I’d heard of encaustics (the process of creating art by painting with beeswax) but it always seemed too out-of-reach for a at-home crafter like me. You need some special tools, wax is expensive, and well….it’s really more of an art than a craft.
However, with the debut of EncaustiKits by Patricia Seggebruch, the world of encaustics is available to the “regular” crafter, all wrapped up in a present-like package.Â Here’s what Patricia has to say about the development of her kits:
EncaustiKits is my vision for sharing my enthusiasmÂ for this medium with a greater audience. In 2010 I realized that I couldn’t touch the lives of every artist and craftsperson with the joy of this medium by conducting workshops alone. I needed something more to spread the word of this delicious, organic medium! Along came the vision for EncaustiKits as a conduit to fill the void that teaching alone could not fill.
The Collage kit is jam-packed with goodies to get started- all you need is a way to melt the wax (like an electric griddle), and a heat gun. Everything else is included in the kit.
I started by warming up the beeswax on the Palette Peggy sent me- I’m glad she did, because when she offered I had no idea what a Palette was! Come to find out, it’s a medium-size electric griddle with a thermostat. You can set it to about 210F degrees, and your wax (inside the provided tins) will heat up and melt beautifully. Be careful to use the setting they suggest, however, because crafty co-conspirator Vicki O’Dell says that you CAN burn the wax.
As it was melting, the room was filled with the loveliest aroma- earthy, even… but after a while, my eyes burned a bit, so make sure you’ve got good ventilation and/or can crack open a window.
The instructions said to start with a base layer of medium (that’s a special clarified beeswax) on the provided encaustiboards, which were 4X4 pressed composite boards with a linen-type finish.
Come to find out, you need to work on very firm substraits when working with wax, because if it bends the wax will crack.
Notice how it’s a little lumpy? That’s because I kept forgetting to re-dip my brush after each pass on the board. I was able to use my heat gun to smooth it out a bit. Also, I quickly found my rhythm and got my “dip and brush” technique down pat. I followed the basic directions of adding paper ephemera and both clear and pigmented wax. Honestly, I got so engrossed in the process that I forgot to take photos as my piece was building. But here it is in an “almost finished” space:
Just to recap, I started with a base layer of wax medium, then added torn paper, then over that I added some blue pigmented wax, and lastly added some confetti and the chipboard “M.” The whole thing only took about 20 minutes to create with gab-time.
Vicki played with me, too- and here’s her first piece.
Ok…just saying “I made a mixed-media encaustic collage” sound OH-so-swanky, right? I mean, flip me a beret and let’s head to France! Here’s my final piece:
I added some Rub’n’Buff to finish it off…
Notice the flaming heart pieces? We used a mold I made from Amazing Mold Putty and we “painted” layers of wax in it. When it was cool, we popped them out and used some hot wax to adhere it. Now, I know that wasn’t part of the kit, so technically I shouldn’t include it…but…well that’s kind of the magic of Encaustics. You just start to play and experiment and the next thing you know, you are trying out all kinds of stuff! It was all I could do to not run up into my studio and start grabbing more items to work with.
(Note: I do have follow-up reviews planned using Patricia’sÂ book, but it was hard to hold myself back!)
As I mentioned, after about an hour my eyes started to burn a bit, so I had to crack a window and wrap it up.
In all, we made 4 pieces and I still have about 30% of my original supplies left- so you get lots of supplies for you investment of $70.00 for the kit. Now, if you don’t have a griddle to use, you’ll want to invest in that, too- and that will set you back another $45.00. (Or alternatively, use coffee mug warmers- just be careful of overheating- maybe put a candy thermometer in it just to keep tabs.)
Now, I know that price point is steep- but you could easily get 6 4X4 pieces of art out of it, which would bring the cost down to just under $12 per piece- and these little wax paintings certainly feel like fine art!
By the way, you can buff the pieces with a piece of pantyhose to bring up the luster, and you’ll only have to dust to clean them.
To clean up, you just remove your wax from the head and let cool. It”ll reharden in the tins, and then you just pop the lids back on. The brushes you use cannot be cleaned- just wrap them in plastic wrap, or my favorite, Press-n-Seal, and that will keep the dust off of them. I suggest using a non-stick sheet ( I used my non-stick/heat resistant mat from my Hot Glue Gun Helpers kit, and that worked like a charm.) Or you could use freezer paper (shiny side up) or parchment paper, and just toss it away. The beeswax is a little sticky on your hands, too…keep some baby wipes handy!
By now, you can probably guess that I really enjoyed this kit and can’t wait to review the book Encaustic Workshop by Patricia Seggebruch. Even with it’s price point, the materials are wonderful and well-worth it. Since this is process/technique based kit (versus project-based, where you make a replica of somebody else’s design), it’s for the artsy crafters. But if you are already doing collage, this should feel natural to you.
So I guess the bottom line is that Encaustikits might not be for everyone, but well worth a the money for the rest of us!
PS- They are having an EncaustiCamp in July… and oh, oh, OH! how I’d love to go to that, too!! What do you think? Tried it? Love it? Tell me….
Disclosure: Samples provided for review.
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