Beeswax and Clay: experimental play

Studio work is not all directed toward completed pieces of art – sometimes the best part is experimentation without expectations. Whether it works or doesn’t work, the results add to the body of knowledge about the subject at hand. I got to play a bit at my studio yesterday, and learned a few things.

I’ve been doing a lot of mixed media sculpture lately, and I wanted to play with beeswax on textured fired unglazed clay (bisque). The video camera happened to be set up above the work table, so you get to see what I was playing with.

This is not a tutorial at all – it’s just me, fooling around and making comments 🙂

I learned a couple of things from these experiments:

  • White clay is a better match for beeswax than red clay
  • Eucalyptus might be a better shade of walnut ink for this process because it’s not as intense as Terra Cotta
  • Heavily textured clay surfaces don’t take the beeswax as successfully as lightly textured surfaces
  • Photo-transfers on clay are not particularly beeswax-friendly because they are not porous enough due to the transfer process

New things I want to try because of these experiments:

  • Using the same technique on paper clay to test its absorbancy
  • Doing more intricate scoring and carving into the beeswax surface once it’s cooled on the clay
  • Heating the beeswax with a heat gun to “drive it” into the clay surface to see what happens to the finish
  • Adding metallic wax to the beeswax surface aft it has cooled.

I’ve filed this information away until I need it – probably at one of those “Aha!” moments when I realize that this technique is exactly what I need to complete a work in progress. Or maybe not! But everything you learn doesn’t have to be put to practical use – it’s OK to play.

 

8 thoughts on “Beeswax and Clay: experimental play

  1. you have a great “pantry” of stuff to work with … love seeing you stretch the materials beyond typical uses

    One question: am I assuming correctly that the transfer image was from a toner copier (as opposed to an inkjet)?

  2. Working with literary archives, I learned a great deal about writers and their works by reading unpublished drafts of published works. Have you kept a record of your own experiments? Knowing your finished work, I am inclined to say that not only do they have much to say about your finished work but are also interesting and with real significance on their own.

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