Encaustic Mosaic DIY

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on Encaustic Mosaic DIY

Encaustic Mosaic DIY

The following blog is the backgrounder to the novel technique I pitched as an article submission to Cloth Paper Scissors magazine almost two years ago.  The article was published in the 2013 Sept-Oct issue of CPS magazine, about 16 months later.  I’ve refined my technique a bit since then for creating my encaustic mosaics, but this is how it all began…  It was finally time to start assembling the encaustic on Terraskin paper collages.  I had coated a number of digital collage images on matte photo paper with clear encaustic medium (two coats) and created a number of abstract encaustic paintings on Terraskin paper as well.  Now came the fun part of marrying the images with the abstract paintings.

Gathering all the elements to create an encaustic mosaic: painted Terraskin paper and waxed matte photo paper with images.

Gathering all the elements to create an encaustic mosaic: painted Terraskin paper and waxed matte photo paper with images.

I wanted them to have a three-dimensional weight to give the smaller pieces more of a presence.  I had found some black shadow box frames at IKEA that were perfect for the job.  All I had to do was to remove the glass.

Taking apart an IKEA shadow box picture frame and using a template on the black foamcore for the encaustic mosaic base.

Taking apart an IKEA shadow box picture frame and using a template on the black foamcore for the encaustic mosaic base.

With the glass removed, I needed a rigid backing to adhere the pieces onto which were a bit thicker than the matte and picture frame backing.  I used a piece of black foam core cut to fit inside the frame, which was a good thickness and kept the framed piece from shifting.

Checking the fit of the black foamcore base in the assembled shadowbox frame.

Checking the fit of the black foamcore base in the assembled shadowbox frame.

Next, I started to select the waxed images I want to incorporate into the collage assemblage.  I used an X-acto blade and cut the images freehand (when I used a ruler it left impressions in the wax).  I needed to cut the images on a slight angle to prevent the wax surface from flaking off the cut edges of the paper.

Cutting out the waxed images for the encaustic mosaic.

Cutting out the waxed images for the encaustic mosaic.

I debated on using white foam core versus black foam core to mount the paper pieces onto – white enhance the color the image (the waxed images were slightly translucent), but the black blended best against the black foam core base.  If I were to have a light colored base (off-white), I would use the white foam core and perhaps paint it to match the base color.

Mounting the cut waxed image onto a black foamcore piece (slightly smaller than image) and gluing it with a hot glue gun.

Mounting the cut waxed image onto a black foamcore piece (slightly smaller than image) and gluing it with a hot glue gun.

A number of images were cut from the waxed matte paper – I wanted images that worked together thematically and also with the colors of the paintings.  I used squares that were 1 inch x 1 inch and also rectangles that were 1 inch x 2 inches.

Trimming all the waxed images in preparation for gluing onto black foamcore pieces.

Trimming all the waxed images in preparation for gluing onto black foamcore pieces.

I looked through my pile of abstract encaustic paintings to choose one that had colors that worked well the images (similar tones and colors).  I also picked a painting that had some texture from the gold leave I embedded in the wax to give a contrast to the smooth surface of the waxed images.  In addition to the 1 inch squares and 1 x 2 rectangles, I also wanted a larger 2 x 2 square encaustic “mini-painting”.  I made a paper square view-finder to find the most appealing small square composition, and then cut it from the main painting with an X-acto knife.  The encaustic painting did have an uneven thickness to it from the multiple encaustic layers, so I had to cut it out carefully.

Using a template to find an ideal encaustic mosaic painted square.

Using a template to find an ideal encaustic mosaic painted square.

The remaining encaustic painting was cut into 1 inch strips with a ruler, and subdivided further into 1 inch squares and 1×2 rectangles.

Cutting strips of encaustic painted Terraskin paper to be made into 1 x 1 inch squares for the mosaic.

Cutting strips of encaustic painted Terraskin paper to be made into 1 x 1 inch squares for the mosaic.

Now came the hard part – how to best arrange the pieces together?  I tried several combinations, starting with the main encaustic square, some rectangles and then the square to fill in the assemblage.  I wanted a balance of colors, textures and also images.

Arranging the placement of waxed images and encaustic painted pieces into a pleasing composition before gluing down in place.

Arranging the placement of waxed images and encaustic painted pieces into a pleasing composition before gluing down in place.

Once everything was in place and looked to me like a good balance of lights and darks, images and painted pieces, I glued all the pieces down onto the foamcore base with a hot glue gun.  You can barely see the black foamcore ‘mounts’ under the waxed pieces – they really look like they are floating or are three-dimensional.

Close-up of encaustic mosaic composed of painted Terraskin and waxed paper images.

Close-up of encaustic mosaic composed of painted Terraskin and waxed paper images.

Here you can see the completed encaustic mosaic, “Thought & Memory – Carnelian”.

Thought & Memory – Carnelian. Alexandra Reid. Encaustic Mosaic. (10 x 10 inches). 2012

Thought & Memory – Carnelian. Alexandra Reid. Encaustic Mosaic. (10 x 10 inches). 2012