The second class I took at the Art and Soul retreat was “Wearable Encaustic Shrines,” taught by Linda Lenart McNulty. Linda is a high-energy, enthusiastic teacher of her favorite medium, encaustic. And for this class she designed a small wearable project.
Included in the materials kit were a choice of antique bronze finish bezels in which we created our pieces using small objects we had brought from home.
Linda was quite clear in explaining the process and the class was well organized. Four students sat at a table, and each table was equipped with an electric griddle that we warmed our pieces and wax on and a small torch.
At first, the transparency of the melted wax threw me. For my first effort, I placed a printed image at the bottom of the bezel then poured wax over it. Even though the wax was transparent when melted, it cooled opaque, so, of course, the image was totally obscured. But, with that lesson learned, I proceeded to make these two pieces.
The piece on the right was the first one I worked on and I didn’t do well in keeping the wax smooth. I relied entirely too much on the torch, and the result was lumpy. But I did better on the second one – the one with the deer button.
We used jewelery grade wax, which is a mixture of 5 parts beeswax to 1 part damar resin, melted together. (The mixture for encaustic painting, in contrast, is 8 1/2 parts beeswax to 1 part damar resin.) Several people in the class used Linda’s molds made from two-part molding putty to cast wax elements for their pieces. These are remarkably sturdy.
This encaustic technique, in my opinion, is a good way to work antique buttons into jewelry because they are not hurt or altered in any way and could always be returned to their original condition.
Also, it was interesting to learn that the wax can be colored with oil paint – an economical alternative to encaustic color for those of us who already have oil paints.