Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beeswax Collage Tutorial

Ah beeswax!

If you haven't tried working with it when creating backgrounds and collage, you might reconsider.  It gives warmth to your work, does a wonderful job of melding elements together and the bonus is that it smells divine in your artroom/studio.

I like to  purchase my beeswax from local apiaries, not just one but several as the wax varies in colour from one to another.   I often give them a call in the Spring and ask them to save me a block of it.  Another option is to purchase wax pellets such as those sold by Ranger Melt Art.  They are more expensive but easier to handle.

Okay, let's set up our work area before we get to work creating.

I use a cutting board that is covered with a sheet of waxed paper.   This ensures that my art table is protected and the wax paper protects the cutting board.  Otherwise it gets drips of wax on it and become uneven.   Plug in your melting pot or small crockpot and insert in it a piece of wax or a few wax pellets.   Allow to melt.

Also plug in your iron or irons.   I use a quilting and an encaustic iron (one for small surfaces and one for larger) but a craft iron works as well.   Dig out foam brushes to spread the melted wax.

While everything is heating up, you can be thinking about your collage.   I like to start by creating a background of layered papers.  Very thin papers work best such as tissue paper, handmade papers, Japanese papers as well as vintage sheet music, ledger pages etc. 

I first  dig through my scrap box to find a piece of scrapbook paper that I like and it forms the base of the background.    Tear the papers to layer on top rather than cutting them.   They just blend better.   Using a foam brush, cover the scrapbook paper with wax and use your craft/encaustic iron to smooth and remove excess.   Arrange the thin papers and adhere them one by one using the beeswax until you are satisfied with the look.

At this point I like to add images from napkins.   Remember to separate the top layer from the other two and to tear the images. 

The other two napkin layers can also be separated from one another.  I like to stamp on them then tear them to use in my backgrounds.

Smooth the wax with your iron and let it cool.  It won't take very long!

Now that you've created your background, you can work on adding images and elements and building your collage.   True beeswax collage means adhering everything with the wax.  However, I generally clue everything down with crystal lacquer.   I've had the unfortunate experience of sending something through the mail especially in the summer months only to have it arrive rearranged and stuck to the envelope.  If you don't want your recipient to have to guess at your creative intentions, you too may want to use an adhesive.  Once all of your images and elements are adhered and you are satisfied with the effect, once again use a foam brush to carefully cover the surface with wax and an iron to smooth and remove excess wax.

If you work carefully, you can add pressed flowers and leaves and embed them in the wax.   I don't use adhesive when I do this but rather very gently add wax and touch the iron quickly to the surface.  The heat has the potential to scorch the flowers and plants.

I wanted to capture the feeling of France in the two collages below.   I have always loved seeing photographs of the fields of lavender so I used napkins that I happened to have in my supplies that featured sprigs and pots of lavender.  I then built up the collages using FrenchKissed images, French postage stamps, perfume labels and papers that somehow represented France to me.


cat lacigale said...

very interesting ! thanks !

Melissa said...

Great tute Heather! I'm so glad to see you blogging again and sharing your wonderful creations!

Aimeslee said...

Nice tutorial, Heather. Thanks for taking the time to document the process. And lovely art pieces, too. xoxo Aimeslee

Faye said...

Beautiful art and a great tutorial, Heather.

Ruby's Girl said...

I am so behind in reading my favourite blog!! This is a wonderful tut Heather. Thank you so much for doing this and I hope now that fall is fast approaching to find a day or two to play with wax as well. Your art work is beautiful. thanks again

Anjas-Artefaktotum said...

Beautiful technique and both are amazing collage peices. LOve how yuo combined all details.
Have a nice weekend,
hugs Anja

Cathy L. Calamas said...

great tutorial.Love your blog