Encaustic for Photography

There are many ways to incorporate your photographs with encaustic. There are four main ways to use the wax:

  1. Glueing the image to your substrate
  2. Embedding the image
  3. Transferring the image
  4. Using heavyweight paper as the substrate

Glueing the Image To Your Substrate:

Print your photograph on regular printer paper slightly larger than your substrate. Use a wheat-based glue to adhere your image to your substrate. Wait until the glue it dry then remove the excess paper with a sanding block. Proceed with encaustic.

Embedding the Image:

Print your image onto a lightweight paper such as washi paper. Alternatively you can also use silk organza. Use a carrier sheet if necessary. To start, prepare a substrate with at least three layers of clear encaustic medium. Place the image face up on the substrate. Cover the image with parchment paper and burnish the image working from the centre outwards. Remove the parchment paper and use a heat gun to sink the paper into the wax. Add additional layers of encaustic as you wish. 

Transferring the Image:

Print your image on parchment paper or vellum. I have only been successful using a toner-based printer (laser). You may need a carrier sheet depending on your printer. Remember to reverse any images, especially words, in your photo software before printing. Place the image facedown on a bed of wax. Transfer the image using a burnisher tool or the back of a spoon. You’ll be able to see the image pull away from the parchment paper as you transfer. Fuse lightly once everything is transferred. I add a  thin protective layer clear wax on top of the transfer. 

Using Heavyweight Paper as the Substrate:

Print your photograph on cotton rag or watercolour paper to the size you’d like your final image to be. Proceed with encaustic fusing lightly as needed. Because the substrate is flexible, you can only add a maximum of 3-5 thin layers. 

To learn how to do these techniques in-person sign up for one of our workshops.

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