Thursday, October 4, 2007

My first experience with encaustics

What fun! The encaustics process can definitely be a tedious one but I'm liking what it does. All of it involves heat. The ingredients are simple - beeswax and resin combined, pigment in wax cakes, cheap paintbrushes, and heat. You can also use oil pastels though they have to be mixed with the beeswax first (the pigment cakes can be applied alone).

You can use thin, handmade papers, thread, wire, feathers, hair, photos (naturally), and fabrics....I have seen sculptures made out of it but paintings moreso. Jasper johns is one of the infamous encaustic painters.

So, I created 2 pieces yeaterday for my husband's birthday. Here is a photo of the actual photographic piece:

First, I coated a gesso'd wooden board with the clear beeswax and green pigment. Each layer has to be fused together with a heat gun. Then I placed a sheet of handmade paper, blasted it with the gun, and then another piece of the paper and blasted it, to fuse it all together. The photo is an ink jet print that held up nicely with this process. Naturally, if you leave the hot gun on any surface for too long, you can burn it. This is especially true of the thin papers. Coating it with more beswax will allow you to lengthen the heating time. I "glued" the twigs on with the wax and then added shredded bits of paper around the border of the image and around the twigs randomly. I added a little gold leaf in there, too for a nice Autumn-like feel.

The second piece, not pictured here was just handmade paper fused to a canvas board with a poem I wrote for my husband fused onto that. I took more of the shredded paper that I used on the photo border and created a border around the poem to tie the 2 pieces together.

I've learned you can use canvas, but if you work large-scale, you would need a heavy backing because this process is heavy and will create a sagging. It's better to either work small or use masonite, plexiglas or other hard surfaces. I imagine all of the mentioned have to be prepared with a gesso first. When I feel that I resolved my Medieval manuscript series, I will begine working with this process. The initial set-up is pricey (the hardware) but I figure it can be my Christmas gift ;)

I am going back to my new friend's house next week to create another piece. I really want to explore my optons before I make the decision to buy the materials.
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