Encaustic Art Transfer Technique with Carbon Paper

The other day I made a joke about filling out my teenage daughter's endless extracurricular activity forms, along the lines of, "at least I don't have to produce them in triplicate." Meri looked at me blankly until I explained the concept of carbon copies. Then she looked at me the same way she might have if I'd told her I wrote my first words with a chisel in stone.

encaustic art by daniella woolf
Transfers on encaustic by Daniella Woolf.

The exchange led me to wonder if they even make carbon paper anymore. It turns out they do. You can still find carbon paper at your local stationery store (or online), and it's a great method for mark making in encaustic art.

I discovered this transfer technique in my new favorite art book (with DVD), The Encaustic Studio: A Wax Workshop in Mixed-Media Art by Daniella Woolf.

Many kinds of drawn or printed images can be easily transferred onto the encaustic wax surface. Because the wax has an adhesive quality, all it takes to transfer is to rub the image or drawing with a burnishing tool.

In the case of carbon paper, you're actually drawing with the burnishing tool directly onto the smooth wax.

You can do this spontaneously or prepare your drawing or words on a piece of tracing paper that you place over the back of the carbon paper as a guide.

Here is how Daniella made the carbon marks on this piece of encaustic art.

drawing on encaustic art
encaustic art with carbon paper
It's easy to draw on encaustic art
with carbon paper.

1. Lay carbon paper face down on the smooth encaustic surface. [The surface] can be cool or warm, but should not be hot. Draw or make marks on the back of the carbon paper; in fig. 1, I'm using a smooth stone. Experiment with making marks with other implements.

2. Peel back the carbon paper to reveal your drawing.

3. Lick the surface of the wax very lightly with a low flame from your torch or low setting on your heat gun. If you apply too much heat, the lines will disperse or break up in the wax. Apply a thin coat of encaustic medium to protect the image.

In the example, Daniella transfers another layer of color and pattern using the Saral brand of wax-free transfer paper (found in art supply stores).

Then she adds a third layer of overall texture by putting down carbon paper and rolling a brayer over a piece of mesh-plastic from a vegetable bag to transfer a pattern. (I love it when you can find encaustic supplies right in your house.)

What a simple yet effective technique for enhancing an encaustic painting or encaustic collage. The Encaustic Studio is filled with ideas like this one, with page after page of inspiration and instruction.

Now, if I could just find a use for my old slide rule.


P.S.  What "obsolete" objects and supplies have you found new uses for in your art? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

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Blog, Encaustic, Mixed-Media Techniques

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