The Challenge – to incorporate tea bags and dried plants into my encaustic painting. I had been reading Lissa Rankin’s book, “Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art with Wax” and was inspired to try to use tea bags in a painting.
I wanted to see how the bags took up the clear and natural encaustic medium (EM), and see which look I preferred. I heated up the wax surface of the wood panel (one I prepped previously) with the heat gun to make the wax more pliable. I then pushed the tea bag gently into the warmed surface.
You can see after the wax has been applied that the clear EM is almost invisible on the tea bag, while the natural EM has already gotten an aged look to it. There were little air bubbles in the tea bag which I tried to smooth out with a needle.
Next I thought I try some loose tea leaves. I choose my Jasmine Tea (which is really old and I should probably get rid of it) since it also had some jasmine flower petals in it for added interest. Again, I heated up the surface first before sprinkling the leaves into the warmed wax.
I applied clear EM to the leaves and jasmine flowers. You can see the different depth levels of the leaves and flowers now, some totally encased in wax, others just beneath the surface.
I continued to add more dry plant materials to the panel. While walking with my daughter to the park, I collected some dried grass and seed pods (it’s winter, so there’s not much to choose from). I also had some dried rose buds as well to use. I used clear EM on the top part of the panel, and natural EM on the lower half of the panel.
Next, I wanted to add some collage elements. I used the words ‘Drink & Savour’ from a printed napkin and pieces of beige handmade paper with fibres in it. I decided that I preferred the aged look of the natural EM (tea-tones), so used that to embed the collage pieces.
My panel was pretty lumpy from the dried plant material (to lumpy to layer paper over easily), so I took my curved pottery tool to ‘carve’ out some of the excess wax and plant material to make it more level. You can see the seeds being released from the seed pods, as well as the underlying white wax of the base layer. I wanted to add some old map pieces from some printed gift wrap that I had been saving.
I coated all the final collage pieces with a top coat of natural EM (you can see the handmade paper and gift wrap I used on the side of the table).
I fused everything together and tried to give a uniform light covering of natural EM over the panel – tricky to do with the bits that stuck out from the surface. I like the way you can see some of the underlying cream of the panel underneath – makes it look like it has a slight glow to it.