Encaustic Heaven – an afternoon’s workshop at The Hive – Alton Mill Arts Centre

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So the last picture shows what I managed to achieve during a second visit whilst the above photos show our collective efforts and the “dog’s breakfast” I produced during a 3 hour beginners workshop.
The results whilst not too pretty on my part were such fun to create anyway and I’ve learnt that with a medium like beeswax that I need to do more planning rather than employ my usual “modus operandi” of flying by the seat of my pants!
In any case wax encaustic “painting” is an incredibly forgiving and flexible medium to work with. You really can’t make any permanent mistakes.
Don’t like what you’ve created?
Simply warm it up with the dryer or iron (or if you want to blitz it – the blow torch!), and scrape it off.
Or you could cover it over with a few more layers of wax or build it into a collage!

Essentially encaustic work means heat-fusing wax onto a surface using a small specially designed encaustic iron, a craft dryer or a craft blow torch. Medium can be added and removed to achieve positive, negative or multi layered effects.

You start off with some lumps of beeswax – pop them in metal containers and melt on a low heat using a proprietary griddle. Add oil pigments to make your base colours and then play with these to mix tertiary colours as you fancy. Too opaque – add more clear bees wax.
Too watery – add more pigment and so on
Use small natural bristle brushes – which can be left in the mix during the whole session; use scrapers, spoons, knives and any other tools you think might make good patterns.
Make sure you have to hand black and white photocopied printed motifs and lettering; photos; odd cuts of material and lace; tissue and hand-made papers – the list is endless.

The element of controlling the wax medium is the big lesson to learn here; it helps if you have an eye for colour because the beeswax is transparent and so your overall effect depends very much on what your overlaying wax coats look like on top of your base colour.
Photocopied images can be “transferred” to a warm wax surface using a burnishing technique.
The medium is also delightfully pliable allowing you to model the surface, or to add sculpted pieces using scrapings of warm wax.
Once finished these pieces are – unlike most art – totally tactile. You will definitely feel a need to run your fingers over the surface of the finished product and for a while after creation these “paintings” will need to be lightly polished with a soft cloth from time to time.
Want to try it?
You can either book over the phone or simply turn up and see if they can fit you in for a short demonstration. Daniel who ran our course and who presided over our second visit is a joy; calm, and supportive during our creative black-outs. The collective work of Daniel and his wife Andrea (who also teaches the class) is stunning to behold and displayed all around the gallery which generally is worth a stand-alone visit. There is also a cute coffee shop within the centre selling delicious pastries and espresso – a pooh about all the disposable cups, plates and crockery though!!!

altonmill.ca/visit/directory/the_hive/

Over and Out

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One thought on “Encaustic Heaven – an afternoon’s workshop at The Hive – Alton Mill Arts Centre

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