Thursday, November 10, 2016

Second Thursday Tutorial: playing with beeswax

Beeswax is made entirely by bees.  Hard to believe, once it is in your crock pot or melting pot, but it's true.  Once melted, beeswax smells like warm honey.   If I close my eyes, I can associate the scent with autumn, baked goods, and even cleanliness.

Speaking of cleanliness, beeswax actually cleans the air because it releases negative ions which helps rid the air of contaminants like dust and pollen.  The science behind it is simple. Dust, dander, including pet dander, and other impurities float around on positive-charged molecules. Negative-charged molecules are drawn to opposite charges, where they attach and lower them to the ground. While the elements are not completely eliminated, they are brought down where they are easily cleaned through dusting and vacuuming, making them less likely to be breathed.

Although beeswax is smokeless, unlike petroleum based paraffin, if allowed to overheat, beeswax will begin to smoke and change color.  If you don't have a temperature dial on your melting pot, and it begins to smoke or change color, you can simply turn off or unplug the pot for a few minutes.

Here are the necessary supplies you will need:

A dedicated crock pot or melting pot with a dedicated project pan or insert, or an electric griddle and several tuna sized cans.

 Be sure to turn it on well in advance of creating your art.

It takes well over an hour

to melt even this small amount of wax in my crock pot.

You will also need

a canvas or block of wood for your substrate,
heat gun or iron (if iron is not specifically for beeswax, cover a regular iron with aluminum foil to keep the wax out of the steam holes)
tweezers (not shown),
a faux credit card,
various papers, napkins, any paper that doesn't have a shiny coating,
anything that will mark or color, as long as it is NOT acrylic (I have twistables and mica powders),
a dedicated natural bristle brush (not shown).

Before I could dip my tissue in the beeswax, I dropped my tweezers in the hot wax.  After retrieving them, I failed to wipe the wax from my fingers.

Before I adhered the tissue to the board, I heated it.  Then I added the wax laden tissue

and removed as many of the wrinkles as I could with my faux credit card.

Next, I performed the same steps with a napkin.

It was now time to add some color to the doily using the twistables.  I've had these for at least five years, but don't use them because they are greasy and smear on my mixed media projects.  But it seems I have finally found the perfect use for them.  Several of my British friends just discovered them last year, but they get them in packages of 10, not five, like mine.

Once I had added color to the napkin (and my fingers, I might add), I dipped the doily in the hot beeswax.

If I had used natural beeswax, instead of white, the doily would not have been so obvious.

Once down, I noticed the twistable color was being shifted away from the doily.

It was still way too stark for my taste.

I looked around to see what I could find to cover over this too bright addition.

That's when I came up with a portion of a dictionary page for the top,

and a lovely napkin for the bottom.

I never found a way to use the mica powders,

but now I wish I'd used some on the bright blue twistable that I didn't manage to cover.

1.  Tissue paper and napkins are lovely and take the wax well.  On the other hand, they do NOT adhere well to wood.
2.  Old book pages, when dipped in beeswax, become transparent, while napkins become transluscent.
3.  Twistables work well, but be sure you like the color you are using, or it compliments your piece.
4.  I suggest using natural beeswax if you are going for a vintage feel and white beeswax for a modern feel.
5.  One thing I discovered after I had worked on the project for awhile was to coat the wood with beeswax so the papers would have something to adhere to. 

Thank you for your visit to my monthly tutorial.  I learned a LOT, but have a long way to go before I can say I feel comfortable using beeswax.  If you have played with beeswax and have any suggestions for me, please feel free to leave them in comments.  The more I learn, the better I'll understand this very different product that acts as its own glue.

As soon as this goes live, I will add it to my Tutorials page under "First Experiments Using Beeswax."

Today is Day 10 of AEDM.  I would love to have you join me every second Thursday of the month, where I experiment with a new (to me) product or technique and create a tutorial using it.

16 thoughtful remarks:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I had heard of encaustic, before, but not this way of collaging with beeswax. Now I am wondering how the technique would lend itself to depicting the ocean... Thanks for introducing me to this!

Helen said...

great effects, Elizabeth, love this project!

Valerie-Jael said...

Wonderful project, very interesting to see the various steps. Have a fun day, hugs, Valerie

Gaby Bee said...

Gorgeous Elizabeth. I always love reading your posts and seeing how you create your lovely projects and this one is no exception. I really like the texture created by the beeswax.
Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing your creative process!

Hoping all is well in your world and thank you always for your wonderful and sweet comments.

Hugs, Gaby

chrissie said...

A stunning project and an idea I will certainly try.

Never thought about the air cleaning properties so must think about that as well

Thank you Elizabeth

Love Chrissie xx

froebelsternchen said...

What a fantastic Beeswax-Collage ! I love it Elizabeth! I also love the depth you have created here!
Have a great day!
oxo Susi

Jeanie said...

Boatloads of things here! First, I love this piece. I agree about the blue but I love how you tamped down the color (and it has the Eiffel Tower, so what's not to love!). I have never really used beeswax though I have some here and it is an excellent tutorial. Thanks for that.

I'm so glad I pushed your buttons with my post because I loved all that you shared! I always hate leaving comment replies/thanks in someone's comments but it's the only way I have here! I always find it interesting that the more things change, the more they stay the same, it's just the details that get juggled.

And thanks for the lovely words on the TG table post. I hope you post about your grandma's dishes because I would love to see them -- and I am SO glad that you USE them. What I didn't put in my post was that last year, one of the goblets broke. And I survived. I was sad but I still have seven and we hardly ever used all eight. And it was broken because we used it to celebrate a joyful time. And that's what they are for.

Big hugs!

My name is Erika. said...

Loving the wax tutorial. I bet its been 7-8 years since I played with bees wax. I think I need to play some more. I especially loved reading about its healthy effects. Maybe I need to melt some in my house just to attract the dog hair. Although I might need to vacuum more at least it would maybe mean the dust would be less. Ha-ha-Anyhow I do love how wax makes everything o translucent, and I think adding the dictionary paper was brilliant. Happy Thursday. Hugs-Erika

Sami said...

I've used beeswax to make creams, but I used a double boiler to melt it.
I really like that tissue paper you used with the Eiffel tower and words on it, very pretty work Elizabeth.

Meggymay said...

Its a great step by step post. Love the end results.
I used bees wax at a workshop a while agao, so you have jogged me to thinking I may try it at home.
Yvonne xx

Sandra Cox said...

Wow! What great info on beeswax. I had no idea about the negative ions!

Divers and Sundry said...

I have some beeswax candles that are nice. My daughter had a kit when she was little that was a candle-making kit. It included sheets of beeswax that was wonderful to work with. It felt so nice in the hand. I've never melted any.

pearshapedcrafting said...

This is such a brilliant tutorial - I haven't used beeswax for years - at least 5 - so now feeling confident enough to get it out again and play! As for the piece you created - it is fabulous - I love the red, white and blue alongside the Eiffel Tower and the fact that you brought the colour down a bit in places! I am uplifted!! Thanks for the answer to my question - I hope America has lots of folk like yourself who host neighbourhood events to bring everyone together! I was rather shocked by a factoid on the news here tonight that says 53% of white female Americans voted for Trump! There has been a lot of coverage here! I was out with friends yesterday and one of them said that with 'Brexit', Marks and Spencers shutting stores and now Trump as President she was wondering what the World was coming to! I hope Sally hangs on! Big Hugs, Chrisx

Linda Kunsman said...

Well I guess you already know how much I LOVE this piece:):) Never heard of "Twistables". Thanks so much for the very helpful tutorial. I have the wax, and a small crock and tweezers for some years now but for whatever reason it's one thing I have not taken the time to play with.

NatureFootstep said...

fun to see, I once had plates in the same material and color as your pots :)

That aside, thanks for sharing your work :) said...

LOVE this tutorial. I have a tiny crock pot set aside to try this but I have been scared.....maybe I will....I have smelled the warm wax and it is lovely....