My challenge – to make wax castings from a matched set of key and keyholes (another good fit for after Valentine’s Day). I had purchased a set of Locket Keys by the scrapbook designer Tim Holtz. I decided to photograph the set so I could also print them out to use as collage elements in my works.
I printed the keys and keyholes onto plain computer paper with my inkjet printer. I wanted to keep the elements more solid looking this time, rather than using tracing paper or rice paper. I used an X-acto blade to cut out one of the sets I thought looked paired best together.
The keys and keyholes were meant to be used as embellishments in scrapbooking. I liked the ornate decorations on them and wanted to see if I could make wax castings from them. I followed the guidelines in Lissa Rankin’s book, Encaustic Art, to make wax casts of objects.
I had purchased Enkaustikos Impasto Wax Medium which was composed of microcrystalline wax combined with the standard beeswax and damar resin.
Next, I used pliable modeling clay (the type that hardens in air) and rolled out two balls of clay, slighter larger than the key and keyhole I wanted to cast.
I pressed the key and keyhole firmly into the clay, levelling off the top so I could get the metal objects out of the clay easier.
Melting two small pieces of the Impasto Wax (it came as a large block that I tried to chip off smaller chunks to melt) in a pan, I used a spoon to carefully fill my clay molds with liquid wax. I wanted to avoid air bubbles since they would create a void in the cast object (like Swiss cheese).
Once the Impasto Wax had hardened, I removed the clay mold from the wax castings. Trimming off the excess wax, I had a nice set of white wax key and keyhole, a perfect replica of the metal objects.
Next time I would colour the liquid Impasto Wax first, since I now realized that the white wax key and keyhole would be hard to paint without losing the fine details of the original objects. As a technique for making replicas to be used in my encaustic works, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.