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Splurge-Worthy Supplies: Beeswax

June 4, 2010

Yes, yes, I am starting a new supply series!  Not all art supplies come cheap, so I decided it was high time to introduce Splurge-Worthy Supplies, so we can discuss some of the more expensive stuff.

This, my friends, is beeswax.  And it does not come cheap.  At my local Ben Franklin store a block this size runs about sixteen dollars, yikes!  I look for cheaper beeswax every time I hit a craft store, but the prices seem the same everywhere.  It really pays to check with a local beekeeper if you want to find a better price.  I got my beeswax from a vendor at the local 100 Mile Yard Sale for only $2.50!

Once you find the beeswax, you have a bit of set up to do before you use it.  A lot of crafters use crockpots to melt their beeswax, but I didn’t want to ruin mine or buy a new one, so I went to the candle-making section of the craft store and bought a small glass jar for 89 cents, then I found a candle warmer at Wal-Mart for $5.50, and it worked!

To work with beeswax you also need a knife (to cut the wax), an old paintbrush (don’t use a good one, the wax is never coming off), and a metal pallet knife (for scraping away excess wax).  A heat gun or old travel iron are good tools to have, too.

I was excited to try using beeswax, because it’s a medium I’ve never worked with before.  So, this week I made two trial collages in my art journal.  It was an interesting experience!  I started by chopping off some beeswax and melting it in my jar.  The candle warmer does a decent job heating things up, but if you’re in a hurry you can blast the wax with a heat gun.

This was the first collage I made.  I wanted to see how beeswax reacted with different kinds of paper, so I made a quick collage using several different scraps of paper.  I started with a simple coat of acrylic paint (I’m a bit in love with this ocher color lately) and glue on the paper bits with glue stick.  Then I coated the whole things with a layer of wax.  What I didn’t realize was that beeswax can actually be used as glue.  I bet this piece would have been a lot more interesting if I’d used the wax to adhere the scraps to the page.  Oh, well.  On to experiment #2.

The vintage look isn’t usually my style, but it works really well with the golden colored wax.  On this piece I started by adhering a piece of vintage clothing pattern to my journal with beeswax.  Then I added some vintage sheet music, vellum butterflies, and some photos from old books and the internet.  When you use the wax as glue, you can really see how the different papers react.  I love how you can see the sheet music on the the gypsy’s face!  I used a lot of wax on this piece, scraping off bits here and there, and adding more in some places.  Don’t you love the texture?  And the wax makes my journal smell like honey.  Sweet-smelling journals are always a plus!

I am still learning about beeswax.  Did you know that if you use beeswax as collage glue you can go back, even months later, and rearrange your piece?  Just blast it with a heat gun or iron it, until  things start to loosen up.  I love the idea of being able to change my collages at will.  Here are a couple of vids I found that involve beeswax:

This one’s a little grainy, but it’s definitely worth watching.

And here is a Suzi Blu video (it wouldn’t embed here). There is quite a bit of Suzi-craziness, but I promise there is some beeswax info at the end!

Have you tried beeswax yet?  Leave a link here or at the new facebook page and show off your work!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2010 2:43 pm

    Have you tried wax mixed with colour? I think thats how encaustic painting works.
    Never thought of using beeswax as a glue – would it still hold if you left it in the sun for example?

    • June 8, 2010 5:33 pm

      I do want to try encaustics sometime. Looks like fun!
      And, yeah, if you leave your beeswax art out in the heat you will have a very sticky mess. I have to remember to keep this journal indoors away from the heat.

  2. June 9, 2010 11:48 am

    I lov!e this super creative^idea, i MUST TRY IT! Im thinking maybe you can use the beeswax not only as a shiny layer and glue, but also to create textured areas!

    • June 9, 2010 1:11 pm

      Yes, it’s really easy to create texture with the wax. And if you don’t like it you can reshape it by heating it up again!

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