Wednesday, November 9, 2011

waxing euphoric

Here's my second attempt at playing with wax.   This time I melted three pots of beeswax - I left one in it's natural state, but I added a cheap oil pastel to the other pots and melted it along with the wax for color.  Encaustic artists everywhere are cringing, I know, but it was a worthwhile experiment.
I made a very compelling mess, and it was SO MUCH FUN.
 I started by painting with the orange and blue wax directly onto canvas board.  I zapped it with the heat gun just a little bit to blend the edges of the color, then I coated a piece of marbled rice paper with plain beeswax and adhered it.  (That's the weird blue nebula in the lower left corner).  I then added a piece of wasp's nest.
Yes, wasp's nest.

So, hang on - I need to tell you a story.
A few years ago I met this really cool woman named Debbie.  She's an artist and puppeteer and all around fascinating person.  We met because she works with the open land foundation in the town where I work and I was planning some nature programming for my after school program in one of the local nature preserves.  We spent 3 glorious hours in the woods together, sharing our passion and wonder for the beauty of the natural world.
Here's a picture she took of me poking at a pile of coyote scat with a stick.
 ANYWAY - last week, I came to work one morning and there was this beautiful amazing piece of "paper" on my desk.  It was clearly a piece of a wasp's nest
only it has the most amazing colors in it.  Grey and brown and cream and moss green and yellow ochre.  There was a post it note from one of my employees saying "from the puppet lady".
Debbie had stopped by my office because she knew how much I'd like this and want to share it with the kids.  Here are some pictures that do not do justice to it's beauty
( I'm certain my staff thought this was the WEIRDEST thing ever.  This lady shows up unannounced to give a piece of a wasp's nest to their boss and she's positively GIDDY about it.)

Now back to the art.  The colors in this paper were so inspiring, I thought it would be cool to work some of it into the collage.
Sadly, once it was covered with beeswax, it ended up looking like a piece of burned bacon.  
Lessons learned.
I added a thick layer of natural color beeswax on top of this whole mess and blew it around into puddles with the heat gun.   I colored with brown oil pastels and turned on the heat gun to melt them into the wax. I jammed some bottle caps into the hot wax to make the circles.  I found a spiral paper clip on my work table and made some impressions with it in the upper left corner and then embedded the actual clip into the lower right corner.  I sprayed the whole think with walnut ink to let the brown stain seep into the cracks in the wax and then wiped all the excess off the surface.  I declared it sufficiently mutilated and called it a day.

Overall it's a big muddy mess, but I'm oddly pleased with it.  
I'm already well into my next wax experiment.  If things go well I'll show it for paint party friday.


  1. I really like your textured circles among the bacon! ha ha! How else would you know what would happen right? It is so fun to "see" what different elements add to the art. Great job creating and experimenting!

  2. Oh Honey... where I come from we call that a hornet's nest and you better hope that there aren't any hornets in it! Their stings hurt like hell! Much worse than a wasp. They must've been hibernating already, thank goodness you didn't get stung.

    I love your encaustic piece! Those colors look so rich and fallish and fit in perfectly for this time of year. Great job and it sounds like you had fun doing it. hilarious about the bacon bit... it does look like bacon! lol

    xx Jaime

  3. I love your story about your friend and I absolutely am delighted by your piece. I love the texture and colors and I want to reach out and touch it. It seems like it would be entertain me for hours.

  4. :))

    the nest is so cool.

    i've never actually touched one.
    now i want to.

    now i want a nest and i want to put it in wax.

    right now.

    you look so freaking happy to be poking a pile of dog shit.

    this makes me love you more!



  5. Amy always makes me laugh! She says stuff I wouldn't dare say....but want to...haha!

    The fact that you and I like her so much means we'd get along swimmingly :)
    Your piece looks like those really yummy artisan made soaps that you just can't help but breathe in until you can't draw in any more breath...I'm imagining vanilla and clove with a touch of cedar....
    I love things like found wasp nests and bird nests, too....very cool!

  6. The main thing is having fun making it and that you are happy with it! Valerie

  7. I love your spontenaity in this whole process, your willingnes to just go for and see what shows up, bravo. xox Corrine

  8. If you ever DO use burned bacon, i want to own that piece :)

  9. Love the nest and that your friend was giddy with kind of gal....don't we just love the oddest things here in the art world? And you are sure having some fun with that wax.....way to go

  10. I can't wait to see your next wax work. Isn't it just so fun?

  11. ok first of all what the hell is coyotoe scat and you were touching it. But I loved the wax piece, very very cool