I’ve taken five encaustic workshops with Andrea Bird and, in each class, there is always someone who hasn’t learned this technique. Everyone has the same wonderful reaction as the paper comes away from the wax and the ink is left behind.
Tips for successful encaustic photo transfer:
- use images with a high level of contrast
- ensure the images you’re using are toner based – from a photocopy machine, a laser printer or a magazine. Ink jet printers won’t give you good results
- for a complete transfer make sure the wax surface is smooth – a transfer over texture will be broken where the toner couldn’t get into texture on the wax surface
- ensure that the wax isn’t too soft (warm)
- when you place your image face down it will transfer in reverse so you wish to digitally reverse the image before you print it
6 how-to steps for photocopy transfer in encaustic art
- Place the reversed photocopy face down on the wax – wax should be cool or slightly warm but not soft
- If it is a small transfer, place a piece of vellum paper over the transfer to protect the edges
- Now you want to rub thoroughly all over the image to burnish the photocopy into the wax. Use a burnishing tool, the back of a spoon or the handle of a clean brush moving gently in small circles. Thoroughly burnish the entire image. If you miss a spot the transfer will have a hole in it
- Lift off the vellum
- Dip your finger into water or use a spray bottle to wet the surface and start rubbing in circles. The paper will start to dissolve as you add water. When the water dries you may see fragments of paper. Just add more water and continue to rub more until all of the paper has dissolved
OR dip a cotton ball in nail polish remover and rub it on the back of the transfer. The paper will start to wrinkle when it has separated from the toner. Instead of dissolving the paper by rubbing you can just pick up one corner and peel it away from the painting leaving the toner on the wax. SAFETY PRECAUTION! If you use nail polish remover wash it thoroughly off before fusing.
- If the transfer is on the top layer you can just gently fuse, you don’t have to put a top coat of wax. Fusing will meld the wax and any paper that is left on the surface of the wax. . If you fuse with a blow torch use a dip in and pull away motion to lightly fuse. If you use a heat gun, keep it moving and don’t go too close to the surface of your artwork. An embossing heat tool is a lower temperature heat gun and you may have more success with it. Stop before the image begins to distort.
Encaustic Photo Transfer Art by Ruth Maude
If you want a hands-on demonstration, check out encaustic workshops with Andrea Bird.
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