Saturday, March 20, 2010

Feeling The (Shellac) Burn

I finally did it. I got up the nerve to try the wet shellac burn technique! I think what was holding me back was the whole idea of flames shooting up. That conjured up all sorts of fears of a fire out of control, house burning down, etc. Those are valid fears, but not so much with this technique. You just have to use your head.

So, these two pieces are done with the wet shellac burn. There is also a technique called the dry shellac burn which I will try next. Basically, all you do is lay down a layer of encaustic medium, paint over it with shellac (I used amber shellac) and while it's still wet, take your torch to it. Immediately the flames will shoot up. They aren't massive, just hovering over the board. You can blow them out when you're happy with the burn or you can let them burn themselves out.

The top piece is called "I Stand Alone". I did a few more steps with this one. It is my second attempt at the wet shellac burn. I first primed the board with encaustic gesso. I love that there is a gesso made specifically for encaustic. Then I painted a layer of white encaustic paint. Next I added a layer of encaustic medium, added the image, then two more layers of encaustic medium. When that was all cooled, I painted the outer edges with the shellac and then took the torch to it. I let it burn out and wasn't happy with it so I painted some more shellac and did it again. I liked that much better.

The image was printed onto rice paper. It just sinks into the warm wax when you lay it on. I also added Bronze mica powder. I put on more than I intended but then just went with it; next time I'll add smaller amounts. The mica gives a nice organic feel to the piece.

This next piece was my first attempt with the technique. I call it "Excavation". Here you can see more of the amber shellac (the yellow color). I only did one burn and I used blue-green mica for the color. If you click on the image you can see more the metallic properties of the mica, especially around the edges. I also added a little bronze charm:

I'm getting the hang of it now and plan to try the dry shellac burn in my next piece. The only difference with that technique is you let the shellac dry, then you take your torch to it. It won't shoot up with flames like with the wet burn and you control where you want the burn to go. You just place your torch on the area you want burned, then move on to the next area.

I love the bubbles and craters that form while it's burning. When the flames hit the mica they make a hissing, crackling sound. But it's all controlled. You can blow it out at any time. I do this in the garage with both doors open, away from anything that could be considered flammable. No problems. ;) Now off to try some more...


Lori Saul said...

Gorgeous- I love the 'physicality' that is going into your work right now- really hands on techniques that seem to take a layer upon layer process that achieves beautiful results. With torch in hand- look out!

Anonymous said...

Your work is so beautiful. There is such depth and movement and life in it. I am always lurking here checking out what you're doing. It's very inspiring :) You are awesome!