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All Things Ampersand

Encaustic Image Transfers on Panel


Artwork by Cynthia Winika

Encaustic Transfers
Encaustic image transfer is the transference of a printed or drawn image onto wax. The adhesive properties of wax allow images to be transferred; a burnisher or spoon is the only tool necessary for transferring onto wax.

Black and white and colored photocopies and some computer ink jet and laser prints (all of which can be enlarged or reduced), carbon and graphite paper, graphite, charcoal, pastel, and oil drawings, colored transfer tape/book embossing tape, press type, and images transferred onto waxed paper can all be transferred onto wax.

The best method for transferring is to place the print or drawing face down onto a smooth, flat waxed surface that has been fused within the last half hour. The wax surface can be either encaustic medium or the pigmented paint. A smooth surface works best, as a textured surface will not pick up all the details of the image. Using the etching burnisher with pressure, rub in an overlapping circular manner the entire back of the image. This makes the image transfer from the paper to the tacky wax. If you are transferring from carbon paper or transfer tape, use a rounded tip (ball point) pen to avoid tearing the paper or tape. Certain copy machines make prints that are harder to transfer than others (the best machines are those in which the heat-setting device is broken or older machines in which the toner is less permanent or does not penetrate into the paper).

If the image does not transfer after the burnishing step, wet the back of the paper and continue to burnish. Pull off the paper, if it sticks, dab on more water and gently rub/roll the paper off. A small amount of paper stuck to the surface will not matter since the next step involves fusing which will transparentize any paper that remains. A light fusing should be done so that the wax encapsulates the transferred image. Allow the surface to cool. Keep in mind that the image will be delicate because it is close to the surface. It can be left this way or, apply a thin layer of medium over it to make it less vulnerable. A heavy fusing will cause the image to break up, and may leave an interesting effect. 

~from the Encaustic Resource Center on R+F Handmade Paints  

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Encaustic Grounds on Panel

Encausticbord from Ampersand

The term ground refers to a prepared surface for painting.  A ground is applied to a substrate, or support, that can be wood, board, stretched canvas, or an alternative.  As a general guideline, grounds for encaustic painting must be absorbent, so acrylic gessoes are not recommended.

If you are already using Encausticbord, you have all the preparation you need.  However, if you want to prepare your surface, these are the best recommendations for working on an uncoated panel.

R&F Encaustic Gesso
A brushable white ground that dries to a ready-to-paint absorbent surface.  This is the easiest, fastest way to prepare a white ground for encaustic painting, (unless you’re using Encausticbord.)  R&F Encaustic Ground differs from typical acrylic gessos by having a higher proportion of solid to binder, making it highly absorbent while retaining the adhesive qualities of the acrylic. 

natural wood panelNo Ground
You can paint directly on raw wood, such as the Natural Wood Panel.  It will be stained by the encaustic, however, so some artists prefer to create an Encaustic Paint Ground by painting a layer of encaustic directly on the wood, and then working up from it.  Many artists who work this way prefer to make their ground with either clear or white encaustic paint because they show subsequent colors to full advantage. The drawback to this method is that it requires a higher degree of skill in controlling the paint, because the wax ground is susceptible to heat, and has the potential to re-melt and change as you work.

Paper Ground
A white ground can be created by gluing watercolor or printmaking paper onto a supporting panel.  The heavier the paper, the more absorbent the ground.  Bear in mind that lightweight papers will be made translucent by the wax, resulting in the substrate showing through and darkening the tone of the ground.  This can be avoided by first coating the bare panel with white acrylic paint, or R&F Encaustic Gesso. Allow it to dry before gluing the paper down on top of it. White grounds are generally desired to show colors to full advantage, but any absorbent paper can be used.  Braced or cradled substrates are preferable to avoid warping.

Traditional Rabbit Skin Glue Gesso
The most traditional, time-tested ground for encaustic, but it is a time-consuming and elaborate process that does not appeal to everyone.  It does create an incomparably beautiful ground.

~“Encaustic Grounds”, R&F Handmade Paints, www.rfpaints.com 

More encaustic resources can be found through the R&F Handmade Paints Encaustic Center.

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Featured Gallery Artist: Brigitte Waldschmidt

Work on Encausticbord in airbrush and watercolor

Brigitte Waldschmidt is one of our German artists and instructors, working on both Encausticbord and Claybord.  Brigitte works in a variety of mediums, including acrylic, collage, and pastel as well.  You can find more of her work online:  brigitte-waldschmidt.de

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply 

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

Current Events with Ampersand Artists: Upcoming Workshops

The Encaustic Center in Richardson, TX, with Bonnie Leibowitz is holding a Mixed Media and Surfaces Workshop Friday May 29th – Sunday May 31st 2015, 10:00 to 4:00 each day.

This process oriented workshop will focus on a variety of techniques and materials which can integrate with one another allowing for a broader and more confident way of approaching your work whether you normally work in acrylic or oil. 

Ellen Koment
Ellen Koment at work

Ellen Koment & Franciso Benitez will be teaching a three day encaustic workshop, May 22-24 in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Fusing Ancient and Contemporary.  As different as each of their approaches are, technically, and as different as their paintings are, they each turn to the real world as a resource and inspiration..be it from the figure or the landscape. Each appreciates the beauty and versatility of the medium.

Ann Ranlett, California Scratchbord artist, will be teaching several new workshops this spring.  Ann was recently featured as an artist on Artsy Shark, a company devoted to helping artists develop their own business.  Click on each link below for more details:

All things Ampersand, 
Karyn Meyer-Berthel 
Artist & Social Media Specialist 
Ampersand Art Supply  
Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.