Encaustic Process – Map 1

Hotplate setup at studio

Hotplate setup at studio

My studio setup includes a heat gun for fusing new layers of wax onto the board, a hotplate, various scraping and carving tools, encaustic sticks, medium and finishing coats, and a fan to help ventilate the warehouse space. The hotplate came down with me from Vancouver, it’s been used a lot for encaustic and has a mark on the temperature dial to remind me not to burn my wax. Anything over 220 degrees gets the wax paint too hot and it starts smoking. I’ve noticed that the damar resin needs to be at least that hot to melt into the wax, so I mix my medium first without any other paint tins on the hotplate, then I turn it down and add paint tins for melting.

Adding shoreline

The turquoise shoreline is carved and then filled with a contrasting colour of wax. I added several layers of grey paint onto the landmasses.

Different fonts for map labels

I could not imagine sturgeon talking to each other in lowercase type, it seemed a little too cute. So I picked a condensed san serif font

Reversing type for toner transfers

Black laser printer toner transfers easily to the wax surface. The wax acts as a natural solvent and traps the toner. Type has to be reversed in order for it to read in the right direction after application. Once I cut out each word or phrase, I stuck them to the board and soaked the paper with water. The paper fibers can be rubbed off and the toner remains behind.

Toner transfers, not really that great!

Although the toner labels for the river worked, they didn’t seem to stand out enough from the map, and I wanted them to have more of a presence. I carved off the toner, then tried it with printed pieces of paper, cut out and secured down with layers of wax as collage.

Used labels that are pasted down with clear wax

The encaustic medium initially solidifies a little cloudy, but then clears when it cools down.

Carving title

Carving title

The title of the map is carved into the surface using the same technique as the shoreline.

Filling letters with wax

Adding a contrasting colour of wax for the map title.

Revealing the filled letters by scraping down

Revealing the filled letters by scraping down

After I’ve fused the new layer with the heat gun, and it’s cooled, I can scrape down the extra wax on top to reveal the letters underneath. A smaller scraping tool allows for more control of wax removal, so I can be picky about how much I’m taking off.

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