Materials and Process

I am often asked about my process and the materials I use. Below is a list of materials that I commonly use as well as a description of my encaustic painting process. Creating in an environmentally safe and sustainable way is very important to me. I use earth friendly materials and rescue and reuse a lot of my materials.

Materials:
Birch Wood Panels
Vintage letters, book pages, maps and other paper ephemera
Bees Wax
Dammar Resin (crystallized tree sap)
Natural earth pigments
23K Gold
Gold gilding paint
Thread

Encaustic Process
Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax medium to fusing the layers of wax. Encaustic consists of natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or used pigmented.

I begin with a cradled birch wood panel. I then glue a variety of vintage paper ephemera to the surface using archival book binder’s glue. I then begin applying layers of hot wax with a brush. Each layer is then reheated with a torch to fuse it to the previous layer. I apply 8-10 layers of wax, enough to obscure the paper background but not completely block it out.

After I complete the background I transfer an image, either an original photograph or illustration to the top layer of wax. I then use a variety of materials, 23k gold, thread, paper, etc. to add accents to the painting.  I finish the artwork by painting the sides of the wood panel with black acrylic paint.

These paintings are extremely archival, but as with any fine art, care should be given to them. There should be no fear of the work melting in normal household conditions. The wax and resin will not melt unless exposed to temperatures over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving a painting in a car on a hot day would not be advisable or hanging a painting in front of a window with direct desert-like sun. They are also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures.