and then poured the combined ingredients into a muffin tin and when cooled I popped them out and stored them for future use.  For melting my wax while working on a piece, I bought a pancake griddle and then used cat food and tuna tins to melt the wax in – remember to keep your temperature below 200 degrees and no higher than 250 while melting the wax.  I have started some of the pieces by attaching  various paper to the board and then adding at least 2 layers of clear wax, bonding each layer in-between with a torch or heat gun – it is very important to bond between each layer and then adding coloured layers and more papers here and there.  I used pieces of oil pastel for most of the colours I have made or you can use a little bit of oil paint – acrylic paint does not work with the wax.

Encaustic In this collage I used some cheese cloth, various papers and a real dried flower blossom adding some incising where the red is and rubbing red oil paint into the crevices, and then taking a paper towel with a bit of vegetable oil on it to wipe off any excess oil pant I didn’t want….the oil works really well for removing the oil paint from you hands as well.  I like my first attempts at encaustic on my own and love that I have Serena Barton’s book Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop http://www.serenabarton.com to refer to for ideas and techniques.  Before trying this be sure to read up about melting wax and safety while using it, etc. and also how to clean your brushes with melted soya wax – natural Bristol brushes are best.

I look forward to working more with wax and seeing what I can do I am sure the possibilities are endless and how wonderful is it to have art that gives off the lovely fragrance of honey.

Until next time, happy creating.

Michelle