Encaustic Mixed Media workshop

With Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch:

I’ve had a break from my OCA studies for a week and been interstate to an encaustic workshop with a visiting American tutor.

This is a subject I knew nothing about other than from a couple of articles I read shortly beforehand.  The course was run over 3 days and covered many techniques.

We started with wax in primary colours plus a large amount of clear wax heated to the required temperature in an electric skillet.

By mid way through the second day we had purple, orange, russet, green and brown mixed and melted.  Obviously because of the constant heat the brushes we used had to be natural fibres so they didn’t melt, as synthetic would have, and we used hog hair, 1″ flat brushes. 

As Patricia demonstrated the techniques she started creating a few new samples of her own.

These pictures, above and left, show two of her works in progress with wax layering, written underlay, scraping, spatter, transfer printing and smooth and rough wax application.


The course started with  building up surfaces and surface patterning by scraping away or pushing items into hot wax.

Solar Explosion

We then looked at creating shapes through stencils, embedding items and masking areas off.  All the time we were experimenting with how much to heat the wax and for how long.  We were trying to control whether we kept the initial wax brushstrokes or let the colours fuse together more organically.

Discordant Symphony

Lunar Reef

We incorporated different papers, string, yarn, foil, mesh, wire and so on and successfully did some image transfer from both laser photocopies

and newspapers.   Both colour and black & white worked well.

Midnight Blue (portrait)

Midnight Blue (landscape)

Midnight Blue has an image transfer of some fabric that I manipulated in Photoshop to give the blue/purple swirls and also some painted Lutradur strips along with tiny Colour Streams sequins within the wax.  I can’t decide on the orientation of this piece yet.

Later we experimented with liberally applying shellac to the surface of a waxed artwork and setting it alight.  This was exciting (even more so when two of the ladies set the shellac container on fire and we had to throw earth on it to put it out.  Oops!!  Not me, luckily.) .  The fire pushed the shellac into unpredictable patterns as can start to be seen from the picture here.

Game Plan

The piece here has colour pencil drawings of squares and numbers on the base wood covered by clear wax.  Newspaper images of sudoku and other puzzles have been transferred and clear wax built up in lines with string embedded.  The piece was then liberally coated in shellac and set alight, giving this wonderful burnt caramelised patterning.  Finally I used Shiva oil sticks to darken and ‘age’ some areas as well as the purple to add a further dimension.

Heat Haze

Whilst creating Heat Haze I was very kindly offered the use of some R&F handmade Oil Pigment Sticks.  These are very similar to Shiva (Markal) Oil Sticks but much more buttery, less sticky and (in my view) much nicer to use.  However they take a lot longer to cure and, 3 days on, my pieces of work are still a little tacky.  There is no question that in future I will be buying these instead of Shiva as the pigmentation level is much higher and I prefer the colour range and the feel when using them.

This final picture shows another couple of works that aren’t finished yet.  In fact, most of my pieces will probably have more done to them before I float mount them.  It was important to get everything to a certain stage so I could transport them home on the plane safely.

The course was an eye-opener into another medium which I had never tried and I thoroughly enjoyed the time and am happy with some of the pieces I’ve come away with.  Patricia was extremely generous with both her time and materials which she shared without complaint or restraint.  One interesting aspect was that she stated, right at the very beginning, that she would only be teaching techniques and no colour or design fundamentals.  Those were up to participants to work out for themselves.  When I heard questions to her regarding these she kept her mouth firmly closed.

Book cover shown above:
Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, Encaustic Workshop – Artistic Techniques for Working with Wax , North Light Books, an imprint of F+W Publishing, Cincinnati, 2009.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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4 Responses to Encaustic Mixed Media workshop

  1. Helen says:

    These look amazing Claire. You obviously enjoyed yourself. Love the midnight blue effects!

    • Claire B says:

      It was a fantastic workshop and I’m in negotiation with Patricia to teach here in NSW next year. It is something quite different to what we have seen before. There are two methods of encaustic (generally) – the UK/European style using wax spread with an encaustic iron and the USA style by heating in tubs, brushing and then manipulating with heat gun.
      I have more samples made. Once they are finished and framed I’ll upload more pictures. A few others in the class had a lot of previous experience which was very valuable to us all and they were generous in sharing knowledge and specialised materials. Naturally, their work was spectacular and encompassed beautiful metallic finishes and much more subtle colouring and oil stick applications.
      It would be easy to get addicted.

  2. Jane says:

    great that you enjoyed it – I have been looking at encaustic work with a lot of interest but have kept thinking “I cant start something new” good to see that you can incorparate your metals in there, & looks like there is a lot of potential. I guess that could be seen as a very good way to learn new techniques – just learn the techniques & dont try to make your learning samples like a finished art work. We usually try to value add by learning technique & a bit of design as well. Then again a good looking learning sample can be more inspiring than something unattractive and blobby. Worth more discussion. (not from Wodonga where I am now)

  3. Pingback: Silk Paper Workshop | TactualTextiles

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