My challenge – to use wooden stamps to make imprints in the wax to create texture. I had bought this unique tin of wooden ink stamps ages ago from a great store on Bloor St. in Toronto called “Write Impressions.” These are a series of International Air Mail themed stamps, perfect for making postal marks.
I wasn’t sure how warm the wax needed to be in order to make a good impression, just like in the olden days of sealing letters with wax and a signet ring. Stamps that had a more simple design (not too intricate) made clearer impressions. I used my pottery tool to clean up the wax crumbs from the stamped designs.
Next, I rubbed crimson oil paint into the stamped designs, trying to get it into all the nooks and crannies. It feels very therapeutic to do finger painting, just like in kindergarten.
Excess paint colour was removed with paper towels and linseed oil. You can really see the stamp designs clearly on the wax surface now.
I covered the designs with the natural encaustic medium (EM), going for the aged look. You can see the swirls of the paint that came out of the nooks/crannies and mixed with the EM.
Trying to stay with the crimson colour-theme, I selected some dark red tissue paper and dark red embroidery thread. I used natural EM to add them onto the wax surface, being careful not overheat the surface and blur the stamped designs. You can see where the underlying white paint bled up into top layer of EM.
I had used French Air Mail stamps, so I thought it would be good to have ephemera that are also French. I looked for examples of French handwritten letters and old French postal stamps (ones that also had good colours/images). I used my inkjet printer to print the letters onto tracing paper (best way to run tracing paper through the printer is to tape it onto a sheet of normal computer paper). I printed the stamps onto thin rice paper (again taping it to a sheet of computer paper to add it in feeding it through the printer).
When the clear EM was applied to the letters and stamps, the tracing paper went very transparent, while the rice paper kept the image, but the white edges went translucent. I also added a few small crimson feathers liking the quill pen association.
There were still a few areas on the panel that needed something to pull it together. I used the tulip image from a paper napkin and some dried rose buds (gave a romantic feel to the work and had the right colours). Then I had the great idea (in my mind, anyways) to add Alizarin Crimson encaustic paint to the edges to create a border. This was the good stuff!
I had purchased some commercially prepared encaustic paint blocks from R&F Handmade Paints on eBay. These were the small size (40ml) and I used the small (Fancy Feast) cat food tins to melt them. I treat these paints as liquid gold – since most of them range from $17.95 and up! But unlike my oil paint and encaustic medium combos, these were pure, undiluted pigments mixed with EM.
The crimson paint looked so rich, almost like blood – so I went with the impulse and decided to drip it onto the surface of the letters, etc. I fused the paint gently so not to blur the ‘blood drops’ and then covered everything in a layer of clear EM to seal everything.