Brrrrr . . . Finally some nice snow! Seven inches and still drifting down. Henry (the peacock) and the chickens haven’t ventured out of the chicken house all day. They love their nice heated house, I call it my Martha Stewart Chicken House, lol! They have heated water and plenty to eat inside so I don’t blame them. The deer finally straggled up around noon, they weren’t in much of a hurry to get out and about either. Joe had to shovel out a smooth area to put out some corn for them. But the birds…oh, my! Where did they all come from? We moved a feeder up under the overhang on the front porch and the birds have been flying and fluttering in and out ever since dawn!
A week or so ago I made a couple of surprise gifts for a friend and took photos along the way to share with you. I call these little photo encaustic pieces ‘Wall Hangies’ but they can be displayed on an easel or made up as Christmas ornaments. They do make great gifts and I make a lot of them for my animal loving friends.
This is a FUN project so get ready for more Encaustic Tips, Tricks and Techniques!
Here’s a list of what you’ll need . . . I’ve listed Amazon links at the end of the blog post. As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes make a few pennies if you were to buy one of the products by clicking on the link I provided (every little bit goes toward bird seed and deer corn, I promise) but your price is not affected at all. In fact you may even find an item discounted or a less expensive item if you look around a bit. I will only list products I have used and approve of and I only buy products that have a four to five star rating.
The fancy wire for the hanging thingies
Kiln dried wood slabs
24 lb printer paper (and printer)
Pan pastels (I use these often, worthwhile to have a set)
Best Test rubber cement
R & F bees wax with damar resin
Wood burning tool
Cream Brûlée Torch
I always put the screw in the wood slab first so I don’t have to roughly handle the slab after the wax has been added. You’ll need a little punch, ice pick type tool or something very tiny/pointy to make a bit of a hole where you want the screw to be. Choose a spot somewhere along the edge of the slab which will be at the ‘top’ of your image. Once you have made the ‘starter hole’ just put the screw in and start turning the slab and screw unlit the screw is tight. Be very careful with these tiny screws, they break easily. If you break a screw, don’t bother trying to get the broken piece out, just move to a different area and start over. You may need to chip a little bark away in order to be sure the screw is actually screwed into the wood of the slab and not just into the bark where it could possibly come loose later.
The next step is to print the photo you plan to use. Twenty-four lb paper works better than paper with less rag content. I have had problems with the paper buckling or bubbling when using 20 lb.
Once the photo has been printed, position the wood slab over the area of the photo you want to use on the hangie and draw a circle around the slab. Beginning about 1/8th to 1/4th inch inside your circle on the photo begin to hand tear the paper all around. A rather jagged tear is what you’re hoping to achieve. The next step is to ‘age’ that torn area all around by dabbing the torn edge with the pan pastel. A sponge applicator brush is ideal for the purpose. I like to use a dark brown or even antique gold which appears dark brown on the white edges of the torn paper.
You’ll need to apply rubber cement to both the underside of your print and the topside of your wood slab. Let both sides dry completely then carefully align the two pieces and starting at the bottom, press them together in a rolling type motion from bottom to top. You only have one chance at this since the rubber cement after drying is not positionable. So, plan this step carefully. If you like, use a brayer to smooth or put a piece of paper over the top of the image and burnish.
The next step is a coat of clear wax, brushed on and then heated with a torch. You’ll be melting most of the wax off but if you see areas of the paper that look as if all the wax is completely off, drip a little extra, hot wax into that spot and continue to heat. You’ll want as smooth a surface as you can achieve without burning or scorching the paper.
Allow your piece to cool for a couple of minutes. Then, using the ironing tip on your hot tool dab a little color onto the tip and lightly swipe the color from the edge of the slab toward the inside middle of the slab and quickly lift the tool. You want a tiny bit of color coming from the outside edge toward the center . . . Which will resemble a misty, fog effect. I usually do this several times using various colors . . . White first, then grey, blue and pink or lilac. Always ‘brush’ the pigment from the outside inward. Never from top down or bottom up . . . Think of a mist or fog rolling over a landscape. Use only a very tiny amount of pigmented wax. Just a hint of color is what you’re looking for.
If either the clear wax or the wax pigment obscures too much of a certain area, particularly an eye, etc, you can carefully scrape away the wax in that area and then gently ‘hit’ it with the torch flame to smooth it out. Be very careful doing this so as not to scorch the paper. You may also want to scrape/carve away any pigment lines that are broken, jagged, too straight, etc. Fog is wispy and ethereal, there should be no straight or sharply angled lines.
Enlarge the photos a bit and you’ll see where I took out a few sharp lines of wax. After the piece cools, you can buff it up with a cloth and lightly spray with clear shellac spray. Since these little pieces tend to be handled and moved about more than an encaustic painting and we’re not concerned about their archival qualities, I think the shellac layer is worthwhile. These small encaustic photo hangies make wonderful surprise gifts! I’ve used photos taken from friends Facebook pages and made gifts for birthdays, etc. The photo doesn’t have to be the best quality since you will be fogging it up, so to speak. If someone has lost a family member, using their photo, you can make a nice remembrance ornament for next year’s Christmas tree or other memento.
Voila, The finished ‘Wall Hangies’!
It occurs to me that with these few tools and supplies and just making nothing other than these little ‘wall hangies’, someone could have a profitable Etsy Shop!
Stay safe and stay healthy!
These are THE cutest little hangie wires! You can get plain ones but these are so inexpensive and they have a nice little ‘crystal’ on the wire.
There are several different sizes of wood slabs, these are the ones I used for this project. They’re kiln dried and don’t crack. I thought I could use some that I have from my property here, but they do have to be dried otherwise they will crack from the outer edge right up to the center. So, easier in the long run to use these.
Tiny AND fragile so tighten gently!
Best for using for this purpose or any time you want to use paper copies of ephemera. Anything thinner with less rag content bleeds and buckles.
I always have one of these little bottles because it has the brush attached. I buy in larger cans and refill the bottle as needed.
You can’t have too many pan pastels colors! I love these and use them often, so get as many as you can just to have them on hand.
THE best encaustic wax available, has the damar resin added! Again, I buy in much larger quantities but 2 lbs is a good amount to start with.
This pigment set has the sort of soft pastels I use in any ‘foggy’ type piece but you will certainly need a variety of colors for other uses.
My ‘must have’ tool! I use this tool almost daily with some tip or other.
Almost any type of Creme Brûlée kitchen torch will work as long as the flame is adjustable. I don’t care for the large torches that are so heavy. I even prefer to use these smaller torches on large pieces for that reason. This is not the exact one I am currently using but looks to be the same. You’ll need several cans of butane as well.