Encaustic Technique: Monotype and Stencils

As I mentioned in the last blog on encaustic monotypes the encaustic monotype technique was originated by Dorothy Furlong Gardner, a printmaker who in the early 1980′s “wanted to combine the directness and immediacy of the monotype with the richness and luminosity of encaustic painting”. In the late 1990s, Paula Roland, a painter, began her work expanding upon Dorothy’s discoveries, and evangelized the monotype process to others, lots of others. Encaustic Monotypes are still in their infancy and still unknown to many in the art world. Check out this encaustic monotype demonstration on the R&F Paint site by George Mason to learn more about encaustic monotype technique.

Note from me: I put the following images together to illustrate how this works, not to demonstrate my skills as an artist.

MATERIALS:
• Hotplate
• Annodized Aluminum Plate
• Ateco Silicone Matte
• Beeswax Crayons, encaustic paint and medium
• Variety of Papers in different weights
• Japanese Bamboo Baron (covered with 2 layers of paper towels and covered in aluminum foil)
• Lots of Newsprint
• Lint-Free Rags and Viva Paper Towels
• Stencil material, hand made stencils from newsprint, store bought stencils, dried plant material that isn’t too delicate
• Exacto blades (for stencil cutting)
• Rubber tip tools
• Duratrax Flashpoint Thermometer

The set-up:
• HotBox by Paula Roland
• Blue Ateco Silicone Matte (prevents skidding, not all silicone mattes do)
• Plate (enables artist to create an edge on the print with hand pressure on edges and can be purchased from Paula Roland, Encaustikos or others)
• Newsprint absorbs wax without bleeding through, makes it helpful for blocking off areas.

Plant Material as Stencil

Fern as Stencil Notes:
- Stencil in this image is dried fern from my garden
- Temperature: Between 160 and 185 degrees
- Paper: Rives Lightweight  thickness and texture impact the printed image
- I’m using a variety of encaustic and pigmented beeswax. Some artists prefer to use Beeswax rather than encaustic. They pigment and pour the beeswax into crayon molds. {Side note: Regarding beeswax crayons, Dorothy Furlong Gardner notes, “…crayons are fabricated in a simple two-part mold constructed from two identical ¾” maple boards cut to any desired length. Clamp the boards in a vise or between C-clamps and drill to a predetermined depth into the joined edges at regular intervals. Apply several coats of wood sealer to the inside of the mold to reduce wax adhesion. Mix dry pigment with equal parts of beeswax in a small can and pour into the mold openings. Allow 20 minutes or more to harden. Release the clamp and the crayons will come free from the mold. There are many variations of this fundamental procedure. Damar resin is used to harden encaustic painting pigments to be used on a rigid substrate. Since the paper is flexible, I prefer a more flexible pigment. This reduces the chances of pigment cracking during handling. I also like the ease of mark-making with the more flexible pigment. There are paint modifiers to add to the mixture if more or less opacity is desired. Some modifiers also aid in the suspension of the pigment in the wax.”}
- I applied the fern to a puddle of wax and covered both sides with wax
-I sprayed the palate with water before adding paper and applying pressure with Baron covered with foil

Following are images that I created in experimenting with this technique. I spent about 5 hours in the studio testing different approaches to color and stencil.

Newsprint as Stencil

Newsprint as Stencil Notes:
- Stencil in this image is cut from newsprint
- Temperature: Between 160 and 185 degrees
- Paper: Rives Lightweight
- I’m using encaustic paint, beeswax crayons found on etsy and encaustikos pigment sticks
- I traced the stencil by hand along the edges with a wax crayon to allow colors to bleed around the edges.
- After the first pass, I turned stencil heart upside down and pulled another print
- To fully clean the plate, use medium and keep a spray bottle of water handy to do the final pass. Waxes such as paraffin and soy wax tend to leave residue.

Working with Stencil Material
You can use store bought stencils or you can make your own with stencil material. Important to mention: Stencil material may curl and shrivel as soon as it touches the palette. Be sure to test different products at different weights before you invest a lot of time in cutting custom stencils. It seems to me that working efficiently, pairing down the number of passes on the palette is key to making successful encaustic montotypes. The more you can add thin layers of color, even two or three layers of color in one pass the better. As the heat builds and time passes, the monotype can become muddy and detail lost.

For a soft even tone of background color (read mezzotint):

• Apply a large amount of wax to palette
• Cool
• Reactivate
• Spray with water bottle
• Apply your receiving paper on top
• Rub evenly with pressure on baron covered with one layer of paper towel and one layer of foil.
• Do not allow baron to sit still with applied pressure as it will cause an impression.
• Pull the print and cool.

Notes on working with stencils
- Sometimes things don’t workout as planned, but when you experience a “happy accident”  try to recreate and make note of them. Notice the outlines that appear above, they were not anticipated, but I like them. I really liked the ghost image that remained on the palette after I removed the store-bought stencil, the last frame above.
- It’s easier to lay a stencil with color on top and print it from the top down rather from the bottom down, for this to work effectively you have to find stencil material that has a matte side as well as a shiny side.

Related Blog articles:
Encaustic Technique
Encaustic Technique: Encaustic Monotypes 

Sources and Demonstrations:
George Mason’s Monotypes
Alexandre Masino
Paula Roland Video on Monotypes


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