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Sunday, February 7, 2010

working with beeswax and pigments

Ahhh, a nice sunny morning and a cup of favorite brew!

A brief how to with beeswax and pigment:
Beeswax and powdered pigments are available at most large art supply stores or online. The more sustainable way is to attain your beeswax from a local beekeeper and gathering your own earth pigments. From my own experience, a problem that may occur by gathering your own pigment is that alkaline and other chemistries in the soils can change the coloring. Not to say this can't be part of your intended creative process. Gently heating the raw beeswax to liquid add pigment to your desired intensity and color and stir. This takes experimenting and open minded watchfulness. Use measurements so you can repeat the process later if you want consistency from one batch to the next. When pigment is thoroughly mixed with beeswax pour into muffin tins to cool to solid for convenience in storage. Right now I'm using block and columnar "crayons" manufactured in Germany by Stockmar. They contain non toxic pigments and beeswax only. I'm using them at room temperature state in applying and then burnish the colors to where I want them on the surface of my work. When I feel the piece is finished I buff it gently with a soft cotton cheese cloth to bring out the luminosity with the surface sheen. Art supply stores also carry the solid pigmented beeswax colors as encaustics. Encaustics contain varnishes/resins, oils, pigments and other additives that typically contain toxins in beeswax. If you want to work with it in liquid form heat colors to liquid by keeping them on a "heating tray". They are available commercially or you can make your own by cutting a muffin tin into individual cups for your individual colors and buying an electric, single or two element hot plate and attaching a metal plate about an inch above the elements. Keep it at a temperature low enough to not burn - if your wax starts smoking!, remove and adjust your heater. You can use regular paint brushes to work. If you go with the encaustics its suggested to wear a respirator, goggles and work in a well ventilated space. Work fairly quickly to avoid the medium hardening on your brush. You can work on most porous surfaces; paper, canvas, wood, stone, etc.

That's the briefly of it. Feel free to ask questions.

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