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Derived from the Greek word "enkaustikos," meaning "to heat" or "to burn," wax-based paints have been used by artists and craftsmen since the 5th century.
Considered a lost art for many centuries, encaustic painting is enjoying a resurgence because of modern techniques, tools, and materials. Choices of waxes, surfaces, and colors have also made encaustic painting safer, easier, and more affordable than ever.
While encaustic painting requires moving molten wax from a heating element to a surface, the technique used in this project creates textured "reservoirs" in metal foil that channel and cradle sprinkled wax as it melts. Interesting dimensions and contrasts between the metal and translucent wax occur when cooled.

Preparation

  1. Cut metal into 6" x 6" or larger pieces.
  2. Shave small amounts of Premium Wax from the block with a cheese grater or butter knife. To prepare larger quantities, a food processor or electric grater may be used. To break the wax into smaller pieces, place the wax block in a freezer overnight, wrap it in multiple plastic bags, then throw it onto pavement or another concrete surface to shatter it, or hit it repeatedly with a hammer.
  3. Prepare Candle Dye blocks by it shaving with a cheese grater or food processor.

Process

  1. Create a soft surface for embossing by stacking newspapers, magazines, or foam sheets. Using a ruler and a small tool, draw a border 1/4" on all sides; see (A). Keep the design within the border.
    Decide which side of the metal will be facing up. Tool it from both sides, creating raised surfaces and deep areas.
    Tips:
    • - Melted wax will flow to the lowest areas unless "walls" are created to hold it.
    • - Create textured surfaces to add interest and to help the wax adhere. "Roughen" areas that will be filled with wax using texture tools, a wire brush, or even sandpaper.
  2. Snip from the edge to the border once at each corner; see (B). Fold edges up and bend corners to form a tray; see (C). Make sure the tray sits as flat as possible.
  3. Place tray on electric skillet or warming plate. Premium Wax is a blend of paraffin waxes with a relatively low melting temperature of 148°F. Sprinkle small bits of the wax over your design design. Melt the wax slowly — do not overheat.
  4. Place small pieces of candle dye directly into the melted wax. Use a wooden craft stick to blend or marbleize colors. Use crayons to extend the color selection and add detail. A clothespin or clip may be used to keep the tray from moving — avoid touching with fingers.
  5. Turn off the heating plate and allow the piece to cool for a few minutes before attempting to move it. If more color is desired after viewing the cooled piece, simply turn the heat on again and continue working.
  6. After allowing the tray to cool for 10 minutes, gently push down the edges and burnish them with a craftstick or flat tool. The border can be trimmedwith scissors or left as is.
  7. Finished pieces are susceptible to cracking if bent or pressed. Wrap or glue them onto a rigid board, such as matboard, foamboard, or chipboard for protective support.
  8. Use a soft cloth to buff the surface of the wax to a soft sheen. Use small, circular motions and very light pressure.

Options

  1. R&F Encaustic Paints (01101-3180) may be used instead of Premium Wax and Candle Dyes. Melting temperature is 220°F.
    • - If cracking occurs, or a glossy finish is desired, apply 2-3 coats of Krylon Crystal Clear spray. Follow all label instructions and precautions and keep it away from children.
    • - Place inclusions into the melted wax, which will hold them in place until the piece cools. Ideas for inclusions:
    • • natural objects: flowers, leaves, seeds, bark, and more
    • • Jacquard Pearl-Ex Metallic Pigments assorted colors
    • • small beads
    • • bits of paper or photos
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