Home / Mixed Media & Collage / Encaustic and Collage / Mixed Media / Assemblage
Encaustic Collage | rules and techniques for encaustic mixed media / assemblage

Encaustic and Collage / Mixed Media / Assemblage

Encaustic is an ideal medium for assemblage, mixed media, collage painting. Encaustic wax can both preserve and adhere collage elements to artwork.

5 Rules for Encaustic Collage / Mixed Media / Assemblage

Here are five guidelines for adding collage elements to an encaustic painting:

  1. Ensure that your ground is rigid and absorbent. Encaustic painting on acrylic primed stretched canvas is wrong—don’t do it! Wood or any absorbent panel is ideal. Depending on the work, you may wish to reinforce the support before you begin (particularly important for assemblage or encaustic sculptures).
  2. Wax can encapsulate collage materials and that will be sufficient to hold many collage elements in place. But wax is not a glue—if the material is heavy, you will need to use other methods such as glue, nails, screw or wire to securely attach the material to the substrate.
  3. When using collage materials make sure the materials are absorbent. Glossy photographs don’t work well, a thick gloss coating can act as a barrier to the wax.
  4. Fuse with care. As with all encaustic work each layer needs to be fused to the layer before. When working with collage materials extra precaution should be taken to ensure that the materials do not ignite. Instead of using a blowtorch to fuse, you may want to reach for a gentle embossing heat gun or a stylus with an iron nib. Always use common sense precautions, have a tub of water and a fire extinguisher close at hand.
  5. Dry organic materials. Pressed flowers or leaves need to be fully dried, not green.

Encaustic Collage Techniques:

There are many encaustic techniques that you can employ. Here are some to get you started:

  • Layering – work the encaustic medium in thin layers.
  • Glazing – thinning pigmented colours with additional encaustic medium will increase translucency for a glazing technique.
  • Embedding – materials such as leaves, pressed flowers, fabric, and paper can be embedded between wax layers. For best results, choose thin objects that can be fully encapsulated in a layer of wax medium. Brush on the wax and then fuse.
  • Subtractive impressions – press an item, such as a leaf or lace, into the wax and then remove it (or part of it) leaving its impression as a ghost image. You can then rub oil paint or pan pastels into the imprint.
  • Dipping – works well for fibre-based, absorbent collage items such as paper or cloth. Try dipping the collage item into a pot of molten wax, then use an iron to flatten and fuse it into your painting.
  • Drawings – add your own sketches to encaustic using tissue paper. The tissue paper will disappear when embedded in wax.
  • TransfersPhoto transfers are wonderful in encaustic collage.
  • Encaustic stylus – Draw with encaustic medium on top of your painting with an encaustic stylus. The stylus iron tip can be useful for fusing delicate collage materials in place.
  • Stencils – on top of collage elements below layers of wax can be used to good effect.

And there’s much more… gold or silver leaf, Neocolor Pastels, ink, rust, plaster—I don’t know where to stop

What do you have to add?

What other collage technique have you tried? Please add your comments below, we would love to hear from you.

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic.

Visit My Website
View All Posts

30 thoughts on “Encaustic and Collage / Mixed Media / Assemblage”

  1. Does non-archival mulberry paper encapsulated in encaustic wax become archival, or will it deteriorate over time? Will it also discolor, even if it is naturally white?
    Thank you for any light you can shed on this.

    1. I have used watercolor on mulberry paper for batik purposes. Since batik painting already waxed, it adhered well when layed onto the encaustic treated board. I applied another layer of wax and fused again. Has so far held up really well with no signs of deterioration
      to date (Over 2 years ago)

  2. Love your website, so much info! I am using dried plant material, glued to a panel. I’ve read that leaves have a tendency to “work themselves out” of encaustic, so I’m thinking of glazing a layer of acrylic medium overtop of the leaves first. Question is can I then use encaustic overtop the acrylic medium? Thank you!

    1. I have embedded leaves into the wax. Yes, I have heard that they may work themselves out but that hasn’t been my experience.

      You could try Liquitex clear gesso. Christina Lovisa has experimented with it and found that it was toothy enough for encaustic to adhere to it.

  3. sorry, kann es leider nicht in englisch über rechtsklick einfügen. Ich würde gerne ein Bild auf papier als orientierung ins Wachs einarbeiten ohne es kleben zu müßen. Ich möchte dann teile darüber malen. Es soll nicht ein Fotobild sein sondern auf leichtem Papier. Kann ich dies auch einfach auf das holz legen und dann direkt Wachs drüber ? Welche stärke von Papier darf es dann sein damit das Wachs sich verbindet ? Zum beispiel ein Tierbild welches ich dann übermale oder ausarbeite. vielen dank

    sorry, unfortunately, cannot insert it in English via right-click. I would like to work a picture on paper into the wax as an orientation without having to glue it. I then want to paint parts over it. It shouldn’t be a photo, but on light paper. Can I just put this on the wood and then wax directly over it? What thickness of paper should it be for the wax to bond? For example, an animal picture which I then paint over or work out. many thanks

  4. I am wondering if you can recommend an adhesive to use within the layers of encaustic medium? I am trying to embed some handmade “confetti” that I’ve made from paper currency. The wax is proving to be an insufficient substance and I really do need something to really grab the confetti evenly across the surface–there is some clumping of the confetti and the wax just holds the clumps rather than allowing the paper confetti to be distributed evenly like when applying glitter to adhesive on paper. I’d love some advice if you have it. Thanks!

  5. I’d really like to give encaustic mixed-media art a try. I’ve been reading up on the process and technique, but haven’t found anything as informative as what you’ve shared with us. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Can you glue an element onto the finished work? I had done a birdcage and attached the bird with encaustic wax, I sent it to a lady and the bird fell off (It was an image that was on thick paper). She wants to reattach the bird. Can she try beeswax? Or would glue work over the encaustic wax?

    I would send you a picture of the original piece if you have a way to do that…


    1. Hi Margaret, “wax is not a glue—if the material is heavy, you will need to use other methods such as glue, nails, screw or wire to securely attach the material to the substrate.” You can’t glue onto the wax and wax itself is not a glue so you need to either scrape away the wax and glue it to the substrate or screw or wire through the panting into the substrate to attach the bird.

  7. Hi! Love all the great information here! I am a ceramic artist but have started incorporating encaustic into some of my sculptures and using it on boards I mount my sculptures on. In my larger pieces I screw the sculpture through the wood boards but I am working on a series of small nests with fairly light weight pieces of clay. I’d prefer to put the encaustic down on the whole board first then attach the individual pieces. I want a fairly consistent backdrop on these. I know you say encaustic is not glue, do you think I can I epoxy the small clay pieces to the encaustic? Thanks so much!

  8. I have some ilustrations done with sharpie markers. If I coat the paper in the wax, will it preserve the
    color? The shapie ink is not acid free..just regular alcohol markers.
    Not sure whether or not the stopping the air from contacting the base layer will prevent change?
    Encaustic is a known preservative.
    your opinion is appreciated

    1. Thanks for your comment, Heather.

      I suggest that you do a test. Draw with the same markers on the same paper and try coating it with encaustic medium to see if the encaustic changes it at all. But, encaustic is not a UV light protective coating. If you are trying to protect the image from fading I suggest you research UV protective coatings. Here is an interesting article on the subject – http://www.justpaint.org/dont-fade-away-recent-testing-of-protective-coatings/

  9. Dear Ruth Maude,
    thank you so much for your great website!! I wondered if you could help me with this: i´m interested in creating a mixture of assemblage and wax sculpture, or wax relief – something inbetween 2D and 3D. So on the one hand embed things in wax but on the other hand also have raised or embossed parts (like a face) coming out of the plane surface (sorry for my bad english..). What kind of wax would you recommend for this? Should i mix sculpting wax and saeta wax? thank you so much 🙂

    1. Hi Alice,
      You can review the posts tagged with sculpture – https://allthingsencaustic.com/tag/sculpture/

      * You can use microcrystalline wax. Personally, I don’t like it
      * You can build up texture with the plaster and apply encaustic on top
      * I’ve used an accretion technique to build up a lot of texture.
      * You can nail, screw or glue wood onto your substrate and then continue to build up.

      I’m happy that you are finding the blog helpful.

    1. Hi Audrey,

      Neocolors are great with encaustic. Caran D’Ache Neocolors are water soluble wax crayons. You can use them to draw directly on an encaustic painting. As they are water soluble you can simply wipe off any marks you don’t like but once you fuse them to the layer of encaustic medium beneath they will become permanent.

  10. I have experimented with just about everything under the sun with mixed media and encaustic. A few of my favorite things: 1. To print photos on plain paper because it absorbs the wax wonderfully, (but edges like to curl so you have to be ready to use a stylus or tool to flatten them) 2. Use PanPastels for a subtle coloring of layers or as an initial painting on the substrate before wax is applied. 3. Stamp designs using alcohol inks on the substrate or in the layers of wax (surface should be completely cooled). I use an embossing gun with these techniques for slow fusing and control. So many possibilities!

    1. Do you need to mix together Pure Bees Wax and Damar Resin Crystals to make a clear wax coating? If so what would be the mixture to use? I have always wanted to add encaustic art to my mix media, I’m just now getting the nerve to do and would like to make sure I’m making my wax properly.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top