Beeswax Collage

Now where do I put it all? Thanks to the largesse of some friends who were clearing out their own stashes, my stash has just multiplied dramatically. I have enough plaster cast to make masks for the next 30 years. I got an airbrush, compressor, paints and instruction manuals. Contact paper, glue, Mod Podge, fabric samples, black and white gesso, gel medium, canvas pliers, brayers, three Alvin cutting mats and adhesive film-oh my! The find that is inspiring me the most right now is  two 12″ x 24″ gallery profile stretched canvases.

One of my favorite mediums is beeswax collage. Similar to working in encaustic, beeswax collage involves melted wax and creating layered, translucent assemblages. I prefer to work on unprimed stretched canvas, but I am going to try to work with the prepared canvases. I have a big crock pot that I melt bricks of beeswax in. Color is added to the wax by melting in crayons with a quilting iron and heat gun. Layers of fabric and paper are added and then the wax is melted in with the heat gun. 3D objects such as beads, small stones and toys are adhered with a puddle of beeswax. I am experimenting with ways to add text directly to the wax without using magazine or book cut-outs.  I have had some success with carving into the warm wax and then filling in the outline with liquid watercolor when the wax has cooled. I also used stencils to carve out letters from the warm wax. The carved out areas easily peeled off, leaving a relief of the letter.

Beeswax is archival, so it won’t yellow or crack over time. This process cannot be done with candle wax as it gets too hard when it dries and it flakes right off. The beeswax can be found at most craft stores and comes in a natural light brown/yellow color or white. It can also be ordered online. If you don’t want to make a big commitment, you can get a mini crock pot and buy beeswax pellets instead of the bricks. Once you have melted beeswax in a crock pot, you can’t use the pot for anything else. Brushes also become forever dedicated to the cause. A quilting iron is a tool with a tiny triangular head that is great for melting drops of crayon and for blending areas on the canvas and it can be found at a fabric store. I use a small heat gun also known as an embossing tool. I hope it is obvious that these are not tools for children to use. I also don’t do this process with clients because of the safety issues. I will try to post some photos later. It is hard to get good shots because the wax surface is reflective.

Thanks to my bountiful harvest and generous friends, I will be heating up the crock pot and trying not to catch the studio on fire with all of these heat tools. Keep your eyes and ears open for people who are moving and/or cleaning-you never not what you might find for your own stash. Happy Art-Making to you!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. zamaney
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 08:55:47

    Pat Taylor here. Would you mind looking through those videos I sent you as soon as you can. IF you see one with A Thousand Words on it, would you please send it to me ASAP?

    Keep up the good work,


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