If there is one word that describes my work, it might be textural layers. Okay, technically that’s two words, but together they capture the essence of my art. This past January, I released my own line of embossing powders for artists with Emerald Creek Craft Supplies called Baked Texture. Designed to go beyond the traditional uses of embossing powders, these products can be used to create a variety of surface textures, and so much more. I’m going to show you some easy techniques you can use with these embossing powders.
Included in the line are seven flavors (and yes, they look good enough to eat): Patina Oxide, Dirty Sand, Deep Sea, Ancient Amber, Rocky Road, Vintage Beeswax, and Chunky Rust. Perfect for mixed media work, the powders vary in chunkiness, roughness, glossiness, and translucency.
One of the most versatile powders is Vintage Beeswax, which can be used in a wide variety of ways. The artwork I’m sharing today demonstrates how to use it to create a fast and simple faux encaustic surface.
I started with a small square of 140-lb. watercolor paper and created a collage from my stash of vintage papers.
Because the Vintage Beeswax is translucent, I added color and detail to the collaged surface with dye inkpads, rubber stamps, and water-soluble pencils. The richer the color of your base collage, the better the effect from the added Baked Texture.
Once I was happy with my collage, I repeatedly pressed an embossing inkpad onto the surface until the surface was completely covered. An embossing pad looks like a regular inkpad, but contains clear rather than colored ink. Slightly tacky, it allows the embossing powder to adhere to the surface.
Next, I placed a piece of scrap paper underneath the collage and poured Vintage Beeswax embossing powder over my entire collage. The excess was tapped off onto the paper below and put back in the jar to use again. The remaining powder stuck to the collage.
Using a heat gun, I heated the embossing powder until it melted, forming a glossy surface. No matter how many times I see this process, I always find it magical.
I repeated this process twice more, making sure the surface cooled down before applying the next layer of embossing ink.
With each additional layer of Vintage Beeswax, a greater depth and a more encaustic-like feel is achieved.
To create a more complex surface, I reheated the Vintage Beeswax surface with the heat gun and gently sprinkled both Ancient Amber and Patina Oxide into the melted embossing powder. Once cooled and hardened, specks of these colors can be seen randomly dotting the surface.
The Vintage Beeswax powder can also be used to adhere objects to the surface. I selected a few rusty found objects and reheated a section of the surface with the heat gun. With the embossing powder freshly heated and melted, I embedded the objects into the surface. Once the surface hardened, I randomly pressed the embossing inkpad onto the surface of the objects and sprinkled both Vintage Beeswax and Patina Oxide over the objects for additional texture.
I added additional dimension and texture with a rubber stamp. I inked the stamp, reheated a portion of the surface of the collage, and embedded the stamp into the melted embossing powder. As the powder cooled, I pulled the stamp away.
The stamp adds depth, much like you would see with a wax seal, and the ink adds shadow and dimension.
The final piece will have a glossy surface. To obtain a more true, encaustic feel, add several layers of matte medium to the surface.
Seth Apter is a mixed-media artist, instructor, author and designer from New York City. His artwork has been exhibited in multiple exhibitions and can be found in numerous books and national magazines. He is the voice behind The Pulse, a series of international collaborative projects that are the basis of his two books: The Pulse of Mixed Media and The Mixed-Media Artist, both published by North Light Books. He is also the artist behind six mixed-media workshop DVDs, also from North Light. Seth is an instructor at Pratt Institute in New York City, and his live workshops have been held throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and the UK. He is a member of the Association for Creative Industries, and designs products for Spellbinders Paper Arts, StencilGirl Products, Impression Obsession, and PaperArtsy. See more of Seth’s work at sethapter.com.