My challenge – to use a sewing machine and thread as a collage element in a piece. I had been reading “Cloth, Paper, Scissors: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed-Media Art” by Barbara Delaney about ‘sketching’ with a sewing machine.
This echoed an article on Encaustic Painting that I had read in the magazine, “Somerset Workshop” Autumn 2011 which featured artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills. In that article, Mills had sewn coloured thread onto Japanese paper and then dipped it into encaustic medium (EM) to be added to the painting. The paper disappeared into the wax, and the thread appeared to float on the surface.
I started to arrange my collage elements – first some decorative paper napkins – these are great for layering into the wax. The colour does not run, and you can increase/decrease the opaqueness of the image by removing the first or second paper layers (if your napkins are 3-ply) behind the image. I used the natural EM on the napkin pieces to give them an aged look.
Next, I lined up my other collage elements: a wine label (carefully removed from the bottle), rice paper with green thread added by sewing machine, handmade Japanese paper with fibres, and tissue paper with angels printed on it.
You can see that the rice paper has gone very transparent and that the green thread does float on the surface. I let the loose ends of the thread trail across the other paper element. The fibres also become suspended in the handmade paper as that paper becomes more see-through as well.
I dipped pieces of the wine label into the natural EM and tried to smooth them onto the surface without burning my fingers too much. Very sticky! I added more natural EM along the side of the panel to stick the overlapping label onto the panel.
Next, I lined up a very other colouring elements – using a theme of gold. I had a gold gilding pen, black oil paint marker (for outlining), copper fake lead pen (used for mimicking stain glass), gold leaf and gold metallic dust (used for polymer clay). I had to be careful with the gold leaf as it was very fragile and could be easily blown away.
The gold leaf only required some heating of the surface wax in order to be pushed into it. I had read in Seggebruch’s book that if you covered up the gold leaf, you would lose the shininess of the leaf, so it had to be added close to the end of the work (more of a finishing touch).
The gold dust was very unpredictable – it was so fine, it went everywhere. I had heated up the surface to the dust to stick to it, but also as I heated the wax, the gold merged with it like molten gold – very neat effect, but I think it will be hard to duplicate. The dust also picked up the pattern that was imprinted in the paper napkin. I also filled in the gaps on the border with the gold leaf with the gold gilding pen, and added the copper lead pen outline to the frame.