Wax Sentimental: Quick Encaustic Collage Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I remember my first Valentine’s Day with the man who would become my husband. He made a reservation well in advance at the fanciest restaurant in town. I spent days writing a meaningful love note, while he, unbeknownst to me, shopped for a piece of jewelry. On the big night, I asked the strolling violinist at the restaurant to play “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

It was perfect.

encaustic collage step 1Twenty-three years later, our love is still here, stronger than ever. But the gifts, the notes…the planning? Not so much. Kids, finances, and other priorities usually get in the way.

So today I thought I’d give the hubster a warm-hearted representation of my love for him: an encaustic collage valentine.

Now, I have to admit this is my very first encaustic piece, ever. But I’ve always loved the subtle sheen and texture hot wax gives to a piece of art, and armed with Amy Stoner’s “Encaustic Collage: Layers with Beeswax” Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM in the DVD player, I took the plunge.

I assembled all my materials: encaustic wax medium, natural bristle brush, small throwaway pan to melt the wax in (I used a clean tuna can), thermometer, heat gun, wood block, and collage materials.

encaustic college step 2I played with the collage materials until I had an arrangement I liked, then poured the encaustic medium into the can and melted it, heating heated the wax to 225 degrees. I highly recommend, as Amy does, that you use a consistent heat source, such as an electric hot plate and thermometer, or an electric skillet that has a heat control dial (one that you reserve for encaustic only, not food prep). Otherwise, it’s hard to keep the temperature of the wax consistent. If the wax isn’t hot enough, it cools off too fast and you get thick, lumpy results.

I glued my background paper to a wood block that I had on hand. (I had previously covered it with gesso, but that’s not necessary to this process.) Then I applied a thin layer of wax and laid the red heart and the piece of lace on it, making sure to press the lace into the wax so it would stick.

encaustic collage valentineFollowing Amy’s directions, I ran the heat gun over the piece to “fuse” the wax layer. If you omit this step, the wax layers get brittle and crack or even fall off. The idea is to apply the heat gun until the wax melts enough to get shiny, but not drippy, as then your collage elements start to move around. Not that that happened to me, of course!

I covered that with another layer of wax, but it cooled off very quickly and lumped up a bit, obscuring the lace. I am happy to report I didn’t panic. I just used a small knife to scrape off some, then fused again. I repeated the process with the rest of the collage materials, making sure to press the buttons on well and then drip wax into the holes. At the last minute, I decided to use an old cookie cutter to incise a heart around the paper pieces.

To be honest, it didn’t turn out like I expected; it came out better! It was fun to see how the wax changed the look and dimensions of the elements, making some features recede and others take on more prominence.  I can’t wait to try it again. The combination of planning and spontaneity was exciting.

Hmm, sounds like a recipe for a good marriage. Wonder what Hubby has planned for dinner?

P.S. Have you ever made an encaustic collage? What was your experience like? Got any tips for me? Leave a comment below. And, if you’re eager to get Amy’s tips and tricks today, you can download “Encaustic Collage” right now!


Blog, Easy Gifts to Make, Encaustic, Mixed-Media Techniques


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