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.

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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'm an artist from Toronto working in Encaustic. My day-job is as a WordPress web designer, developer and instructor. I started All Things Encaustic to document what I learn and to explore encaustic art.

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Rules & Techniques for Encaustic Collage. Encaustic is an ideal for #mixedmedia. Wax can both preserve and adhere #collage elements to artwork.

7 thoughts on “Encaustic and Collage / Mixed Media / Assemblage

  1. I am interested in encaustic painting.I want details about your project.

  2. 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!

  3. I would like more information on using Neocolor pastels with encaustic please

    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.

  4. 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.

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