There are several ways to create encaustic vessels and sculptural bowls, this tutorial will walk you through the easy Creative Paperclay method. What’s so terrific about Creative Paperclay is that it isn’t messy.
What is Creative Paperclay?
Creative Paperclay product is not the same as paper clay used in ceramics. Paper clay usually refers to a mix of pottery clay and shredded paper fibers used to create lightweight forms that are fired in a kiln.
Creative Paperclay is made from all-natural ingredients and is non-toxic. It comes out of the package ready to use (no mixing or kneading required). It is a natural, white-coloured material that is very pliable, easily shaped or sculpted and takes detail extremely well while moist, so it’s also great with molds. It air dries hard in one to three days (depending on the project’s thickness). After curing, it is very lightweight, durable and can be sanded.
Creative Paperclay is for more than bowls or vessels. Mold Creative Paperclay into any shape you choose, it can also be used to cover a wire armature.
How to create a PaperClay Vessel
- 1 package of Creative Paperclay – Available on Amazon or at Michael’s.
- a knife to cut the clay
- parchment or wax paper to roll the clay out onto so it won’t stick to your tabletop
- clay roller
- Stamps (optional) – I used this one and these but you can use any stamps you have
- aluminum foil
- a bowl
- sandpaper or a sanding sponge
How to Shape the Creative Paperclay:
- Using a knife, cut the Creative Paperclay into pieces. I used a 16oz package to create four vessels of varying sizes. If you have any unused Creative Paperclay, be sure to store it in an air-tight bag to keep it from hardening.
- Cover the outside of a bowl with aluminum foil
- Prepare your work surface with parchment or wax paper
- Roll the Creative Paperclay into a ball with your hands and then push it down on the work surface
- Use the clay roller or a rolling pin to roll the clay out to about 1/4 inch thick
- Drape the clay over the foil-covered bowl and shape it as desired
- Allow the clay to dry for 6 hours or so then carefully remove the bowl and the foil. This will speed up the drying time.
- Leave the vessel to continue to dry fully. Altogether it takes 1-3 days depending on the thickness of the Creative Paperclay
- Before painting sand the vessel to create a smooth surface.
While the clay is soft you can imprint it with stamps, lace or other mark-making tools. Your vessel doesn’t need to be perfectly round. Don’t worry about any wrinkles from the foil or other imperfections, you can sand these out and they can be hidden under layers of encaustic paints.
Creating an encaustic vessel
When fully dry Creative Paperclay is an ideal substrate for encaustic painting.
For encaustic vessels, use an encaustic medium recipe that has a high damar to beeswax ratio. I use 5:1, 5lbs of beeswax to 1lb of damar resin. With this recipe, your medium will cure to a hard durable finish that is necessary for encaustic vessels.
Here are a few encaustic painting options for a vessel:
- Apply several layers of clear encaustic medium, fuse and scrape to create achieve a smooth finish. Then apply Pan Pastels or Pigment Sticks
- Brush on a few layers of clear medium, fuse and then proceed with pigmented encaustic paints
- After building up layers of encaustic you could do a shellac burn treatment on the vessel
- Begin with inks or chalk paints before adding wax
- Use stencils or add collage
- Papers such as Unryu Tissue Kozo or cheesecloth may be added to create texture and a translucent edge that will appear delicate but, when covered in encaustic medium it will be quite strong
- Accretion is the process of using a dry brush to build up layers while gently fusing with an embossing hot air tool. The accretion method will create a very textured finish.
presentation of encaustic vessels
When creating your vessel consider your final presentation. Collectors won’t want to place a vessel with a waxy bottom directly on their furniture so, if the vessel is intended to sit on a table, add a piece of felt to the bottom. Another option is to construct or purchase a stand or legs for your vessel. A vessel can also hang suspended or mounted to a wall.
Here are some options you can purchase from Amazon or use for inspiration:
- Ornament Stands
- Wooden Carved Tripod Stand
- Display Vase Base
- Low Plate Candle Holder
- Crystal Ball Stand – some with LED lighting
You can also construct your own stands out of branches. For a bit of inspiration, my friend Amanda Pierce has some lovely images on her Instagram.
Encaustic Vessels by Ruth Maude
I would love to see your creations, pop over to the All Things Encaustic Facebook group and post a photo.
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