Monday, December 21, 2009

New Encaustics Techniques

A bit late to post, while I finish pre holiday To Do list chores, but here is my update about some encaustics work I did last week at Salon Rouge Gallery in Kapunda, South Australia.

It was scorching hot weather and hot inside the (not insulated) gallery too. The heat pans for the encaustics waxes made things hotter. Like being in a sauna !

We experimented with some new techniques. One involved cutting small squares of the freezer paper the size of our art boards, and dipping into wax and applying to the board in layers. Very interesting. Even more interesting was dipping colored tissue paper into the plain beeswax and layering it on. You might think the tissue paper would rip, but the wax actually seems to have strengthened it ! This was with a single layer of the tissue paper too, so pretty delicate on its own. You do have to be careful, using tongs, or you fingers to dip most of the tissue paper in the wax and remove it in a way not to drip, but fast enough to adhere to your layers in the works. Then you can use a paintbrush in the plain wax to put some wax onto the bit of the tissue paper (corner ?) you were holding, so it gets covered too.

It came out great though ! First, the colored tissue paper retains its color and character and the wax gives it some shape, so it has more structure. Second, it does adhere and bind to the layer before. Doing different colored tissue paper as layers or stripes looks really good. You ca also build up your layers with some dimension and crinkle or fold it, and make it build up not just flat, but with some very interesting structure to it.

I added in some bits of vintage maps, and put clear paraffin wax over the surface of them that was intended to be seen. Beeswax can be opaque and the detail of the map would not show. I do not prefer working with paraffin, I find it cracks and I don't like its lineage (it is a petrochemical product), so I use as little as possible to achieve the result...and I use beeswax around it.

My maps were of Baja California. I was born and grew up in California and have fond memories of travel along or south of the border or listening to radio stations from places like Calexico or Mexicali (good spanish language practice !). One of the maps had some detail I extended in beeswax and pigment and the other board got a similar treatment, but no real map fragment, I just emulated the other.

And I did some other layered pieces in this theme. One has cardboard under the tissue and other paper. So it is taller and it has an interesting side, and has some dimension too. I spilled beeswax and pigment over the side, in sea greens, I liked how that came out. Its companion shown here is a small piece I did with tissue paper and I folded it in accordian pattern before dipping it in the wax...and also folded it to make it look like a wave. Then I painted on the foam on the wave at its edges.

It was a fun little warm up.

Then for bigger things we started working on large boards. See the next post for more about that !

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