Wax and Fire
Finally! I made an attempt at the whole painting with hot beeswax thing (encaustic art). I dedicated quality time to learning about it (watched several YouTube videos), ordered the correct equipment (all things that have the ability to badly burn me or create a fire), and “I” cleared out an area in our garage as a temporary home for this endeavour (my husband, Joshua, actually did the clearing). With fresh enthusiasm and determination, I decided I would create my first hot wax painting, and that it would, of course, be an immediate masterpiece! And I failed miserably.
In my head, I was going to create something ethereal and dreamy with lots of colors, kind of like this one pictured below. This work was created by artist Natalie Salminen. I adore her work. Click on the painting to be redirected to her website.
Despite having high hopes for my instant transformation into a capable encaustic artist, I did not create anything close to masterpiece. I did not even create art. In fact, all I really did was make a mess.
Let me explain. Encaustic art requires several things. One needs pigmented beeswax (which is the actual “paint”), a hot palette to keep the wax hot enough to spread over a surface (in this case a wood panel), some kind of wax to use to “wash” off the beeswax from your brushes in between applications, and a heat gun. You can also use a special iron to apply the wax (which I have, but have failed at doing anything with other than melt my painting). Sounds reasonable, right? Apparently, it is much harder than it looks on Youtube.
What I did not realize is that all waxes have different flash points. This simply means that there is a temperature at which the wax will catch on fire and explode (exploding wax is baaaad). Being the good little researcher that I am, I knew this about beeswax and kept it at the correct temperature (yay me). However, I did not know that soy wax, (which is the wax used to wash the beeswax off of the brushes), has a much, much lower flashpoint. Ooopppss. The issue, though, is that when I turned my hot plate temperature to something lower and more agreeable to the soy wax, the beeswax isn’t hot enough and starts cooling before I even get the brush across the painting. This results in a stupid looking mass of wax on some wood.
I was a little frustrated by this at first, but alas! There is still hope for me! I simply need second hot plate/palette, so that I can keep the two waxes at different temperatures. This means that I can expect to create several more disasters until I manage to get the hang of this thing. I will say that I really enjoy the heatgun. It is my new best friend, and I am excited to use it when creating future messes.