Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hummingbird in Wax

Hi, Lea here!  Today's project will show you how to take "encaustics" - hot wax to create on wood cut outs.

Here is the ULD  cut out I used.  It is a complete design with the hummingbird, flowers, leaves, and ring around it.  I will be making a hanging project with wire.

There are a variety of techniques and tools that are used when working with wax.  Most fine artists use a boar brush (natural as synthetic brushes will melt in the heat), and a large iron without holes.  They also use a griddle and a pot of wax.  The easiest way to use wax is with with clear beeswax, a wax medium, and the brush - collaging pictures.

The way we will work is with a hot wax tool (not all made for wax but work well), and a small tip for painting and blending.

Walnut Hollow has "Hot Marks," tool with many tips and some impressing stamps.  Clover makes a small trowel iron and a sew/craft iron kit with different tips.  I used Suze Weinberg's Hot Wax tool.

Look at the photo at the top of this post first.  You can see I have a craft sheet, cubes of wax, my hot wax tool with fine tip, and my wood cut out.  I prefer the Hot Wax type wax or wax made for wax art.  They are pure beeswax and less binders added.  One may use crayons or other cheaper type waxes, but they have so many binders (resin and other additives) that they don't blend well or have the creaminess I like to use.  Suze's wax cubes are not as expensive as art wax bought from like Dick Blick, etc...

The picture above shows the tool going into the wax, saturating the tip.  When you pick up the tool, the wax is on the tip to be used on the cut out.

You can use clear beeswax to make the wax transparent, and you can shade by overlap and blending with colors.  You can even impress in hot wax!

Use the wax tool and going in the direction of the grain, paint the color onto the cut out.  I am left-handed so I always start on the right side and work towards the left.  Right handers would start at the left and go right.  The wax dries fast but I always follow this method so I do not accidentally put the side of my hand in media I just put down.

Three colors were used to color the cut out leaves.  I also decided the circle band around the scene was a vine, so I also made it green.  The base coat is the green color, yellow for highlights, and forest green for shadows.  Brown can also be used for shadows, blended a bit to mix with the green.

To find out where the shadows and highlights are, think of the sun or light striking the object from either the left side or right side.  Rounded areas that stick up would be highlighted because the sun would hit those areas.  Bends or an area underneath another area would be shadowed.

Doing this will take your art from a 2D coloring book look to 3D!!

For the open flower, I used the pink for the base color.

Although I do not use white often, I used white for the highlight on the flower.

Magenta is used as the shadow.  some colors are laid down and some are blended into the color that is below it.  More white, pink, or magenta can be added as needed.  The wax is very forgiving.  If you don't like what you have done, use a stamper's heat tool, heat the area, and wipe off the wax with a cloth or paper towel.  A paper towel is used between colors to clean the tool.

The buds are done mostly magenta as closed buds usually look darker.

The bird is finished with orange, gold, and red/magenta.  In person, the wings sparkle slightly.  Gold wax is basically a beeswax with like a mica pigment in it.  You can see the tiny mica pieces as you apply the wax.

When cleaning your mat, just heat the wax with a stamper's heat tool and wipe off the melted wax with a paper towel.

To add an embellishing touch, I used a dark blue color of wax and the cut out "Dream."  This was glued to the piece.

The cut out is turned into a hanging using copper wire (19 gauge or less) and beads.  I added a suction cup so it can be hung on a window or on your mirror in your bathroom!

Try new media's!  Play!  Create different types of art!

Cre8tivelea Yours - Lea


  1. Wow, Lea - this is beautiful ! I've never worked with wax, or even giving it any thought, but this piece is so unique. Great work !!

  2. This is very cool! It's so pretty! I bet it is even prettier in person! :)

  3. Great idea.. I bet that took time to create.. love the final look.. great techniques~