Encaustic Technique: transferring ink from magazine pages

Hello, I ‘m a creative artist living and working in Middle Tennessee.  Since 2009 I have been working on a series of Encaustic paintings using a unique process of transferring ink from recycled magazine pages onto a thin layer of beeswax.

I have a video on Youtube that shows me working and explaining each step, but I’ll give you a quick explanation of how I work with wax.

Here is the video if you’d rather not read the explanation:

  1. I build my panels and prepare the background using milk paint.
  2. Now I apply pure beeswax (no added resin) with a paint brush. I try and get a good thick layer of wax, as even as possible.
  3. I use clay tools to smooth out the rough areas left from the brush. First, I use a wire loop tool and then a metal scrapper. This will get the surface smooth, but will leave some imperfections (which I like).
  4. I like to have a drawing of my composition on paper and figure out where I need certain colors and the darker areas to be. Then I cut magazine pages for the areas of colors. I’m basically cutting the composition like a puzzle. Small pieces transfer best (1-2″).
  5. As I cut each piece I place the color face down on the bed of wax and begin burnishing it into the wax. In the video, I use a green cleaning pad, but have now started using a small block of wood.
  6. After all the pieces are in place I scrape away the wax from the areas not covered with paper.
  7. Now I use 150-220 grit sandpaper to sand the paper from the back of the ink. Gently removing as much paper as possible before getting to the ink. Once I get close; I wet the paper and gently rub away the paper residue until I see the ink come through. I continue wetting the area and use a t-shirt material to buff the surface until all the paper is gone.
  8. To finish I remove all the wax from the negative areas and heat the ink (with a heat gun) just enough to set it into the wax. Finally, I apply a wax sealer to help protect the surface.

Thanks for reading about my process. I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

About Randy L Purcell

I am an mixed media artist working in Middle TN. Since 2009 I have been working on a series of Encaustic paintings using a unique process of transferring ink (color) from recycled magazine pages onto a thin layer of beeswax.

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7 thoughts on “Encaustic Technique: transferring ink from magazine pages

  1. Hi Randy, this is great!! Have you tried sanding an entire magazine page prior to cutting it up to streamline the process? Thanks for the inspiration, wonderful stuff.

    1. Hi Anna! I have not. Because I chose colors from so many different pages it probably wouldn’t save me any time. Actually the sanding is one of the quickest parts of my process now. Over the years I’ve made a few adjustments. It’s hard to believe this video is about 8 years old. I’ve come a long way since then:)

      Thank you!!

  2. I like your technique.

    Can you tell me why you use the beeswax without resin. I’m guessing it is to make it easy to smooth, but doesn’t it make the surface too fragile?

    1. Hi Melissa, Thank you!

      I use pure beeswax without resin mostly because it is tackier and the transfer is better. I get (Raw) beeswax from a bee keeper. It still has remnants of honey and other stuff. Without the resin my paintings are more vulnerable to heat, but that hasn’t a problem. I’ve made some changes to my process over the years, but nothing major. I’m now on 9 years of working in this medium.

  3. I love this. Thank you so much for sharing! What sealing agent do you use?

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